By Ray Pelletier
At a Sunday afternoon professional football game, the stands are filled with enthusiastic fans cheering on their favorite team. These fans wake up Monday morning with scratchy throats and hoarse voices, still enthusiastic for their favorite team. Why don’t these people wake up feeling the same way on a Wednesday? Probably because these adoring fans put ten times more energy into cheering on their favorite athletes than they do their co-workers and their company.
Consider how much more successful a business would be if its teammates were as enthusiastic as those football fans. The enthusiasm of a crowd creates an energy and momentum that pushes the team forward. It works the same way in a call center. Enthusiasm creates winning companies. Fill your ranks with agents who are excited and positive. When you spend your time with fellow teammates who love what they do, you can’t help but spur each other on to do your best.
The challenge is that most teammates have difficulty showing enthusiasm for their company because they’ve never tried it. So set a positive example and show your team that it’s okay to be proud of where they work and what they do. As a coach, encourage your team to bring their enthusiasm to the surface. Try the following tips to help your teammates cheer on the home team and drive your company to win.
Create a Positive Physical Environment: Working in a supportive and positive physical environment sets up the right foundation for greater motivation. So post motivational signage around the office that reinforces who your company is and what you do. Encourage agents to put up family pictures on their cubicles. Also let them put up pictures of items that inspire them or lists of goals they want to attain. Insist that they use a positive and motivating screen saver. Encourage your team to listen to tapes or read great business books. You could even purchase a few and start a lending library. The investment will be worth it. Give your staff what they need to develop the winner’s edge.
Celebrate Winning: Winning breeds enthusiasm. Just as in sports, teams will celebrate their victories; call center teams should celebrate victories too. Recognize your teammates. Have celebrations. Let teammates know in advance that if they meet a department goal, they will be rewarded with a prize. Let them anticipate the victory.
Don’t think “celebrating” has to involve lavish office parties or expensive luncheons. Celebrate the small stuff too. Hold meetings where company leaders highlight the successes of the call center and acknowledge any teammates who have gone ‘above and beyond.’ Everyone enjoys celebrations, so let them become a regular part of your corporate culture.
Take Pride in Your Company: Take a minute to list reasons why you are proud to work at your call center. If you can’t think of any, you may need to rethink your career choice. Why waste your life on something you can’t be enthusiastic about? Don’t use the excuse of, “I’ve been here a long time, how can I walk away?” A lot of corporate employees asked themselves the same question before being handed their severance package. Ask yourself if your product and company is something you really believe in. If not, start looking for something else you can be enthusiastic about.
Praise Your Teammates: Write down the names of the agents, supervisors, and managers in your call center who could use reinforcement of what a great job they are doing and how much they are appreciated. Just as an athletic coach cheers on their team, so does a great leader.
Keep in mind that it’s often easier to appreciate and praise people most like ourselves, and it’s harder to do the same with people who work differently than us. Don’t concentrate on how that person annoys you or is different from you. Recognize his or her contribution. Make a gratitude list. Write down why you’re grateful they’re on your team. What do they bring to the mix? Who are they? What are they? Then be sure to tell them. Sincere praise is a great motivator.
Care About Your Teammates and Your Customers: You can’t be an inspiring leader if you don’t care. You need to care about every person you interact with in the course of a business day. Provide your staff with the tools they need to do their jobs well and a work environment that shows you care. To the extent possible, allow agents to personalize their workspace. A work environment, whether it’s a cubicle or an office, should be a reflection of the employee, not just the company.
Often today, people have lost a sense of caring for the company they work for. They almost expect to be downsized or right sized or stuck in the same job, never receiving recognition for their accomplishments. People have to know they are cared about to truly shine. Always make the other person feel more important than yourself. Thank your staff in a meaningful way. Give them a tangible gift they can look at and say, “Boy they really appreciate me.” But it’s not about you sending them a gift; it’s about them. If you’re only caring in order to get something back, then shame on you. If it doesn’t come from the heart, don’t do it.
Wear Your Logo: Today, people spend an incredible amount of money on team jerseys, sweaters, NASCAR jackets, and so forth. People pay a lot of extra money to walk with someone’s brand name on their chest, giving that company free advertising. Is your company missing the boat because you don’t have your own people walking around in your company’s logo wear? Logo wear continues to build your brand while at the same time reinforces the pride and enthusiasm within your company. Get polo shirts printed up with your company logo and hand them out to teammates.
Start Loving Your Company: Don’t be embarrassed to love your company. Learn from today’s sports coaches. Coaches have a passion for the game, a passion for people, and a passion for success. Coaches want to take what they know and share it with another person to help that person achieve his or her full potential. Business leaders need to have the same mindset.
Working is not practice; your company is on the playing field and every moment counts. So love the game. Do your very best every single day at the position you are playing. Long-term advancement goals are fine, but don’t lose sight of today’s game.
By implementing these tips, the enthusiasm within your call center will grow, creating a more dynamic and positive work environment. Your teammates will be happier and more productive, and callers will pick up on your enthusiasm. Your teammates will be supportive of each other and will spur each other and the company on to success. Perhaps your teammates will even start losing their voices after company meetings from cheering on their coworkers instead of their favorite sports teams.
Ray Pelletier founded The Pelletier Group and authored the best-selling book, Permission to Win.
[From the October/November 2006 issue of AnswerStat magazine]