How to create a high performance culture | Andrew Sillitoe | TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells
How to Create a High Performance Customer Service Leadership Team
An organization that focuses on customer service must have good leadership. But too often people are promoted simply because of their technical expertise or tenure with the organization. What’s often overlooked is whether that individual has the right traits and talent, and can be part of an effective team. To build a high-performance leadership team, then, you’ll have to identify your organization’s needs and also find people with the right skills and personalities to fill them.
Assessing Your Needs
Map out the organization’s goals.A company has to align employees with its goals, initiatives, and service delivery requirements. A leadership team will need to be able to measure progress toward these goals. It will also have to communicate them up front, so that employees can work to meet or exceed them.
- Start by defining what your organization needs from its leaders. These could be skills, competencies, or levels of business acumen. They might be the ability to problem-solve, carry out technical tasks, or relate to others.
- For customer service, your general goals will most likely be to provide efficient and professional help to clients. More than that will depend on the nature of the business.
- A shipping company, for example, might need customer service employees who can expedite and track packages and make sure goods arrive on time. A computer company may have more direct interaction with customers, in trouble shooting, doing repairs, or giving order support.
- Decide if your organization has what it needs. Do you have people working in the right areas? Are they well suited to the work?
Assess your need for skills.You’ll need to consider the skills, traits, and competencies you need to meet your organizational goals. A leadership team should be like a living thing. Each member will bring different qualities and the group should act together as a whole.
- You’ll need to judge the skills and limitations that each potential leader brings, including your own. Be brutally honest. Your team members should complement each other, with each person having a specific role to play or talent to use.
- Some people may have good person-to-person skills. You’ll need this in customer service. Don’t overlook less personable skills, however. You will need a range of talents.
- You’ll also want team members with technical knowhow, for example, like the logistics of shipping. Problem-solving or the ability to think under stress might be another good quality in a team member.
- All together, you’ll need people with technical knowledge to get tasks done. You’ll need problem-solvers to ensure the tasks are done efficiently. And you’ll want at least one good people person to keep the team running or to smooth over interpersonal conflict.
Consider the advantages and disadvantages of team leadership.Don’t assume out of hand that you need a leadership team. You may find that you have all the skills in one person who can oversee your customer service. Or, you may decide that team leadership is too cumbersome. In any case, it is good to make sure a team best aligns with the company’s goals.
Forming a Group
Look at your gaps.After looking at your goals and the skills or personalities you need, decide what gaps if any remain. Do you have all the goods in house? Or is there a talent or skill that you’ll have to find elsewhere?
- Depending on the situation, start to think about how to assemble your leadership team. You may have already identified potential members within your company. You may be able to move them into your team or to groom them for their role.
- Hiring from outside may also be an option. If you know what kind of specific skill or personality you need, and do not have it in house, consider conducting a search with HR.
- Keep in mind that some gaps (skills or competencies) can be filled through training. In other cases, you may be in need of a natural talent that can’t be taught.
Start to recruit a complementary team.You’ll need to find skills and people that complement each other to form a cohesive unit. Think of great “teams” from books or television. How did the “A-Team” work? B.A. Baracus was the muscle, Hannibal was the brains, Murdock had technical skills, and Face could talk his way out of anything. Together they worked. Your team should aim for the same.
- There are different kinds of complementarity. You might want a team that divides tasks or expertise. Or, you can complement each other through your natural roles or ways of thinking.
- One member of your team might be able to motivate employees while another is good at seeing the big picture, for example. Yet another may have years of experience in customer service management, which is a valuable asset.
- Try to be aware of how your team will work together. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer led Microsoft for years, for example, with Gates focusing on vision and product creation and Ballmer on sales and marketing. Each played to his strength as part of a unit.
- Consider diversity, too. People with different ethnic, cultural, or gender backgrounds will bring fresh ideas and perspectives. Studies show that they make more creative and dynamic groups.
- Keep the organization’s goals in mind, all the same. However diverse, try to make sure that your team shares the same vision and overall worldview. A customer service team should all agree that customers are valuable, for example. Someone who thinks otherwise will only hinder your efforts.
Craft detailed and targeted job advertisements.If you are looking to hire, you’ll need to conduct a thorough search for the right person. The first step is to advertise. You should already have a good sense of what skills you want. Now, the trick is to put it on paper.
- Have an ideal candidate in mind. Knowing what skills you need in a new hire and the kind of person you want in advance will streamline the search.
- You may want someone with a background in IT and management, for example. Good, but how much experience should they have? Is 2-5 years enough? Or do you want more? How much are you willing to pay her?
- Come up with a job title and a concise description of your ideal hire. Having a title like “Customer Service, Inventory and Logistics Manager” tells candidates what they need to know in clear prose. You should also be able to describe the candidate’s traits in three or four concise sentences.
- Write these traits out beforehand to include in the advertisement. For example, “5-10 years working in supply chain management. Shows great analytical and problem solving skills. Highly self-motivated. Thrives in a high-pressure, fast-paced workplace.”
- The format of a job ad lists the title and description, including tasks and location and perhaps a bit about your company. It then list qualifications like years of experience or a degree, followed by personal traits that you desire. Finally, you might say a few words about how much you intend to compensate the employee or what benefits they will enjoy. Use sub-headings to separate these sections. Be specific, as well, to pare the pool of applicants.
Place your advertisement.Once you’ve got things paper, look for venues to place the advertisement. Keep in mind that you are looking for management, so the venue should be reputable and visible to professionals. Craigslist is not an appropriate option.
- Try a business networking website like LinkedIn, which has some 150 million members.
- Alternately, consider posting the advertisement on job search websites like Monster, Indeed, or CareerBuilder. If your company is on social media, you might also Tweet the ad or post it on your company Facebook page.
- Old fashioned print media can still work, too. Advertisements for elite positions might be placed in business publications like the Wall Street Journal, for example, or professional journals.
Conduct interviews.Winnow the responses to your ad to create a well-qualified pool of interviewees. Throw out applicants who aren’t qualified, don’t have enough experience, or don’t seem like a right fit for the job or your company. Then, conduct phone or in-person interviews with the rest.
- It’s possible to narrow your pool apart from looking at skills. For example, some companies use personality profiles or aptitude tests to pre-screen candidates.
- How many people should you interview? You don’t want a candidate pool that’s too big or too small. Some recruitment agencies suggest about 3-5 candidates for a first round, with 2-3 in a second round. More than this may mean that you are not vetting candidates enough before the interviews.
- Compile a list of questions and “required attributes” for the position, before the interview. Use these to assess potential and interest. For example, for a logistics job, explain your company’s supply chain and ask the candidate to identify its strengths and inefficiencies.
- Involve a few others in the interviews without being overwhelming. Since you are looking to hire a colleague, try to involve at least some other members of your leadership team in the process.
Vet candidates for desire to lead and ability to cooperate.Apart from complementary skills and expertise, you should also aim for a team that can fulfill its tasks efficiently.The interview is a chance to vet candidates for these “soft attributes.” Are they fit to lead? Are they comfortable in a managerial role? Do you think that they will work well together?
- Despite being skilled, some employees are just not cut out for leadership. If a person doesn’t like being in a leadership role, she is more likely to be disengaged. This could lead to problems in the group as a whole.
- Pay close attention to personality. Your team must be able to channel disagreement productively. Try to recruit members who respect each other, who can handle and give criticism, and who will add to rather than undermine the group dynamic.
- It can be hard to balance personalities in a group. Too many big egos will lead to clashes, while too little ego will make it hard to have an open, honest dialogue.
Leading the Way
Be a strong leader.Even if you have built your team with the best and most talented people available, you should still try to be a strong leader. Every good team needs direction. According to one study, the most effective kind was with the single, strong leader.
- You don’t need to see your role as “the boss.” You’re don’t have to rule with an iron first. Instead you can be the glue that holds things together, the oil that makes the gears turn, the one who makes the team function properly.
- Leadership can take different forms. You might be charismatic and influence your team by personality. You might offer vision, you might coordinate the members of your team, or you might take part actively and lead by example.
- An ability to see natural talents and put them to use is one trait that good leaders share. Think of it like a hockey coach “juggling lines.” Say your supply workers are having trouble with a new protocol. You might decide to put Sarah temporarily on the supply line, even though she doesn’t work in logistics, because she has better people skills than your regular manager. Or, you pair them together.
- Good leaders also share the ability to motivate. This involves being able to push the right buttons, whether through internal or external incentives, to get the best performance. For instance, maybe one of your team is a night owl. He could be more productive if you assign him to work on second or third shift.
- The bank HSBC has even institutionalized this sort of motivation. Each year, managers ask every employee what they would like to get if they win a yearly “Dream Award,” given for outstanding performance. Winners get to choose a unique, tailored prize capped at ,000, which they cannot redeem for cash.
Know your team.As you might have guessed, you should get to know the members of your leadership team on a personal level. They are not just skill sets to plug into problems. Find out what moves them and what motivates them, and how you can encourage them to the best results.
- Great leaders get the best out of the people around them, as said. They are able to manage personalities, praise and push when need be, and solve conflicts.
- Try team-building exercises. Plan a retreat or weekend outing, for example, where you can build camaraderie through things like scavenger hunts, trivia games, or cooking exercises.
- Team-building is usually structured. However, pure socialization will help you get to know your employees, too. Having a weekly happy hour or a monthly off-the-clock office event can work. If you live in close proximity, consider carpooling together.
- Keep tabs on your team members’ performance, as well. You might set up an review system, for instance, with set performance measurements, an assessment, and the opportunity for the employee to respond. Reviews can occur on a fixed schedule, like once or twice per year.
- If reviews are too formal for your management style, you could alternately invite team members for one-on-one meetings to ask about the status of their work, assess their morale, and sound them for possible concerns. These, too, might happen at fixed times, like once per month.
Set team norms.Establish ground rules for behavior. This includes how team members act toward each other and how they resolve issues. You might also think of generating these standards together, so that your team will all see them as fair and binding.
- Make sure that you set standards for civility. Disagreements can generate new ideas and should be welcomed, but do not let them devolve into personal attacks, name calling, or threats.
- Decide on how best to communicate. You and your team may need to get in touch directly and fast, and in a way that keeps everyone in the know. Settle on a system – phone, email, or otherwise – that works for the whole team.
- Develop a system for conflict resolution. In case team members have a difference, set up agreed upon ways to resolve the problem. You might agree to name a third party member of the team as a mediator, for instance.
Define roles and responsibilities.You probably chose each member of your team for a reason, to fulfill a certain purpose or with a role in mind. Make sure that each member is aware of how he adds to the system.
- Ideally, your team will act as your counselors and your eyes and ears. This sort of behavior, and a cohesive and less competitive team, is more likely if each member has a distinct role and feels as if they are valued for it.
- Show Bill that you value his twenty-five years of front-line service experience, for example. Show Natalia that you rely on her to outline more efficient workplace procedures. And demonstrate to Sarah that her knowledge of your supply networks is crucial.
- Employees who are sure of their place in the system are also more likely to voice uncomfortable truths. A team with defined roles is less likely to be one of “yes-men.”
Acknowledge and reward your team.When it comes to motivation, the carrot is better than the stick. Praise often and criticize only when absolutely necessary. Do not take performance for granted and give your team members credit for a job well done. This will reflect well on your leadership and serve to motivate the team.
- You can reward your team in different ways. If you have money, give raises. If not, offer them more control over their work or increased flexibility on the job. Reward them and show your trust.
- Don’t just reward individual accomplishment. Stop to note the team’s progress as a whole. You could even create a system where team members can “nominate” colleagues for acknowledgement.
- Prioritize and focus on a few gaps at a time.
- Talent is natural. It can be enhanced but not created. Skills can be created, so your HR department must play a critical role with this process.
Video: How to Create a High Performance Team
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