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How To Recognize Top-Performing Team Leaders

by Mary Ann Bucklan, Director of Research, Employment Technologies - August 24, 2017


By Mary Ann Bucklan, Director of Research, Employment Technologies
Let’s face it:  call centers can be stressful places for employees! These jobs are often emotionally demanding. And, as we discussed in articles on our company blog, call center team leaders face challenges too. It is their job to keep agents motivated and to provide encouragement in meeting goals under often difficult circumstances.
For more than two decades, our research team has also studied call center performance and has examined the role of team leaders in detail. To gain an in-depth understanding of the team leader role, we conducted a series of interviews and surveys with successful call center team leaders and their supervisors. We worked with seven leading call centers, gathering insights from hundreds of effective team leaders and supervisors across the U.S.  We wanted to know what the best team leaders have in common. Specifically:
·         What core competencies do top team leaders share? 
·         What personal attributes do the best team leaders have in common?
Results of this research clearly identified the specific competencies and attributes shared among the best of the best. We also pinpointed the key activities top team leaders perform to keep their teams engaged and motivated to achieve peak performance.
Core Competencies of a Top-Performing Team Leader
Our research shows that an effective call center team leader maintains a positive attitude and is always ready to support his or her team members. Those surveyed listed the following core competencies as consistently important in effective team leaders.
·         Building Relationships.  A successful call center leader has good interpersonal skills and works well with people. They truly care about their agents and want them to succeed. 
·         Coaching.  An effective team leader constantly reminds the team “This is the goal. This is how to achieve it. I know we can do it!”
·         Communication.  A top-performing call center leader is someone who communicates effectively with people on all levels and circumstances.
·         Problem Solving.  If an employee starts to struggle or performance wanes, then an astute team leader pays attention to performance indicators to identify the issues or problems to be solved.
·         Team Building.  Great team leaders are friendly and caring with the team. They provide a fun and supportive atmosphere in the call center. While they enjoy working as a team, the best team leaders understand the line between supervisor and friend.
Personal Attributes of a Successful Team Leader
In addition to those core leader competencies, the most effective team leaders are respected because they know the job. If they don’t know the answer to a particular problem, they roll up their sleeves to figure out how to handle it. They have the personal attributes necessary to lead well.
Those surveyed listed the following personal attributes as important in leaders: 
·         Analytical thinking.  A successful contact center leader helps team members find answers to customer issues that are outside the normal routine. 
·         Decisiveness.  Effective leaders don’t shy away from making decisions. They listen to input from their teams, and then make quick and effective decisions. 
·         Flexibility.  High-performing team leaders are adaptable and can think on their feet. They support their agents by quickly responding to changing circumstances in the call center, such as new or emerging issues, changes in call volume, etc. 
·         Time Management.  A successful contact center leader is well organized and able to handle several issues at once, prioritizing what to do first. 
·         Work Ethic.  The best contact center leaders have a positive attitude and set a good example. They serve as advocates for their teams and look for ways to help team members succeed.
When these core competencies and personal attributes are in place, team leaders will experience what those surveyed found to be the most rewarding part of the job: taking a situation where a team member is not performing well, and turning it around to create an environment for success.
As one team leader related, “What I love most about the job is having someone come back later and tell me, “You were the best manager I ever had.’”
Mary Ann Bucklan, M.S., is a Director of Research at Employment Technologies  where she uses more than over 20 years of experience in test development and validation research to collaborate on multimedia, web-delivered job simulations.  Mary Ann holds a B.S. in Psychology from University of Florida and an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from University of Central Florida.
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