For contact center agents, it sometimes feels like either the workday drags on or it flies by with a flash. But maybe there is a happy medium for your agents - like when you are playing your favorite game or sport and completely lose track of time.
Some people refer to that phenomenon as “being in the zone.” In positive psychology it is known as “flow.” “Flow is when a person is engaged in a doable task, is able to focus, has a clear goal, receives immediate feedback, moves without worrying, has a sense of control, has suspended the sense of self, and has temporarily lost a sense of time” (Psychology Today, 2015).
“Flow” can be established when agents are able to concentrate, without boredom or stress.
It might sound abstract, but it’s possible. So, let’s breakdown “flow” into a few tactical strategies that can be used in a modern call center utilizing performance management software.
- Set clear goals.
Goal setting is the first crucial step to achieve “flow.” Helping call center agents set specific, measurable, and realistic goals can increase their focus and motivation.
Set your agents up for success by having them document their goals. A study by psychologist Gail Matthews showed when people wrote down their goals, they were 33% more successful in achieving them than those who thought of outcomes in their heads (Psychology Today, 2015).
On top of individual goals, you can set team, floor, or companywide goals. This will help foster a social working environment and create a sense of accountability. Once goals are established, make sure there is an automated mechanism to display them visually in an intuitive and engaging format. This can be done with performance management dashboards or wallboards.
- Provide immediate feedback.
Providing your entire contact center, from executive to agent level, with real-time feedback will help everyone stay in “flow.” It would be nearly impossible to stay focused on a goal if the most recent feedback you’d received was from days or weeks ago. That would be as unmotivating and anticlimactic as playing basketball and having to wait a week to see if you made a basket.
In a contact center, immediate feedback can be provided through performance management software that offers real-time data in a ready-to-view format.
- Give agents ownership of their work.
According to a study on this concept, “Psychological ownership led employees to exhibit more positive work attitudes, such as higher levels of organizational commitment and job satisfaction, and more positive behaviors” (Wiley Online Library, 2017).
Creating ownership at work doesn’t mean you have to give every employee stock in your company. Psychological ownership is when employees feel a high degree of personal control over their work and believe they contribute to organizational success.
There are a variety of ways to create a sense of psychological ownership amongst contact center agents, including encouraging agents to speak up; delegating tasks and roles to them; explaining the “why” behind tasks and mandates; and offering positive reinforcement.
- Match challenge with competency.
Matching challenge with competency means not under- or overchallenging your employees. My first job at a flower shop was busy enough to keep me occupied, but not stressed out. The challenge of making the floral arrangements on a regular day matched my competency. However, on Valentine’s Day, I was running around like a mad woman with petals in my hair, and by the end of the day, I felt like a failure. The challenge was too difficult for my competency.
Don’t subject your agents to a Valentine’s Day work scenario. Your new agents shouldn’t be taking on the same load as your seasoned agents. Your seasoned agents can handle “Valentine’s Day,” but your new agents need to ease their way into it over time.
Set performance objectives based on individual competency and watch your new and veteran agents stay engaged -- even on Monday mornings.