The Value Proposition impacts multiple, higher level business outcomes such as building capability, commitment and alignment and continues to even higher levels of business outcomes such as individual and team excellence. All levels are directed toward driving business outcomes in a positive fashion. Regardless of the exact words used to capture any given call centre’s Leadership Value Proposition, one thing is sure, the elements identified above need to be well thought out, deeply internalised, communicated, executed and measured − continuously. |
At its core, a great call centre Leadership Value Proposition encompasses everything call centre employees experience throughout their tenure with the organisation − including satisfaction from the work they do, their comfort and “fit” within the call centre environment, the quality of leadership, their relationships with their co-workers, compensation, benefits, etc. A great Value Proposition always encompasses the many ways an organisation fulfills the needs, expectations and aspirations, of both incumbents and applicants, and should provide the reason, everyday, for why a call centre leader or individual contributor should recommit to giving their absolute best.
Most importantly, a great Value Proposition connects winning talent leadership practices to business and operating metrics. As was discussed in the first paper in this series, there exists no better way to create the belief in the value of the human capital asset, than by demonstrating the connectedness between winning talent leadership practices and operating success. Talent responds positively when they can see and feel the connection between their efforts and positive organizational outcomes. What a great Value Proposition is not, is fancy words in a brochure; motivational posters hung around the call centre floor, or a loose connection of HR programmes and initiatives.
A call centre’s ability to combat the myriad external and internal challenges cited in Part I of this series, exists in direct proportion to the strength and vibrancy of that centre’s execution of the four critical talent leadership practices: talent acquisition and deployment, talent development and engagement, talent benchmarking, and how well the centre truly differentiates and affirms employee performance across the board.
The most successful call centres develop creative recruiting strategies and tactics (e.g., career portals where the CEO or senior vice president of the call centre delivers an engaging message to candidates). They screen and select only those candidates who demonstrate the highest probability of being successful (expressed as a comparison between a candidate’s assessed talent profile and a profile of successfully performing incumbents), of staying with the organisation (being retained) and of remaining committed to their job (staying engaged). Successful call centres provide a rich, dynamic and compelling learning and performance support environment in which leaders and individual contributors are continually motivated and stimulated to become better. They provide benchmarking and certification opportunities for call centre employees to prove, on a continuous basis, that they possess the knowledge, skills and abilities required for success in a rapidly changing environment, and they reward and recognise those who truly execute at the highest levels. These are the foundational steps required for combating all external and internal challenges.
A strong Talent Leadership foundation leads to: capability, commitment and alignment.
Great call centres excel in creating the belief that their people “can do” (i.e., that they possess the capability), “will do” (i.e., that they maintain their commitment and motivation) and “must do” (i.e., that their talents are properly aligned with organisational needs) that is required for success, now and into the future. To put this in different words, when talented call centre people are trained and “nourished” to excel in their work, when they are provided a rich, engaging environment in which there is passion about doing great work and truly making a difference and when they perceive a connection and alignment between their work and the realization of organisational goals great things happen (i.e., individual and team excellence). This is termed as “Pull Magic”, where employees are passionate about being “pulled” in a direction of individual and organisational greatness. Many call centres, because they haven’t created this type of environment, achieve the opposite. In the absence of pull strategies, they resort to “Push” strategies, where people perceive being “pushed” in a direction most likely to benefit the organisation − not the individual.
Centres where push strategies are the dominant approach to driving organisational results tend to experience greater employee dissatisfaction, higher turnover, shrinking talent recruitment pools and higher employee disengagement. Individual contributors lose sight of the relationship between their efforts and the organisation’s success. Push strategies facilitate the growth of organizational climates characterised by a division between management and individual contributors.
Individual contributors feel disconnected. They increasingly disengage. A kind of “outcome myopia” emerges where decisions about discretionary effort and levels of engagement are based on what individuals perceive as good for themselves personally, effectively disregarding what is good for organisational success overall. Push strategies can encourage individual contributors to perceive management as a primary obstacle to the successful execution of their jobs, and they foster the belief that their interests are in direct conflict with management’s. They view their work environment as “Us vs. Them”, with “us” being the individual contributors, and “them” being management (most often expressed as “senior” management due to the fact that responsibility for managerial decisions largely bypasses first-line supervisors, as those supervisors develop working rapport with their teams by “siding” with their teams on unpleasant or unpopular management decisions).
The greater the push, the more visible the distinction becomes. And it doesn’t stop there. Push strategies quickly become self-perpetuating cycles. Because push strategies create employee resistance, management finds itself in the unpleasant position of having to “push” harder and harder to drive organisational results. And of course that leads to more resistance, which leads to more “push”, etc. Ultimately, that cycle has to be broken, and it can only be broken by the kind of intense commitment to improving talent leadership, which will result in “pull” rather than “push.”
-- By Dr Cabot Jaffee
(The author is chairman, Global Talent Metrics, a talent technology company and an HR thought leader.)