ALERT: Leadership Training for Supervisors Is Being Disrupted


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Most all contact center executives know they need to respond aggressively to the fact that we are in a state of massive transformation and disruption in the marketplace. The contact center has been targeted as a pivotal organizational component in this age of disruption that we live in. To be intentional and proactive in their response, executives are investing in the transformation of their training courses in leadership for supervisors because the frontline is where the customer-centric battle will be won.

Most often, contact center senior leaders promote their best agents to be supervisors without equipping them (more than 50% fail) with vital new leadership skills focused on the six core competencies they must develop. Being a good agent does not translate to being a good supervisor. If leadership training is provided, it’s typically provided via traditional classroom workshops or seminars that are known to deliver very low return on investment for leadership development, impact and learner interest.

Skilled learning and development professionals are responding to this massive supervisor skill gap problem by moving towards more innovative and effective corporate learning designs and solutions to keep up with the high-velocity changes they’re experiencing.

We are living in a time where entire industries are being reshaped with old-school routine business models being rendered useless in favor of more agile people, plans and processes. And traditional frontline supervisor leadership development must be transformed for organizations to have a competitive chance.

Supervisor Training Reset

A major reset is what contact center executives need in regards to frontline supervisor leadership training. They must turn their lens inward with urgency now. Only then can they be able to create a new legacy of building customer experience excellence needed to increase organizational performance at scale in the face of this new economic acceleration. The foundational building blocks for making this supervisor training reset can be found in the following key points and laid out in the Supervisor Success Blueprint.

1. Learning in Community

Executives need to think and remember how they gain much of their learning. Like most leaders a majority of learning comes from their community of peers. Expanding knowledge and identifying opportunities and pitfalls to avoid is one of the greatest points of value from networking and sharing. Emerging and existing frontline leaders need to have access to a Professional Community of Practice (CoP) to gain confidence, ideas, and support others as part of their leadership development. A CoP with managed and curated discussion and content has been proven in other industries as a key contributor to the success of succession planning, building leadership bench strength, accelerating learning and prompting more action-taking.

2. Bite-size Learning

Micro-learning is booming. There’s a significantly higher adoption rate of mobile learning by organizations, research shows that nearly 70% of learners prefer to use their smartphones for learning. Because of this, the focus is now shifting to using more micro-learning design formats that work effectively on smartphones and can be used to offer high-impact learning experiences. These shorter nuggets of learning are designed to meet a specific outcome or part of a longer learning path (like supervisor leadership development) and can be easily consumed by learners on the go.

3. On-demand Learning

On-demand and on-point training enables a more agile and responsive organization – and people have been conditioned to be impatient. Society is now used to having information at our fingertips, finding the answers we want and need within minutes. This immediacy has dramatically changed people’s expectations of training at work. More and more employees are taking control of their own learning and challenging traditional training practices that take too long to respond to their needs. When training can’t be accessed when needed or isn’t exactly what they need – it results in lower long-term productivity and morale because learning cannot be applied right away.

4. Experiential Learning

Kolb and Frye, two leaders in adult educational theory, say that adults learn best through active participation and reflection – learning by doing. This method of learning is called “experiential” versus hands-on or apprenticeship because it involves doing and observation as well as discussion. To be agile and meet the needs of modern learners, Virtual Boot Camps or Challenge Courses deliver on Kolb and Frye’s four-part cycle of experiential learning:

  1. The learner has concrete experience with the content being taught.
  2. The learner reflects on the experience by comparing it to prior experiences.
  3. Based on experience and reflection, the learner develops new ideas about what’s being taught.
  4. The learner acts on her/his new ideas by experimenting in an experiential setting.

When the new ideas are put into action, they raise the likelihood of creating new and higher performing behaviors. This type of learning for frontline supervisor leadership development provides greater value than classroom settings because they are able to place their new skills in context of their specific situation with their specific team members.

5. Industry Insight

Insights form the foundation of the creative thinking and innovation process. Insight is the igniter of what you should do next, and a catalyst for creating new value for your customers. The desperate need for frontline supervisors to be more creative and innovative contributors to customer experience supremacy requires access to industry insights. Merely learning more about what your organization does will never enable the ability to improve and transform it. Innovation only occurs through the capture of industry insight, reflection and new idea generation as a process. Incorporating access to industry insight into a supervisor’s success path can be provided through Mastermind Webinars, curated community content, open Q&A and micro-learning in a continuous learning framework.

Use a Digital Mindset

Executives need to think and do their supervisor training transformation with a digital mindset. More specifically, they must re-engineer not as a set of training events that are delivered at a certain time and in certain places, but instead incorporate learning and development directly and continuously into the daily activities of work. Developing an approach of always-on, always-available digital blended learning allows a contact center to meet existing and emerging supervisors in a more responsive and personalized fashion. With the speed of business, this is no longer a luxury – it’s now vital to organizational health, readiness and operating effectiveness.

Leading with Agility

Executives need to incorporate organizational agility everywhere – and it must start with taking a more agile approach with training supervisors since it’s the frontline leader that manages organizational agility. Contact center executives must realize there are no processes, people or programs immune to the age of disruption. To be static and complacent is to invite defeat. With the opportunity to take advantage of more modern learning methods and tools, executives can build deep domain expertise in organizational agility through strong supervisor leadership.

Know Your Metrics

Learning activities need to link to clear business outcomes. Without question, every single metric a contact center executive tracks are directly impacted by frontline supervisor skills. As you place digital and blended learning in the flow of work, demonstrating the commercial impact of this employee-centric design is vital. Past history reveals that during challenging economic times, training is one of the first things eliminated. Measuring how skills, behavior and knowledge are allowing the individual employee and organization to deliver faster, smarter and better is essential to avoiding that bad practice. Clearly linking supervisor leadership training and development to key performance measures ensures the organization will leap forward when the economy rebounds.

Time to Thrive

Incorporating these five key points effectively to enhance the leadership strength of frontline contact center supervisors is the biggest challenge of our industry. Executed well, it also serves as a catalyst to unlock greater contact center value for your organization. Perhaps most important, it means the difference between thriving in this age of disruption and being crushed by it. Now is the time for you to take this special invitation to transform.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Rembach
Jim Rembach is recognized as a Top 50 Thought Leader and CX Influencer. He's a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner and host of the Fast Leader Show podcast and president of Call Center Coach, the world's only virtual blended learning academy for contact center supervisors and emerging supervisors. He’s a founding member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s CX Expert Panel, Advisory Board Member for Customer Value Creation International (CVCI), and Advisory Board Member for CX University.


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