You just promoted me to supervisor—now what?

Customer contact centers provide a great example of how demonstrating the right skills can quickly propel a person up the corporate ladder regardless of education or class privilege. These workplace environments tend to be a real-life representation of meritocracy where talent is rewarded with advancement. In fact, most customer contact center leaders whom I have encountered started on the phones. 

A possible disaster in waiting

While this meritocracy can create a highly competitive work environment, it can also be a disaster in waiting if you don’t have the right leadership training program in place for new leaders.

Here’s a common example. Your organization is growing, and you need six new supervisors. Each will be required to lead a team of 12 to 15 employees who have been on the job from one month to three years.  You’ve decided to hire three new supervisors from the outside and promote three internally.  

Let’s look at the three internal hires first.  We have found that customer contact centers tend to promote people who have handled calls with excellence, but they may or may not have any leadership experience. Even if they do, supervising a team of 12 to 15 agents in this setting can be a different animal than supervising in other types of operations. 

Customer contact centers assign newly promoted supervisors a team and a mentor. The mentor is usually an experienced supervisor. In essence, new supervisors move from a position where they have had great success and find themselves thrown into the frying pan. They must suddenly juggle 15 balls and all of the administrative tasks that come with the position.  This can be daunting, and, again, a recipe for disaster.  

The external hires may come with some leadership skills from previous employment, but they don’t know how to lead based on your company’s mission, vision, values and goals. So again, they receive their team assignment and apply what has made them successful in the past. This is not necessarily what is going to make them successful at your company.

Leadership training imperative

The first six months for the new supervisors can be very frustrating to everyone involved, their direct reports, their manager, their peers and especially themselves.  This is why it is imperative to have a solid leadership training program for new leaders in place to effectively onboard new supervisors (and for that matter, all new leaders).  

The transfer of essential skills is critical to success.  Just because new supervisors were top performers on the phone a month ago does not mean that they will be good at transferring those skills to their new employees. They might not even know how to conduct effective skill transfer. They probably will not know how to manage and balance the challenge of having 15 new employees, supervisor calls, administrative tasks, meetings and other new responsibilities.

A proper leadership training program for new leaders has two critical steps:

  1. Transfer leadership skills to the new supervisor.
  2. Teach the new supervisor how to transfer skills to their employees to make them successful on the phones.

New Leader University

I like calling such a program a New Leader University. Having this in place reduces turnover and improves overall performance and morale, which directly translates to a positive impact on the customer experience (CE) and net promoter score (NPS).

At Robert C. Davis and Associates, we use New Leader Universities to better equip leadership to build a customer experience culture with their internal customers (employees) and external customers. This culture must align with your company mission, vision, values and goals. 

For more than 30 years, we have garnered experience training and coaching call center employees based on proven principles that are pivotal to business success. Our training makes integral changes to the entire culture of the contact center, not simply the scripts your teams are working with.

Let’s schedule a free strategy session on how RCDA can help you ensure success for your new supervisors. Email me at brad@robertcdavis.net or call me at 512-695-2511 any time.

– Brad Baumunk, Senior Consultant, Robert C. Davis and Associates