A little appreciation can go a long way

Pustelak-Lisa-174-3By Lisa Pustelak, RCDA Senior Consultant

We have all been taught that it’s polite (and the right thing to do) to say please and thank you. Why is it so hard then for us to tell people we appreciate them or their work?

Working in several contact centers over the past few years, one thing I hear the most from front-line team members is that management doesn’t appreciate what we do.

While working at a site in Alabama at the beginning of this year, I met a team leader who did a fabulous job of simply appreciating the fact that each of her team members and anyone else she ran into during the day actually showed up for work. On the surface it may seem like an insincere gesture, but it didn’t come off that way at all. And in speaking with her, I learned that she truly was thankful they came to work that day so they could take more customer calls. She even thanked me for being there to support them every time I saw her!

This leader demonstrated one of the principles of The Quality Conversation: taking a genuine interest by expressing her appreciation with excellence. Teaching teams how to have The Quality Conversation is just one of the onsite services we offer at RCDA.

Fear or money…or appreciation

Typically we see leaders trying to motivate by one of two ways: fear or money. While leading by fear may get the job done today, this type of leadership will not give you sustained behaviors that will produce desired results. While money is in fact a motivator for many, it’s not everyone’s key desire. Very few people will tell you that they are not motivated by being recognized or appreciated.

While a simple thank you for coming to work today or recognizing an improvement in a particular metric is very easy to do and doesn’t cost a penny, many leaders just don’t do it.

Now I can hear some of you saying, “You don’t understand. There isn’t much with my team to be thankful for!” Yes, this may be a new way of thinking for you. And yes, your team may need a lot of work, but as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Taking the first step

So how can you take that first step in showing more appreciation for your employees? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Thank them for coming to work today or for being on time.
  • Thank someone for the positive attitude they bring to the team.
  • Tell someone how much you appreciate the improvement they have shown in a particular area.
  • Say thank you to your team members who help each other out.
  • When you hear a particularly good call, or even a part of a good call, thank that agent for treating your customer right.

Out of the comfort zone

I have a few words of caution. If this is a new idea for you, it’s going to feel very uncomfortable, and that’s ok. Getting out of the comfort zone is how we grow. Your team may think you’ve lost it and give you some really funny looks. That’s ok, too. When they change behaviors to improve, you’ll get used to it. They will get used to your new behaviors as well. Lastly, your appreciation must be genuine! Dig deep within yourself to be able to truly appreciate your team members.

Finally, thank you for all you do! Without organizations like yours, RCDA wouldn’t exist.

Learn more about RCDA and customized Quality Conversation programs.