Experience the power of getting to know your employees

Egan-Vicky-174-4By Vicky Egan, RCDA Senior Consultant

We’ve all heard the old adage that employees leave managers, not companies. A recent study conducted by TINYpulse, an employee engagement firm, surveyed 400 full-time U.S. employees showing that supervisors make or break retention: Employees with managers that respect their work and ideas are 32% less likely to think about looking for a new job.

A healthy supervisor-employee relationship is critical to stemming attrition.  The turnover cost of a call center agent making $28,000 per year averages 16% of their salary. That includes the costs of hiring and training a new employee, and the slower productivity until the new employee gets up to speed in their new job (Center for American Progress study, November 2012). A 500 seat call center with an average annual attrition rate of 35% will spend in excess of $780,000 in employee turnover costs.

What are some simple methods to create stronger relationships between supervisor and agent in the call center? Many methods aren’t expensive or time-consuming. One tactic is simply getting to know your employee better and show genuine interest in them. You can do this by having a 15-30 minute interview when a new agent starts on the team. We call the interview a “Getting to Know You” meeting. The meeting should consist of 70% personal questions and 30% business-related questions. We focus on personal questions so the supervisor truly gets to know about the agent’s family, hobbies, interests and preferences. Using this information during coaching and evaluation sessions helps build a healthy relationship and creates an environment that encourages trust, teamwork and excellence and lowers the agent’s natural resistance to coaching, helping drive performance and accountability. We use this information to establish rapport and a connection in the workplace and during coaching sessions.

How you conduct the “Getting to Know You” meeting is important. It cannot be unplanned or spontaneous. Have the questions ready ahead of time. Possible questions might be:

  • Have you always lived in the [city] area?
  • (If not) What brought you to [city]?
  • Nickname
  • Birthday (month and day only)
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • Hobbies
  • Sports teams
  • Strengths – Outside of work
  • What things outside of work are you really good at?
  • What do you want to get better at?

Career goals

  • What are you career goals inside and outside of our company?

Coaching and developing

  • Tell me how I can best help you be successful?
  • How do you want me to coach you?
  • How should I communicate with you?
  • How do you want to be recognized?

To make the “Getting to Know You” meeting even more effective, follow these tips for success:

  • Meet in a neutral place away from the workstation.
  • Keep the meeting light and enjoyable. Smile!
  • Start with personal information rather than business.
  • Keep the conversation 70% personal, 30% business-related.
  • Look for things you have in common and build the conversation from there.
  • Adhere to HR guidelines and stay away from sensitive topics.
  • Focus on getting to know you. Stay away from setting expectations, coaching or an accountability session.
  • Only make commitments you know you can keep.
  • Maintain a two-way conversation with both of you sharing.
  • Only ask questions about personal, shareable information—career goals, desired recognition—not about likes and dislikes about the job.
  • Be genuine!

The best supervisors create a welcoming work environment by making their employees feel valued and respected. Retention tactics don’t have to be expensive or complicated. Simply making an effort to get to know your employees better goes a long way toward job satisfaction.

Learn more about RCDA.