At the heart of a fair trade call center’s philosophy is the fact that agent happiness leads to efficiency and productivity. While the majority of the corporate world is at a win-lose setup, fair trade entrepreneurship courageously pushes forward a win-win solution that has been proven to work.
But having encountered difficult employees in the past understandably makes this sound too idealistic and simplistic. Unlike the majority of profit-driven BPO companies, a fair trade call center deals with their misbehaving employees through egalitarian means based on fair trade outsourcing principles.
1. Discuss the problem calmly and privately.
Too often managers launch into an offensive mode, propelled by the notion that their position somehow makes them a cut above the rest (hint: it doesn't). Some even turn the conflict into a personal issue. It’s not uncommon to hear someone yelling "You’re such an idiot!" in the workplace.
Employees should never feel degraded at work. A good manager pulls the concerned employee aside and lays out the problem in a calm and professional manner: For example: "Hey, Chris, can I talk to you for a sec? You were not able to submit your reports on time. Is there a problem with the time given to you to finish them?" As much as possible, you don't want to have an awkward confrontation with your employee, but if you don't take action, problems will not solve themselves.
2. Listen. Don’t make assumptions.
"John is always late. His job probably isn't that important to him."
Good communication is integral to conflict resolution in every relationship -- business ones especially. After the problem has been identified, allow the employee to explain his side. Use open-ended questions instead of defensive or combative statements. When agents feel they can talk freely and open up, their trust towards their superiors increases. And respect, which fosters loyalty, is a far better motivator than fear will ever be.
And, the reason why John was always late? It turns out he was trying to avoid a bully at work after all.
3. Settle internal conflicts.
Tension and dissatisfaction at work cause an employee to under-perform. For instance, unresolved issues can cause an agent to lose focus on his tasks or worse, not to show up for work. When they feel victimized by injustice, they become resentful: Why give your best when the manager has favorites? Why spend an extra hour for work when you are underpaid and unappreciated? Other problems may include the following:
a. Abuse in the workplace
Would you be eager to show up at a place where your boss screams at you and your co-workers ridicule you for, say, a physical deformity or your religious belief?
If an employee has been working for some years at the same position, it’s inevitable that restlessness and boredom will sink in. They will be less enthusiastic about reporting to work. Offer challenges and chances of advancement.
c. Job mismatch
Some people feel their current position is incongruent with their strengths or aspirations. Be sensitive about what special talents or interests an applicant or an employee has, and capitalize on that. For instance, a call center agent with a talent in graphic design will welcome being transferred into an account where he can develop his artistic skills and earn from his passion.
4. Mentor your co-workers.
Many great people have someone in their life who made them realize their worth and purpose. While you're not aiming to make inspirational leaders out of every employee, you can’t deny that motivation can go a long way. To effectively coach an employee, remember that the goal is to make them realize they have performance issues and they should work on resolving them, and not be scared or overwhelmed by them.
5. Learn when to let go.
Pointing out the repercussions if the problem persists is not meant to instill fear, but to give the other person all the good and the bad about the issue at hand. Not only this serves as a warning, but also as a reminder of fairness and meritocracy. Laying out the consequences of one's action (or inaction) is also a way to show you care what happens to your employee.
When efforts have been made and an employee continues to disrupt office work and relations, it might be beneficial for the company to let him go, especially if it means the peace and safety of other workers. It’s not against fair trade call outsourcing principles to reprimand or remove employees if it’s proven that they violated the rights of others.
A good salary and job advancement encourage employees to improve themselves and further drive the company forward. But in return, a fair trade call center strives to make the workplace barren of discrimination, favoritism, and other forms of unfairness. Without negativity in the office, agents can focus on improving their capabilities and delivering an excellent performance.