Call centres facing self-imposed effectiveness hell

The Mirror has an exclusive report, Call centre staff facing targets hell.

Workers in call centres in Britain claim they are being treated like battery hens and say conditions are getting worse.

The Mirror has uncovered shocking working conditions with some staff allowed just EIGHT minutes for their toilet breaks during an eight-hour shift and others getting warnings for being 30 seconds late back from lunch.

In another case, a woman was refused permission to leave her work station because her child was taken ill at school because it would have left the call-centre undermanned.

With the hyperbole turned down a notch or two, we can see the glaring omission from the article. The thing that is missing is that any company with a call centre where they are doing the things that The Mirror describes, will actually be hurting their own effectiveness. Of course call centres should stop monitoring toilet breaks and reduce bullying for the sake of the staff, but they should also do it because the organisation will perform better.

Just doing more of what you agree with is dogma

If there is a genuine need to get better, why do call centres not try things with an open mind? Why do they not try being open, honest and trusting to their staff to see how that goes?

The reason is twofold. Firstly, the current mindset is all about economies of scale, sweating your assets (staff) and focusing on individual performance. Secondly, they don’t get PDSA. They don’t understand that you have to experiment with every method to see if it works. Just doing more of what you think with no proper evaluation is dogma, not improvement. I can’t tell you the number of times working with clients when a staff member has suggested something that both the managers and I have thought could not possibly work, which worked brilliantly.

Fail fast, learn fast

It is genuine PDSA when staff are trying things that managers are not sure about or completely disagree with. To do that staff need to experiment fast and have a rigorous method of evaluation and implementation. If it works, put it in place quickly, if it doesn’t work, throw it out and learn from it. Managers also have to understand that people learn best by doing, not by being told what won’t work. Staff also need support from managers to do this.

Let them fail. Let them fail fast. See them learn faster than you could possibly have imagined.



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