Is motivating your Call Center Staff a full time job?

Feb 2
call center

Is motivating your Call Center Staff a full time job?

If you’re a Call Center Manager, you probably spend a fair bit of time wondering why your employees leave, how to get them to stay longer, and ideally how you can get them to.. wait for it.. enjoy what they’re doing. I’m not going to sugar coat it- it can be hard yakka, especially in an industry renowned for its churn. Motivation triggers can be different for different people, and as a manager sometimes the best you can do is create ideal working conditions. You’re not a shrink, after all.

Before you can begin to motivate your staff and put down the foundations for a call center team that is firing on all cylinders, it helps to understand what motivation is. In very basic terms, you can break motivation down into 2 types- intrinsic and extrinsic.


call center

Picture Credit.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is the reliance on external sources to motivate- you might have a team member who works wonderfully well when the pressure is on and a deadline is looming. Or another team member who hits every target and has everything prepared and in order for your regular meetings. It’s the carrot that gets them excited, or fear of the stick that spurs them into action.

Intrinsic Motivation

This is an internal form of motivation. It comes from a genuine enjoyment from doing something. A goal brings with it a sense of personal satisfaction- regardless of the tangible reward. It’s the fire in the belly, the get-up-and-go we all wish we had, all of the time.

No one person is completely extrinsically or intrinsically motivated. It can depend on the environment, the circumstances or what is happening in one’s life. It’s about striking the right balance. Generally speaking, if someone relies on external influences to maintain motivation, they may struggle to achieve certain goals outside a structured environment. Is this a problem in a call center? Perhaps not, if you have a high level of supervision and structure your staff member’s days. Extrinsic motivation can also come in handy when you need to give your staff a boost- offering a bonus, or a reward like a day off for achieving certain goals can be just the thing to kick start a lagging employee.

Ultimately, in a call center, you want people who aren’t reliant on you to motivate them, as this can quite frankly, be exhausting. If you focus on recruiting self-starters, then you can switch your time and energy to hitting your targets and improving your customer experience.

Recruiting intrinsically motivated people

It would be really nice if your call center team had a genuine love for what they do, enjoyed coming to work every day and got real joy out of speaking to your customers. This would free up a lot of the time you spend, as the call center manager, being the ‘chief motivator’ of your staff, which let’s face it sometimes is an all singing, all dancing extravaganza. The wonderful news is that you can increase the proportion of these people you hire by tweaking your recruitment process a little.

Recruiting intrinsically motivated people

Employee Referral Program

Seek out your shining stars and ask them if they know anyone who wants a job. This will save you time and costs on advertising, and hopefully your little stars hang out with other little stars and can bring their glow to your team. Also, people who care about their job aren’t likely to recommend anyone who won’t do a good job as it will reflect poorly on them.

Be clear on what you want

If you want self-motivated people (and we all do), put it in the job description. Look for it in cover letters or CV’s, when candidates describe themselves.

Probe them (nicely) in interviews

Use the interview process to dig a little deeper. First see if they spontaneously and naturally speak about being self-motivated (if they just re-wrote the job description in their cover letter/cv you’ll know pretty quickly).  Ask them for examples of having little structure or direction and how that was for them, and what results they achieved. If you want to be a little more interactive, pull out some flash cards with different personality traits and work styles on them, and ask them to pick the top 5 that they’d use to describe themselves. If self-motivated isn’t up there cut them loose.

Track down your old employees

If you’re lucky enough to be one of life’s self-motivated people, then chances are you apply this to whatever stage you are in your life. If you’ve had a wonderful self-starter in the past, track them down and see if they’d like a job. What’s there to lose?

Motivation is a tricky thing, and in life we are often motivated in different ways, by different things, at different times. As a call center manager, you want staff who enjoy talking to people, like achieving targets and generally get some ensure out of what they do. If people like what they do, and the conditions are right, then this will help you retain staff and stop the revolving door swinging away.

Flickr cc:David Lazar