Thursday, 1 March 2018

Nurturing Our Talent

Written by
Mike Galea, Department Manager, Training and Organisational Development

I think we’ve all heard of new managers in the contact centre industry being “thrown in at the deep end” and then left to “sink or swim”. Put yourself in the boots of such a manager– imagine how it feels. Just yesterday you were an advisor, and you understood every aspect of your role. You always provided first-class customer service, helping customers quickly and effectively, meeting all your targets. Now, finally, all your hard work has been recognised: you’ve been promoted!

You’re euphoric at first, naturally. But then you’re handed a team of 15 people to lead– your team– and soon other emotions come to the fore. Self-doubt. Fear. Even a deep dread of failing. You don’t really know what you’re doing, but you’re just expected to “get on with it”.

It’s not a pretty picture, right? Some make it and transform into amazing managers; many don’t and are forever impacted by the experience. So why would the contact centre industry– an industry which is all about people– think this status quo is acceptable?

At Kura, we do things differently. Our vision is to be “unrivalled in developing people”: we want everyone in the business to have the skills and the support that they need to be the best that they can be. I joined Kura over a year ago to help make sure that this vision becomes a reality. We don’t just want to be good– we want to be the best.

When I started in my role as Organisation Development Manager, I had two questions:

  • What is it that people at Kura need to succeed, to thrive and to feel supported when they’re promoted?
  • What support do existing managers need to grow their capabilities and skillset?

From the outset, it was clear that there was no single answer to either of these questions. People are different: everyone has their own strengths and development areas. What one person might find interesting and helpful, another might find dull and of little value. I knew a blanket approach would never work, so instead I created options.

Last June I launched our Management Fundamentals programme, a range of courses targeted at all levels of capability, from newly promoted managers to our most experienced and tenured leaders. No workshops were mandatory. Instead I simply encouraged managers to sign up for courses that they liked the sound of– and they did!

In fact, the demand has been so great that the Organisational Development team has now grown to include two additional Business Partners and our Logistics Coordinator, Jacyln. The courses have already reached over 200 managers across Kura’s sites in Glasgow, Liverpool and Forres.

We’ve delivered sessions on coaching, leadership, communication, time management, personal development, performance management, objective setting, 1-2-1s and effective team briefings. We’re also now preparing to expand our original programme with new courses on presentation skills, negotiation, relationship management and problem solving.

Encouraging self-development is also a big focus for us. We often learn by teaching, and I receive regular stories and updates from managers who have shared the theories, concepts and models they’ve explored with their own teams, often delving deeper through additional reading and research. Passing these concepts on during team huddles and meetings really does demonstrate a cultural desire for continuous improvement.

On top of all this, I felt it was really important that we start formally training our rising stars before they become managers. This idea gave birth to our Future Managers programme, a separate suite of courses for people in the business who have been earmarked for promotion.

When we say that our vision is to be “unrivalled in developing people”, we’re being completely serious. Managers elsewhere in the contact centre industry may be left to “sink or swim”, but that isn’t how things work at Kura. We know that although everyone is different, everyone can succeed. That’s why it doesn’t matter whether our people swim, sail or surf to success; what matters is that we give them the support that they need at every stage of their journey.

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