Contact centers: methods for accurate forecasting

 

As a contact center manager, you should always seek balance. You need to make sure that the workload is handled effectively and professionally, without having so many agents that staffing costs become too great. Learning how to accurately forecast supply and demand in contact centers will lead to greater customer satisfaction, improved staff morale and better productivity.

Here are some useful forecasting methods for contact centers.

1. Time series analysis

Time series analysis is a popular method for contact center forecasting and uses historical data to help predict future workloads. This may seem overly simplistic, but time series analysis allows workforce managers to isolate data to see the effects of certain factors such as trend seasonality, as well as changes that might come about after a targeted sales drive, for example.

In addition to this it's important to analyze average handle time (AHT) patterns as these tend to vary throughout the day, as well as by day of week. Using inaccurate data can lead to under or overstaffing.

By isolating variables in this way workforce planners can get a better idea of how similar changes are likely to impact the call center workload in the future.

Accurate forecasting means you can better predict the workload in your contact centre.Better forecasting leads to happier customers and staff.

 2. Workload

With the above mentioned contact volume and AHT information, workload can be calculated. This is done by multiplying the number of forecast contacts for the interval by the average handle time, and then dividing by the number of seconds in the interval.

3. Erlang C calculations

Erlang C calculations are based on the work of a Danish mathematician and allow you to establish how many staff are required for a given contact volume based on meeting a certain service level goal.  This calculation provides the bodies in chairs requirement, i.e. how many staff would be required if they didn't take breaks, have meetings and one on ones, or take annual leave etc.

4. Shrinkage

In order to work out the total staffing requirement, shrinkage needs to be included. Shrinkage refers to the time during which agents are being paid but are unavailable to handle contacts or aren't working for other reasons such as being on a break, being in one on ones or in meetings etc. Including accurate shrinkage assumptions is critical to calculating staffing requirements as using incorrect data will lead to under and over staffing.

5. Attrition

It's no secret that attrition, or employee turnover, is high in the contact center industry. Hiring and training new employees is an expensive and time-consuming business, so having a firm grasp on the numbers when it comes to attrition rates is important in making sure there are always enough agents to meet the workload requirements.

Being aware of the rate at which agents leave the business can also be useful in working out manageable shift patterns and how flexible you can be with working hours, measures that may help you better retain your staff.

6. Outbound forecasting

While some of the same tools can be used for workforce management in outbound call centers, there are also some important differences. Outbound contact centers are more targeted, as staff often need to speak to a specific person.  Although the workload can be managed a little easier than inbound calls, as the business is more in control, they still need to ensure there are sufficient staff to handle the workload and that their staff can make the calls when the targeted recipient is most likely to be available.

Understanding how to forecast contact center staffing requirements is a good first step, but effective implementation and management of schedules are key. Call Design creates tailored workforce management courses and solutions to hone your skills and maximize the potential of your workforce. For more information, get in touch with Call Design today.


Contact centres: methods for accurate forecasting

 

As a contact centre manager, you should always seek balance. You need to make sure that the workload is handled effectively and professionally, without having so many agents that staffing costs become too great. Learning how to accurately forecast supply and demand in contact centres will lead to greater customer satisfaction, improved staff morale and better productivity.

Here are some useful forecasting methods for contact centres.

1. Time series analysis

Time series analysis is a popular method for contact centre forecasting, and uses historical data to help predict future workloads. This may seem overly simplistic, but time series analysis allows workforce managers to isolate data to see the effects of certain factors such as trend seasonality, as well as changes that might come about after a targeted sales drive, for example.

In addition to this it's important to analyse average handle time (AHT) patterns as these tend to vary throughout the day, as well as by day of week. Using inaccurate data can lead to under or overstaffing.

By isolating variables in this way workforce planners can get a better idea of how similar changes are likely to impact the call centre workload in the future.

Accurate forecasting means you can better predict the workload in your contact centre.Better forecasting leads to happier customers, and staff.

 2. Workload

With the above mentioned contact volume and AHT information, workload can be calculated. This is done by multiplying the number of forecast contacts for the interval by the average handle time, and then dividing by the number of seconds in the interval.

3. Erlang C calculations

Erlang C calculations are based on the work of a Danish mathematician, and allow you to establish how many staff are required for a given contact volume based on meeting a certain service level goal.  This calculation provides the bums in seats requirement, i.e. how many staff would be required if they didn't take breaks, have meetings and one on ones or take annual leave etc.

4. Shrinkage

In order to work out the total staffing requirement, shrinkage needs to be included. Shrinkage refers to the time during which agents are being paid to be on the phone but are unavailable to take calls, or aren't working for other reasons such as being on a break, being in one on ones or in meetings etc . Including accurate shrinkage assumptions is critical to calculating staffing requirements as using incorrect data will lead to under and over staffing.

5. Attrition

It's no secret that attrition, or employee turnover, is high in the contact centre industry. Hiring and training new employees is an expensive and time-consuming business, so having a firm grasp on the numbers when it comes to attrition rates is important in making sure there are always enough agents to meet the workload requirements.

Being aware of the rate at which agents leave the business can also be useful in working out manageable shift patterns and how flexible you can be with working hours - measures that may help you better retain your staff.

6. Outbound forecasting

While some of the same tools can be used for workforce management in outbound call centres, there are also some important differences. Outbound contact centres are more targeted, as staff often need to speak to a specific person.  Although the workload can be managed a little easier than inbound calls, as the business is more in control, they still need to ensure there are sufficient staff to handle the workload and that their staff can make the calls when the targeted recipient is most likely to be available.

Understanding how to forecast contact centre staffing requirements is a good first step, but effective implementation and management of schedules are key. Call Design creates tailored workforce management courses and solutions to hone your skills and maximise the potential of your workforce. For more information, get in touch with Call Design today.


Instilling purpose: Creating a cohesive contact center

 

With the number of social media users still on the increase, as reported in data from Sensis, it's crucial that companies present a consistent experience for customers across different channels.

Unfortunately that isn't happening.

In fact, only 14 percent of consumers strongly agree that companies effectively manage their experience across traditional and digital contact touch points, according to a study by Accenture. For contact center managers this means the pressure is on to ensure that your agents can successfully continue customer journeys which often begin in the digital sphere.

Here are some tips for providing consistent customer experiences through creating a cohesive contact center.

Setting targets is a good way to give agents an idea of what's expected of them.Work with your staff to set productive goals.

1. Setting contact center goals

One of the most important aspects of quality management is setting great goals.

First contact resolution should be a priority for managers in any customer-facing department, as 80 percent of consumers who switch providers do so because their problem wasn't solved at the initial time of asking, another finding from the Accenture report.

By establishing a clear framework of key performance indicators (KPIs) agents know what's expected of them when interacting with customers and have something to aim for. This will encourage them to continue to grow professionally and will translate to higher quality interactions with consumers.

2. Aligning the company

On average it takes 12 positive experiences to reverse the damage from just one bad one, according to customer experience expert Ruby Newell-Legner.

By creating a company-wide standard, with specific targets measuring different areas of performance, you establish a quality benchmark that customers will receive no matter which channel they choose to interact through. This greatly reduces the opportunities for these negative experiences to take place.

Create a unified framework of aims and objectivesAlign the company so everyone is pushing in the same direction.

3. The power of task ownership

It can be easy for staff to lose sight of how their individual tasks contribute to the goals of the business as a whole. This is especially true in a contact center setting where agents don't often see the products or services the company sells.

It's the role of the contact center manager, therefore, to instill a sense of purpose within the workforce, and there are a numbers of ways to do this:

  • Invest time and training in staff to help them solve problems for themselves.
  • Praise and encourage high quality performance.
  • Provide regular feedback.
  • Make sure they know why their work is important.

Identifying the need for a more consistent customer journey is a key step for quality management in contact centers. Call Design offers tailored training and solutions to help managers empower their agents to provide a continually excellent customer experience. For more information, get in touch with the team at Call Design today.


Instilling purpose: Creating a cohesive contact centre

 

With the number of Australians using social media still on the increase, as reported in data from Sensis, it's crucial that companies present a consistent experience for customers across different channels.

Unfortunately that isn't happening.

In fact, only 14 per cent of consumers strongly agree that companies effectively manage their experience across traditional and digital contact touch points, according to a study by Accenture. For contact centre managers this means the pressure is on to ensure that your agents can successfully continue customer journeys which often begin in the digital sphere.

Here are some tips for providing consistent customer experiences through creating a cohesive contact centre.

Setting targets is a good way to give agents an idea of what's expected of them.Work with your staff to set productive goals.

1. Setting contact centre goals

One of the most important aspects of quality management is setting great goals.

First-contact resolution should be a priority for managers in any customer-facing department, as 80 per cent of consumers who switch providers do so because their problem wasn't solved at the initial time of asking- another finding from the Accenture report.

By establishing a clear framework of key performance indicators (KPIs) agents know what's expected of them when interacting with customers, and have something to aim for. This will encourage them to continue to grow professionally, and will translate to higher quality interactions with consumers.

2. Aligning the company

On average it takes 12 positive experiences to reverse the damage from just one bad one, according to customer experience expert Ruby Newell-Legner.

By creating a company-wide standard, with specific targets measuring different areas of performance, you establish a quality benchmark that customers will receive no matter which channel they choose to interact through. This greatly reduces the opportunities for these negative experiences to take place.

Create a unified framework of aims and objectivesAlign the company so everyone is pushing in the same direction.

3. The power of task ownership

It can be easy for staff to lose sight of how their individual tasks contribute to the goals of the business as a whole. This is especially true in a contact centre setting where agents don't often see the products or services the company sells.

It's the role of the contact centre manager, therefore, to instill a sense of purpose within the workforce, and there are a numbers of ways to do this:

  • Invest time and training in staff to help them solve problems for themselves.
  • Praise and encourage high quality performance.
  • Provide regular feedback.
  • Make sure they know why their work is important.

Identifying the need for a more consistent customer journey is a key step for quality management in contact centres. Call Design offers tailored training and solutions to help managers empower their agents to provide a continually excellent customer experience. For more information, get in touch with the team at Call Design today.


What is the contingent workforce and how can you manage it?

In August 2018, over a third of US workers are part of the gig economy. Of these gig workers, more than 10 percent are contingent employees according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employing these workers presents unique opportunities and challenges for business mangers, but what exactly is the contingent workforce, and how best can you go about managing staff who fall into this category?

Defining the contingent workforce

The contingent workforce refers to people employed by a company on an on-demand, often short-term, basis. Examples include consultants, independent contractors or freelancers who aren't full-time employees and therefore don't appear on the company payroll.

They're often engaged through a recruitment agency to cover staffing shortages and sudden increases in workloads. This workforce offers a flexible solution to these problems without the costs associated with hiring and onboarding full-time employees.

Often staff engaged on this casual basis receive fewer, if any benefits, and lower salaries than permanent personnel. However, bringing in external manpower can be daunting to managers. These people aren't aligned with your business's goals, workflow and culture - so how do you manage them effectively?

Here are some key tips to maximizing the potential benefits of the contingent workforce.

1. Integration is key

Integrating all newcomers is a key responsibility for anyone in a leadership position.

This refers to both social and professional integration, as the two are intrinsically linked. Companies that make workplace collaboration a priority are twice as likely to be profitable, according to research by Deloitte, so encouraging a culture of teamwork and social integration should be top of the to-do list for managers of contingent staff. Have a look at these suggestions for how you can achieve this:

  • Send an email to existing employees prior to the arrival of contingent workers to introduce them.
  • A team lunch or coffee on the first day can be a great welcome and a way for everyone to get to know each other.
  • Provide a volunteer 'buddy' from your permanent workforce to help new staff get used to the surroundings and procedures.
  • Include them in social events outside office hours to help them get to know their peers.

As you would with any new personnel, full onboarding and training should compliment social integration and is integral in allowing contingent workers to effectively complete the tasks you will assign them.

Integrating newcomers is a key responsibility for anyone in a leadership position.

2. Make your expectations clear

One of the challenges of managing the contingent workforce is ensuring they're aligned with the aims and objectives of the organization as a whole.

A crucial step in bringing casual workers up to speed with what's expected of them is setting clear performance targets. These can take the shape of individual and team goals, both of which come with unique benefits:

  • Individual goals: The provision of SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) objectives gives something tangible to aim for, as well as providing team leaders with a way to measure performance and progress. This is something we'll return to shortly.
  • Team goals: Including contingent workers in team-wide goals not only aids with the integration process, but also gives them a sense of responsibility and understanding for how their personal efforts impact the team and, by extension, business as a whole.
Both contingent staff and full-time employees should have clear goals.Giving contingent staff clear goals is a good way to engage them with your workflow.

3. Track their performance

Quality management software is a great asset for team leaders. It allows you to to assess the day-to-day performance of staff to ensure standards remain consistently high.

Having core performance data at your fingertips means you can determine whether your contingent staff are achieving the targets you set, and identifies areas where further training is needed. It also provides the opportunity to recognize and praise those exceeding expectations.

One of the challenges of managing the contingent workforce is ensuring they're aligned with your aims and objectives. 

4. Make communication easy

There's a lot to communicate when managing the contingent workforce. As well as providing regular feedback on performance, listening to their experiences is critical to improving your contingent worker strategies in the long term.

Keeping an eye on time frames is also a must. Be open when talking about ongoing work, and when contingent staff are two months out from completing their contract start the conversation about next steps. If your initial reason for engaging them was due to a workload increase, effective forecasting should allow you to plan for future trends, but even if you can't give any concrete information, keeping them in the loop is important if you to wish to renew their contract.

Contingent staff can provide added flexibility to businesses should the unexpected happen, but proper management is key. Call Design provides tailored training and solutions to equip you with the essential skills to effectively unlock the potential of this workforce. For more information, get in touch with our team today.


The benefits and importance of good performance management

 

Recent years have seen changes to the way companies track, assess and acknowledge employee performance, with great effect. In fact, 90 percent of companies that have restructured their performance see direct improvements in engagement, according to a survey by Deloitte. These are statistics that contact center managers can't afford to ignore.

Performance management is the process by which agents and managers collaborate to design, monitor and act upon employee objectives, and establish how they feed into the organization's overall direction. But why is good performance management so important?

1. It helps leaders set the right goals

Giving employees a clear vision of what's expected of them, and how this contributes to the overall success of the contact center, is one of the greatest benefits of good performance management.

It's important to learn how to set the right targets for your organization, as this doesn't just involve plucking a number out of thin air. Too high and staff will feel overwhelmed and may not even attempt to reach it, too low and the targets won't contribute to improving performance.

Contact centres should set targets that are achievable, but encourage improvement. There's an art to setting good targets for your workforce.

Performance management gives managers a good idea of each employee's contribution to the requirements of the contact center, and enables them to set targets to improve task execution in a productive, but healthy, manner. By aligning your agents with the aims of the contact cenere as a whole, they can take greater ownership of the business through their own goals.

A good performance target is attainable, but also requires improvement to be reached.

However, the job isn't finished when the targets are set. Managers should regularly review data and use it to make change where necessary. These actionable insights can be a red flag for managers if an employee, or department, is regularly missing their targets, or can prompt rewards for success.

We'll discuss the practical results of good performance management further below, but for now suffice to say that it's an important tool by which managers can gain a fuller understanding of what's working well in their contact center, as well as areas that need improvement.

2. It will improve workforce productivity

As well as empowering individual agents in their daily tasks, another knock-on effect of creating clear and cohesive goals is to increase the efficiency and productivity of the contact center. If your staff are all pushing in the same direction, and have an understanding of how their individual efforts impact the success of the business, you will soon see the benefits to productivity.

Shrinkage is one of the greatest challenges facing contact centers. By creating a culture of shared responsibility, you can minimize this wasted time, drive the engagement of your agents and focus your workforce on key business goals.

Productivity will increase if your goals are cohesive.By aligning the goals of your workforce with those of the company as a whole, you will see an increase in productivity.

3. It allows managers to link evaluation and development 

As mentioned earlier, good performance management creates important actionable insights that managers can use to improve the quality of agent-client interactions in their contact center. By tracking individual performances, you can reward success and notable contributions to the business's overarching goals.

Good performance management creates important actionable insights.

Attrition is high among contact centers - so recognizing opportunities to make staff know that their hard work is being noticed can be a great way to improve workplace morale, and increase retention rates. Happier and motivated staff are likely to be more loyal and productive. In fact, engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave a company, and 57 percent more effective in their roles, according to a survey by Deloitte.

As well as rewarding high achievers, consistent monitoring of staff performance has the important benefit of identifying where extra training will benefit other parts of the workforce.

You shouldn't assume that onboarding processes supply staff with all the information they will ever need, and being able to find knowledge gaps will lead to better results and happier customers.

Regular feedback is good for staff morale, and tracking objectives.Regular feedback shows staff you're invested in their professional development.

4. It permits communication between management and agents 

Managing performance well can also enhance the relationships between team leaders and agents, allowing for an ongoing cycle of improvement.

If managers are seen to take a direct involvement in the professional development of agents, and of the team as a whole, it creates a culture of honesty and openness within the business. By providing regular feedback on performance objectives, staff have the opportunity to feed into this process and assist in creating future goals. This staff input not only contributes to employee empowerment, but will likely result more realistic and practical objectives.

Call Design has nearly 20 years' experience implementing tailored strategies to help contact centers improve workforce optimization. To find out more about how our performance management tools and training courses can benefit you, reach out to us today.


4 practical ways to improve customer experience

 

Why is customer experience such a buzzword today? It's simple: because it matters to a company's bottom line. In fact, 73 percent of consumers say that their decision to invest in a product or service is impacted by their overall experience with a business, according to survey by PwC.

But what is customer experience, and how can you as a manager ensure that people interacting with your business have only good things to say?

Let's explore.

Customer service is a journey across all company touch points.Customer experience is an ongoing process of interactions with your brand.

Important definitions

Before delving into some crucial ways to provide a better customer experience for your clients, we need to nail down some definitions. There are a few closely related, and easily confused, terms:

  • Customer care: How well taken care of customers feel when engaging with a company.
  • Customer service: The help or assistance given to customers by a company.
  • Customer experience: The complete customer journey, from finding the product in the first place, through to purchase and aftercare. This includes every interaction and touch point customers have with your company, and is a measurement of how they feel about your products and services.

Let's take the example of a contact center, as this is an obvious hotspot of business-to-client interaction, and examine some ways you can improve your customers' experiences.

1. Ingrain customer experience into your culture 

Providing a great customer experience doesn't happen by accident - you need a strategy to ensure quality client interactions across your whole business.

If your workforce is aware of how customer experience forms part of the business's overarching goals, there will be greater employee buy-in to your strategy, as well as more sense of ownership and responsibility when it comes providing exceptional customer experience.

Providing a great customer experience doesn't happen by accident, you need a company- wide strategy.

  • Example: In our contact centre example, one practical way of boosting agent engagement with a customer experience strategy is to provide ongoing training sessions and workshops as part of quality management. Here our contact centre keeps its staff updated on changes to policies as well as reaffirming the importance of the service they provide to customers.

2. Listen to your employees

Another benefit that comes from regular management-staff interactions is that you have the opportunity to listen.

Feedback from your employees is one of your most valuable assets when improving customer experience. After all, they're the people directly involved in the processes through which the public forms opinions of your brand. Use their expertise as frontline operators to guide strategy.

  • Example: In our contact center, agents will know the most frequent customer queries or problems. This information can be put to good use by managers when implementing a company-wide customer experience strategy. For example, setting up an FAQ section on the company's website using recurring customer issues agents come across.

However, listening to staff goes further than simply taking their knowledge to inform your strategy. To deliver top-drawer customer experience, your employees need to be satisfied with their work and their environment. The old adage remains true: happy staff means happy customers. Good personnel management is key here - so keep an eye on your team members, and provide an open and honest environment in which problems can be shared.

Listen to your employees about their experiences with customers.Employee feedback can help you direct your future customer experience strategy.

 3. Take a multichannel approach

Over 60 percent of customers use more than one channel to interact with brands, according to a survey by Deloitte. And they expect results.

This means that companies hoping to provide truly outstanding customer experiences need to adopt a multichannel approach. Here are a few useful tips to doing this effectively in relation to customer experience:

  • Know your customer base: With so many different platforms out there, it's important to know where to focus your efforts. This is especially true when it comes to social media. Know which channels your customers frequent and meet them there.
  • Go beyond being reactive: Don't wait for your customers to come to you with problems or queries. If you've listened to frontline staff you should know common customer pain points, so look to save time for both them and you by posting solutions on your social media channels, or your website.
  • Be human: People like to interact with people, hence the survival of contact centers in the digital age, so make all your customer touch points as human as possible. Your customer knowledge will inform the tone you take, but a bit of humor and personality can go a long way in the appropriate setting.
Customers expect businesses to operate across more than one channel.A multichannel approach gives your more ways to interact with your customers.

Over 60 pecent of customers use more than one channel to interact with brands, according to a survey by Deloitte.

4. Review and amend

All strategies should leave space for review and improvement. This is especially true when it comes to customer experience, as this tracks individual buyer journeys across a period of time. You need to know if your strategy is improving customer loyalty, as well as gaining new leads, or if there's an area of weakness that's letting you down.

Having the capacity to gather the right data, and collate it in a way that creates actionable insights, can improve customer experience strategies going forward.

All the main social media platforms offer in-built analytics that can be used to gauge the efficacy of your multichannel approach. These insights can tell you who is engaging with your output, when, and the types of interactions they're having. This can help you better target these channels and dictate the ways you use them as a facet of your customer experience strategy.

  • Example: Customer experience management (CEM) software is an important part of quality management in the workforce. In our contact centre setting it allows managers to monitor and analyze the quality of the interactions their agents have with customers to be sure that standards remain high.

Each business is different in terms of its customers base and the services they offer. That's why Call Design offers tailored training and solutions to improve your quality management to ensure that customers always have a great experience when interacting with your brand. For more information, reach out to the team at Call Design today.


Shift Bidding for Better Efficiency and Engagement

Without flexibility and room for change, schedules can get stale. Companies can find that schedules are becoming less and less of a good fit for evolving staffing requirements. Some agents, especially Millennial and Gen Z agents, can find that static schedules don’t offer the flexibility they crave. Perhaps junior workers get stranded in less-desirable schedules on weekends, holidays, or in late shifts they they’d prefer not to work. In many cases offering shift bidding more often can increase schedule efficiency and improve overall agent satisfaction. But without a world-class WFM system, Shift Bidding can be complicated and time-consuming. Many businesses find it impractical if not impossible to run a shift bid more than twice a year.

Bid More Often

Here's where our Workforce Management application comes in: with powerful tools to facilitate bids, WFM administrators can create and execute bids in a fraction of the time it took in the past, allowing them to run bids much more often. Some find they can bid for schedules monthly, semi-monthly or even weekly. WFM even makes it possible to run special bids for holidays, or for intraday offerings for OT or Voluntary Time Off.

Balancing Fairness with Performance

Using optimal schedules based on the most up-to-date staffing needs forecast, you can ensure a more efficient fit with changing business requirements. And you control the crucial step of ordering your employees to determine their order in the bid. Consider a ranking method that aligns with your business goals, emphasizes fairness but also incentivizes better performance. Think about a merit-based possibility to engage your staff more. Rather than an abrupt change that causes distress among your agents, you can gradually evolve towards a merit-based shift bid. You can also strike a balance between performance and quality scores for example by using them both in weighted combination.

Communication

Before diving in, carefully consider your strategy for communicating with agents and supervisors. Create a clear, compelling message that tell them why a new Shift Bidding process is under consideration, especially if you are thinking about moving towards a performance-based bidding system. Use Workforce Management to create What-If scenarios that show the benefit of using new schedules for bidding: better staffing efficiency, better customer experience, increased fairness, and the opportunity for agents to have more control over the schedules they work. Listen to agent concerns, make them feel that they are being heard.

And be absolutely sure that your first bid is set up and executed properly; if the agents’ first new bidding experience is poor, they can form a negative opinion that undermines morale. Take advantage of our experienced consultants who have been through this process many times and can help guide you past any pitfalls.

Results in Less Time

When it’s time for agents to bid, you’ll need an efficient interface that allows agents to quickly make their choices and see the results. Make sure they know their position in the bid order so that they can take this into account when ranking their preferred schedules. Our Workforce Optimization Agent Portal provides a clear, easy-to-use interface that shows agents their position in the bid, the schedules available for bidding, and let’s them rank the schedules according to their preferences. Once schedules are assigned and made official, agents immediately see the results in the WFO portal and the optional ME mobile app. All done with no need for manual sign-up sheets or manual reports to communicate results.

The benefits of efficient shift bidding can be impactful: users have seen increases in schedule adherence of 4% or more as well as productivity improvements of 5% or more. Improved schedule efficiency, time savings for WFM admins, improved agent satisfaction offered by shift bidding are only some of the ways that WFM creates impactful change for our customers. Contact the experts at Call Design to discover more.


Key objectives and processes behind performance management

 

Performance management is hailed by many business leaders as a way to inspire learning and development within a company, and to create a culture of target-hitting and self-improvement. Adopting performance management goals within your organization could be a very empowering change, leading to better results from staff and, as a result, better experiences for customers.

In this article, we're covering the basics of performance management so you understand where and how to start. We'll cover:

  1. The definition of performance management.
  2. The processes behind performance management.
  3. Key objectives of performance management.
A key objective of performance management is building better team cohesion and communication.Performance management builds a culture of teamwork, open communication and personal improvement.

1. What is performance management?

Performance management is the process of connecting team leaders and employees in a manner that inspires better communication, the achieving of key strategic goals and a continuing commitment to professional development. The practice also encourages greater team cohesion and a culture of recognition and reward.

The term 'performance management' is quite wide-reaching, and covers a variety of individual steps. While we'll cover these in more detail shortly, they include activities such as aligning team members to an individual vision, setting clear goals, holding performance reviews, and more.

2. What is the performance management process?

Performance management is a continuous loop of improvement - not a set-and-forget strategy.

This is not a process you simply set up and then walk away from. The performance management process is designed to integrate with your company's culture and remain in place forever. It creates a loop of setting targets, improving yourself and your team to meet those targets, then reviewing the outcomes to create actionable next steps, so that new targets can be established.

Let's examine some of the specific steps in this loop so you get a feel for what to expect:

Setting objectives

Teams of people can't achieve a vision unless they're all working towards the same goal. Therefore, all performance management processes begin with aligning staff to the company's wider vision and then finding specific objectives for teams and individuals to help them reach this vision. This can be done through techniques such as SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) KPIs. At this stage, business leaders will also be identifying the metrics with which progress will be measured.

Coaching and development

Once goals are set, next come the improvements necessary to reach them. This happens in two parts:

First, a culture of learning is created. This must not only include the necessary training infrastructure and tools to teach staff new skills, but also better communication channels, opportunities for challenges and other staff empowerment measures.

Second comes the actual development. Here coaches work with their teams to monitor progress, provide feedback and maintain engagement.

Improving staff performance through personal coaching is a key component of performance management.Staff coaching is a great way to foster development and, thus, staff performance.

Assessment

KPIs are, of course, designed to be achieved. Therefore, as we look to close the loop in the performance management cycle, team leaders will be reflecting on the progress of their staff, measuring the results, and producing next steps.

58 percent of employees say recognition is how leaders can improve staff engagement.

Rewards and recognition

As an addition to the assessment phase, rewards and recognition are vital tools to keep staff engagement levels high. In fact, when asked how business leaders could improve staff engagement, 58 percent of respondents to a Psychometrics study said "give recognition and praise".

3. Examples of good performance management objectives

Right, so we know that performance management is an ongoing loop of communication and development, and we know that our performance management goals will be achieved through target setting, progress assessment and rewards/recognition. So the next thing we need to cover is fleshing out that first step - setting targets. What specific objectives can you as a team or business leader set for your company?

  1. Create superior work performance and increase motivation: Performance and engagement are intrinsically linked, so these two fit within the same objective. If your staff are underperforming as a unit, or you feel that improvements could be made in either performance or engagement, this is a logical first objective for you.
  2. Upskill employees and foster personal development: According to research from Tilburg University, employees consider personal development the most important part of human resource development, of which performance management is a component. In other words, staff crave self-improvement and relish it when provided. Businesses that want to invest in their individual staff members should consider this as a key performance management objective.
  3. Establish better communication between teams: Communication can make change an exciting new prospect, or sink the ship before it sails. Performance management relies on good communication and as such can be used to promote good two-way channels between leaders and employees. This fits in with all other areas of the cycle, including personal development. It can also be used to improve accountability in your organisation, as staff will feel more comfortable about being open and honest.
  4. Create a better work culture: Finally, rewards and recognition are excellent tools for encouraging a positive work culture, where people openly compliment and congratulate each other on their work (whether that's managers to staff, or staff to each other). Recognition can be used to tell employees what's valued in your organisation - if that's hard work, respectfulness, inclusiveness and so on, you're building the foundations for a workplace people can truly love.

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Ready to take the next step on your performance management journey? Call Design's team of consultants are experts in performance management and can walk you through all the necessary steps to crafting this culture in your organisation.

To find out more about our performance management tools and training courses, contact us today.