5 Reasons You are Probably Missing the Greatest Opportunity in Our Industry

FROM THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE

Challenges and Priorities Survey

One of our most basic emotions is fear. It causes us to freeze, flee, fight or appease. When it comes to taking advantage of an opportunity, you will find these reactions are present. But is it fear that’s causing you to miss this massive opportunity in your contact center, or something else?

During my interview with M. Tamra Chandler, the author of “Feedback (and Other Dirty Words): Why We Fear It, How to Fix It,” she spoke to these fears in the context of feedback. She stated that if someone’s coming at you with some feedback, it’s probably not going to cause the end of your life, but we still tend to respond in a self-protection manner physically.

What happens mentally when we do that? We move into our reptilian brain. We move back into the safety—the fight-or-flight mode. And when we are in that brain, our wise brain shuts down.

Almost all of us can think of a time when someone has said something and we responded in a way that, when we think back on it later, made us feel just horrified or at least a little bit humiliated. It’s because that reptilian brain took over and our wise brain shut down, so we weren’t able to show up necessarily the way we wanted to because we were in that self-protection mode.

A mentor of mine, Dr. Shay McConnon, who inspired me to develop the “7 Keys to Contact Center Employee Engagement,” used to say that “feedback is the most underutilized yet powerful tool in a leader’s toolkit.” So learning to improve the way we give and receive feedback is vital to our ability to collaborate, connect and conquer.

What Is Your New Year’s Resolution?

Feedback goes beyond human-to-human interaction. It’s interpersonal, as well. We give ourselves feedback all the time. Consider why people start or avoid New Year’s resolutions. Let’s look at a list of common resolutions that people make:

  • Learn a new skill or hobby
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Save more and spend less
  • Take vacations
  • Exercise more
  • Lose weight
  • Get organized
  • Live life to the fullest
  • Quit smoking
  • Read more
  • Avoid resolutions

Why do we tell ourselves to do these things? Isn’t it fear? But there’s a problem with all of these: They are about the fears you know.

I know learning a new skill or hobby will expand my mind and improve my peace of mind. I know that spending more time with family and friends will improve my mental well-being. I know that saving more money and spending less will reduce stress and help me prepare for retirement. I know that losing weight and exercising more will help me get off medication, have more energy and live longer.

You get the idea.

I know those things are issues I want to address. Despite them being known, the success rates for resolutions are low. Reports state that resolution success rates range from 4% to 40%.

What about things you should fear? What about the fear of the unknown? Were you in fear of a global pandemic in 2020? Did you prepare for its coming? Some people did!

I’m not saying you should panic about the unknown. Xenophobia is not a good thing. Instead, it would help if you were more mindful of what’s going on outside of your organization. It’s outside of your organization where most of your organizational growth opportunities reside.

What if you knew a global pandemic would consume 2020? What would you have done differently? Would you have planned better? Would you have better prepared your staff? Will you ever run out of toilet paper again?

What feedback did you give yourself and others about being more resilient and persevering? Are you ready for the next unknown?

The Massive Opportunity for 2021

In being transparent up until this point, I shared with you my experiences and insight I’ve gained in an attempt to prepare you for what I am sharing next.

Why?

As Tamra stated, this information will probably not cause the end of your life, but you might respond in a self-protection manner. But I need you to stay open-minded and think about what I’ve already shared.

Ready?

Here it is. The biggest opportunity that exists in the contact center industry is to improve leadership skills. It’s the biggest opportunity that exists in the world. Just review the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election for evidence.

Decades of Employee Engagement Woes

For almost 40 years, the contact center industry has tried to fix its chronic employee engagement and morale issues. In an attempt to resolve the poor engagement issue, contact centers buy tools, provide perks and so much more—when the underlying problem is poor leadership skills.

Research conducted by Development Dimensions International (DDI) reveals the results of mediocre frontline leaders (see Figure 1). These results are the reasons for hundreds of millions of dollars in industry spending—not to fix these problems, but to recover from these problems.

You Need to Know About Learning Quality

In reviewing this data, many people think, “We develop our leaders.” And so does everyone else that suffers from these problems. To end the cycle, start with understanding learning quality. In their research, DDI also offers an answer: After studying the various methods of leadership development, they concluded that learning quality increases 10 times when a blended-learning environment and a learning journey path is present.

Blended learning is multi-modal using live, on-demand, micro-challenge, peer-learning and mentoring opportunities.

A learning journey addresses the unique aspects of leadership development. Developing skills takes time and continuous effort and can never be obtained from attending a workshop, in-person or virtual.

For organizations that leverage this little-known insight, the DDI research shows the learning quality increases by more than 90% vs. just 9%. A massive improvement in training ROI.

The 5 Reasons You Might Miss This Greatest Opportunity in Our Industry

Now you are aware of the biggest opportunity for 2021 (and beyond), and are aware of learning quality. What are you going to do?

There are five things you need to address that might undermine your ability to seize this leadership skills development opportunity. This is feedback that I give and receive almost daily.

You need to decide how to address:

  1. It starts with me—unskilled and unaware
  2. Lack of creative thinking skills
  3. Rapid rate of change
  4. Low business acumen
  5. Arrogance

1. It starts with me—Unskilled and Unaware

I need to know where I am in my own development, and there is only so much in my well to draw from.

This has set me on a never-ending quest to learn. It accelerated when I started on my Fast Leader Show podcast journey six years ago. I have interviewed hundreds of experts on various aspects of the customer experience and how to be a better customer-centric leader. I learned to draw from the other’s well.

2. Lack of Creative Thinking Skills

I must stop judging other people’s intent, and instead set my own and share it with others. In my learning journey, I found out that there is a vital need to improve our creative thinking skills. It is a foundational element in our ability to innovate and a common ingredient found in those that thrive. I choose to thrive.

3. Rapid Rate of Change

Change is accelerating, and so must my ability to pivot and adapt. Being a victim to change is not an option. The only way for me to diminish the negative impact of change is to plan more frequently and consider multiple options. This means I need to listen to more diverse perspectives and ask better questions.

4. Low Business Acumen

Beth Mirza, a senior editor for HR News, shared in her article on business acumen that we need business context to understand the trade-offs in our decision-making. Businesses suffer more when leaders lack business acumen.

With the increases in remote staff and flattening of organizations, managers have more decision-making authority. Managers can’t make decisions in a vacuum; they have to relate their decisions and actions back to the business’s goals and strategies.

5. Arrogance

If, at any point, I think I know it all or that my learning ends, I will be disrupted. If, at any point, I think my leadership development has ended, I will have no followers. My arrogance will demoralize my team and prohibit me from appreciating, uplifting and inspiring them.

Moving Onward and Upward

As I reflect on the new year, I know that failing to remove the five obstacles from my learning journey for 2021 is a sure-fire way to repeat my mistakes made in 2020 and previous years.

As you decide on your resolutions for 2021, where do you stand? I don’t know about you, but I hate to travel alone. Connect with me on LinkedIn, and let’s work on moving onward and upward together.