5 Tips to Help Team Leaders Support WFH Agents

Team Leaders are a work-from-home (WFM) agent’s lifeline to your company. Remember the old saying that an agent is the face of the company to a customer? After new hire training, their Team Leader may be the only company employee a WFH agent interacts with one-on-one. So, Team Leaders need to focus on coaching and communicating with their team. They also need to stretch their skills to include employee engagement.

On a positive note, when I ask Team Leaders if coaching and communication is an important part of their job, every hand goes up. However, some Team Leaders have workforce management, reporting, agent interviews and special projects on their plate. So, they cannot focus on coaching and communication, much less employee engagement.

Here are five tips to help Team Leaders focus on coaching, communication, and employee engagement:

  1. Redefine a Team Leader’s responsibilities. Clear their plate of special projects. So, they can focus 80% or more of their time with agents.
  2. Reduce the ratio of team leaders to agents. Typically, a ratio of one Team Leader for every ten to twelve agents provides time to coach and communicate effectively with every team member. In comparison, some contact centers have twenty-five agents for every Team Leader! That is too large a span for one person to lead a work-from-home team.
  3. Train Team Leaders on HOW to coach. Coaching is not “catching someone doing something wrong.” It is about helping agents grow their skill set. Like any great coach, they need to know when to give praise and how to develop people’s skills. Too many contact centers promote a great agent to Team Leader, then fail to train them on leadership skills.
  4. Train Team Leaders on HOW to communicate remotely. Our industry has changed, and work-from-home has become widespread. Team Leaders need to leverage every remote communication channel – chat, email, phone, videoconferencing, and other electronic collaboration tools – to engage remote teammates. That means being able to utilize Zoom, Team or Google Meet tools, such as using whiteboards, playing audio or video clips, and organizing breakout rooms effectively. In addition, Team Leaders need group facilitation skills. So, they can increase agent participation in team huddles and meetings.
  5. Train Team Leaders on employee engagement. Help them create connections with their agents. Equip them with tools to gauge and improve agent engagement. Train Team Leaders on how to help agents with career planning. Teach them how to link an agent’s current role, with transferrable skills that will help their long-term career. Learning customer service and sales skills will help an agent communicate effectively, troubleshoot problems, and “sell” solutions to customers. A good Team Leader can highlight those skills and help their agent realize mastering those skills in their current role will help them with future jobs.

Work-from-home demands increased leadership, communication, and employee engagement skills. Invest in training and supporting Team Leaders. So, they can manage their remote teams more effectively.