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Article : Should You Reprimand or Redirect?


Author: Marc Carriere, Managing Director, Marketing Tactics Pty Ltd

Before you give someone a reprimand, you need to think before you act!

You know with all the constant changes happening in Call Centers today, team members are continuously learning new skills involved with processes, technology and ways of handling calls.

There can be a lot going on and mistakes are bound to happen and because of this, in many cases, it’s much better to redirect team members, rather than reprimand them.

Over the past 35 years, I’ve owned a call center and been involved managing them or consulting with business with call centers, all around the world, and one of the things that inescapably comes up is providing reprimands.

I came across an interesting conversation with Dr Kenneth Blanchard a few years ago that call center managers and team leaders should know about when considering giving reprimand, and have taken some liberties to make it more relevant for a call center environment.

To begin with, Dr Blanchard suggests when someone does something wrong the first thing you should ask yourself is: Should this person have known better?

If the answer is No, then the team member is still in a learning stage and obviously unfamiliar with their responsibility or task and needs redirection.

He stresses that you should never reprimand a learner, whether it’s a new hire learning the ropes or an experienced team member working on a new task because it will only cause confusion or outright discouragement.

In these situations your role as a leader is to help, or redirect, the team member who is having a problem. Here are the 5 Steps Dr Blanchard gives for an effective redirection:

  1. Give the redirection as soon as possible after the problem happens. Prompt feedback is very important.

  2. Explain specifically what went wrong and how it could affect others.

  3. Take on a bit of the responsibility by saying something like, "I must not have made it clear enough…"This reduces the pressure on the employee who is simply in need of supportive redirection.

  4. Reiterate the importance of the task, and

  5. Reassure them you still have confidence in them to help them move toward success on the task. The purpose of redirection is to set up, as soon as possible, an opportunity for a praising to occur.

If the team member should have known better, then you have to ask yourself: Did this person make the mistake deliberately or because of a lack of confidence? (And, remember that you only reprimand deliberate or unusual regressive behavior.)

If the problem revolves around a lack of confidence, then you need try to figure the reason. It could be that a new situation exists that is unsettling them.

As an example, let’s say you’ve changed a few of your Dispositions for call outcomes and an experienced team member is making a lot of mistakes disposing their calls.

The reason is most likely a lack of confidence due to a change from what was familiar. They don’t need a reprimand; what they need is training on the new dispositions, with support and understanding.

However, if you have good reason to believe they are not disposing their calls correctly on purpose, a reprimand may be appropriate. And, when you deliver the reprimand, remember these four steps:

  1. Similarly to redirection, deliver the reprimand as soon as the poor performance or behavior is detected. A reprimand should never be saved for an annual performance review.

  2. Be specific about what was done incorrectly and the impact it could have on you or others.

For example: If you don’t dispose calls correctly it really affects our call strategy and puts the business at risk of fines by having calls made that shouldn’t be made in the case of Do Not Call, or reducing our data pool by in correcting disposing a call as not interested when they were just too busy to talk to you.

  1. Share your exact feelings about the situation. If you’re frustrated, disappointed or surprise, tell them.

  2. Finish by speaking about their past good performance and letting them know the reprimand is not about them as a person, but about their behavior or actions.

Say something like:This upsets me because it’s so unlike you. You’re one of my best people and you usually dispose all your calls correctly.

This last step is very important because you want them to walk away thinking about what they did wrong, not about how poorly you treated them.

And, always remember to catch team members doing something right and praise them at every opportunity.

Every time you do, you building up deposits goodwill, so that if you need to make a withdrawal for a redirection or reprimand, the sting won’t last long and they’ll be that much more motivated to do better next time.


About Marc Carriere:
With worldwide executive experience managing Call Centre teams that have won 3 Silver and 3 Gold ‘Ardy’ awards, consulting with businesses mentoring and coaching their Call Centre Leaders and having owned a call centre himself, Marc is well aware of the difficulties Call Centres face consistently meeting their monthly targets.

Today's Tip of the Day - Getting The Ergonomic Programme Right

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Published: Monday, August 16, 2021

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