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What are Your Best Practices?

Best Practices Studies

These studies can be defined as inquiries into the skills and methods of your high performers to recognize their achievements, document their methods and skills and then share this information with team members to improve overall performance. The responses generated from your study may hold the solutions to a variety of team challenges in the Call Center. As a team leader, you can approach these studies by conducting short, one-on-one interviews, focus groups, or surveys.

By simply asking questions in any of these formats related to individual best practices, you can achieve the following:

? Identify employee's good behaviors

? Recognize and reward high performers

? Engage employees in business-related discussions

? Document what is being done well and what works

? Generate training and non-training solutions

The key to a successful Best Practices Study is to work from a position of appreciation - valuing the employee, their performance and their input.

What's the point?

A Best Practices Study serves two purposes. First, it provides an excellent resource for identifying team needs or closing the performance gap. When evaluating team performance, you will find team members at every level. Best practices studies identify the high performers and the behaviors and habits that make them effective. Management, trainers and even the high-performing team members can then work together to recreate these actions or behaviors for lower performers. The high performer's contributions to the study generate ideas for methods of improvement for low performers. In short, the Best Practices Study becomes a solution to performance issues.

The second purpose of such studies relates to employee appreciation, recognition and reward. Because you are collaborating with your team's most valuable resource - the high performers and the team members themselves - you acknowledge and validate their performance. When documented properly and acted upon, employees' responses to best practices studies hold powerful resolutions to a variety of business problems. Implementing these solutions shows high performers their value to the team and to the organization and involves them in making improvements in an active way.

What are the steps?

Identify the Need

To conduct a Best Practices Study you must first identify the need. What is it that you want to learn? You may be interested in finding out more about a specific behavior, such as Average Handle Time, or you can approach the study in broader terms of overall excellent performance.

Identify the Top Performers

Once you have determined what you would like the focus of the study to be, identify your top performers in this area. Who are the individuals who consistently meet or exceed expectations in an area of performance? If you are working with a large group choose 33% of the top performers to interview. After interviewing 33% of your group you will probably start to hear similar answers.

Prepare Questions

Now that you know what you want to learn, and who you want to interview, how are you going to get the answers that you are looking for? Your questions are the tools that generate the solutions. Think of the questions as the keys that unlock the secrets to improving performance. Keep in mind the purpose of your questions as you write them and that is to value the employee's experience and generate positive responses.

Sample Questions (used to determine best practices for customer retention):

? What do you think makes you successful as a retention representative?

? What qualities do you possess that add to your success in this position?

? If you were to give one piece of advice to a new representative what would it be?

? What skills do you use on a regular basis that make you most effective?

Conduct the Interview

The safer your interviewees feel about the process the more honest their answers will be. For short, one-on-one interviews, secure a room, be prepared to take notes and make the meeting conversational and friendly. For focus groups, encourage participation, write answers on a flip chart for all participants to see and keep the conversation focused. When conducting surveys explain the purpose and what you hope to accomplish with the findings. Ensure that all the survey questions are clear or that you are available to answer questions about the survey.

Review Material and Take Action

Once you have conducted all of your interviews or surveys and compiled your notes, review your notes thoroughly and extract the best practices. You may find more success if you involve other managers or supervisors in the process.

Sample questions (to use when working with other team leaders):

? What behaviors are consistent with many of our high performers?

? What advice did they offer to improve performance for newer team members?

? How can we turn their suggestions into methods and implement those practices?

? Who resources are needed for the implementation?

Finally, incorporate high performers' practices into training strategies and apply your Best Practices Study results to coaching lower-performing team members.

Now that you have an overview, of how to conduct a Best Practice Study, give it a try in your Call Center and reap the many rewards. Your high performers will feel appreciated and valued, your low performers will improve skills and the overall team or department will function with more efficiency and success.

Jenny Kerwin is a writer and member of

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