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Managing teams is often based on authority where team members are taking orders and following instructions. This more traditional style of management works quite well for factory work, but is usually unfavorable in today’s workplaces where innovation, creativity, and service play a crucial role. As best-selling author Daniel H. Pink puts it: “Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” Autonomy can take many different forms. No matter how you define autonomy, when your team feels they have freedom of action, the results are stunning! Potential benefits include greater employee commitment, better performance, improved productivity, and lower turnover.
Our clients that are new to live chat are often unsure about the right settings for their team. In particular, the question of whether it is better to give agents the autonomy to decide which chat requests to answer, when to answer them and how many requests to handle at once arises. In addition, should these chats be automatically assigned to specific agents to avoid any possibility of agents slacking or choosing chats that are easier to resolve?
Although the answers to those questions depend on the structure of your team, the seniority level of your agents and other factors, we encourage our clients to offer at least some autonomy to their agents. Place trust in the people you hired and they will respond positively!
Allowing your employees to work at a comfortable pace while monitoring their productivity levels can benefit both their mental well-being and your company efficiency. Stop micromanaging and boost your team’s commitment, performance and productivity with some small enhancements. Don’t be afraid – it’s well worth it. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Constantly communicate your plans and objectives so that everyone understands what the most important goals are and how each team member fits into those goals. Make sure that all your employees understand how they contribute to the company’s success. This will help build a strong company culture that respects the work of the individual.
The greatest motivation and most personal satisfaction comes from goals that we choose for ourselves. Those self-chosen goals create intrinsic motivation, meaning the desire to do something for its own sake. At SnapEngage, our different teams set quarterly goals which are decided by each team and then presented and (hopefully) approved by management. Those goals can be to reduce ticket response time or chat response time, generate a specific amount of leads or close a specific amount of deals or similar.
Define the end result clearly and outline the boundaries of what behaviors and actions are desirable, then let your team act within this framework. Let your agents deal with chat request to the best of their knowledge and encourage your whole team to support each other. (For this purpose: does your team make use of our team chat feature yet?) To assist you can set up shortcuts for your agents – but don’t let your agents turn into robots! A personal touch is always important during conversation, if it’s by phone, email or live chat.
Going from full authority to full autonomy might not be the right approach. Start by increasing your team’s autonomy slowly, rather than risk giving them too much control and having to backtrack later. Take the opportunity to communicate with your team. What are the strengths of your different team members? In which areas would they like to have more freedom of action? Perhaps some agents deal with more complex requests or products and thus it would be better to let them handle a lower amount of concurrent chat sessions. Loosening the script which your agents are following might also be a good first step.
Our analytics provide the possibility to monitor your agents’ performance, including number of chats handled, response times, survey scores and more. The analytics will also serve as a safety net for administrators who fear that autonomy will disrupt your agent productivity levels.
Finding the right balance between authority and autonomy is a process and there is not one right solution for every team. Taking the above steps into consideration will help you and your team to increase autonomy and productivity levels while reducing stress.