Mentoring for Leaders in Customer Service
May 22, 2015
May 22, 2015
Findings from Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report indicate that the most urgent talent issue identified by 50 percent of the business and HR leaders surveyed is leadership. Due to the pace of change and technological development, skills now have a half-life of 2.5 – 5 years, meaning the need for leadership development will not go away. The survey of more than 3,300 leaders in 106 countries found that companies face leadership gaps at every level of the organization.
To combat this clear impediment to growth and excellence in operations, Sykes has established internal leadership development programs. These ‘Learning Pathways’ offer development to leaders at first-level, mid-level and business-leader levels, to ensure they are developed in core competencies and are therefore more likely to succeed and be retained. Various mandatory courses form part of the Learning Pathways; including development tied into personality profiling and courses aimed specifically at Client Relationship Management, and these lay the foundation for leaders progressing onto succession programs or individualized development such as coaching or mentoring.
Sykes believes that internal leaders are most likely to succeed given their familiarity with the organization, industry, and that they understand what comes with the path forward. The various programs are designed to enable Sykes to have leaders ready for succession as it continues to grow and expand globally.
1:1 Coaching and Mentoring
Supplementing the Learning Pathways development, the specialized 1:1 coaching and mentoring program has been designed for high-potential mid-level and business-level leaders to support succession. This program encourages continuous improvement in leadership capabilities by helping a leader to focus on their personal and specific development needs.
Mentoring at Sykes is not providing a shoulder to lean on, but presented from a basis of continuous challenge to improve the leader’s relationship with their environment, contact center clients, management, and direct reports. The leaders in the program are recommended by their manager or area director. Coaching can be provided to a wide variety of mid-level and business-level leaders, including site directors, account managers and regional leaders in various support functions.
The needs of the leader that make them a candidate for mentoring can be quite different, including:
Each mentoring program is developed based on the individual needs of the mentee. First, the person is asked to explain what they do in their role, discuss their KPIs—both personal and professional—and their relationship with their line manager. Their position within their environment is then assessed by looking at how they conduct meetings, organize, encourage participation, deal with dissent, deal with pressure, as well as the default behaviors they fall back into when under pressure. Helping them learn how to better manage all of those variables is the goal of the development program.
The mentor-mentee relationship is one of trust and all conversations remain confidential. This provides the mentee with a non-threatening environment in which thoughts can be expressed and ideas explored that will challenge pre-conceived ideas and ways of working.
Mentoring Leads to Successful Succession
As an example of how a program may develop, consider that a new site director faces a number of stresses and pressures from the new environment. Usually, the new site director has moved from a more junior role where their perspective focused on a single account or business line. They’re now required to provide support, as well as to project into the future quarter and year. Let’s take a look at a few of those challenges and how a mentoring program can help this leader acclimate to the succession from mid-level to business-level leader more smoothly than trying to do so on their own.
This can include learning to:
An Internal Mentoring Program Ensures Consistent Leadership
While general leadership programs are an important part of preparing leaders for future succession, mentoring and coaching within a 1:1 program that is closely aligned to a leader’s new role can help them acclimate faster and learn what is most important based on their skills on the ground.
As proof, here are a few comments from those who have taken the mentoring program: