Being a little afraid of your own line manager is a feeling many people unfortunately deal with at some point in their professional lives. The thought that reaching out to your manager in any way will result in a negative or comfortable interaction is a very dangerous and destructive situation in any workplace, let alone amongst agents in contact centres. On occasion throughout my career I’ve been in similar positions, and would like to highlight the real impact of bad management practices.
I’ve been in a situation where I’ve approached a manager with certain queries, which was met with ‘Mark, you’re not listening.’ and a list of things I needed to do to improve from their perspective (whilst they avoided to address the query). Some people might consider some behaviour to boil down to ‘management style’, but the bottom line is that individuals need support and endorsement from their managers. If staff have particular issues, it’s important to make them feel like they’re acknowledged and addressed by their manager in order to perform.
Another situation in which I found it difficult to communicate was with one manager who would consistently frown, and refused to acknowledge the team unless the conversation was task-orientated. The combination of being incredibly impersonal and quick to berate and attack individuals made them totally ineffective when it came to motivating and engaging the team.
On one occasion I had returned to work after a family bereavement, and it wasn’t acknowledged whatsoever - yet my manager came to me after her sister’s dog had died for comfort. I wondered if it was some kind of elaborate practical joke. The issue with this particular manager was not being able or willing to bring a human element to the role, without trust and support it’s hard to motivate individuals to work hard for you.
Fortunately the number of good managers I’ve had over the years outweighs the bad ones, but those at the start of their management career often have little guidance in what the real impact of mismanagement is - or even what constitutes bad management in the first place.
This is why we’ve created The Essential Team Leader Playbook, to help guide those at the start of their careers really step up and become managers who their teams can easily approach, and rely on for support and development.