When asked to lead the culture efforts at Santander Consumer USA as VP Culture & Engagement, I moved my office from the HR area to the far end of our call center. After all, to lead the corporate culture efforts, I wanted to be in the culture! So walking past cubicle after cubicle of call center professionals helped me see what was happening in the call center on a daily basis.
After meandering through the building for just a few months, some people started standing out. These account representatives were friendly, smiled, said hi, and many times were sitting at the desk of another account rep, offering help or pointers regarding a particular customer issue.
These people were obviously leaders on their respective teams and were good examples of one type of employee found in all organizations. In his article “Your Success is Linked to 4 Types of People”, Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis points out four types of workers who either help or hurt your chances of reaching success:
1. The Leader
2. The Loafer
3. The Leech
4. The Lifter
Some people in your call center are leaders. Leaders are typically respected for their thoughts, opinions, and behaviors. Leaders have the ability to bring about change through their knowledge, hard work, and positive attitude. Leaders listen more than they speak and impact those around them even without having the title or authority to do so.
Others in your call center are loafers and display many different work behaviors. Loafers can be late to arrive, can be uninterested in their work, and can be unprepared for their daily responsibilities. Loafers can have a negative attitude, can push away customers, and can be a drag on performance. Unlike leaders who listen more than speak, loafers tend to be loud, complaining about work problems rather than attempting to improve their surroundings.
The Leech is the third type of employee. While leeches may not actively work against call center objectives, they tend to be apathetic toward their work and those around them, may sometimes play in the loafer’s sandbox, and at best do the bare minimum to stay out of trouble. However, at the first signs of success, Leeches emerge from the shadows and jump to the front of the line, loudly celebrating and participating in the success of others if not outright claiming success for themselves.
Finally, there are the Lifters, those workers who are action-oriented, self-starters, and seek to add value to those around them. Lifters are not afraid to speak out but do so with tact and clarity. Success seems to find Lifters rather than them seeking success.
For all of their differences, there is one characteristic that ties these four workers together; influence. The attitudes, words, and actions of each worker type has a direct impact on the performance of both coworkers and the call center as a whole.
The question then becomes, how does a call center maximize their Leaders and Lifters (by the way, your Lifters are your future Leaders) and minimize the Loafers and Leeches?
I certainly have a few thoughts on this question. That’s one of the key objectives of ProCulture Consulting – to help call centers do great work through great employees. So before I throw some thoughts out there, let me hear from you.
How do you make sure your call center has more Leaders and Lifters and how do you avoid Loafers and Leeches?
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.