This guest post has been authored by Kirby Horvitz, Challenger Effortless Experience alumni consultant. Opinions are her own and not the views of her employers or academic institutions.
With the rise of remote work, many companies are struggling to identify ways to keep employees satisfied. They’re also wondering if investing in educational and training programs are worth the ROI if employees are constantly leaving for their next career opportunity. However, market leaders are doubling down on employee development because they know they will either 1) end up with a more skilled workforce or 2) have brand evangelists among their employee alumni. (See example: Betting Big on Employee Development)
Case in point: me.
Two years ago, I said goodbye to my Effortless Experience™ team at Challenger, Inc. to head to graduate school to earn my Master of Business Administration. Now, recently graduated and headed for a career in management consulting, I’ve reflected on how influential the Effortless Experience skills have been on each project, team, and internship experience over the last two years (so much so that I was willing to write a blog about it over summer vacation!) These Effortless Experience skills are truly life skills that can be applied personally and professionally, even beyond the contact center.
Career/Life Lesson #1: Change Management is a Priority
One of the truest lessons I learned as an Effortless Experience Consultant is that most strategic initiatives will be unsuccessful if you don’t consider change management and get alignment at each level of the organizational pyramid: leadership, management, and frontline employees. The Effortless Experience team believes in this principle so passionately that they include complimentary change management workshops in their services. In contact centers or customer service teams, if you are going to ask your team to do something new, you need to ensure the entire organization is aligned and EXCITED about the new initiative: leaders should be giving elevator speeches and managers should be coaching to the new behaviors. Blockers will sow dissent among the ranks, so intentional “open change conversations” are critical ways to surface bottoms-up questions and acknowledge inevitable skepticism when change is happening.
This philosophy isn’t only true for customer experience transformations, it’s true of any major initiative an organization or team hopes to implement. I applied the change management best practices I learned at Challenger to strategic initiatives internal to my academic program as well as to various client-facing projects completed during my MBA, and I am certain I will continue using them in my future career.
Career/Life Lesson #2: Flexing to Communication Styles is Part of Every Team
If you’ve ever taken an Effortless Experience™ workshop, you’ll never forget the exercise around identifying your personal communication style and diagnosing others who may communicate differently. Even two years after attending my last workshop, it’s impossible to not attempt to diagnose the communication style of new people I meet. In the customer service world, Flexing to Communication Styles proves invaluable when trying to determine whether the customer wants to chit chat about their day or if they just want to get their issue resolved as quickly as possible without all the small talk. Outside the contact center, this skill came in handy joining new project teams and trying to meet deadlines. Some team members need to build a relationship before they can approach their task, while others need to get the task done before they feel like they can relax and enjoy a conversation. Being able to identify and flex my style to these different types of people allowed me to build happier and more productive teams as well as grow personal relationships.
Career/Life Lesson #3: Coaching is About Open-Ended Questions and Self Realization
Effortless Experience™ research shows how important a good coach is to improving customer loyalty and employee satisfaction on customer service teams, as well as how detrimental a bad coach can be to productivity. Good coaches learn how to seamlessly ask open-ended questions and help direct reports self-realize their path to improved productivity. It’s easier said than done, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it will be a skill you continue to hone deep into your career, whether you’re in a contact center or not. Often in business school and internship teams, you don’t exactly have a direct report per se, but you do have teammates who are working toward a similar end goal. As deadlines grow tight and deliverables creep in scope, knowing how to be a good coach to my peers and give and receive constructive feedback has gotten me across the finish line. As I prepare to be a manager, these skills will certainly come in handy for my future direct reports.
Ultimately, as leaders weigh the pros and cons of investing in their employees, it is certainly important to consider how certain development opportunities will leave lasting impressions with employees.