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November 20, 2015

Could Your Team Be Happier?

Bhanu Khan

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Do you have to love what you do for a living to be happy at work?

As an editor, I play with words all day and, right now, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do. I may not wake up and dread my working day now but, during my past roles, I certainly have... and then some.

During my student years, I worked in a variety of environments, including shops, schools, offices, and call centers, with varying levels of enjoyment. My memory has segmented them into the good, the bad and the ugly.

Surprisingly, one of the roles that is firmly placed in the "good" category was that of a call-center employee for a mobile phone company. Hour upon hour, I took calls from both retail outlet staff, who would pass on customer details for credit checks, and customers, who wanted to register their newly bought phones. Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Well, no, not exactly. So what made this role so enjoyable?

Management at the call center was under no illusion about why I was really there. Like most of my colleagues, I was a student earning a little extra money for the things that were important to me. Managers understood that the role alone was not going to keep us all happy, effective and likely to stay for a long time. They wasted little time trying to make us buy into the brand. Instead, they gave us what we needed.

To look after our day-to-day well-being, managers carefully appointed team leaders (selected from the most charismatic team members), as intermediaries between us and them. Our team leader dealt with any friction between team members, was a confidential sounding board for any dissatisfaction, and acted as our representative to management.

Importantly, managers ensured that we knew what our objectives were. They were clear on what they expected of us and, in return, awarded incentives and bonuses for those of us that reached our targets.

The environment we worked in was a call center first and foremost, but efforts were made to ensure work and rest areas were comfortable. There was no dress code, work hours were very flexible, and we were given frequent breaks. Teams sat in groups around circular desks (rather than being isolated in booths) during their shifts, rest areas were furnished with squishy sofas to lounge on, and there was a great café onsite that served tasty, value-for-money food.

Before I went to the call center, I had already worked in places that belong in the 'bad' and the 'ugly' categories so, from my perspective, I was grateful to be able to earn money in such a relaxed atmosphere. I was able to come into work dressed casually, catch up with my team mates (who had quickly become good friends), achieve my targets, and earn with little stress. What more could a student want?

But that's the point. The call-center managers knew their team members and understood their needs. By meeting those needs, they enabled their people to perform better and enjoy their time working. In return for their efforts, we treated our customers well, regularly logged a reasonable number of calls, and made few mistakes. In my experience, it was a win-win situation.

Do you know what your team needs to be happy? Your team may perform well and appear friendly towards you, but how can you be sure there are no undercurrents of unhappiness?

Use this quiz to gauge your team's well-being, find ways of strengthening its productivity, and retain people for longer.

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2 comments on “Could Your Team Be Happier?”

  1. I think this quiz will be a reality check for many managers if they manage to be completely honest. Maybe that's where the snag lies anyway? Just a thought.

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