A recurring item on every contact center manager’s list of concerns is retaining customer care agents. In contrast, an item that’s often missing from that very same list is talent development. The key to addressing the former is to take action on the latter; yet, for a variety of reasons, very few managers do so.

Most people want to do their best and get ahead, but they receive surprisingly little direction beyond the basics they need to do well in their present positions. To move the needle forward, managers should be thinking beyond the present, and look to identify and develop talent within their ranks. Talented people who want to grow are an enormous asset for any business. Not only will they be top performers, they’ll also inspire others to do their best—both of which are hallmarks of a future leader, and the cornerstone of a successful business.

To identify talent, look for the following attributes when vetting a Communicator. He or she:

  • has a high level of respect among peers;
  • has an excellent track record when it comes to traditional measures of job competency;
  • is open to feedback and constructive criticism;
  • is cognizant of the company’s overall mission and goals, rather than a narrow focus on the individual job;
  • handles change well; and
  • has relationship-building skills.

Once you’ve identified these attributes in an employee, let him or her know. Informing employees that you’ve recognized their potential to lead signals that your organization recognizes and develops talent, which is a powerful incentive to stay. You’re also building a reputation outside the company, one that will attract other talented Communicators.

To develop talent:

  • Provide growth experiences outside the employee’s usual job function, with support in place. This gives Communicators a chance to demonstrate their capability in other situations, and the cross-training will increase their knowledge of the organization.
  • Provide access to a professional network. By introducing your most talented Communicators to other professionals in the field and connecting them with outside learning opportunities, you’re giving them other sources for advice and information that will increase their understanding of the business.
  • Set goals for moving up. In all situations, advancement requires reaching goals. Discuss the objectives that need to be met and set realistic goals.

Strong organizations are built around strong people; now is the time to start building.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.