All new team leaders need one-to-one support from line managers as leadership mentors. They benefit by discussing situations they are finding in their day-to-day environment and working through ideas with a more experienced person.
It would be interesting to survey senior contact centre managers to see where they place ‘mentoring direct reports’ in their list of key responsibilities. Recent research by Contact Babel found that a low-level of support in practice:
‘Team leaders generally receive little coaching and development from their superiors, as many contact centres have flat structures, and senior management has to try very hard to make the time to develop team leaders, without taking them away from the teams for too long.’
The problem has also become more acute in recent years given that line managers often work in distant locations.
Some organisations recognise the importance of mentoring and assign the task to a person from another department, say Human Resources or Organisational Development, or even an external party. The argument is that effective mentoring requires certain skills and experience which line managers often do not have.
However, the mentor from outside cannot see the team leader at work, or see how they deal with their people and relate to their peers.
The rate of change in contact centres has continued to increase. In consultancy assignments a common question is to ask managers how they assign their time between different activities. Perhaps it’s no surprise that time spent mentoring new team leaders is limited even though most managers agree this is an activity they would like to give more focus to as it would give major benefits.