The call center industry has seen growth in the last 15 years. Companies want to adhere to their customer needs in an efficient manner. As a result, corporations set strict standards to capitalize on the multitasking skills of call center agents who are willing to enter this work environment.
The industry has become so diverse agents have the opportunity for telecommuting, offline work, and advancement in cross skills training. At first this seems like an ideal profession that is continually growing and always seeking ambitious individuals who want to grow within a corporation.
There are dangers in working in call centers that I have previously discussed is past blogs. It is easy to ignore the dangers to your own personal health and social well-being. It is also important to understand the benefits your company offers to endure your health.
Consider other fields of employment such as construction workers, bank tellers, or even police officers. Each of these fields ensure safety measures to ensure workers have a measure of safety provided. These measures are governed and ensured in most cases for the safety of the employee and the clients they assist.
Similarly call center agents enter dangerous environments that are deadly. Even with extensive training there is no way to prepare a human for:
In addition, to these life-threatening illnesses, there is also the variant pay scale. Call center agents can make anywhere as low as 7.50 per hour or as high as 30.00 per hour. The higher rate in pay the increase in danger to the individuals who choose this line of work. There are corporations who provide reasonable health insurance and other benefits to try to assist. However, considering the risks there is more that can be done that corporations are not willing to pay for. Some benefits to provide a safe work environment can include:
It seems like navigating through the corporate shield to protect your health and social well being is difficult. If anything, it is scary. There is a fear of losing employment trying to ensure your own protection. Therefore, it is imperative you are not afraid to ask the scary questions. Consult your supervisor to find out what is available to you. If your supervisor cannot help you, consult your H.R department.
At the end of the day of a company is not willing to provide you with what is needed to protect you from the dangers of the job they created for you may have, it may not be a good company to work for. Don’t give up without a fight and always take care of you first. You are your best investment and you are only marketable if you are alive and happy.
It’s hard to believe that we culminate from high school hoping to be around accepting professionals only to find out that you are either being bullied, or you are a bully. Company cultures establish villages and tribes like the clicks in high school. These villages and tribes determine your career and social status within the company. This can be damaging not only to current and future employment, but to one’s confidence to succeed.
It’s important to recognize that adult bullying is just as debilitating as childhood bullying. It is important to recognize when bullying is happening even if it is not happening to you. We can all take part in either controlling the environment and or consoling the person being bullied.
Since adult bullying is a little subtler and less obvious that childhood bullying, we must be a little more observant. Here are some things that are easy to miss:
Giving someone a nickname they are clearly uncomfortable hearing.
Taking possession of someone else’s property without them offering or you even asking.
Whispering about a person right in front of them thinking they can’t hear you.
Starting gossip within the office with purpose and intent to defame the character of another person.
Violating the personal space whether they are in the space or not.
Passive aggressive comments about someone’s family.
I know when you are reading this list you are thinking “I do this and I don’t consider this bullying”. Well you are wrong. Compare these behaviors to similar behaviors in school. The way it felt to watch someone being bullied or even be on either end of bullying. These attributes are the same and have the same effect on socialization and performance.
We can all take an opportunity to reflect on our personal and professional environments. Make sure that we are not the bully or they person being bullied. Even more important are you watching the behavior and doing nothing to stop it. We can’t be successful if we ignore even the smallest details that are preventing success. Bullying is one of those things.
Last year the jobs report showed an increase in jobs added to the job market. “Nonfarm payrolls increased by 200,000, beating the median of Bloomberg's poll that had forecast 180,000 net new jobs. The unemployment rate remained at a 17-year low of 4.1%.” (Oyedele, Akin, US economy adds 200,000 jobs in January and wages rise at fastest pace since recession, Business insider, February 8, 2018) We are in a competitive job market coming into 2018. Millennials are leaving college ready for the job market and competing with Generation X, and Baby Boomer professionals that have gone back to college to re-skill and compete in this job market. If it sounds overwhelming, it certainly is. However, there are strategies you can use to be competitive in this aggressive job market. It is no longer just the degree, just the resume, just the job experience, or even just the presentation that will sell you to a future employer. With many progressive companies marketing to employees who are tech savvy and team players, you need to establish a strategy that works for your own success. Currently Communication Camp is offering free virtual coaching to those who want to “sharpen the saw” and or establish a strategy to ensure success. (Communicationscamp.com) Until you make the call or visit our page, here are a few tips to think about while going to interviews:
· Know your value and what you can bring to the company.
· Be confident in your abilities.
· Be willing to accept change
· When you answer your personal phone, consider it may be a future employer. Make sure to sound professional.
· Edit your resume to include only relevant experience.
· Upon arrival to an interview, dress for success.
· Speak clearly at the interview and eliminate filler words.
These are only a few tips. I invite you to visit Communicationscamp.com to build a strategy that works for you. Remember in this competitive job market, you are a product that is worthy of all resources available for you to be successful.
Working with new people can be difficult. If you are the new guy hired in with experience to work with someone with seniority, this can be intimidating. However, there is a reason you were hired, and you can’t ignore your worth.
There is negativity that can come with articulating your knowledge. Those with seniority my not be as welcoming. You have a choice to make. You can remain introverted as not to make any waves, or be comfortable with displaying your experience.
I recently had the pleasure of working with autistic students on an assignment. The class was assigned an aide. The aide had been with the school for a few years and established a flow that worked for her. When I came in, I was excited to not only follow the lesson plan provided by the teacher, but also to use my skills as someone who has worked with special needs kids (including my own son) for many years. She was not really open to this change. I had to decide; 1) Do I allow her to run the class as she is comfortable, or 2) Do I follow the lesson plan using my own skills and knowledge. I chose what was natural for me to do, which was provide the lesson using my skills and the resources provided. The bottom line is, her method was based on calming the room to make her job easier. Sometimes easier is just not better.
It was important for me to use the experience and be respectful of her seniority. This is a choice many of us must make in our professional lives. There is a strategy that that can allow this transition to be easier.
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It’s a new year with the opportunity for new beginnings. Many of us had a fabulous 2017, because we were able to accomplish our goals we set out to accomplish. Many of us didn’t start or finish goals.
There is no need to despair. As we start this new year, let’s focus on the positive things that happened in 2017. Now decide what you want to carry into the new year and even more important what you do not want to follow you.
I tell my sons all the time, your body and mind are your tools. You only have one body and one mind. It is your responsibility to preserve the good and fix the bad. Toxins can destroy your body. Just as important to consider are the toxic relationships or conversations that can set us back. These toxins cause the most harm, because they can delay success. More detrimental, they can create doubt. This will inevitably lead to unproductive behaviors.
Take inventory of your life today. Not all resolutions and goals are meant to be completed. The removal of toxins from mind, body, and soul are the ones that are meant to be completed. These can change your life for the better.
As we enter the New Year continuing our journey to communicate successfully, let’s consider our short-term goals and long-term goals. We can only be successful if we choose to pursue our goals. Let’s choose to be alive. Let’s choose to communicate successfully.
Confident people make decisions that lead them to success. While we are on our journey to be positive we really need to understand the things that make us self-assured. Understanding this can allow us to understand what our strengths and weaknesses are. Once we know our assets, we can feel confident about the things that make us strong, so we can focus on being successful.
No one wants to admit they lack the confidence to be successful. However, you can only truly be successful if you are confident. There are over 15,000 peer reviewed articles that show there is a link between high self-esteem and life style success. The articles do not provide tangible outcomes. Nevertheless, isolating strengths and focusing on an individual’s primary strengths can build the self-confidence necessary to lead to a path of success.
We can start by creating a plan of self-study. This seems unnecessary and possibly arrogant, because we are predisposition to believe that humility and modesty lead to a morale high ground. While this in some way may be true, there is value in creating a plan for success that starts with being self-aware and building self-confidence.
Since this is a journey we are taking together, here are some things I would personally consider as part of the self-study:
What am I truly good at doing? This question is important because it is important to note your truth as opposed to your desires. We all want to be President of the free world, but not everyone is skilled for this job title.
Do I have the knowledge and education to be successful? Believe it or not, all the degrees in the world cannot make you successful. You want to understand the exact training and education you personally need to do what will make you happy.
Am I willing to change and adapt to the environment for which I am meant to be successful? Once we understand what our strengths are and what we need to do to be successful, we must be willing to make the necessary changes to be successful. This may feel like jumping off a cliff, but we need to move out of our comfort zone to have confidence doing and being what is needed to be successful.
How amazing do I feel doing what I am doing right now? If you are in a comfort zone just collecting a check, you are not adding to your confidence or to the world. Part of building self confidence is that feeling of amazingness doing something you are passionate about.
These are just a few questions to start the process. The goal in life should be to live and feel alive. Part of this is establishing self-confidence so you can follow the journey to success.
Learning to listen can be a challenge if you are used to speaking just to hear yourself speak. The truth is, the real school of life is learning from others and experiences along with the lessons that life give us.
I receive daily inspiration from a bible app I have on my phone. It was no accident that two scriptures relating to listening were the scriptures of the day two days in a row:
“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
Proverbs 17:28 KJV
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”
James 1:19 KJV
In this world of technology based communication, it is difficult to acquire the discipline of listening. We all struggle with understanding the importance of listening and embracing life in the moment. We have adapted to a “microwave popcorn” communication style. Our instructions in life for communication is to listen more than we speak. There is no time limit on true communication.
Imagine your conversations with others. Do you let them finish the sentence every time? Most of us are so accustomed to jumping in with opinions, we don’t even know when a sentence ends in a conversation. How can we learn from those who have wisdom and knowledge to share if we can’t stop ourselves from speaking?
Personal Example Moment:
I received a call from my son’s school. The teacher provided a vague explanation that we needed to discuss his performance. Immediately I became defensive on the call. She assured me she would explain everything once I was in the office.
When I arrived, I had a list of questions and concerns. The teacher tried to explain my sons learning challenges within the group setting. She was trying to suggest additional tutoring to reinforce the classroom teaching. Since my defense was up. I was unwilling to listen.
After a few days, I was able to digest what she was trying to tell me. I understood she was helping my son. She just wanted my permission to continue. We were able to work together as a team to create a learning solution for my son to ensure his success.
By not listening, I prolonged my sons path to success. I also frustrated myself and the teacher for no reason at all. I learned a valuable lesson about listening in this example.
Part of embracing life is understanding the value of life lessons. As we are evolving communication styles, we need to understand that listening is fundamental in communications. Learning to communicate effectively is a valuable life resource. Especially if we don’t want to miss opportunities to learn and grow.
I am going to try to write a blog about what is going on in America without too many political views. You are right in understanding this well be hard. It is just important that truths are known that can affect the way we work, live and do business.
As a generation x black woman raised on the west coast, I knew very little injustice. In fact, the first racial injustice in my memory was the Rodney King beating in March of 1991. The entire community was outraged by the incident, but more so that the police officers (who were caught on camera) were not punished for brutally beating a man in a random traffic stop. This led to the 1992 riots portraying people of color as riotous angry people.
I am now a mother of three minority young men. They are absolutely amazing. They are in college and positive members of society. However, as a black mother of three minority sons, November 2016 changed my confidence in their safety. It changed my perspective in their success in the business world. You can ask why, but we all know why.
November 2016, a generation of older politicians, affluent businessmen, and neo Nazi supporters (who cannot agree on anything) came together to bring back laws that enslaved minorities. These same laws took away the right to vote, the right to live in any neighborhood, the right to fair employment, and the right to just be free.
The positive thing about this is, the age to technology and social media established a platform for awareness. Social media is bringing awareness of incidents of injustice that have happened in the past and currently. As a result, as a joined community we are saying “we will not go back”.
Now that I have ranted about the reason for this blog, I want to discuss how to build a social arsenal that can protect us from this fear to returning to a very negative time in American history. We need to be socially aware without living in fear. Here are some tips:
If you read this and you want to add comments or tips, please do. We must work together to stand strong.
Growing up in my family, we became accustomed to the insults that are meant to be funny. It is known as a form of family bonding. Eventually there is this cycle of pointing out flaws in people that are in our circle. It seems harmless, only there is a long-term harm that can diminish the ability to be successful.
This analysis may seem silly, but it is true. As we progress through generations, the term “thick skin” has lost its meaning. In fact, as we become older those little insults float around creating self-esteem issues that are not immediately noticed. If someone tells you enough times that you are stupid, in the back of your head this is part of your description for yourself. However, if you have an environment where everyone tells you how smart and capable you are this becomes your reality.
It is important to become proactive in only surrounding yourself with people that only say positive things about you or at least know when to say nothing at all. In addition, you must also be someone who does not give energy to judging others or saying negative things about other people. This is difficult if you have been raised the same way I have where you learn to take the insults and laugh it off.
Let’s consider the way we communicate generationally to understand the lasting effects of judgement and insults:
As humans in our personal and professional lives we are regularly in situations that can be escalated. “Can be” is the key statement that should be considered. We are either the customer or the professional in either scenario.
As an agent in the call center industry, there are many opportunities to improve communication. This industry is mentally draining and can be deadly. Customers don’t consider there is another human on the line trying to do their job. The agents take calls back to back. It can be a demanding career. In such high stress environments, illnesses such as high blood pressure, anxiety disorder, and heart disease are common. It is important to find opportunities to refresh and provide excellent service for each caller.
To recover from the last call, you must have a strategy in place. This ensures you are prepared for every interaction. Here are some important tips:
Similar to life interactions, the un-expected will happen in your professional life as a call center agent. After your initial introduction is when the customer must “have the floor”. Always make sure you listen after you introduce yourself, this will allow you to assess the situation. Simply, take a breath and become the answer to their question. This will give you confidence and the customer respect.
Juanita Espino B.S. Comm., M.A.Ed.
Communications Consultant and Professional Advisor