WFM Team/Department Leadership – Proactive Environment vs. Reactive Environment (Part I)

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In any industry where workforce management principles are applied via a WFM Team/Dept. there is a recognizable difference in the: outputs, turnaround times, and quality of work from workforce management groups that are operating in a lean & agile proactive environment vs. the outputs of workforce management groups operating in a reactive environment.

There is a well-known, virtually never ending, “rabbit hole” that workforce management leaders can often unexpectedly fall into when they are managing a Team and/or Department in a reactive environment vs. a proactive environment. I would define a ‘reactive environment’ as one where everyone involved with the operations of the lines of business (including the leaders) has their own personal processes & procedures and they complete work products as they receive them. A ‘proactive environment’ is one where, based on the trends and needs of the specific lines of business, there are well defined & documented processes and procedures that everyone involved follows and are held accountable to.

As a WFM Leader you are constantly juggling, prioritizing, and re-prioritizing the end customer & overall business needs and wants by partnering with your: Operations Leadership team members (Site Directors, Operations Managers, Team Managers, Agents), Client Services team members, and your Recruiting & Training team members. 
In addition, you have the responsibility of coaching & mentoring workforce management analysts with vastly different skill sets. Regardless of the size of the lines of business that you are responsible for (300 agents or 3,000 agents) if you are not managing from a place of pro-activity with standard, documented, and published: processes, procedures, trackers, templates, reporting, WFM internal team workflow, etc… what should be a 40-hour work week will very quickly turn into an 80-hour work week … week after week … month after month. 

Initial Steps to Take:

  • Research, Define, Document: Exactly what processes/tasks should your WFM Team(s) be responsible for – treat this like a research project … meet with the key members of all of the different departments that work with your team(s), take notes of exactly what they believe your team is responsible for, how they believe they are supposed to contact your team members, what their expectation is of turnaround times for the requests that they are submitting, etc…. request to attend a handful of Agent Team Meetings & ask the agents what they feel the WFM Team’s goals are, what works well with the WFM/WFO Tool(s) they are using, what are their pain points experienced with the WFM/WFO Tool(s) & workforce management in general
  • Meet with Your Team(s): Once you have all of the information gathered & documented it is time to make your team members a part of this overall process. J First, meet with them each individually, and have them define their role to you (what tasks to they believe belong them, what training opportunities do they feel they have in relation to these tasks, what pain points do they feel exist on a daily basis, etc…). Once you have completed these individual meetings start having twice weekly Team Meetings with your team to first discuss the perception of what belongs to them – then work together to define:
All tasks that truly belong to your team(s)

*Create high level process documents for each task that include: How the request is submitted to your team, a template that needs to be attached with the request (if this applies), the expected turnaround time for each task (Ex: Individual Agent Day Off Swaps w/Self request due to WFM at least 5 business days in advance of the date being requested for swap)

 *Meet with your business partners to review (Operations, Client Services, Recruiting, Training, etc…) – once you have completed the above 2 steps meet with all of your business partners to review & make any necessary changes. This is a great way to build relationships, as you are defining processes with their input, therefore making them a partner vs. dictating to them what must be done & why without taking into consideration factors that you may not be aware of


  • Create a WFM Playbook: Create a WFM Playbook for each line of business that your team is responsible for supporting, have a quarterly group meeting with your business partners & team members to review the official Playbook & any and all changes that have been made over the previous 3 months



The above is your first step to creating and managing what you own in as proactive an environment as possible. In Volume II I will review pro-activity within the WFM group(s) for internal team tasks/work products.

About Erica Stevens

In every situation that I analyze… In every set of recommendations that I provide; I carefully consider the possible positive or negative impacts (Risk)to the Customer, the Business, and every Employee; and ensure that the best “value based decisions” are proposed & made on a consistent basis. I have an enthusiastic passion for the lean six sigma agile approach; as structure, consistency, continual innovation = loyalty & trust from your employees, business partners, and customers. 

Connect with Erica on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erica6sigma

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