WFM Team/Department Leadership – Proactive Environment vs. Reactive Environment Part II

Firefighters training, the employees annual training fire fighting

In Part I of my blog on this subject (https://wfmanagement.blogspot.com/2019/10/wfm-teamdepartment-leadership-proactive.html) I spoke about the initial steps that can be taken by a Workforce Management Leader to organize the ‘end to end’ operation of your different WFM groups into a lean & agile proactive environment vs. operating in a reactive environment. Regardless if you have just acquired new/additional WFM groups, you are new to WFM Leadership, or you have recently recognized that a change is needed with how your groups are operating; my hope is that my lessons learned during my career & the best practices that I created can/will help you. 😊

If your ‘business as usual’ operating model is that of being a group of Fire Fighters (fighting each “fire”/issue as it presents itself), this is a model that is reactive vs. proactive, and not one that can be sustained within any Workforce Management group long-term. You will quickly find yourself not leading, not teaching, not mentoring, and not growing the skill sets of your team members & yourself; but instead being pushed & pulled in multiple different directions by different team members to assist them with putting out “fires” they are not equipped to handle alone. This is a perfect example of an environment where everyone is working hard, not smart. Fostering this type of environment within Workforce Management groups quickly leads to frustration, attrition, and burn-out of both your team members & yourself; and success will be impossible to obtain.

 As you are working on the Initial Steps to Take’ that were defined in the first blog you also have the responsibility of defining how internal WFM tasks/deliverables will be handled within your different groups. Some questions to ask yourself as you are defining the strategies/visions for these processes by group are:

  •  Regardless of physical location & work schedules; how do you keep everyone in your department & sub-groups aware of the work that needs to be prioritized each day (taking into account your standard Daily, Weekly, and Monthly tasks + all ad hoc work that needs to be completed)?
  •  How do you ensure that the different sub-groups are proactively working with each other on shared lines of business (Real Time, Scheduling, Time Keeping, Capacity Planning, Forecasting)?
  • How will your business partners be communicating with your groups, how will you define & measure ‘first contact resolution’ between your internal customers & your team members, how will you ensure that from team member to team member your internal customers are receiving a consistent message, and how will you measure your internal customer satisfaction with the interactions they are having with your team members?
  • What process is in place for on-boarding/training new team members to your different groups?
At the same time I’m doing the following: 
  •  I spend approx. 4 weeks shadowing the different team members as they complete their tasks/deliverables, so that I can understand their “As-Is” environment – I ask a lot of questions & take a lot of notes. This helps me to start building individual relationships with new team members, and at the same time provides me a great deal of useful data
  •  I ask my team members to ‘loop me in’/ Cc me on all emails and/or ticket communications with our business partners, so that I can read both the submitted requests & the responses. This allows me to understand and quantify the needs & wants of our internal customers, as well as how each team member is currently operating & their skill set. This gives me a great deal of insight into what consistent processes, procedures, forms, etc… currently exist (if any) & what I feel may need to be created for optimal efficiencies, as well as the individual skill sets & business acumen of each team member. It definitely takes a great deal of your time to read every message & every response, but I promise you that putting in the work on the front end will bring you far less work on the back end
  • I have recurring meetings with my team members individually & in groups to discuss ‘As-Is” environment ‘pain points’ that they feel exist, as well as what they feel works well & why
  • I make a conscious effort to involve each of the team members individually & in groups with creating and continually improving all of our processes, procedures, forms, trackers, tools, etc… from Day 1.  I will come to them with a vision/strategy; then will ask them to approach the assigned task like a project. This is where I am able to inject PMP & Six Sigma methodologies into managing each item that my team members create as a mini-project. This is a skill set that everyone appreciates being taught & from Day 1   I am promoting that we are all One Team with One Goal & involving each of them in the process
 As I am working thru the above steps I am formulating a road map that defines the processes & procedures that are needed with a priority level for each; so that there is an organization & logic to what is created. I then assign the end to end creation of each process & procedure to the team in groups of two. I mix together team members based on “will” & “skill”, so that by working together they can knowledge share & help each other grow. 
*For example: I will pair together a team member with excellent Excel Skills with a team member that has great attention to details & time management skills. While working together on the mini-project they share these skill sets with each other. This entire initial creation of the items on the road map takes approx. 6 months to complete, then you and your team will spend the next 6 months refining these processes & procedures; with a focus on continual improvement. The importance of this entire process from start to finish is to build & unite a team of highly productive WFM professionals. This is a time to use Emotional Intelligence & Servant Leadership Principles, you plant the seeds by providing the vision & strategy, then you hand that vision over to the team and allow them to take ownership tactically.

 Below are 2 examples of industry standard work products that I have identified need to exist from company to company, and therefore require processes & procedures either within just the WFM groups, or both within WFM & for our Business Partners. These examples have been simplified for the purpose of being used as examples in this blog.
·      Real Time Attendance Reporting: In real time it is important to know what your Unplanned Attendance % is trending for the day at any given time, so that you can compare that to the plan, and keep your business partners & senior leadership updated in relation to how unplanned attendance is driving certain KPI’s. A process for Real Time Attendance Reporting would include: a standard report template, a WFM procedure on how to compile the report, frequency that the report is to be completed by WFM & times to be published, what #’s should be highlighted & when, where to publish and/or email distribution list to send to
·      No Longer Employed (NLE): The WFM Dept. should have the true headcount of every account at any given time – for multiple reasons. An example of a process created for NLE reporting to WFM is: create a standard template for your business partners to complete when they are submitting an NLE to WFM, create a process document that defines: What is an NLE? (any time an Agent is no longer employed on a specific account – resignation, termination, promotion, etc…), provide the template that is to be completed by your business partners for every NLE submission, define that all NLE’s should be submitted on the day the NLE takes place by EOB, within WFM create a code for NLE to be placed on the agent’s future released schedules – and define a WFM process for when you delete that employee from the WFO/WFM Tool (if not a transfer to another account)

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