Demonstrate the Power of One With Games and Activities
By Penny Reynolds
In a recent issue of On Target, we discussed the “need to know” information for agents, supervisors, and senior management related to call center staffing. When educating everyone in the call center about the importance of schedule adherence, it’s important to provide real-life numbers and realistic examples of all the statistics and trade-offs. However, in addition to the facts and numbers, it is often necessary to find other ways to drive home Power of One concepts for frontline staff.
The successful workforce team and training department will find programs, games, and activities that illustrate Power of One principles in ways that everyone will remember as they go through their day-to-day activities. Inserting a memorable experience in early training as well as occasional reminders in team meetings can keep Power of One as a “top of mind” concept.
Below are three ideas for Power of One activities that can be done in 10-15 minutes in a team meeting session. (Note: Find these and other Power of One activities in the book, Workforce Management Essentials, available for purchase on swpp.org.)
Activity 1: Capsizing Cups
Illustrate the principles of service and occupancy by showing how one person’s workload can represent an overload of work when distributed among other members of the team.
Water and plastic cups
(Note: You can use sand or marbles or other small objects to fill up cups if you don’t want a water mess, but if it’s a mess, it’s a funnier and more memorable lesson.)
Have participants sit in a circle with each person holding a cup. Fill each cup to whatever percent of occupancy exists during a typical hour of the day. For example, if 15 people are handling 12 hours of work, the occupancy would be 12/15 or 90%.
Discuss how people feel when occupancy levels are at 90% and each person is getting a 10% breather in between calls. Some might feel this break is reasonable while others may already feel pressured by handling near back to back calls.
Have someone step away from the group, distributing his cup’s water into the other cups. The water may be distributed evenly into the remaining cups or into just a few cups. Everyone’s cup is fuller, but there is still capacity left at the top. Instruct another person to leave and distribute water. Depending on the size of the group, it may only take a few people leaving before water spills over. This means the group has reached capacity.
- How is occupancy measured?
- What is a reasonable level of occupancy? Why might management want it high and agents want occupancy to be low?
- How do agents feel when it’s too high or too low?
- What is the impact that just one person makes on occupancy? (Be prepared with a table that shows the numbers for a sample hour from your center.)
- What can each person do to support adherence and keep occupancy at reasonable levels?
Activity 2: Pulling Your Own Weight
Illustrate the power of teamwork and adherence on keeping service levels high and sharing the workload.
Gather participants around a table at the next team meeting. Have everyone stand up around the table and with everyone using both hands, lift the table about three inches off the floor.
Have a discussion about the Power of One while participants are holding up the table. One by one, assign each person a 15-30 second break to step back from the table to rest their arms before coming back to hold up the table. If everyone takes a break at the assigned time around the table, the table is easily held up during the meeting. On the other hand, if people just step back and take a break whenever they feel like they need a break, it is likely that several people will step back at once. This results in the table taking a drop and it being much more difficult for the people carrying the load.
- What does the table represent? (Call workload)
- Was it easier to keep the weight aloft when everyone did his or her part?
- How much harder was it when one person dropped out for a break?
- Was it more difficult when multiple people stepped away?
- What happened to the table when multiple people stepped away?
Activity 3: Practicing Perfection
Illustrate the power of teamwork and adherence on speed and performance.
The battery-operated Perfection game will be used to illustrate the concept of teamwork in a call center setting. The object of the game is to drop a set of different sized pieces into corresponding slots before a timer runs out, popping up and scattering the pieces.
Gather three participants and distribute the game pieces equally among them. Set the timer and have them place the pieces in before the timer runs out. With three people working together, they should be able to complete the task at a fairly leisurely pace. Set the timer to the same time and then remove a person and let everyone see how much faster the two staff have to work to beat the same time. Either they will not finish, or if they do, it will be very close and stressful. Explain that the game pieces represent calls being processed and if all staff (three people) are in place, everyone can work at a comfortable pace, while missing people forces the ones left behind to work harder.
You can use more than three participants to show impact of overstaffing. With too many people in place, there is not really enough for each person to do, meaning boredom sets in.
- What do the game pieces represent? (Customer calls)
- How did it feel to be one of the two agents left behind when not enough staff were available? (Stress of high occupancy, inability to complete the work)
Reinforcing Training Concepts
As with any training, it is very important to reinforce concepts in a variety of ways. While using a simple lecture format to inform staff about important Power of One concepts will get the main points across, telling students and showing them numbers addresses just the auditory and visual aspects of learning. Many people will learn better with kinesthetic approach where there is hands-on involvement in learning. This is where adding Power of One games and activities can reinforce concepts and increase retention on the job.
Penny Reynolds co-founded The Call Center School and has written five books and more than 100 articles related to call center and workforce management. A semi-retired industry consultant, Penny provides educational support and serves as an advisor for SWPP.