Five Tips to Make Your WFM Team More Effective

Mary Lou JosephJuly 25, 2018

This is the second in a blog series based on two, rapid fire, 60 ideas in 60 minutes sessions for tips and techniques in workforce management held at the Society for Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) Annual Conference. I culled five tips for improving the effectiveness of your WFM team from the over 120 tips offered.

  1. Produce and review on a regular basis an operational handbookthat:
    • Includes a glossary of terms to help clarify communications; e.g., “exception” can mean different things to different people
    • Acts as a central repository of processes and procedures, as well as documents incidents and their recovery plans as discussed in the first blog
    • Incorporates not only the what, but the why behind how things are done
    • Includes a Top 25 FAQ doc of questions your WFM team is frequently asked
    • Has tiered “recovery” plans based on service levels. One customer recommended identifying three levels of service failures and clear action plans for each. This way it is easy to communicate to everyone what “state” you are in:
      • Green – 3% out of service
      • Yellow – 10% out of service, and
      • Red – 20%+ out of service.
  1. Establish a mentor/shadow program. Identify agents and other stakeholders to shadow a WFM team member for the day, and vice versa. This helps create an understanding of each other’s roles and helps ease any tensions between the groups.  An agent that is frustrated because their time off request isn’t approved may later accept these decisions once they understand all the other factors a WFM team member has to calculate to approve or decline requests. Significantly, agents that shadow a WFM team member may also become “ambassadors” for the team with the front-line employees. In addition, a shadow program also helps identify any agents or other stakeholders with the right skills and passion to join the WFM team—creating a pipeline of talent for future openings.
  2. Invest in solution training. Time and again we hear that WFM system users were trained by the person who did the job before them, who was also trained by the person who did the job before them, who hopefully had received formal training on the solution from the vendor. Just like the telephone game, how to use the system properly and to its fullest potential gets lost in translation. Invest in training direct from the vendor on the solution for new users to make them as efficient as possible on the tools they use—as quickly as possible.
  3. Bond with Human Resources. HR can keep you out of trouble. There’s a natural intersection between WFM and HR, as they will be the most up-to-date on work shift rules and regulations. You should invite them to review all your practices. As a thank you for their help, you could help them schedule their benefits fairs when it’s most convenient for employee groups—going so far as to put the fair on the employees’ schedules.
  4. Create a vision. Don’t just document your as-is state. Identify a vision of how you would ultimately like to see your team perform, and then create a phased plan on how to get there. A vision can inspire and engage team members to work collaboratively toward that goal.

The last one may seem odd, but it’s actually very important. The belief that you are working toward something bigger and better is a great way to keep team members engaged and enthusiastic about what they are doing. But this is true only if you are measuring and sharing progress toward that goal; otherwise, it will lose its impact and can even demoralize team members.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. Keep an eye out for my last blog in this series, Tips for a More Accurate Forecast.