The Five C’s of Motivation

Verint TeamJanuary 27, 2014

I came across an old article the other day—the author said there were five Cs to consider in attempting to motivate employees:

Culture: An overriding factor for motivation that is driven by things such as management style, processes and procedures. The most effective customer service organizations have a flatter management hierarchy with a dynamic, risk-taking, passionate and employee-centric management style rather than command-and-control and measures driven.

Content: Motivation is typically highest when a job offers an opportunity to learn new skills, experience some variation in tasks and acquire and demonstrate competence. Content is about giving timely feedback, assurance that individuals are performing a valuable task well, acknowledgement and recognition.

Control: In jobs with high demand and low control, the classic result is stress. Increasing employees’ perception of control and choice helps. For example, when contact center agents can choose shifts or engage in handling interactions in different media, it can increase their sense of control.

Collaboration: Teamwork and a feeling of belonging can influence motivation, turnover, job satisfaction, and productivity—negatively as well as positively. There is evidence that the often stressful nature of the contact center can cause the formation of serendipitous “communities of coping,” where advisors provide each other with both emotional and informational support.

Curiosity: Humans seem to function best somewhere between boredom and anxiety. By minimizing unpredictability and challenge, jobs can become boring. Introducing unpredictability, challenge, fun and even pleasure into jobs can make them inherently more motivating.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the author is absolutely correct. Given that assumption, can we say that in many contact centers, agents can be easily motivated? I would offer that the answer is, no.

Consider the 5C list. Many contact centers are hierarchal and command-and-control oriented. Management favors mostly low-risk behavior, and most day-to-day decisions are made to benefit the center’s performance measures. Employee centricity can be fairly low in many contact centers.

The work content tends to be fairly routine and repetitive, so that it can be accomplished effectively by entry-level workers. While agents usually have shifts assigned to them loosely based on their preferences, they still must meet business needs first and foremost. Regarding the work they do, most agents handle just phone calls from customers every day.

And finally, while some contact centers may provide work that has elements of unpredictability, challenge, fun and even pleasure—many have plenty of room for improvement in these areas. What is one to do? Perhaps it’s time to rethink the foundational elements of contact centers. Consider adopting an agile workforce strategy and becoming employee-centric. Why not? You may benefit by decreasing high attrition rates and employee ennui. Your customers will thank you.