May 19, 2016 Dialogue

The Motivation Game

By Roseann S. Hiebert

As we all know, trying to maintain one’s sanity while working in a call center can be a challenge, even on the best of days. The following are a few suggestions to alleviate the stress and the frustrations of the work we do.

The first thing is to try to be a good supervisor. As a supervisor, it is your duty to constantly evaluate your staff during calls. You should be watching out for some telltale signs of burnout—such as tone of voice and body language—and staying available for the moment when a difficult call has just ended.

If you notice that a staff member is struggling, suggest that they take a break from the phones. Perhaps they could take a short walk or take care of administrative tasks, such as filing or even shredding documents—always great for getting those frustrations out!

Also, make yourself available while staff members are on the phones to answer questions about referrals. It will help your staff to know you are actively engaged in the process. You can help lead by example by having staff listen to you while you take calls.

When you hear staff do exceptionally well with a difficult client, acknowledge them and their efforts. A kind and encouraging word goes a long way. Perhaps offer some type of reward if you are able to do that, such as extra lunch time, a gift card, or the ability to leave a bit early or come in a bit late.

You can also invent games to play like LRIS Bingo (each square is a kind of legal problem or type of caller) where you award a prize to the winner, or honor silly holidays (like “Draw a Bird Day”) to lighten the atmosphere.

It is also a good idea to hold regular staff meetings—perhaps holding them over the lunch hour and providing food. Taking an hour away from the phones as a group promotes camaraderie and can hit the reset button to reinvigorate. It also serves to inform the staff of any issues going on in the office in a more relaxed setting. Encourage staff to brainstorm ideas wherever possible so they have a stake in the processes that affect their work. This helps them feel like they have a vested interest in LRS outcomes and hopefully boosts morale, too.

Another idea for boosting morale is to simply celebrate special occasions together.  Buying a card for all staff to sign and bringing in a birthday cake can be a simple gesture to make staff feel special and appreciated. Bringing in bagels or muffins in the morning for no special reason is another simple way to show appreciation.

For those out there who are the only LRS staff member, remember to be kind to yourself. Take that break when you need it. Perhaps you can speak with a supervisor about having a back-up for an afternoon or take an afternoon off without the phones. Do what you have to do to maintain your own sanity.

Hopefully these tips will help maintain a healthy balance in your office and will help staff maintain a positive outlook in the course of their jobs.

Roseann S. Hiebert

Director, Brooklyn Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service

Roseann S. Hiebert has been the Director of the Brooklyn Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service since May 2004. Prior to her position at the Brooklyn Bar Association, Ms. Hiebert was the Director of the Kansas Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service. Under her direction at the Kansas Bar LRS, Hiebert was awarded the ABA’s Cindy A. Raisch award for the Legal Advice Line as a program worthy of emulation. At the Brooklyn Bar Association, Hiebert received the Distinguished Service Award for outstanding service on behalf of the Brooklyn legal community.