Control in Management
Understanding of the word “control” is rather intuitive. Following the Oxford dictionary of English it stands for “the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events.” Quite clear definition of a term that begins to be really problematic within the moment you want to put words into action. While being a manager you have to deal with that on your daily basis. It’s written into the description of this profession, you’re the one kept responsible for your subordinates work to be going according to the plan set by the higher instance. Although sometimes it’s nice to be the one in power, finding the golden mean of work control is a challenge. It may even occur to be the worst of all the management functions. Thankfully, you can make it easier for yourself.
There’s always a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to control. Although arguments for denying its necessity are hard to find it doesn’t mean that we’re all of the sudden okay with being controlled. Especially, since control is one of the things that’s hardly ever praised and we’re so responsive to breaching its boundaries. Speaking of that, what are the boundaries of controlling? It’s easy to make your employees nervous by breaking down their necks. And as we’re speaking here about the sales teams specifically, agents working for you are already stressed enough doing what they do. Jeopardising your relations with subordinates by making them feel threatened won’t work either: there’s no better way to make them less motivated to do their job and that’s quite the opposite of what you want to achieve as their manager. So what should you do?
One of the things that somehow determine you as a manager are your personal assumptions about employees. Whether you share statements of Theory X, Y or Z or not, your opinions have a huge impact on your actions. If you prefer to have a strict control over your employees because you don’t really think that the company’s interest is also their own or you believe that they do care about their work enough to be willing to do their best without any additional motivation, it’s all based on your personal assumptions. Therefore some resolutions will be more appealing to you and some other you’re classify as not feasible without even trying.
It’s not possible to create the control system that works in every condition. Situations vary whether you like it or not and different cases will need to be resolved in separate ways. You can’t always rely on the same solutions you’ve already tried, as they may simply fail.
The case of sales
When it comes to controlling a sales team the case seems to be even more complicated. Working on the phone often requires agents to have skills they never had the chance to learn before. How to handle an angry person screaming at you over the phone? How to make other people listen, when they’re not interested in what you’re offering? This work is hard, stressful and not easy to enjoy. Moreover, it’s often the job taken by people who don’t really have too much of experience but they’re eager to earn some. They come from different backgrounds, some are more talkative, some were born with charisma, the other’s need to be lectured. That shows how some of the people in the team you’re managing may need to be controlled in different ways than others. Some need to be checked whether they’re saying correct stuff, other if they spend enough time on phone instead of being on hold, if you’re already quite sure that they know what to say and how to say it to make the best chance at selling the product.
Control in management
The control in management should be focused on results. It’s statistics, in theory including “human factors” only after pursuing standards are achieved. At this ground outbound metrics should be your best friends. There’s nothing more sure than numbers, right? At least when it comes to meeting the set number of successes of the campaign you’re working on.
It’s easy to find general scheme of work control in the Internet or literature covering the topic of management.
- You need to set some standards – ones that are going to be obligatory for your subordinates to meet.
- Measure the performance of your team members and compare it to these set standards.
- Make decisions based on upper comparisons and implement solutions to each occurring discrepancy.
Every point listed above seems to be quite easy to achieve. If the “standard” you’ve established is the number of successes you want your agents to achieve during some set period of time, measuring if it happened won’t be a problem. Not acquiring it seems to have a clear consequences as well: you can simply base your employee performance appraisal on their results. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that simple in real life. There are many other important rates that should be controlled in outbound campaigns.
For example, let’s compare two imaginary agents, one of them had more successes but at the same time his contact rate is significantly higher than the other agent, who may have made less successes but on much smaller number of leads called. Therefore you can’t be completely focused on the end results, you need to control the process. The easiest way to do that is through software as it’d be difficult and really inconvenient to measure your agents’ overall performance otherwise. The software allows you to compare your subordinates with each other or with the whole team to see if they’re better or much worse than their colleagues, at least that’s how it works at CrazyCall. Basing on the rates that the agents have the highest or lowest, you’ll be one step closer to tell in which area they may need mentoring. Whether they need to be reprimanded for the short talk time or loading to many leads, it all will be clear once you compare their results with the standards you’ve established.
The purpose of control
It’s not enough to know that your subordinate is not reaching the results they should. Behind the control function of management stands clear and vibrant purpose: to fix whatever it is that holds back your agent.
E.g. let’s say you already checked his performance by the metrics and everything aside from the successes seems to be alright, then maybe there’s something in the way he speaks, in the words he’s choosing to convince the potential client, that is not quite right. Then you can either listen to his next call while standing right beside him, making him nervous as every obvious eavesdropping always does or you can use the software for that as well. In that way you can eliminate the risk that he’ll treat the call you’re listening to with an unusual, extra care.
The control, although it’s not the most convenient one of all management functions, can be much easier (and more pleasant for employees) while the right tool is in use. It doesn’t mean you can’t do just that without using any software. It would simply take more energy, not to mention time, which is something managers are usually lacking. Moreover, it kind of prevents you from any possible accusations of being bias, of “having favourite subordinates, who you’re controlling less”.
Nevertheless, the intuitive comprehension of the word “control” seems no longer fitting, does it? It’s one of the things that people, who don’t have to figure out how to do it, consider something really easy, basic even. It’s possible your employees are thinking the same way. Other management functions like planning or organizing seem to be much harder comparing to the control, but let’s be honest: control is basically the core of management. Without it you wouldn’t be able to make any plans happen not to mention that organizing your employees work also depends on how well you can control them. As for being such an important thing, in my opinion, it doesn’t get enough credit. Maybe it’s a good time for change.