I was speaking at the ChinaSourcing Summit in Hangzhou, China, last week and got the chance to share some research and ideas with other industry leaders about how to upgrade the quality of management conversations with employees in a service and data-intensive industry.

ChinaSourcing Summit Hangzhou

For the past year we have been doing research on top performers in the call center industry and especially spotlighting four positions.  Customer Service is one business function that has been successfully outsourced to professional service providers.  In China, customer service for technical products like computers, mobile phones, internet broadband and related services offered on those platforms has developed a proven service outsourcing marketplace.  A different business function is tele-sales, which can be either outbound calling on prospects like business owners who need commercial and property insurance or inbound calls from interested people looking for more information or who are responding to a marketing campaign.  Besides the more experienced front-line agents or representatives for these two positions, we also studied that group leaders who manage these roles.  They tend to be more experienced and high performing front-line agents themselves, so we were interested to see what we might discover.

In our research we profiled what success looked like for these positions doing what is often called job analysis.  Next, we went to top companies in the industry and asked them to nominate their top performers so we could profile them and see what common characteristics they shared.

The guiding question was:  Does success or high performance leave a signature?

In short, we found that it does.  High performers have a shared set of behavioral traits or markers that distinguish them from the average worker (we had control groups from each company that helped us make comparisons).  They also have a set of competencies that made them stand out from their cohort.  What I shared in Hangzhou were summary findings from the ongoing research project.  We weren’t really sure at the outset if we would find meangingful correlations or if the dynamic talent pool in China would demonstrate clear signs of distinction based on performance.  The fact that we found some leading indicators is both intriguing and encouraging.

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