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Thrive under the microscope

Perform like a star when it counts

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Here’s an unwelcome trend: More higher-level employees, such as customer service managers, are being observed by their bosses as they perform their jobs. Why? It’s a way for senior management to grade employees and maintain quality control.

What adds to the stress for those who are observed: Their pay is often linked to how they score. Example: A supervisor who fields calls from irate customers may need to read federally mandated legal statements to protect customers’ rights, show empathy (“I understand that you’re upset, Mr. Jones …”) and pepper the conversation with probes (“Is there anything else I can help you with?”). Customer service reps for Verizon must hit nearly 80 different points in every customer contact.

If you’re nervous about higher-ups observing your performance, bear down mentally with these tips:

Enter a zone. Learn from star athletes who perform in front of millions and block out external stimuli. They rivet their minds on the performance, making sure they master each step, so that no one can shake their concentration.

Professional basketball players shoot free-throws the exact same way every time, despite fans’ attempts to rile them by yelling and waving pom-poms. The players train themselves to focus on their actions, not distractions.

Set your own standards that exceed observers’ expectations. That puts healthy pressure on yourself and drowns out any nervousness that might crop up when an executive listens in. For instance, if you’re expected to end calls by asking, “Our goal is to provide outstanding service. Have I met that goal today?”, add a line such as, “I’m glad we got that taken care of for you! Our goal is to …”

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