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Greg Hanover of Liveops: “Optimize skill development with distance learning”

Optimize skill development with distance learning: Consider using distance learning or e-learning technologies to train remote workers on new campaigns or products. With distance learning, you can overcome many of the common challenges associated with a traditional classroom setting, such as poorly designed content, overemphasis on lecturing, failure to address multiple learning styles, and limited […]

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Optimize skill development with distance learning: Consider using distance learning or e-learning technologies to train remote workers on new campaigns or products. With distance learning, you can overcome many of the common challenges associated with a traditional classroom setting, such as poorly designed content, overemphasis on lecturing, failure to address multiple learning styles, and limited interactivity.


As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a remote team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Greg Hanover.

Greg Hanover was named CEO of Liveops Inc. in 2017 after 10 years with the company in senior leadership roles. Liveops is a leader and pioneer in the virtual call center space, with a distributed workforce of over 20,000 domestic home-based agents. Before Liveops, Hanover was with West Corporation in a client services capacity. Prior to his leadership roles in the contact center space, Hanover held senior-level positions in the sports and entertainment industry. Hanover has extensive customer service expertise in the retail, financial services, healthcare industries, and holds an MBA and B.S. Degree in Marketing from Canisius College.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?

I’m a strong advocate for flexible workforces that help to empower individuals to work around their lives, rather than live around their work. Prior to joining Liveops, I worked with West Corporation in a client services capacity and held roles in the contact center space and sports and entertainment industry. Ten years ago I joined Liveops, first working as a Senior VP and GM and later Chief Operating Officer. After having spent many years working in the customer service and contact center space, my expertise in servicing industries across retail, financial services, and healthcare positioned me to take on the role of CEO at Liveops in 2017.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees to thrive and avoid burnout?

The recent shift to remote work has created the conditions for burnout for many people. Managers must set their teams up for success by fostering an environment that allows for community engagement and collaboration. Here are three tips to help remote workers prevent burnout:

Provide open-door communication and encourage your staff to advocate for themselves. While it’s important for your staff to ultimately report to you whether or not they need a day off, as a manager, you can take the initiative to check in regularly and ask how they are doing. Remind them to be open and transparent with you about how things are going.

Establish boundaries. It’s important for your team to know that working from home should not mean working 24/7. Given that we’re working and living in the same environment, the lines between work and life can easily become blurred. Happy, successful remote workers establish clear, inviolable boundaries. They differentiate between work hours and off-hours, as well as between their workspaces and the rest of their homes.

Remind them that routines matter. Remote work can feel chaotic and erratic, with unpredictable busy periods and dry spells, sudden influxes of emails, changing deadlines, various meetings and calls scheduled on top of each other. Most people require a routine to give them a sense of peace and comfort. Since getting in your car and driving home no longer signifies the end to a day, try establishing meal times and breaks to mark a specific start and end.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Some companies have many years of experience with managing a remote team. Others have just started this, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you tell us how many years of experience you have managing remote teams?

I have over 10 years of experience working with and managing remote teams. For over 20 years, Liveops has operated as a virtual call center, with agents dispersed across the country. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were already operating remotely and were well equipped to handle the shift of remote work in the workforce.

Managing a team remotely can be very different than managing a team that is in front of you. Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding managing a remote team? Can you give a story or example for each?

A key challenge for managing teams remotely is not having the right organizational structure in place. If your organization is not properly equipped with the tools it needs to operate effectively virtually, then you won’t be able to manage to the best of your ability.

Managing your remote staff’s performance and feedback remotely poses new challenges that don’t arise when in-person. For one, you don’t have full visibility into what they are doing throughout the day or how productive they are being. It can also create more communication barriers than if you were simply able to walk over to the person’s desk.

With many organizations still learning how to adjust to remote work, it can easily be forgotten to prioritize growth and development if you’re simply trying to stay afloat. For those transitioning to remote work, they might still be figuring out how to do the job as effectively and efficiently as they were doing it in-person before they consider honing new skills.

A piece of the puzzle that can be easily overlooked is security. Some organizations deal with very sensitive information and every organization should prioritize keeping employee or agent information confidential. The internet can pose many threats and remote workers are at a higher risk of not working on a secure network at home.

When working remotely, employees and agents can often feel isolated. As people, we thrive on social interaction and with remote work, especially while facing a pandemic, you get less time with others face-to-face. This can be demotivating for some that are working remotely and leave them feeling without support or community.

Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges?

Select the right tech ecosystem: Before you can go remote, you need to find the right technology to support your team. There are many innovative, flexible options out there. The approach you take will depend in part on your business and IT needs. For example, as a virtual call center, you can use an on-demand contact center solution that’s hosted in the cloud by an application service provider. Another option is to leverage your existing platform and integrate it with other solutions to complement or enhance your current environment.

Enable real-time performance management: Performance management is all about communication and transparency. This is particularly true when working from home. Regardless of where or what hours they’re working, employees and agents need someone to report to, provide feedback, and suggest ways to improve performance.

Optimize skill development with distance learning: Consider using distance learning or e-learning technologies to train remote workers on new campaigns or products. With distance learning, you can overcome many of the common challenges associated with a traditional classroom setting, such as poorly designed content, overemphasis on lecturing, failure to address multiple learning styles, and limited interactivity.

Maximize security: Review common strategies scammers use to trick individuals into providing sensitive information. One of your conditions for employment should be compliance with a set of security standards. The overall goal is to make security a part of everyday thinking. For instance, Liveops strongly recommends that agents configure computer systems in accordance with Microsoft’s recommendations as outlined in the company’s “Protect Your PC”1 guidance. These steps include:

Use an antimalware app.

Use a pop-up blocker.

Keep the operating system updated by enabling automatic updates.

Use a firewall.

Use the internet browser’s privacy settings.

Foster a sense of community: Successful remote working arrangements are people-focused. It’s essential to provide those working from home with tools to ask questions of others, stay connected to the company, and build a meaningful social network. Again, technology is an important piece of the puzzle. For example, your organization can institute online chat and establish in-house forums so that workers can talk offline.

In my experience, one of the trickiest parts of managing a remote team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. Can you give a few suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote employee?

Performance management is all about communication and transparency. This is particularly true when working from home. Regardless of where or what hours they’re working, employees and agents need someone to report to, provide feedback, and suggest ways to improve performance. They’re looking to managers for encouragement, answers to questions, and incentives to encourage them to perform to their best ability.

Establish multiple modes of communication to ensure you’re providing constructive feedback accordingly. Some feedback can easily be handled via email or over chat, while more critical feedback might require a phone call. Create communication channels via community technologies such as live chat, message boards, or forums. With the right combination of communication tools, supervisors have a broader reach and faster response times. With multiple modes of communication, you also get an up-to-the minute view into what’s happening within your organization, as well as an easy way to broadcast consistent messages instantly to all agents. When remote workers know you are listening and taking action on the issues that are most important to them, they feel supported and engaged at work, which ultimately improves performance and lowers turnover.

Can you specifically address how to give constructive feedback over email? How do you prevent the email from sounding too critical or harsh?

The shift to remote work means that more conversations that used to take place in person might be happening via email. The same goes for providing feedback to your staff on specific projects or activities. Tone via email can be easily misinterpreted. As a remote manager, be cognizant of how you are wording your feedback. Read what you write back to yourself first to determine if it might sound off-putting to the receiver on the other end. By keeping your message as simple and straightforward as possible, it leaves less room for there to be confusion overall and helps to encourage open lines of communication.

Can you share any suggestions for teams who are used to working together on location but are forced to work remotely due to the pandemic. Are there potential obstacles one should avoid with a team that is just getting used to working remotely?

One common concern among companies trying to embrace remote, on-demand work is team cohesion. How do you ensure the members of your workforce don’t become isolated? The truth is that companies should be more concerned about teamwork in their brick-and-mortar environments. Thanks to a proliferation in communication technology, virtual teams tend to connect more frequently and on a deeper level than they would in person. In addition to everyday tools such as Slack, Skype, Dropbox and Google Drive — which make virtual collaboration easy for any team — remote workers benefit from self-paced and self-directed learning and gamification embedded in their workflow. The most effective networks optimize virtual communication and productivity in tandem, bringing together skilled workers across states (and even countries) and allowing members to share tips and stories that forge connections with one another. These relationships simply wouldn’t happen outside of a virtual environment.

What do you suggest can be done to create a healthy and empowering work culture with a team that is remote and not physically together?

Connection is key to maintaining a virtual community. A great team work culture starts with a great team. To maximize job satisfaction and develop a strong working culture, you must first hire the right candidates for the job that can thrive in a remote setting. Shifting to remote work allows companies of all kinds to expand their talent searches beyond local restrictions and with the right team, these connections are able to transcend physical location. Creating a professional network throughout all corners and nooks of the country, with people of vastly diverse backgrounds, empowers your team to network and build a community. As a remote manager, you must also make sure that online platforms are in place so that these connections can be made, and your entire team can glean the benefits of the remote working experience.

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