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Tips for managing a high performing team as a servant leader

Category: Best Practices
Sarah Thomas Feature Image - PS Ex

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

My views on leadership were shaped in part by the above quote a mentor shared with me around 15 years ago as one of the first lessons they offered.

As I was finding my footing as a new team leader at Redtail, I made myself a promise to stay true to this quote. It wasn’t important to me to be the best in call center metrics. It didn’t matter if I worked long nights to complete tasks. What did matter to me was how I showed up for my team. I was determined to be a servant leader and showcase my team’s individuality and talents. This mindset has helped me grow in my own career while helping others find their passions.

Some tips I have for implementing this approach:

Be consistent.

Whatever you are doing in your role or with your team, strive for consistency as this builds trust with your team and peers. Do what you say you’ll do: follow through. If you drop the ball, that is ok too. Everyone tends to have walls up to protect their feelings and egos. Having a leader who is capable of discussing their own goof-ups or shortcomings leads to a sense of solidarity for a team. Owning up to your mistakes and showing your human side is just as important as being a task beast. Vulnerability and relatability are traits successful leaders should not shy away from. Employees want to know that they can count on someone to have their back and truly mean it.

One of the ways I hold myself accountable in terms of consistency is by using recurring meetings and reminders in Redtail CRM. I have established a contact record for each of my employees and myself. On these records, I track time off, performance reviews, birthdays, and milestones. I also use the Today page of the CRM as a daily to-do list. I love being able to conveniently move meetings around or reschedule tasks for the following day. Using the Activity Reports allows me to spot check when we met last or see if we have met several times on a certain project.

Make your calendar work for you.

calendar review

Let’s face it, we all live off of our electronic calendars. If something isn’t on my calendar, it’s most likely not going to happen. I wake up and check my calendar to help mentally prepare for the day. In this new normal we are in, setting the stage for my day has been key in staying organized. Time blocking on the calendar is a newfound hobby, especially for my personal time, as it helps me stay on track for my personal goals and on following through with projects and commitments. It is also beneficial for me to be sure my calendar is coordinated with the third grader who happens to be distance learning from across the table in my makeshift office space.

The CRM calendar is my daily hub for everything. I love using the CRM mobile app while drinking my morning coffee to prepare for my day. It helps get me in the right mindset for meetings, coaching sessions, or tasks.

Calendar usage is also huge for my direct reports. They know that even in today’s virtual WFH world, my door is always open. My door is now my calendar! I continue to foster the “open door policy” environment by encouraging my team to add calendar activities on my day for us to chat. This type of empowerment creates an environment with more communication, trust, and brainstorming.

Final thought on turning your calendar into a welcoming environment: don’t forget colors! Make your calendar a happy place if you will be spending lots of time there.

Celebrate individuality.

There is no “one size fits all” coaching approach. What has worked best for me is really understanding employees. What motivates them to work hard? What method of coaching do they prefer? What day or time in their week is best for us to even meet?

When you ask these questions, listen. Let them do the majority of the talking and you will unlock so many facts that will be beneficial to you and your team’s success.

There are many ways to track the information you gather; I like to use Evernote to track all of my meeting notes or discussion recaps. Redtail CRM integrates with Evernote and all the notes I take can be housed within contact records of the CRM. The ease of use on-the-go with the Evernote app is a lifesaver too.

If you are the type of person who sends gifts, cards, or other tokens of recognition, check out the User Defined Fields in the CRM. You can track favorite colors, drinks, and other ideas to really make an employee feel special.

In order to celebrate your team’s individuality, you also need to celebrate yourself. What is your style? Don’t be afraid to incorporate some of your own personality into your conversations and interactions with your team. Let them know you too! This also goes back to creating that trust and vulnerability – perhaps a scary journey for many of us when we first begin, but an approach worth taking for the potential rewards.

Juggling daily tasks and managing your team’s performance can be challenging at times, especially when working in customer service. There may be days that you feel there are not enough hours in the day to tackle every aspect of your role. When it comes to managing a high performing team, having tools to set you up for success provides a foundation. Setting up a system that works with your style and skillset will allow you to operate more efficiently.

Putting all of these things in motion will create an experience that your employees will remember and strive to emulate themselves. I truly am thankful for the opportunity to leave an imprint on individuals and their careers. It’s not the “thank-yous”, performance evaluations, birthday parties, or game nights that mean the most to me (though they mean a lot); it’s the way I feel each and every time someone from my team moves on to bigger things.


Posted by: Sarah Thomas, Managing Team Lead – Customer Service at Redtail Technology
About: Sarah Thomas, aka the Pink Ranger from the Mighty Morphin Redtail Rangers, first joined the Redtail Customer Support team in 2015. She is passionate about employee development and team building – always looking for ways to create a fun work environment while bringing out employee strengths! Sarah focuses on creating raving fans by empowering her support team to be the best, day in and day out. Sarah has over 20 years of call center management experience and holds a green belt in the Lean Six Sigma program.