The Need for Agile and Experienced Team Leaders

As contact centres adapt to post-COVID realities, this session of the Contact Centre Network delved into how the landscape is changing, particularly focusing on the role of the frontline team leader. With guest panellists Katy Forsyth and Oliver Jerome, the session explored the challenges and evolving expectations for team leaders in this new environment.

The post-COVID era has seen a shift in the role of team leaders. There is a growing demand for leaders who can immediately adapt and efficiently manage larger teams, often in hybrid settings. Katy Forsyth highlighted from her experience in recruitment and extensive research with contact centre senior leaders that their is an increased complexity of operations, necessitating team leaders who can handle high-stress levels and engage with demanding agents.

Impact of Hybrid Working Model on Environment and Training

Hybrid work environments have become more prevalent, posing unique challenges for team leadership. This new model requires additional skills for remote team management and maintaining visibility in an increasing distant operating model, where team members can be so disparate in their locations.  Oliver Jerome, shared his experience, emphasising the importance of supporting team leaders in these hybrid setups maintaining a strong connection with their teams in the most vulnerable of times, advocating the importance of clear communication and empathy as more critical skills, Both panellists agreed on the importance of ongoing training and development for team leaders with Katy Forsyth pointing out that many team leaders are thrown into their roles without sufficient training, especially in managing hybrid teams, situations that were alien to most team leaders and absolutely foreign to newly qualified leaders who have never managed teams, let alone managed in a remote or hybrid environment. Oliver Jerome’s approach in his organisation focuses on very structured programs to support new leaders, highlighting the necessity of continuous professional development and clear pathways for coaching and support. .

Span of Control and Its Impact on team leader attrition

A significant concern raised was the span of control, with team leaders managing larger teams than ever before. Katy Forsyth argued that an ideal span of control would be 8-12 agents, but current trends often see numbers much higher, impacting the effectiveness of team leadership. This is particularly prevalent in Customer Service functions where spans of control can build up to 15 – 18 people, particularly challenging when leaders are forced to pick up the teams of other leaders who leave or have extended sickness.  This topic brought us squarely to how we can influence team leader attrition and trends, with both panellists observing that attrition among team leaders is another pressing issue. Katy Forsyth, shared alarming statistics showing a considerable number of team leaders leaving for opportunities outside the contact centre industry. This trend underscores the need for better engagement strategies and support systems for team leaders.

The Role in Onboarding and Recruitment

The session also touched on the critical role of team leaders in onboarding new agents. Katy Forsyth, stressed that a lack of support from team leaders is a major reason for early attrition among new hires. Oliver Jerome, shared successful onboarding strategies, like personalised welcome messages and pre-start meet-and-greets, emphasising the importance of early engagement in minimising that early leaver risk, a risk even more prevalent in an environment where there is no physical engagement and no office based connection and attachment to culture.


In concluding, the immense pressures faced by team leaders in the current landscape and the requirement to support and develop them can’t be underestimates. The need for more support, more tailored training, and a more manageable spans of control is crucial. Katy Forsyth summarises well, “team leaders need to be driven by “great leaders” to navigate these challenging times effectively.” How we show up for our leaders impacts how our leaders show up for our teams.

This session highlighted the evolving challenges faced by team leaders in the post-COVID era. From managing larger, hybrid teams to dealing with higher attrition rates, the role of a team leader is more demanding than ever. This calls for a strategic focus on their training, development, and support, ensuring they have the tools and skills needed to thrive in this new landscape.