Don’t Make These Mistakes When Managing Seasonal Agents

by
Greg Smoragiewicz

Seasonal agents step into strange circumstances.

They realize they have a lot to learn, but they also know they won’t need any of that knowledge in a few months.

They see that their employers clearly need them, but they also sense that their colleagues not-so-secretly resent them.

And even though they vow not to lose sleep over a temporary gig, they also can’t help but get caught up in the seasonal stress.

So please, let’s have some sympathy for this unique category of coworker and spare them the consequences of basic managerial mistakes.

Delegating Management To Junior Staff

Employers already know how their relationship with a seasonal agent will end before it begins. Whether the experience is good, bad, or indifferent, the employee will be out the door in a matter of weeks.

It’s understandable, then, why you might be hesitant to involve senior managers in such temporary arrangements. But delegating responsibility to junior staff sends several dangerous signals.

Seasonal agents will immediately know when you’ve given them a babysitter instead of a boss. They won’t need a copy of the company org chart to confirm it.

And if they see from the start that their progress is not one of your priorities, will they really make your success one of theirs?

Selecting your seasonal team leader via rock-paper-scissors doesn’t send a great message to the rest of your staff either. Building cohesion between temporary agents and permanent employees is already hard enough without managers confirming the second-class status of seasonal workers.

And finally, appointing a junior employee to this particular leadership position actually does them a disservice as well.

Seasonal agents typically arrive with minimal industry experience, limited technical proficiency, and nearly zero product knowledge. That means they’ll need more attention, coaching, and correction — not less.

Combine all of this with a compressed training period and peak-season pressure, and it should be clear by now why this managerial role is best left to experienced experts.

Training a Team of Generalists

Some companies still imagine seasonal agents as interchangeable parts — warm bodies with winning attitudes and a willingness to jump in wherever they’re needed.

But is versatility really the right goal to pursue?

As we discussed earlier, seasonal agents pose a unique challenge. They generally have less experience, less ability, and less time to make up the difference. So given these inherent deficits, trying to serve this audience your standard training protocol could be a serious mistake.

The more information you overwhelm people with, the less likely they are to retain and apply any of it. That could leave you with a crop of timid, ineffective agents as a result.

The other risk to watch out for is false confidence. The passing knowledge gained from a brief overview may give some agents the mistaken impression that they’re ready to tackle complex customer issues on their own.

And when those gambles don’t pay off, it often takes an army of veteran support pros to repair the damage.

The best solution for all sides, then, seems to be a more specialized training regimen. Instead of trying in vain to build a team of generalists on a tight deadline, why not narrow the scope of the mission?

Focus on mastering a few support channels instead of juggling all of them.
Practice solving the most common issues instead of discussing the outliers.
Clarify when to call for backup instead of expecting self-sufficiency.

Seasonal agents, veteran employees, and touchy customers will all appreciate this approach.

Ending Training Once Work Begins

The role-play scenarios you rehearse in a conference room will never really replicate the pressure of a live customer conversation. It’s discouraging, but it’s true.

Instead of wrestling against this reality and frantically restyling your training material, the more productive move involves rethinking your training timeline.

You can’t teach seasonal agents everything they’ll need to know before their first shift — and you shouldn’t try to. As long as you make time for continuous training, their skills will gradually get to where they need to be.

This ongoing professional development can take many forms, ranging from scheduled and structured to impromptu and informal. And technology is making it easier than ever.

Managers can casually and silently monitor customer conversations as they happen — even whispering advice to agents in real time. Or they can schedule formal meetings to review call recordings and suggest tactics for agents to try in future scenarios.

You don’t even have to conduct coaching in-person. Compiling FAQs, providing scripts, and creating cheat sheets can help you share your expertise with everyone at once.

So whichever method you prefer, just make the space. There will be plenty of temptation to pile on the shifts during periods of peak demand. But carving out the time for continuous training early will pay larger dividends down the line.

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