Published December 22, 1998
Volume 6, Number 12

More a Coach and Mentor than Boss
Sandy Jones Brings a Unique Approach to Mallinckrodt Position
Sandy Jones

By Jay Hipps
Network Editor

Sandy Jones employs a holistic approach to supervising her technical service assistance staff.

Technical support via telephone must be one of the most challenging positions around. By definition, you're dealing exclusively with people who are calling because they have a problem with your product. Frustration and anger are often expressed in ways they wouldn't be face-to-face. 

Managing a technical service assistance group, as does Mallinckrodt's Sandy Jones, is a challenge of an even greater magnitude. To do so in a way that employees actually enjoy coming into work is a remarkable accomplishment. 

Such is the case with Jones, however. Her holistic management approach has won kudos from both her employees and from her bosses at the medical equipment corporation. 

"My approach is more as a mentor and coach rather than a supervisor, per se," she says. "A supervisor is often seen as someone looking over their shoulders, there to call out mistakes. What I try to do is coach each person."

Like any coach, she has her favorite drills or tips to use with her team.

"I encourage my people to recognize that callers are upset with the situation and not with them," she explains. "You remove yourself from the situationeven if you're the one hearing it, you're not the person they're really upset with." 

Jones also looks for opportunities to recognize the accomplishments of her staff. "Everyone needs kudos and positive reinforcement," she says. "One woman took 160 calls in one day here recently the average is 50 or sixty and that deserves recognition, so I brought in some balloons for her. It's a positive pat on the back." 

Jones' philosophy also means that she doesn't let the numbers that measure her team's performance rule over her own understanding of their efforts.

"It's so easy in the corporate world to focus on the numbers, with queue times and call levels," she explains. "I use the numbers, but the first thing I say is that this is a tool and it's not the absolute. There are a lot of things that you don't see that go into the numbers." 

Not that their numbers are below average. "Our results are phenomenal," Jones smiles. The group has been short two employees for several months and has met their goals despite being shorthanded. 

"I find that if you value and respect each person, they'll have an open path to grow," she adds. "When you have happy people, you have productive people, and the company meets its goals." 

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