With Valentines’ Day tomorrow everyone is talking about loving your customers. And course that’s important. But, unless your team feel valued and loved they’re not likely to give their best and to deliver the type of customer experience either you or your customers expect.
A loved team is an engaged team.
So how can you bring a smile to their face (not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day) without it costing you a fortune in bonuses or incentives?
There’s a perception that everyone is motivated by money. There’s no doubt money is a contributing factor. Pay them late, mess up their overtime or deny them the pay rise they were promised and you’re probably going to have an unhappy employee. And unhappy employees invariably lead to unhappy customers.
But how would you feel on Valentine’s Day if your loved one just gave you money? Unless it was a ton of cash or you’re saving up for something really special it’s not very exciting. It feels as if no care or thought has gone into it. It’s impersonal. It might be fine for Aunty Doris to give you money at Christmas as she doesn’t know what you’d like (and it’s better than the alternative of a pair of sock!), but if someone’s taken the trouble to find that something special and buy it for you – that’s going to have far more impact, right?
Money is a very short term motivator. And let’s face it, unless your team are on performance related bonuses few of us can be doling out monetary rewards every five minutes.
So what can we do to show our team some love?
Before you do anything…
Start by finding out what’s important to them.
Not everyone values or is interested in the same things. Whilst some love the sense of achievement, others favour doing their bit for others. Some love to have their say, whilst others are happiest when they’re learning or being stretched.
And if it really is just tangible rewards people love? Well, I know I’d rather be given a bunch of flowers any day over a fiver go and buy my own!
We should never assume what our team would like and what’s important to them. If we’ve never had the discussion, it’s high time we did!
So start by doing a little bit of homework to find out what’s likely to bring a smile to their face which they’re sure to pass on to your customers.
Here are some six things you might consider .…
1. Say thank you
I know I’m always talking about showing your customers your appreciation, but it’s just as important to demonstrate to your team that you appreciate their contribution.
The simplest thing you can do is to say thank you. Recognise and reward good performance, achievements and a job well-done. For many, that is all they need to feel encouraged.
Yes, they work for pay, but it always helps to know that their work is recognised. Not just as a routine passing comment, go out of your way to thank individuals when you spot them doing something that will delight your customers. Bring the team together at the end of a hectic day, busy shift or demanding project when everybody has pulled their weight to make sure everything went smoothly.
If you are genuine in your appreciation, and choose it for the right moment, it can work wonders. A simple but honest appreciative remark can go a very long way.
Give feedback; what have they done well and how it has contribute. Don’t dilute the message by homing in on shortfalls (but you can still ask them how this can be improved upon for next time, just as long as you don’t start nit picking).
Celebrate and share successes. And if you are going to praise an individual, don’t just leave it till you are on your own with them. Find an opportunity when they are with their colleagues, and your praise will create a buzz! Make sure it’s genuine and specific for the task carried out, or the person might be seen by their colleagues as ‘teacher’s pet’.
2. Token gestures
Become aware of what hobbies and interests your employees have. Then when you are out and about and see something that has to do with that particular interest, pick it up for them.
Coming into the business and saying “I really appreciate what you do, and I got this for you as a small token of my appreciation”, will make them feel they are recognised for a great job.
It doesn’t have to cost the earth; just a token. But the thought it evokes will make a real difference.
3. A treat
Give people the occasional treat. No need to be a lavish; look at ways to reward that create a win-win:
For example maybe a visit to a sister business or somewhere where they will be on the receiving end of outstanding service and are motivated to bring back more ideas that can be implemented in your business.
When your team have worked long or unsociable hours that had an impact on their personal life, extending the treat to be shared with their loved one not only makes your team member feel good but shows your appreciation of the support given by their friends and family. This paves the way for future good deeds too!
4. Time Off
For some people a little free time could be the most valuable gift you can give them.
Allowing flexibility to go home early to attend their kid’s sports’ day, have a lie in or the evening off on their birthday, or take an hour out to attend to a personal matter.
Allow the freedom for having fun too; this doesn’t mean being unprofessional, but looking for opportunities that create a relaxed and enjoyable place to work.
Simply a rest or just have a bit of fun can work wonders to their state of mind.
For those with a competitive spirit: Awards, competitions, even a league table. This might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has the opportunity to recognise their particular skills and strengths.
External awards are a great way to give recognition for the whole team. Keep your eye out for awards which are relevant to your business or your market. Just being nominated an award is a great booster. I remember when I worked in the corporate world and took over responsibility for sales training. Our new sales director was so impressed with what I had achieved he put me forward for the Institute of Marketing Sales Trainer of the year award. I didn’t win but I was one of the finalists, which gave me a great boost, and an opportunity to invite my colleagues along to the awards dinner which was great for my profile and for the business.
Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, or those in non-customer facing roles. They all have their part to play.
6. Opportunities for personal development
We so often think of development as solely grooming somebody for promotion. This might be one intention or outcome but even when we know that a member of our team has probably reached their peak, that doesn’t mean to say that we just let them stagnate.
Development should have the intention of making people the best they can be at their jobs, and this might lead to making the job easier, more rewarding or simply getting the job done in less time.
Identify and utilise people’s strengths, providing further development when needed to bring out the best in these areas. Delegate and give some control and ownership, such as making people champions for specific areas. This gives them pride in what they do and they will appreciate that you’ve recognised where they do a good job, providing of course you’re careful not to overburden or just dump these tasks on them.
Grow from within where possible, and give people the opportunity for career progression as well as enhancing skills to do their existing job. Think also about life skills; for example offering English lessons for migrant workers.
You may not be able to accommodate everyone’s aspirations particularly if you’re a small business, but having some kind of succession plan in place that gives people something to work towards.
However, take time to discuss people’s aspirations; don’t just assume that if someone shows potential that they want more responsibility or to be groomed into a specific position. And be careful not to make promises on career moves that you’re unable to keep.
Once we understand what’s important and a little bit of creativity there are plenty of ways we can say “I love you” and find the things they’ll love. And your customers will feel that love too!