How’s your first day of the new term been?
Is everyone firing all cylinders?
Or is there a definite case of the post-holiday blues?
There’ll be many cheering that the kids are back at school, but when you’re surrounded by those who are fed up, bored, or just generally wishing they were still lying on that beach in the sun, playing football with their kids, or simply chilling out at home with a good book this inevitably rubs off on others.
It only takes one or two team members to ‘infect’ the entire team.
And of course this then rubs off on your customers’ experience
…and ultimately your bottom line.
Whether you’re drawing breath at the end of your busiest season, or just back from your well-earned summer break – here are 10 ideas to get you and your team back into the swing of things and on a roll now it’s back to business as usual.
1. Play from a 10
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, which if we think it’s going to be tough getting back into the swing of things the chances are it will be.
Not just for you, but for your team as well.
The way we feel emotionally will influence the feelings of people around us. In other words if we mooch around all day resenting coming back to work after our fantastic holiday or quality time with the kids we’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions, than if we’re smiling, laughing and generally being positive about being back at work.
Being confident, enthusiastic and energetic might not always rub off on everyone else, but it’s a better bet than if you’re down and moping about resenting being back at work!
2. Set mini goals
It can often feel as if you’re not achieving much in the first few days or weeks back at work, or when you’re recovering from a busy period. Consider allocating some specific short term projects or goals which everyone can get stuck in to and for which they can see some results within the first few days back.
It will certainly help focus attention back onto the job in hand, and get everyone back into full flow as quickly as possible.
3. Fresh perspectives
When people have been away from the business for a couple of weeks, or even a few days, they often get a fresh perspective and see things in a new light.
What ideas have your team seen on their holidays or days out which they’ve appreciated and which could be applied in some way in your business?
Take a few moments this week to ask their views on any opportunities they can see to improve your service, to add value or make recommendations to customers.
4. In the loop
When people have not seen each other for a few weeks or simply been head down focussing on their own areas it’s easy to feel out of the loop. Once everyone is back together again give an update on what’s been happening in your business so they all feel involved.
Have an update on your plans for the year ahead, share up-to-date product information, what’s happening in your industry, with your competitors, or anything in the press.
A knowledgeable team not only gives them confidence, it enables them to make decisions and help build trust with your customers.
5. Time for reflection
Time off often gives people time for reflection and can prompt them to start thinking about other options, career moves or even career changes.
Quash any feelings of insecurity. In what ways were they missed when they were away, and what’s been happening over the summer that people may have missed?
Schedule 1:1 reviews as early as possible to discuss individual contributions and where they fit in with your plans.
6. New challenges
The new school year is a good time to take stock of the team’s development needs.
Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean you should let them stagnate. A bored employee is unlikely to wow your customers!
Discuss with them how you can add variety, set new challenges or stretch them.
Identify and utilise people’s strengths, providing further development where needed to bring out the best in these areas.
7. Fresh focus
Customer Service is continually evolving, and there will always be little tweaks you can make to improve your service.
Review your entire customer journey and all the various touch points your customers experience.
Give individual team members responsibility over specific moments on the customer journey; this gives a sense of pride and ownership. And with ownership comes the desire to get things right. When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise.
8. Near misses
It’s inevitable there will be times when things don’t go according to plan or mishaps happen. Review some of the things that have not gone to plan over the past few months. Listen to your team and flush out any other potential risky situations.
Rather than dwelling on the negatives, reflect on what you and the team have learnt from these events.
Even if you think it was a one off and unlikely to happen again your team might be aware of other ‘near misses’ or situations that are almost an accident waiting to happen!
Agree what steps you can take to avoid them or minimise their impact, so they are confident they will be better prepared next time!
9. In it to win it
Focus people’s attention on service by aiming for an award, competition or simply an internal league table. It can be great motivation for those with a competitive spirit: For internal reward 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 focus and recognition for the whole team. Keep your eye out for awards which are relevant to your business or your market. Just being nominated for an award is a great booster it itself.
10. Celebrate and share successes
For many the end of September marks the half way point in their financial year. What an opportune moment to review progress.
Summarise and share your achievements of the past 6 months with your team. What milestones have you achieved as a business, what have been the highlights of the year to date, and what’s been the team’s contribution to these?
Give praise where it’s due so it creates a buzz amongst your team for the remainder of year ahead!
So whether you’ve just had break and gearing up for the new term, or just taking stock of your summer season, don’t let those post-holiday blues get you down.