Monthly Archives: August 2018

Having Fun

Last week I was invited to a meeting to share with a group of business leaders and managers a case study of a programme I’d delivered in the same industry earlier in the year. The objective of this programme was to increase restaurant sales through “up selling”. (This is a term I hate, as it often makes staff feel they need to be pushy. I prefer using the term “adding value”. But I can talk about that another day…).

I’m not a great one for stuffy formality, so when I learnt that the meeting was taking place outside followed by a barbecue I knew it would be okay to be a little less conventional in terms of my ‘presentation’.

So, I incorporated some very interactive exercises as examples from the training programme, which got everyone involved, and having a few laughs into the bargain.

[One of these centred around descriptive selling which involved some scrumptious organic coconut macaroons, very kindly supplied by Ineke at Nourish (www.nourish-growcookenjoy.com). Thank you Ineke, they achieved my objective perfectly.]

I’m a great believer in having some fun, whether that be a business meeting, an internal meeting with your team or training.

When I look back at the feedback from the original training one of the underlying themes which led to its success was having fun. This resulted in participants feeling relaxed, maintaining interest and making it enjoyable.

And just as importantly, everyone remembering and applying the key messages.

It was apparent that previous training had not achieved any of these things, and in the past participants had been reluctant and unenthusiastic about attending training, which doesn’t make for an auspicious start!

Allowing people to have fun at work makes them more receptive and engaged (which is important for you) and enjoyable (important for the team). Smiling and laughter trigger dopamine, which in turn activates the learning centres in the brain, so is particularly relevant when training.

All good for contributing to your employee engagement, productivity and staff retention, all of which has a positive knock-on effect on your customer’s experience.

So, is it possible to have fun, even when it’s a serious topic?

Absolutely!

Here are 10 ideas for injecting some fun.

  1. Tap into their inner child. Reinforce messages with quizzes, create games or league tables to add an element of competition and fun. Copy some of the gamification ideas you see on apps such as awarding badges, progress charts, treasure hunts.
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  2. Add impact to meetings. Take people away from their normal environment occasionally (as long as this doesn’t make them uncomfortable or become a distraction); go outside, use music; alter the office layout, introduce unusual props.    Make full use of the senses. Use props and live examples that people can touch, smell and even taste if appropriate.
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  3. Add variety. Create opportunities for the team to do something different to what they are used to, to make their day more interesting. Break up routine activities with fun energisers and ‘right brain’ activities. These might seem trivial, but getting your team members involved and keeps them energized and in a better state of mind. There are also great for relieving any tension and getting the brain warmed up before meetings and/or training.
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  4. Celebrate obscure national days: Winnie the Pooh Day, Tell an old joke Day, National Popcorn Day. (In case you’re interested 24th of August is Vesuvius Day, Peach Pie Day and Pluto Demoted Day!)
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  5. Lunch on us. Bring in lunch or arrange for caterers to come in and produce a team lunch. Or if the occasion warrants it to celebrate or say thank you organise a long team lunch (or dinner) out with the business picking up the bill.
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  6. Team outing. Take the team out for a treat. It can be as lavish or as little as you like: afternoon tea, wine tasting, pizza night.
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  7. Find some quirky ways to recognise noteworthy achievements or events however small. Whether it’s the boss making the coffee all day, or awarding the team mascot for the day; just a small gesture they appreciate and means it gets recognised.
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  8. Charity appeal. Do something fun but with a serious note in aid of charity. Whether it’s Red Nose Day, Children in Need, Macmillan coffee morning or something of your own to support a nominated charity or a charity with special meaning for one or more of your team.
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  9. Create a company (or department) team. Whether it’s football, pub quiz, or bell ringing! Let them choose, but give it your backing, cheer them on and celebrate their successes.
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  10. Monday morning motivation. Banish Monday morning blues with something on a Monday morning for your team to truly look forward to. You don’t need to decide what this is – ask them!

So, whatever your business, keep things light hearted.  You might be dealing with serious subjects, but people will be more productive when they are happy and relaxed.

Laughter is the best medicine. A good hearty laugh relieves tension and helps boost the immune system. And it’s contagious.

So….   Have some fun!

 


How far you’ve come

Following on from last week’s email about my biking misadventures; I’d like to share with you today another idea I’ve been reminded of on my road to recovery.

It would be all too easy to put all my focus on all the things I can’t yet do: cook a meal, wear anything with sleeves or simply cut up my food unaided! Let alone drive, ride my bike or dig my garden.

Thinking this way only gets me frustrated.

Instead I focus on how far I’ve come… Getting dressed unaided, opening jars, I even managed to hang out washing and a spot of one-handed ironing the other day!

Of course, I still have goals of what I want to achieve and by when (I’m absolutely determined to get back on my bike again before the summer is out!), but by focusing on those small incremental improvements I’m seeing every day just helps to keep everything in perspective.

So how is this relevant to employee engagement or customer service?

I believe this focus on how far you’ve come is relevant in many ways, but here are just three:

Performance Improvements

When an employee is under-performing its certainly important to identify the gap between the standard you want and where that person is performing now.

But as they make improvements it’s far more encouraging and motivational  to focus on how far they’ve come and improvements that they’ve made rather than focusing solely on the remaining gap.

Which, of course, means the sooner they’re likely to close that gap.

Developing Team Members

When any of your team members are learning a new skill or a new process and it doesn’t work immediately it’s easy for them to get despondent and disheartened, whether this is something that is going to take them a day to master, or a year.

By reviewing how far they’ve come, what they’ve learnt and the little incremental improvements they’ve made it can help keep them engaged as well as learning from the feedback on what’s working and what’s not working.

Personal Progress

The same principles can apply in our own personal growth. It could be all too easy to focus on what we have not achieved, rather than thinking just how far we’ve come.

Action point

So if you only do one thing, as we near the end of the week look back and identify at least one area in which you or one of your team members has made progress this week… And give yourself or them a pat on the back!


Stuff happens

Every so often life throws at you something totally unexpected. Just under 2 weeks ago on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning I came off my bike. This resulted in 2 open fractures to my lower arm, over 3 hours in surgery and 5 days in hospital. Hence no e-zine from me last week.

I’m not telling you this to get your sympathy (… Well, okay, a little bit would be nice!). But those five uncomfortable and dreary days in hospital reminded me of a few important lessons in showing you care and helping people feel good about themselves.

I believe each of these are just as relevant in the business world in showing your team members you care about them, and ultimately improving employee engagement.

  1. Common courtesies. In the hospital 95% of the staff introduced themselves and their role, and added a polite good morning/good afternoon. There were just 2 or 3 staff members who didn’t do this, and there was a marked difference in how I felt with these people. In the business world a simple sunny smile and a cheerful good morning sets everyone up for the day. I always live by the principal of treating your team with the same care, courtesy and respect you’d like them to show customers.
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  2. Listen and observe. Keep your ears and eyes open to recognise when things aren’t as they should be, and spot concerns quickly. Left to fester these can snowball into bigger problems. No more so in my case when several hours after my surgery I stopped responding. Thankfully for me my nurse picked this up instantly!
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  3. Be approachable. When points 1 and 2 above are observed this is likely to happen naturally. Not everyone feels comfortable raising concerns or questions, particularly in front of their colleagues (or fellow patients). Being open to and responsive to individual questions or cries for help means you don’t leave people struggling and floundering, and enable them to get back to the job and up to speed as quickly as possible.
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  4. Focus on what you can do rather than on what you can’t do. At one point I was in a lot of pain, but because I had reacted badly to morphine I was not allowed any more. One nurse (who incidentally never introduced herself) just frankly told me I couldn’t have a more morphine and left me at that. Whereas another nurse explained why I couldn’t have morphine but what he was going to give me instead.
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  5. Be flexible. In any organisation – be that your business or the NHS – there have to be systems and processes in place. But there are occasions when being so hellbent on the rules serves nobody.
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  6. Let people know you’re there for them. I’ve had a wealth of messages, phone calls, cards and visitors all offering their sympathies, support if needed and wishes for a speedy recovery. Every one of these has made me feel good; even if I don’t ever call on any of these people for their support, it’s so reassuring to know it’s there if I need it. In the business world you don’t want to be checking in on people every 5 minutes, but it’s always reassuring for anyone in your team to know that you’re there support them when it’s needed – whether that be work-related or maybe some personal issue that could be on their mind.

If you only do one thing, just take one action today to show your team members that you care for them and you’re there for them if they need you.

If you’d like more ideas on how to show your team you care about them, so they care for your customers and your business there 131 tips here