Monthly Archives: October 2019

Teamwork

teamwork

Better teamwork to relieve the pressure

With Christmas festivities only a matter of weeks’ away you may now be planning your staffing to ensure your customers get a consistent experience no matter how busy you are.

Last week my tip was to upskill and cross train your team so they can cover each other when need be, and help them respect each other’s roles.

But this is also a good strategy to help improve teamwork and relieve some of the pressure in busy periods, be those Christmas or any other peak periods in your business.

Here are 10 tips to get you started…

  1. Set up job swaps so everyone has a greater appreciation of each other’s roles and create better teamwork.
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  2. Encourage staff to take responsibility when necessary, rather than passing the buck.
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  3. When there are special circumstances, such as working on a big project, seasonal peaks, or staff shortages, define everyone’s areas of responsibility to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort. Avoid the frictions that occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things. (Customers invariably pick up on these little issues too.)
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  4. Capitalise on people’s strengths, rather than making everyone mediocre at everything. Identify staff champions for routine activities so there is always at least one person other than you keeping an eye on each aspect of the service. This is not only good for people’s development; it also helps the team respect other’s roles and share the burden.
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  5. Get rid of rotten apples. It only takes one or two negative people to get in the way and spread their negativity onto everyone else and drag them down to their level. Deal with them or get rid of them!
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  6. First impressions count. Ensure everyone in your entire team knows the minimum standards for welcoming and greeting customers; answering the phone, including initial enquiries; taking messages or booking procedures even if this is only an occasional requirement.
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  7. Set your expectations of new team members early on; no one likes uncertainty or being left in the dark. Establish a thorough induction programme, so new team members can get up to speed as quickly as possible, making it easier for them and putting less pressure on the rest of the team.
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  8. Train from scratch in your way of doing things. Even if you recruit someone with extensive experience in customer service it’s vital they fully understand your service culture not just how they did things in their last job.
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  9. Observe the same principles for your seasonal team as you do for your permanent team members. Your customers won’t differentiate, and one person not knowing the ropes can have a negative impact on teamwork, and the service they give.
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  10. Check everyone’s level of competence and confidence before letting new team members loose on customers. Not just for the sake of your customers, but for the team member too.

Upskilling and cross train your team give you greater flexibility amongst the team and gives them more variety in their roles. It means they can cover each other’s responsibilities ensuring you are not left in the lurch when key team members are sick or on holiday, or you simply need an extra pair of hands in one area of the business when they’re not needed elsewhere.

Take action

If you only do one thing – check you have at least one other person who can readily cover any one of your key roles, so you’re not left short if someone is unexpectedly absent for whatever reason.

p.s. If you need some guidance on onboarding new team members, so put less pressure on the rest of the team get my Onboarding programme template here

 


Falling at the final fence

last impressions

What’s your last impression…?

You’ve had a fantastic time. You’ve been well cared for, attended to with fantastic hospitality. Your meal, stay or day out was wonderful, the atmosphere was relaxed and all your friends and family have had a good time.

But then they fall at the final fence…

It’s time to go home and suddenly no one is interested. You want to pay, but nobody wants to take your money! You take a visit to the loos and wish you hadn’t. You’ve lost your gloves and want to report it to lost property, but can’t find anyone. You were told about membership to get your entrance fee refunded but there’s no one to be found, so you think “forget it!”.

Has this ever happened to you?

More importantly has it ever happened to any of your customers?

One of the most important determining factors in prompting a positive lasting memory, a potential repeat visit or a glowing recommendation is what happens in the very last few minutes of the customers’ experience. It’s this last impression that influences their biding memory.

What’s the very last thing your customers see, hear, smell, taste or feel as they leave.

If your customers only ever get to speak to you by phone what’s the last thing they hear?

What’s the very last touch at the point of purchase; for example a confirmation or thank you message, a farewell, a follow-up invitation, invitation for feedback, etc.

Do your customers feel appreciated and that you’re sorry to see them go?  Or are your team members unintentionally making signs that they’ve other more important things to be getting on with? The equivalent of impatiently looking at their watch or getting the Hoover out! It may not be obvious, but letting customers know you’re running late, that you’re relieved it’s home time or closing time, showing signs of rushing them out of the door or off the premises.

What process do you use to get personal feedback from customers? If this is done before customers leave it means you have an opportunity to reinforce positives. It’s an opportunity to resolve any problems or concerns before customers leave, so they still leave with positive last impressions. It also shows customers you are interested in their feedback; all adding to the feeling of being appreciated.

How sensitive is your team at picking up when a customer is in a hurry and they need to speed up? When customers are in a hurry or ready to leave, and we keep them waiting to pay their bill or check out; that’s not the best impression to leave with a customer when they have to wait to part with their money! But it might be the one thing that puts a damper on an otherwise great experience.

What’s going on behind the scenes that’s not quite what you’d like your customers to experience? Are your toilets as pristine at the end of a busy day as they are at the beginning? (Just reflect on how many of your customers make the ladies or gents their last port of call before setting out on their journey home.)

What’s the last conversation they hear as they leave? Is it all genuine smiles and sincere thank yous, or do they get to hear the back-stage gossiping and gripes? Or the complaints about how busy they’ve been and how tired they are, or about the slow internet connection which is why they’ve been kept waiting.

What’s the last thing they see on their way to the car park? Particularly if there’s a sneaky short cut via a rear exit.  Is it the chaos of a back office, the cluttered cleaning cupboard or the over flowing bins, or even your team having a crafty cigarette by the back door? Not good last impressions.

What do they see or feel in the car park? How secure do they feel if it’s dark? Is the level of service consistent with everything else, or is the last person they see a grumpy car park attendant or off duty team members fooling around and letting the side down?

Even if you’re dependent on a third-party provider and you have no direct control over it, your customers won’t differentiate. So if your security or cleaning is outsourced, if you have products which are delivered by couriers, or if your offers or feedback surveys are managed by a marketing company, this is one of the most critical touch points of your customers’ journey; do you really want to leave it to chance with your suppliers?

Everything your customer experiences during their visit up to this point might be seamless and perfect.

But it’s those last few moments which influence the end result – how they feel, what they say, and what they do as a result of their visit.

So don’t let it all fall down at the final fence.

Take action

If you only do one thing – conduct an audit of the final phases of your customer journey. What’s the last impression your customers leave with, and what one thing could you and your team do differently to make it even better.

There are some more auditing tools for hospitality and tourism businesses here


Dealing with Poor Performance

dealing with poor performance

Dealing with poor performance is a bit like picking up acorns

Most people who know me, know I love my garden.  I can happily while away hours pottering in the garden, and my idea of a good workout is a good bit of digging or lopping vegetation (beats the gym any day!).

Our garden is surrounded by mature oak trees, which means at this time of year we get lots of acorns, and I mean LOTS!

And, as we know, from tiny acorns mighty oak trees grow…

Following my accident last summer my gardening activities were somewhat curtailed. Which meant none of the acorns got picked up last year. So, lo and behold, a mini oak forest is popping up all over the garden! And having spent most of Saturday pulling them up, I can report oak saplings put down strong roots very quickly! Of course, had I managed to deal with these last year they would have been a darn sight easier to pull up!

It’s the same in business; if we don’t deal with problems early on, they can escalate into something much more challenging; like pulling up oak saplings rather than picking up the acorns.

Two particular types of problems come to mind, both of which can have an impact on the team and your customers: team members’ poor performance and unhappy customers. I’ve written many times before on dealing with unhappy customers, so my focus today is on picking up on dealing with poor performance.

I often find junior or inexperienced managers in particular tend to avoid dealing with poor performance. One reason is for fear of repercussions.

So here are 10 principles you can share with them to give them the support and guidelines to nip any performance problems in the bud (or eliminate them altogether!)

  1. Set expectations, so everyone in the team knows what’s expected of them. The clearer these are (ideally expressed in behavioural terms) and the less they are open to misinterpretation, the easier it is for everyone involved to monitor poor performance.
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  2. Ensure people understand why things are done the way they are; if people fail to appreciate the importance of what they’re expected to do it’s very easy to lose any buy-in or commitment.
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  3. Addressing an issue straight away might be relevant for everyone in the team. However, beware; giving everyone a lecture in a group meeting makes the ‘non offenders’ irritated that they are all being ‘accused’, whilst those to whom you are aiming your comments either just laugh it off, or it goes by without them realising you are referring to them.
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  4. Conduct regular 1:1’s with team members where you review good performance, discuss shortfalls, and set targets for the coming period. This is an opportunity to pick up on any shortfalls before they become an issue, and identify the cause.
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  5. When feeding back on performance (whether good performance or where improvements are needed), use the AID model. Stick to facts, not your interpretation of the facts.
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  6. Recognise not all shortfalls are down to the individual; maybe it’s a training need, it could be through lack of resources, perhaps the system doesn’t allow it to happen, or maybe simply that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Find out the cause; if you don’t know this, how can you correct it?
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  7. Use the ‘3E’ structure – Establish the gap – Examine the reasons for the gap – Eliminate the gap
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  8. Be prepared for the excuses – “well Nancy does it all the time and gets away with it”, or “I don’t see why that’s a problem”, or “No one’s ever told me that I had to do that”. These last two responses suggest that some more explanation or training is needed, and you may need to draw a line in the sand and set out your expectations for the future.
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  9. Focus on the end result. Irrespective of the issue – whether it’s someone being late, not greeting a customer in the way you’d expect, breaking health and safety rules, failure to carry out part of their job, arguing with another member of staff, or doing something in a haphazard way with a poor result – Your goal is to resolve the issue and improve performance in future.
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  10. Recognise that failing to take any action about poor performance sends the message to everyone else that it’s OK to break the ‘rules’. We sometimes misguidedly believe that it’s a one off or the problem will go away; but before you know it the problem has escalated – either the person in question continues to disregard the standard, or it becomes custom and practice for everyone to follow suit.

Of course, every business should have its own disciplinary process, and I am not suggesting by-passing that. But if you nip the issue in the bud hopefully you’ll never need to get as far as the disciplinary process.

Take Action

If you only do one thing – Share this list with your junior managers and supervisors and give them the support they need to nip poor performance problems in the bud.

p.s  If you need some more help with developing your junior managers let’s have a chat to see how I can help. 

Related articles

How to give constructive feedback

Dealing with poor performance ~ Part 2



How to attract, recruit and retain great staff

attracting recruiting retaining staff

How to attract, recruit and retain great staff

And it’s not just about pay and hours…

You and I both know the quality of your team have a direct impact on your customers’ experience. But there’s also no getting away from the fact that many businesses are struggling with attracting and/or retaining good quality people.

This was certainly a common theme in the seminars at last week’s Restaurant Show. I can’t say I get very excited about heavy duty kitchen equipment or the latest design in tableware. But I always make a B line for the seminars as I love to listen and learn from others.

Here are some of my takeaways from the seminars, plus a few of my own.

And it’s not just about pay and hours…

1. Bolting the Stable Door

Identify the real cause of people leaving. Sit down with leavers to find out as much as possible about their motives for leaving.

Prevention is better than cure. Although it might be too late to change the mind of this employee, it might allow you time to address any problems to prevent the same thing happening again and again.

They say that people don’t quit jobs they quit bosses, so if this is the case the interview is best conducted by someone other than the employee’s line manager; it is unlikely that you’re going to learn the truth if the line manager is asking the question.

Look for the tell-tale signs that could lead to future employee turnover: lack of job satisfaction, poor team dynamics, inflexibility to meet personal needs (e.g. flexibility on working hours), cultural mismatch.

Ask for regular feedback from your team (see www.naturallyloyal.com/em).

2. The Grass is Greener

Keep your talent in-house. Promote from within wherever possible. A perceived lack of career progression or obvious career path can be a key contributor to staff turnover.

Look for internal opportunities – either in your own establishment, or if you’re part of a group in other sites.

Always let your existing team members know when a position is available. Even if this is not a step up, it may present a new challenge to keep someone motivated. If internal candidates do not get the job ensure you give feedback to help with their development and to encourage them to apply for future positions.

Put processes in place to identify potential, develop people and encourage internal promotion, such as regular1:1’s to talk about aspirations, strengths and opportunities.

Support people’s development to minimise the risk of them leaving to take on more senior roles for which they may not yet be ready and may be out of their depth.

3. Build your Network

Develop relationships with recruitment officers from local colleges and universities, get involved with schools to help raise the profile of the industry, network with other local businesses.

Allow your existing team to participate in professional associations and training where they’re likely to be in contact with potential candidates.

People know people like themselves, so ask your team to help in your recruitment efforts.

When there are so many retail businesses closing, what can you do to attract the ‘fall out’ from these businesses?

4. Become an employer of choice

Create a culture where the best employees will want to work, and build a reputation as a good employer so you attract the best people.

A prerequisite is looking after your existing staff; they are far more likely to recommend you to others and spread the word that it’s a great place to work.

Monitor the reputation of your business; listen to what your staff say, especially those who leave. It’s not just about pay and hours. People won’t want to work for you if they don’t see any development opportunities, if their contribution isn’t recognised or if they’ve no sense of purpose.

Keep an eye on sites such as Glassdoor, pick up any clues or comments that could impact on how you’re perceived in the job market, and what steps you might need to take to make any changes. Comments from disgruntled employees will do you no favours whether their gripes are valid or not.

Shout about what’s good about working there. What’s the culture? What development opportunities? How do others feel about working there? What are your values?

5. First Impressions Count

Your recruitment and onboarding process needs to be professional, fair and welcoming for applicants; it’s as much about them finding out about you, and if they think they’d be happy working there.

Use communication channels and language to suit your audience, e.g. using text rather than email.

Involve your team in the recruitment process so you can create a buzz about what it’s like to work there. This demonstrates your belief in them and strengthens their commitment to helping the new employee succeed.

If you’ve more than one vacancy to fill consider recruitment days.

Engage and involve new starters as early as possible, to avoid second thoughts before their first day. Let them know you’re looking forward to them starting and what is mapped out for their first day.

Ensure a well-planned induction programme so they aren’t left wondering what’s expected of them. There was a lot of talk about gamification in the seminars, but at the very least, add some fun to help starters relax and build confidence. See Induction Guide here

Help them to make a meaningful contribution early on, so they have a sense of achievement. Set a mini project for them or allocate a small area of responsibility.

How well you demonstrate you care for them from day one will influence how much they care about you, your business and your customers!

 

Take action

If you only do one thing – on the basis that prevention is better than cure, spend some time this week with each of your team and discuss their aspirations and development needs, so they recognise they have a future with you.

p.s. If you’d like a head start designing your induction programme I’ve done the hard work for you with my Guide to On-boarding available here