Monthly Archives: June 2020

Creating Habits

creating habits

Creating habits takes time… and sometimes a little patience!

Last week I wrote about setting expectations of your team as they start to return to work. Some of this will inevitably mean people taking on different responsibilities or new ways of working.

Once you’ve set your expectations you’ll want to ensure it’s not just a one off, but to create new and lasting habits. 

If you want your child to clean their teeth twice a day you wouldn’t ask them to do it once then forget about it on the assumption they’d continue to do so every day!

You’d follow up, check on progress and keep doing so until you were confident it had become a habit.

Maybe your team don’t need quite as much cajoling as a child does to clean their teeth.

But…

How do you create new and lasting habits?

Here are some things to consider in creating habits and new ways of working within your team:

1. Practice makes perfect

Build confidence gradually; you can’t expect someone to be introduced to something on Friday afternoon and perform it perfectly for the first time on Monday morning, when you’re not even there to offer support. Introduce new areas of responsibility gradually so people have an opportunity to refine and perfect as they go as well as building confidence (theirs and yours) in their ability.

2. Nip it in the bud

Practice does make perfect, but only if done correctly. If people begin by doing the task incorrectly you will be creating habits – but not the ones you want! Don’t give an opportunity for people to establish poor habits, by picking up on these early on.

If the task is something new, it may take a while for people to get the hang of it and if they find a way that feels more natural for them and still gets the same result then that’s fine. But, if there is a best way, and they are struggling with adapting their approach step in and give them guidance before they embed any bad habits.

If it’s an existing task but a new approach, when people have been used to one way of working and now you want it done differently it can feel uncomfortable. When things don’t work perfectly first time, human nature leads us to take the path of least resistance i.e. it’s all too easy to go back the old comfortable way of doing things.

3. Prepare for the unexpected

As well as giving the obvious how to training, equip people to anticipate and deal with the unexpected. There will always be things that don’t go according to plan. The last thing you want the first time it doesn’t go according to the text book is for them to panic!

So let them know what can go wrong and how to handle such situations so that they’ll be confident to deal with them smoothly.

4. Ownership

The sooner you can give individual team members ownership over particular tasks the quicker they’ll develop a sense of pride and ownership. Trust your team to make decisions to do what’s best in a given situation; if they truly understand the objectives of the task it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to work out the best way to achieve it.

5. Breaking old habits

If people have been in the habit of coming to you for answers and now you want them to stand on their own two feet. If they’ve been used to you (or your predecessor) making decisions and maintaining control it may seem uncomfortable to have things passed to them.  Back off gradually, rather than just throwing them in at the deep end. This gives both you and them peace of mind.

You’ll still get asked for guidance and for decisions so when this happens, rather than giving in, bounce it back to them and ask for their views. It may feel uncomfortable to begin with, but you’ll both soon get used to it.

6. Systems

Establish systems and your way of doing things, so there’s consistency irrespective of who carries out that task. This doesn’t mean you don’t allow some creativity and flexibility amongst the team, but just having simple checklists can make the world of difference so nothing gets missed or forgotten that can impact others’ experience.

If you only do one thing in creating habits

Be patient. If you don’t allow time to embed the new habit it will be all too easy to go back to their old way of doing things and you’re back to square one!

Related posts and videos

Old habits die hard

Creating conscious incompetence


 


Setting Expectations

When your team start returning to work you’ll need to be setting expectations. The chances are some of the responsibilities and priorities will change. Determine what needs doing, who is best placed to do it and then set your expectations.

This is something we discussed on last week’s Lessons in Leadership programme and here is my 7 step guide to help you ensure nothing gets missed or taken for granted.

It’s easy to assume people know what to do. But I'm sure you will have had that frustration of discovering after a task should have been completed that it's not been done to your satisfaction, or simply not been done at all.

A little time spent up front will avoid this. 

Setting expectations might not need much time at each of these stages, but at least consider them before leaving team members just to get on with the task how they see fit.

1. What tasks ~ Make a shopping list everything that needs doing:

  • What new practices and procedures are in place
  • What new or amended offerings or service are you now providing that require new ways of working
  • What tasks normally performed by people who are still on furlough need to be covered by someone else
  • Which task which would have been routine pre lockdown are no longer a priority

2. Who ~ Select the best person for the task

  • Not necessarily the one with the best skills or the most time. There may be good reason for allocating some tasks to a less than perfect candidate to develop their skills in areas where they are weak
  • Often what people lack in experience and skill, they may more than make up for in potential and motivation

3. Why

  • Set a clear and simple objective for the task. It should build confidence, develop and stretch, not break the person or be considered an ‘offload’
  • Discuss the assignment and, importantly, how the task fits into the big picture, why it’s important for the business
  • Explain why you’ve chosen the person for the task

4. How

  • Check for understanding and ask for ideas
  • Provide guidance - not ‘how to’ do the task - but all the necessary facts, possible approaches, expected results

5. Where and when

  • Make a ‘contract’ establishing resources available, how often you will follow-up, how performance will be measured
  • Establish controls - budget, deadline, when and how any review will take place

6. Let them get on with it

  • Allocate, then trust them to get on with it. Make yourself available, particularly at critical times, but let them decide whether, and whenever, they need your help and guidance
  • Let everyone know who is responsible for what tasks so there is no stepping on toes, or tasks that fall through the cracks

7. Evaluate and feedback

  • Encourage self-evaluation – they’ll normally be able to work out for themselves how they’ve done
  • Concentrate on:
  • What worked well (giving praise for a job done well)
  • What they’d do differently (identify lessons learned not only for the person but for yourself too!)

We also discussed the longer term goal, but more on that next week.

Take action on setting expectations

If you only do one thing: make a plan of who is best suited to which task.

Related article:  https://www.naturallyloyal.com/old-habits/

Related video: https://youtu.be/546C4nilsxc



Stop the Spinning Plates

 

I guess like many people I’ve been spending some of my lockdown time sifting through old clutter that I no longer need.

Whilst sorting through some old files I came across an exercise I used to use with my leadership coaching clients called “Stop the Spinning plates”

Everything that is incomplete drains our energy. Like keeping plates in the air; all incomplete things provide an opportunity for procrastination, for sending us off on a tangent with displacement activities.

They allow the important things to get lost in the clutter, both literally and metaphorically.

On the basis that now might be the perfect time to get rid of the clutter, so none of these end up as” spinning plates” once our working day gets back to some semblance of normality I thought I’d share the list with you.

The list does start with the obvious, but as you work through I believe you’ll come across a few that have been creating some clutter.

Ticking just a few of these off your list can be quite liberating.

Make a commitment to when you will complete each of these actions.

  1. Make a list of all the things you have to do – a to do list – and refer to it daily.
  2. Get an appointment calendar.  Put all your appointments in it. Refer to it daily.  Plan your time.  Stick to it.
  3. Clean up your house.
  4. Clean up your office.
  5. Throw away everything you don’t use, haven’t used in the last 6 months, or which is outdated.
  6. Organise your papers, file or throw away any unused papers.
  7. Clear out your filing cabinets.  Throw away unused materials.
  8. Clear the top of your desk.  Throw away unused materials and unneeded papers.  File all papers you don’t throw away.
  9. Get all financial statements up to date, including tax returns.
  10. Pay any outstanding bills or make arrangements &/or agreements as to when you will pay them.  Keep those agreements
  11. Make a list of everyone who owes you money, or has borrowed things.  Write or call and ask for the money or borrowed items, and make an agreement as to when you will have it back.  Follow this up.  Alternatively cross the person off the list and decide it is complete.
  12. Make a list of all the things that you have started but not completed. Either diarise when you will complete these (with a time) or make a conscious decision not to do it and take it off your list.
  13. Make a list of all the things you have wanted to do for some time, but have just not got round to doing.  Either diarise when you will complete these (with a time) or make a conscious decision not to do it and take it off your list.
  14. Make a list of all the agreements you have made.  Fulfil past agreements. Renegotiate and make new agreements with any you can’t fulfil.
  15. Take total responsibility for your business.  Do only what you can, delegate the rest.  Agree only what you know you can fulfil.  Never commit to more than you know you can do.
  16. Clean your car, inside and out.  Get it serviced.
  17. Start to take care of your physical body – eat well, exercise well, sleep well, etc

If you only do one thing: Pick just one item off this list and do it today!



Team Communication

team communication

 

Ask any company for the number one thing their employees complain about, or a group of employees for the biggest frustrations with their employer, and a lack of communication will invariably be high on the list.

If you were on the Hospitality Revival Summit last week there were a number of recurring themes. One of these was the importance an engaged team to ensure that when your customers do return they get a fantastic customer experience.

Team communication is a key part of this, and I’ll come back to that in a moment…

With the importance of an engaged team in mind, I am re-running my successful “Lessons in Leadership” programme. This 5 hour programme is delivered over 5 days and we start next Monday 15th June.

If you feel you could benefit from a brush up on your man-management and leadership skills before your team return to work, this is perfect for you and any of your management team who might also welcome the opportunity.

When I ran this in April I had a fabulous response, from junior managers and experienced managers alike. If you missed it then, here’s your chance to catch it this time around.

There’s a nominal registration fee of just £27 per person just to cover my costs, but hoping it still makes it accessible and easy for any managers or aspiring managers who want to invest in their own development, even if the business can’t for whatever reason.

More details on Lessons in Leadership and registration is here: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/resources/lessons-in-leadership-webinars-3/

Communication will be one of the things we discuss next week, but in the interim here are some considerations, bearing in mind that now more than ever, it is critical.

When team members are on furlough or working from home it’s all too easy to feel isolated. Some may be enjoying their time at home – more time with the family, or pursuing their hobbies and not looking forward to returning to work. Some will be bored, stressed from home schooling or being confined, and eager to return.

Here are 3 types of communication to ensure your team stay connected.

1. Broadcast

One way broadcasts to the whole team or your department, to keep everyone in the picture. If not daily, aim to do these at least once a week, ideally at the same time so people know when to expect them.

What are your plans for opening, updates on government guidelines that affect your business, what measures you are taking to keep them safe as and when they return.

2. 1:1

It’s so important you set aside time to speak to people in your team individually. Show you care by listening to how they are felling and to answer their questions. Time to reflection whilst off work might mean their priorities and what’s important to them may have changed.

Answer their questions about returning to work. If they are likely to be one of the last to return it’s even more important that they feel included.

The format you use for these should be based on what feels most comfortable for them; not everyone is happy to be on camera for a Zoom call.

3. Community

Help maintain the team spirit and sense of community. Share ideas for opening, encourage team members to offer support to one another.

If it fits with your culture, organise some fun activities too. A quiz, cooking demos, sharing or showing off some of their new-found hobbies or skills.

related video: Show you are listening