Monthly Archives: December 2020

Seeing strengths

Strengths cyril-saulnier-250098Day 6 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

6. Seeing strengths

January is often a time to catch up on staff training.

Rather than merely trying to fix weaknesses (which makes everyone mediocre in everything) look back at where individual team members have shown specific strengths. By focusing on people’s strengths we’re able to tap into opportunities to enable them to really excel – in the same way you might expect an athlete to work on honing their skills in the areas in which they already perform well.

You might need to look for the capabilities in others that they themselves may not see and help them to see these for themselves. Focusing on strengths not only boosts confidence, it enables people to shine and excel. It means complementing potential shortcomings of others in the team, contributing unique value in the eyes of colleagues and customers.

And in most cases

…the tasks we’re good at are those we enjoy more, excite us and keep us engaged.


Promote Teamwork

Team raftingDay 5 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

5. Promote Teamwork

Upskill and cross train people to cover other’s responsibilities so people are confident their job still gets covered when they are sick, on holiday or have an extra heavy workload.

Set up job swaps so everyone has a greater appreciation of each other’s roles and create teamwork and a culture where everyone takes responsibility when necessary, rather than passing the buck.

Upskilling also demonstrates you commitment to your team, and shows people they are valued.


Fresh Focus

FocusDay 4 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

4. Fresh Focus

Time off often gives people time for reflection and can prompt them to start thinking about other options, career moves or even career changes.

Share your plans for the coming year with your team so they involved, and ask for their input so you give them confidence in the part they have to play, and so you avoid any feelings of insecurity.

Schedule 1:1 reviews as early as possible to discuss individual contributions and where they fit in with your plans for the year ahead.

Encourage everyone in your team to have their own goals too. Even if these don’t include working for you long term, discuss how you can help them achieve their goals together.



Celebrate and share successes

celebrate reward recognition

Day 3 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

3. Celebrate and share successes.

Remind your team of all your achievements over the past 12 months. What milestones have you achieved as a business and individually. What were the highlights, and what’s been their contribution?

Staff are more likely to be loyal and work harder for a business they believe in.

Give praise where it’s due to create a buzz for the year ahead!


What’s your Why?

Day 2 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

direction sand

2. What’s your Why?

If you want your team to take an interest and be inspired by what you do as a business, it stands to reason they need to understand what you do and why.

When you and your team have a clearly defined sense of purpose it connects you, provides structure and shared goals. Your purpose clearly communicates to your team (so it is written with the team in mind not customers) what your company does and why.

Your purpose goes beyond simply making a profit. It needs to be something that energises and excites you, and that your team can align and engage with.

So now as a good time to review your purpose. Make it a living breathing and evolving statement, that is referred to and reflected in your day to day activities.

If you don’t already have a clearly defined purpose, involve your team in creating a compelling and engaging statement that will inspire your team to align what they do day to day with your company’s aspirations.

Be passionate about your purpose – if you aren’t how can you expect anyone else to be?



Thank you

12 ideas to engage and inspire your team on their return from their Christmas break

The first of my mini 12 days of Christmas blog series, which this year will focus on engaging and inspiring your team following their Christmas break.

1. Thank Youthank-you-im-so-grateful

Simply saying thank you is the most obvious thing to do to show you appreciate your team. Whether your team have been full on over Christmas or they’re about to return after a Christmas break, make a point of thanking individuals for their contribution.

Be specific. A thank you and an acknowledgement of a job well done is far more sincere if you’re specific about what you’re recognising. So, say what it is about their actions that you appreciate. It might be spotting them doing something that shows you they’ve made an extra effort, helped a colleague, gone out of their way to help a customer, or used their initiative to get over a challenge.

Send a handwritten letter or a thank you card. A physical letter or card, particularly if it is handwritten, will have 10 times more impact than an email.

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.



Mindset ~ How to end on a high

Mindset

How to shift your mindset and end 2020 on a high

Our mindset can have a huge impact on what we do and what we achieve. And impact those around us.

There’s no doubt this year has been a difficult one for many, and I’m incredibly grateful for your continued support. Maybe you’ve attended workshops with me during the year, perhaps we’ve shared views and ideas on LinkedIn or maybe you’ve simply been reading my blogs or watching my videos on YouTube. Whichever category you are in, thank you.

Whilst it’s easy to simply say good riddance to 2020 and put this year behind us, we still have 10 days left, and time is something so precious. So, do you want to fritter away those 10 precious days? Or would you like to end this year, and start next year on a high?

If you’ve said the latter, I’d like to set you a little challenge. A 3×3 challenge.

If you’ve attending any of my workshops you may already be familiar with my 3 X 3 daily reviews to help shift your mindset. If so this is a variation on that theme.

3 things to achieve

Do you find you are more productive when you have a deadline? Such as the last day before a holiday (remember those?), when you plough through all the priory tasks you need to get finished before leaving work for a week or two.

Applying that principle, what 3 things would you like to achieve before the year closes? What would give you a sense of accomplishment if you got done? Maybe it’s something from your list from the Spinning Plates exercise from a few weeks’ ago.

What do you want to achieve and how will it make you feel once completed? The more vivid the image you have of what the end goal looks like and feels like, the easier it will be to achieve it.

The final push of the year can generate some extra energy, so you can celebrate the new year knowing you’ve done what you wanted to get done. The emotional high and satisfaction this gives you can be the launch pad for the next task, or to take you into 2021.

3 things worth celebrating

Reflecting on the year what have you accomplished, learnt or is worthy of acknowledgement? Spending more time with the family, learning a new skill, finding a new interest, new market opportunity, or maybe even a new career.

It’s easy to focus on all the downsides, but even short comings or failures can teach us something.

3 things to focus on in January

To start the new year with the right mindset, identify 3 things you’d like to achieve in January. These don’t have to be big audacious goals, but still need to get you closer to something that’s important to you and will get you excited.

If they are working towards a longer term, define the milestones you will reach by the end of January, so you can see a sense of progress.

The clearer the goal the more likely it will be achieved so make these goals as vivid as possible: what will you see, hear and feel when they are achieved. Keep these goals front of mind throughout January.

Share these goals with someone to give you some accountability.  Be careful who you choose – someone who will encourage you, support you, and show their belief in you to succeed. And will hold you to account.

Take Action to improve your mindset

If you only do one thing to finish the year with a positive mindset: Give yourself credit for at least one thing you’ve accomplished this year, and what that’s taught you.

Short goal setting video



Creating a Culture of Innovation

Innovation iceburg

Icebergs and Innovation

Involving your team in innovation and improvements.

I’ve talked many a time about the importance of listening and tuning in to your team. However, over the past few months the emphasis has been on listening to their concerns with a view to safeguarding their wellbeing.

Today’s article is also about listening, but this time with a view to involving them, making continuous improvement & creating a culture of innovation.

Sparked by a webinar I attended last week on the topic, here I share my own perspective on this.

Where does the iceberg come in?

The ‘Iceberg of Ignorance’ is a term Sidney Yoshida used, based on an earlier study in the 1980s which stated that “only four per cent of a company’s problems are known to top managers”. This is represented by the part of the iceberg which is visible.

The theory is that only 9% of problems are known to middle management

74% of problems are known to supervisors

100% of an organisation’s problems are known to front-line employees, i.e. collectively, employees know about all of the problems.)

Now, although the study was based on mid-sized organisations, and within your business the gap between front line employees and senior management may be much smaller, the message is still the same. If you don’t consult with your front line you are probably missing a wealth of information that impacts the success of your business.

My own experience of this was back in the late 1990s when I was still in the corporate world, and our then CEO took part in the popular TV show “Back to the Floor”. Because he was working ‘under cover’ he got to hear of a multitude of issues, bottle necks in the system and some brilliant ideas that could be brought back to the business.

As a trainer and facilitator, I also get to hear of all sorts of issues that stand in the way of team members being as effective as they might be – sometimes through irritating glitches which are often (admittedly not always) really easy to fix. The sad thing is, very often these issues could have so easily been rectified if only they’d been asked for their feedback.

Quite apart from the obvious benefit of being made aware of problems, let’s consider why else it’s a good thing to involve your team, and what can you do to apply these principles in your business, or within your own department.

5 reasons why Creating a culture of Innovation is a good thing

  1. Involving your team in making continuous incremental improvements, helps you evolve and stay fresh, on an ongoing basis. Whether it’s a cost saving, something to improve the customer experience or simply making their lives a little easier – shaving a few minutes off a task in one area, may free up a few extra minutes to devote to customers. Those incremental improvements all add up over time. **
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  2. One of the questions I am frequently asked is how to engage your team; involving them in innovation can drive employee engagement; if employees are involved with creating new ideas they are emotionally connected to the ideas, so will want to see them succeed.
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  3. The more opportunities and encouragement they get to be involved with generating or sharing new ideas, the more they feel a connection to the business which helps drive engagement & performance.
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  4. Your team are often closer to your customers than you are so will often spot potential problems before you do, and see potential solutions to those problems.
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  5. When you ask them for their ideas, and encourage them to think outside the box to solve existing problems they will and come up with ways you’d probably have never thought of to move the business forward or improve your customers’ experience.

7 principles to make Innovation work

  1. Your team need to understand your purpose and what you are aiming to deliver to your customers. It’s difficult to recognise opportunities for improvement or come up with ideas if they don’t know what you – as a business – are trying to achieve.
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  2. Create a safe and conducive environment for people to come forward with ideas; where they are not seen as a criticism of the business or systems, but as a positive contribution.
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  3. Involve your team in the development and deployment of possible solutions to problems not just come to you with the problem.
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  4. Many new managers are afraid of asking for ideas in case they fail. Failure and risk are part of the process. If something doesn’t work ask for ideas on how to improve.
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  5. Be open to quirky or off the wall ideas – they may not be the ideal solution, but may be a starting point to asking, “what can we do the build on that idea?” Even if you’ve tried something before, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. If you quash suggestions people will be reluctant to come forward with ideas in future; instead ask “how can we make that work this time?”
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  6. Don’t go in search of radical revelations, all those small incremental changes add up over time.
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  7. If your team haven’t been actively involved in putting forward ideas or if those ideas have fallen on deaf ears in the past, recognise it takes time for employees to feel comfortable or willing to do this. It takes time to create a culture of innovation.

Take action

If you only do one thing: Next time you want to make a saving or find a better way of doing something, don’t sit in an ‘ivory tower’ and try to solve it alone – ask your team.

p.s. a starting point for flushing out issues and ideas is through anonymous surveys such as Engagement Multiplier. If you’d like a test drive to see what it could do for your business, request it here directly with Engagement Multiplier who will be happy to arrange this.

** Waitrose are reported to have saved £460,000 in till roll paper as a result of one small change following a suggestion from a staff member’s idea.



Old Habits

old habits

Old Habits Die Hard

If you’ve ever tried to give up smoking (or any other bad habit) you’ll know just how difficult that can be. Most people really do need a very compelling reason to do so.

Breaking habits isn’t just confined to ‘bad’ habits.

Take last Saturday as an example. I go to a regular exercise class on a Saturday and have been doing so for the past 20 years or so. Last year I quit my old leisure club (a really poor customer experience, but that’s a story for another day!) in favour of a new leisure centre – same class, different instructor.

There’s one move we did on Saturday which we haven’t done in her class before. It’s a move I’ve done before, but she approached it in a slightly different way. And, however many times I repeated it, I kept doing it wrong – either in the way my old instructor did it, or, in an attempt to do it in the new way, I went completely wrong!

The thing is, as we all know, old habits die hard. Which means if you want someone in your team to do things in a certain way, sometimes you need to break the old habit first.

During training you normally set expectations, establish the standards or process, and hopefully give people an opportunity to practise their skills in a safe environment.

But, as soon as they get back to the workplace – the slightest obstacle will send people back to their old comfortable way of doing it.

It’s all too easy for people to revert, particularly if that feels more comfortable, is easier or is quicker.

Human nature says we’ll always take the path of least resistance!

There may be some old habits people have got into as a result of time pressures, poor equipment or simply cutting corners. These too can end up being the new norm, the embedded habits that need to be broken before going back to a previous ‘right’ way.

But even when you’ve picked them up on the same thing, time and time again, of course, this is frustrating for you, but it’s probably just as frustrating for them if they really don’t know what it is they’re doing wrong. Particularly when they really do want to get it right.

Here are 6 things you can do to help break the old habits

Creating Conscious Incompetence

People won’t drop an old habit unless they know there is a need to change. So we need to move them from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence (see https://www.naturallyloyal.com/conscious-incompetence/ ). Will it make their job easier or quicker? Will it make the task more enjoyable? Will it please customers and lead to more tips or fewer complaints? Will it help their teammates?

What to do differently?

Sometimes there are only subtle differences between the right way and the old habit. Once people know what’s wrong and why, it’s considerably easier for them to grasp the right way; or even to identify the right way for themselves.

Be specific on the tangible and measurable indicators, the differences between the right way and the wrong way. This will make it easier for the other person to realise and measure their own performance, and more likely to spot when they’ve slipped back.

What’s the impact?

If people understand the end result they’re aiming for, this can help clarify why something is right versus why something is wrong. They can often see or feel for themselves that the wrong way doesn’t achieve the result they want and vice versa.

Measures of success

Quantitative standards or pointers are easier to interpret than qualitative ones. For example, if you want the phone answered quickly, specify in how many rings. When it comes to qualitative standards, it can be far more open to personal interpretation, so giving examples and/or demonstrations (and of course leading by example) can be helpful, but still be prepared to make the comparison between the right way and the wrong way. Often, it’s subtle little nuances that make all the difference to reflect your service culture or improve employee productivity.

I can’t

Look out for and listen for hesitation. If they believe they can’t do it find out why. Is it due to time, resources, authority? Is it due to confidence? Maybe they simply need a little more feedback, support and coaching.

Patience

It takes time to establish new habits; to create a new norm, some say as many as 66 times. So, if it’s a task people only do once a day, this might take 2 months or more. So be patient. Continue to monitor, coach and correct as needed until the new habit is simply second nature.

Take Action

If you only do one thing: be prepared to give further coaching, support and feedback until they have formed new habits.

Today’s top tip

Conduct daily buzz briefings to inform the team on what’s happening in your business on a day-to-day basis. Which customers you’re expecting today, when will there be peaks, what’s happening elsewhere in the business, in your industry or locality which could have a knock on effect on your customers?

Changing behaviours when people believe they do that already