Monthly Archives: January 2021

Planning Development

planning developmentPlanning Development based on strengths and stretch

Normally around this time of year many businesses review training and planning development for their team.

Should this year be any different?

If you are closed and have team members on furlough or any of your team are working from home, people have more time on their hands, and it’s easy for them to stagnate, feel isolated or under valued. So, now is the perfect time to reflect on development needs for yourself and your team, and plan how those needs can be met.

Most managers think of staff training and team development to achieve one of two things:

  • to fix someone’s weaknesses
  • as a way of grooming somebody for promotion

Although both of these are relevant in their own way, they can leave you and your team wanting.

So here’s an alternative way to approach your staff training and development…

Seeing strengths versus fixing faults

It’s all too easy to end up with everybody becoming a “Jack of all trades and master of none”. Whilst it’s good to cross train your team so you make cover easy, you don’t want to end up everyone mediocre in everything, but expert in nothing.

Imagine what would happen if you were to focus on people’s strengths instead – in the same way you might expect an athlete or members of a football team to hone their skills in areas where they already perform well. You could help them go from a strong performance to real excellence in their areas of greatest ability.  How much more motivated would team members be if they could focus on what they’re best at?

Everyone has skills, it’s just that different jobs require different skills. It takes a certain type of skill to organise an hectic event, to calm down an irate customer, to clean a room to a high standard inside 25 minutes.

Often these are skills employees don’t necessarily recognise themselves, as they take these things for granted.  When you recognise these strengths it can boost confidence, and often the tasks they’re good at are those they enjoy more, so it helps to keep them engaged.

Of course, in reality we can’t always let people just do what they’re best at, but we can at least make sure that they’re not always under pressure to improve what they’re worst at! But by focusing on individuals’ strengths you can balance your team so they complement potential shortcomings in others, so you can bridge any gaps you have elsewhere.

Stagnate versus stretch

Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean you let them stagnate.

We often think of development as grooming people for promotion. This might be one outcome or intention, but it shouldn’t stand in the way of development. Even those who you believe have reached the limits of their capability or have no desire for more responsibility shouldn’t be left to stagnate.

After all, a bored employee is unlikely to shine and even less likely to wow you or your customers!

Look for opportunities to set new challenges within people’s current responsibilities. How can you add variety or stretch them further in areas where they’re already strong?

For example:

– asking them to find ways to make efficiencies or refine a process

– giving them responsibility for training others

– allocating ownership of specific procedures

By giving individuals ownership of particular tasks you create a sense of pride and responsibility.

You’ll be amazed what people can achieve when their strengths are recognised, and they’re given the authority to apply them.

This can also take the pressure off you as that person then becomes the go to person.

Sadly, it’s often only when people leave that we miss what they bring to the team. (….could that lack of recognition be the very reason they leave?)

Here’s an exercise you can carry out with your team to recognise their strengths to take into account before development planning.

Take Action

If you only do one thing towards planning development: take a step back and identify one strength – however small – for each one of your team members, and let them know you value this.

Planning development video



How are you doing?

Listen radio12th and final post in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

12. How are you doing?

Ask your team for feedback on how you are doing in their eyes. It can feel uncomfortable to give feedback to the boss, so ask in a more conversational way such as “What could I be doing to make your job easier?”

Be brave. We don’t always want to hear about the things that frustrate your team, particularly if you may be contributing to the problem! Be open to the truth and willing to listen.

Create the opportunity for people to give anonymous feedback. People may be afraid to say what they really think if they’re concerned about being labelled a problem or complainer.

Ask for feedback regularly. Things change and problems can fester.

Accept feedback with good grace, and thank them for an honest response. Address concerns. This doesn’t mean that you have to resolve every personal whim, but it means identifying trends, recurring problems or prioritising what needs attention.

Communicate progress. If people have taken the time to let you know how they feel let them know what and how you are addressing any issues or following through on their suggestions.

Action point:

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Time ~ Don’t throw away your most valuable resource

using time wisely

Time.

The most precious resource we have.

Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Despite the latest lockdown, it would be such a waste to let ourselves stand still or fritter away time if your business is closed again.

After just two weeks of late nights and sleeping in late, getting up again at my ‘normal’ time was a bit of a struggle yesterday. So if I continued to skip my normal routine I know it would get harder and harder to get back to productive mode.

You may have been working flat out over Christmas, but now forced to close. Maybe you’re on furlough and not sure when you’ll be back full time. Or you took a well-earned break over Christmas and now have extra pressures on your business to comply with Government guidelines (if this applies to you, this blog post will still relevant).

Whatever your situation, think about how you can make best use of that valuable resource – your time.

Here are 3 things you can do now and be using your time wisely

Customer Journey

Your customers’ journey has no doubt changed over the past 10 months. And will continue to change. Take stock of how well it works right now.

  • What is the experience your customers get?
  • Is it seamless?
  • Are your guidelines clear?
  • Do your customers feel reassured you are taking care of their safety and that of your team?
  • Are any cancellation queries being answered with understanding and consideration?
  • Ask you team what feedback, comments or frequently asked questions they have received from customers.
  • Ask your customers directly what you can do to help them. Not only does this help you to help them, it provides a great ‘excuse’ to stay on their radar.

 

Systems and processes

It’s all too easy to add new systems and processes (particularly in light of Covid guidelines) without dropping old ones which no longer serve you well, thereby over loading your team.

  • What checklists, processes or guidelines are now outdated?
  • Where would a checklist improve consistency?
  • Where are there gaps?
  • What are the aspects you get most complaints about?
  • What are the tasks you get asked about the most or where team members struggle or make mistakes?
  • Where would a documented process avoid everyone having to re-invent the wheel each time they perform that task?
  • Where are there bottlenecks or too much red tape?
  • Where is there too much to-ing and fro-ing (for your team or customers)?
  • Ask your team which processes or systems they find cumbersome

 

Personal Development

One thing everyone can do during lockdown is consider their personal development. Support your team in their development, both for their existing role and to help fulfil their aspirations.

Even if your team are on furlough, personal development is one way of keeping positive and productive.

  • What roles or tasks might they need to cover before you are fully operational?
  • What is their next career move, and what skills could they be working on to help them get there?
  • Where are their strengths to tap into for future?
  • If you’ve already had to make team members redundant, show your support for them too, so they continue to develop and be better placed for potential roles they apply for.
  • What can you be working on to make you a better leader?

 

If you only do one thing to help use your time wisely

Set short term goals for yourself and everyone in your team if they are not on furlough, so you have something to work towards over the next few weeks. Even those on furlough can set some personal development goals and share these with you for accountability.

Video: Tips for goal setting

Your customer journey has changed video

Planning personal development

 


Your customers’ journey

Customer Journey Photo by mantas-hesthaven-135478Day 11 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

11. Your customers’ journey

There will always be little tweaks you can make to improve your service.

If January is a quiet month for you, now’s a perfect time to for you and your team to review your customer journey and all the various touch points your customers experience.

What feedback have you had from customers recently, either directly or via social media? What patterns or trends are there?

How well do each of your team members (both customer facing and back of house) appreciate all the customer touch points.

They will frequently pick up on opportunities to improve the customer’s overall experience, or where you can add value or make recommendations to customers.

Action point: Give each of your team a section of the customer journey to review from a customer’s perspective. What would they change if they could?



Jump start to productivity

Productivity

 

Giving your team a productivity boost

7 ideas to help you and your team be back to full productivity.

After two weeks of late nights and sleeping in late, getting up again at my ‘normal’ time was a bit of a struggle.

And I don’t know about you, but all those plans of stuff to get done or sorted over Christmas didn’t come to much.

I confess, I am the master of procrastination, putting things off until later if there is anything in the least bit more attractive to get done!

Whether you’ve been working flat out over Christmas, forced to close or on furlough due Covid, or simply taking a well earned break, it can sometimes be tough to get back into a routine.

The same applies to your team; it can be all too easy to fritter away the first few days back at work and achieve very little.

So whether you and your team are already back, or you are waiting for the next Government update to reopen, here are 7 ideas to help jump start you and your team back to full productivity from day one.

1. Fresh Focus

It can feel a bit flat if it’s back to business as normal; give your team something to look forward to.

Share your plans for the coming year with your team as best you can, so they feel involved.

2. Set mini goals

What short-term projects or goals can you set which eases everyone in gently, but still enables them to 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.

Put tangible metrics in place to measure success. People normally put more effort into the things you monitor than those you don’t.

3. Time for a change?

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

Schedule one to one reviews early to discuss individual contributions and where they each fit in with your plans. Ask for their input to demonstrate you value their contribution.

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. (Watch this short goal setting guide here )

4. New challenges

Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean you should let them stagnate. A bored employee is unlikely to wow you, your colleagues or your customers!

When reviewing individual contributions and where they fit in with your plans, discuss 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.

5. 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 over Christmas 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 operation, your service, or to add value for customers.

6. Responsibility

Give individual team members responsibility over specific activities. This gives a sense of pride and ownership. And with that 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.

7. Play from a 10

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; if we think it’s going to be tough getting back into the swing of things the chances are it will.

Behaviour breeds behaviour.  So, if we mooch around all day resenting being back at work we’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions, than if we’re confident, enthusiastic and energetic.

If you only do one thing to improve productivity in your first week back:

Set short term goals for yourself and everyone in your team, so you have something to work towards this week.

Related post: Productivity ~ Stop those Spinning Plates



Getting stuck in

goal challengeDay 10 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

10. Getting stuck in

It can often feel as if you’re not achieving much in the first few days or weeks back at work. Set some short term goals or mini projects so that everyone can get stuck in and can see some results within the first few days back at work.

It will certainly help focus attention back onto the job in hand, and get everyone back into full flow as quickly as possible.


Systems and resources

system daria-nepriakhina-474036Day 9 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

9. Systems and resources

How often have we heard the phrase “I’m sorry, the system won’t allow me to do that.”?

Do you have any systems in place which make life difficult for your team members?

Poor systems can be frustrating for team members, but also impact productivity, the customer experience and ultimately your bottom line.

Here are a few to look out for:

  • No system in place for routine tasks so staff reinvent the wheel every time they carry out similar tasks.
  • Not fully understood, so not followed
  • Over complicated or cumbersome
  • Too much red tape or to-ing and fro-ing that slows everything down
  • Unworkable due to lack of time, right equipment, tools, or products

Poor systems or a lack of resources inevitably puts extra pressure on the team, particularly when there is a direct impact on customers…

Resulting in an inconsistent level of service, leaving the customers frustrated or disappointed.

It’s easy for us to become oblivious of how ineffective a system works or poor the equipment when we’re not using it every day. So, ask your team for their observations and feedback.

Very often the simplest of modifications is all that’s needed to make all the difference.

 



Learn from Mistakes

Mistake Photo by Estée Janssens on UnsplashDay 8 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

8. Learn from Mistakes

In any business there are times when things don’t go according to plan. Last year was no exception, even if many of the circumstances were out with our control.

Review some of the things that have not gone to plan over the past year or even the past few weeks.

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!

Your team invariably know how to prevent these. So listen to them and flush out any other potential risky situations. Then agree what steps you can take to avoid them or minimise their impact, so they are confident they will be better prepared next time!

 



New challenges

challengeDay 7 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

7. New challenges

Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean you let them stagnate.

We often think of development as grooming people for promotion. Although this might be one intention or outcome it shouldn’t stand in the way of development. Even those who have reached the limits of their capability or have no desire for more responsibility shouldn’t be left to stagnate.

A bored employee is unlikely to shine and even less likely to wow you or your customers!

Look for opportunities to stretch team members within their current responsibilities or in areas where they’re already strong. Discuss how you can add variety, set new challenges or stretch them.

Maybe give them

– responsibility for training others,

– giving them ownership over the procedures,

– looking for ways to make efficiencies or refine a process.

By giving individual team members ownership over particular tasks we create a sense of pride and responsibility.  And with this comes the desire to get things right.

When they have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise. You’ll be amazed what people can achieve when their strengths are recognised and they’re given the authority to apply them.

This can also take the pressure off you as that person then becomes the go to person.