Monthly Archives: April 2022

Making Changes

making changes

Last week I warned against making lots of changes early on when moving into a new role. However no business stands still and there will times when changes really are necessary. These might be simply to comply with legislation, or respond to customers’ changing expectations, making efficiencies through new technology, or to inject new energy, there comes a time when it’s time to make changes.

People generally don’t like change, particularly when they’ve been doing a job the same way for years. And they object… 

“But, we’ve always done it this way”

When people have been doing things a certain way for any length of time making changes – any changes – can be met with some resistance.

Particularly so when managers or heads of departments are new to the team. and their teams have got used to a certain way of working.

Why does this happen, even when it’s clear it is for the best?

People generally don’t like change.

That can be for a number of reasons. Here are some of them…

  • Unfamiliarity and something new to learn
  • Believing the ‘old’ way is a better way
  • Resentment as they see any change as a criticism of how they do things now
  • Can’t see any benefit of the change
  • Fearing the new way will be more work, difficult to master or they might be exposed
  • Don’t understand what’s expected of them now
  • Believing they’re too old to change their ways

So what can managers do to make changes that will be accepted, embraced, and implemented effectively.

Here are 10 tips to making changes

  1. Vision
    Share you vision of what you want to achieve as a result of the change(s)
  2. WWIFM
    Spell out how it will benefit the individuals concerned (e.g. save time, make the task easier or safer)
  3. Involvement
    Ask the team for their input on what and how to make the changes
  4. Support
    Give all the support, resources and coaching needed to make the change
  5. Early wins
    Start with activities which will result in some quick wins so get the momentum going, and share these amongst the team to help get buy in early on
  6. Consistency
    Ensure everyone in the team is working to the same standards so there are no mixed messages. It only takes one person of influence to derail all your efforts to make change
  7. Incremental changes
    Be patient, and start with small changes over time
  8. Inspect what you expect
    Follow up with your team on how well they are implementing the changes, providing feedback and encouragement, and further support when needed
  9. Embed new habits
    Recognise it takes time for the new way to become habit, so continue to monitor, and give feedback
  10. Communicate – communicate – communicate
    Keep everyone informed of the changes and what these mean to them

If you only do one thing when making changes:

Before you implement changes involve your team in the process to get their ideas on how to achieve the result you want.

Video: Creating a Culture of innovation

Related blog post: Getting employee buy-in



Setting Expectations

Setting Expectations with Employees

Setting Expectations with Employees

On a recent workshop I was delivering on core management skills one of the managers had a light bulb moment. She suddenly realised that although four months into her role she had never really been specific about setting her standards and expectations for each of her team, and until now they had only been working to the way her predecessor had done things.

I know it can be tempting when you move into a new management role to put your stamp on things and making lots of changes very quickly, which can be unsettling for team members. And just because something isn’t being done the way you would do it, doesn’t make it wrong. But, she had taken time to understand her new role; and observed the team, before evaluating what needed to change. But she’s never really communicated with her team precisely what new expectations were.

This echoes one of the frustrations I often hear when I’m working with a business, i.e. the confusion on exactly what’s expected. What’s expected of the managers and what’s expected of team members.

It’s easy to assume everyone knows what’s expected of them, but a lack of clear direction can be frustrating, confusing and leads to uncertainty for your team members, inconsistencies for your customers and frustration for you.

When expectations are not clear and shared, simple misunderstandings become compounded, potentially turning into personality clashes and communication breakdowns.

Be specific

The more specific you are about the tangible and measurable indicators, the easier it will be for the other person to measure their success. What does great look like, sound like or feel like for you? What criteria are you using to measure performance?

Quantitative standards or pointers are easier to interpret than qualitative ones. So, 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 can be helpful, but still be prepared to make the comparison between the preferred way and the old way.

Often, it’s subtle little nuances that make all the difference to reflect your service culture or improve employee productivity.

By focusing on what you want people to achieve i.e. the end result, rather than dictating how to do it, allows them flexibility to adopt their own style (you’ll be surprised how often they end up improving the process) rather than living in fear of not being able to comply with strict processes.

People are more likely to go above and beyond if they understand how their role helps the overall team’s or business’s objectives.

Be consistent

Your team only get frustrated and confused if you’re saying one thing but doing another. Lead by example, so there are no mixed messages.  Simple things such as how you answer the phone, how engergised and positive you are, how much trust you put in others, how open and honest you are when you make a mistake or let someone down.

It’s easy for different managers to have different expectations and different interpretations of the standards. When there is a need for a strict process, if these are detailed in behavioural terms and documented, it’s so much easier for everyone to be consistent. Ensure these same rules apply to everyone and that the rest of your supervisory team are consistent with their expectations. This is particularly relevant if any of your team report to different managers on different shifts.

Make it possible for your team to reach your expectations by providing the appropriate tools, time and training to do the job effectively.

Check your metrics and measures of success are in line with your expectations. For example, if you’re stressing the importance of customer service and to keep the customer happy, but all your metrics are centred on the bottom line and profitability this can send a mixed message.

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.”

Albert Einstein

Working with friends and family

No one likes a teacher’s pet and if one person gets recognised more than others or gets singled out for recognition it will certainly not go down well with those who don’t get the same attention (as well as potentially embarrassing the person who gets all the glory).

Be aware of when any of your supervisors or managers are managing friends or family members, This can feel awkward not only for the manager, but also the friend/relative and other team members. Sometimes in an effort to avoid any accusations of favouritism the manager is harder on these people than they are on others in the team. But it’s important they have the same expectations of them as any other team member.

Similarly, when people have been promoted to management positions internally, and are now managing people they’ve worked alongside previously, it might be uncomfortable at first, but if they openly discuss the new dynamics with the team members, By talking about their role, defining boundaries, and aligning on expectations makes it easier all round, and is more likely to gain support.

Action point

If you only do one thing:
Ensure everyone understands the end result you’re aiming for and why.

Setting expectations with employees video

Reminding people of your expectations article


Supporting a Charity

Supporting a Charity

Make a Difference by Supporting a Charity

Last Friday I was at the annual quiz night for a local charity Oakleaf, who provides vocational training for those suffering from mental health issues, helping people get back into work.

We came 4th out of 19 teams, so not too shabby, and we helped raise an impressive £6,405, whilst having some fun.

Today’s workforce is looking for meaning or purpose in their work, and supporting a charity is potentially one way to contribute to this. Giving back creates a positive mentality. It also fosters pride and loyalty.

Getting involved in social and charity initiatives doesn’t have to be all consuming; . you can donate time and involvement, money, or sharing your specialist skills pro bono or to raise funds.

If you don’t already support a charity, here are some of my thoughts on what to consider.

Choosing a charity

Identify a charity that you would like to do something for as a team.

It’s important your chosen charity reflects your values, as well as something that resonates with your team, and hopefully your customers too. It might be a charity with special meaning for one or more of your team.

Get the team together, have everyone pitch a cause and pick the one you want to support. It’s important that you make it personal, and that you make it count.

Set your own Charity Challenge

Consider what you’re willing to commit to doing for that charity.  Put it on the agenda for your team meeting and discuss the kind of support you could give, and for how long.

How much time, money or resources are you willing to invest; will any involvement be during normal working hours; how long will you continue your involvement (you may consider changing the charity of the year or every 2 years).

It might simply be a case of raising money, through traditional activities such as a sponsored event, a ‘bring-and buy’ sale or even just ‘tin-rattling’ around the office. If you’re inclined to be more creative, then look for more imaginative way to raise money.

You may have skills that are scarce in the charitable organisation, but easy for you to apply.  For example, updating technology, coaching people, providing work experience opportunities or coaching staff members or project planning.

Perhaps you could elect a team member to contact your chosen charity and ask what kind of help would be appreciated.

Do Something as a Team

Volunteering and fundraising events are a good way to get everyone working together as a team, potentially, alongside other departments.

It might be challenging to get everyone together if you are a 24-hour/7 day operation, but even if you cannot get all your team or all your direct reports together, see if collectively you can involve everyone in some way.

You may decide you’re only going to commit to one or two activities a year, such as Red Nose Day, Children in Need, Macmillan coffee morning.

Remember, that this is about involving your team in something meaningful, so if there isn’t anyone in your team who wants to take up any of the tasks involved or has the time, there is little value to the team in you as team leader taking this on alone.

I don’t know what will work for you and your team, that’s up to you, and no one should be forced to get involved.

PR for your charity

For many smaller charities, one of their biggest challenges is awareness. You might still be pleasantly surprised how easy it can be to gain publicity in your local newspapers or on local radio.

Write a press release, concentrating on topical relevance of what you’re doing. Email or phone your local newspapers and radio stations. Contact specialist publications relevant to your organisation or the charity your challenge will benefit.

This activity could easily be done by just one person, so consider whether you want to encourage a number of people to get involved or if you’re happy for one person to volunteer.

Proud personal moments

Recognise and celebrate with your team members those who are involved in other charities outside work, particularly when they have made a significant contribution to their charity such as volunteering, taking part in a sponsored event or fundraising.

Maintain momentum

Keep your charity appeal alive with a regular review, updates or progress charts. This doesn’t have to be done by you; ask for volunteers in your team.

Celebrate your wins and give recognition for achievements along the way.

Share your activities with your customers and suppliers too; it all helps raise the profile for your charity and demonstrates your values to your customers.

Involve your suppliers too, they may even be prepared to sponsor your activities or donate prizes or gifts.

Have fun

I’m a great believer in having some fun at work. Allowing people to have fun at work all helps with employee engagement, productivity and staff retention, all of which has a positive knock-on effect on your customers’ experience.

Doing something for charity is a great opportunity to do something fun but with a serious intent.

Going it alone

Even if you have no team, or you have little buy-in from the team for supporting a charity, there are plenty of ways you can still contribute to a good cause. For example, I donate to an organisation called B1G1, which allows me to make small contributions to any one of a wide number of projects every time I work with a client, all of which add up over time. Find out more about B1G1 here:  http://bit.ly/exploreb1g1

 

Action

If you only do one thing…

What difference could you make? Find a cause that resonates with your team and involve them in that cause.

 


I can’t do that

I can't do thatWhat does it mean when they say “I can’t do that”?

Here’s a scenario I’m sure you’re familiar with – when you ask someone to do something and they tell you “I can’t do that!”

But, what do they really mean?

Let’s imagine it’s a member of your team. You ask them if they can do a particular task and they respond “I can’t do that”. It may not be quite as direct as that; “Erm, I don’t think so” or a simple “no”.

But the result is the same – a barrier.

Of course, the words alone might miss some of the meaning. What does their tone suggest? Is it one of hesitation, or of indignation? What does their body language imply? Fear, frustration, disgust?

Find out what’s prompted their reaction.

Is it merely an excuse due to a lack of willingness because they’re not convinced it’s worth the effort?

Or do they genuinely mean that they’re not capable, due to a lack of skill or knowledge, or some other underlying reason?

I can’t…” might simply mean a lack of confidence, and they’re in need of some reassurance, coaching or practice. Perhaps there are other skills that are a prerequisite, which they don’t yet have. Or, worse they fear it will expose other weaknesses they feel they have.

I can’t…” could mean they haven’t got all the resources they need. Maybe there’s special equipment needed, or a budget they don’t have. Perhaps they don’t think they have the time, or know what they can leave out instead to make time.

I can’t…” may be because they’ve simply not been allowed to do this before. Old systems, processes or procedures have prevented them, and despite the fact you’ve moved on nobody as yet has set out the new ‘rules’, or demonstrated their faith in them to do it.

We mustn’t dismiss the reason might be because they don’t feel it’s right; they don’t believe it’s the right solution for the situation, they might feel is not their place to do it, or they might be concerned it’s not ethical or just.

Why?

Whatever is behind it unless you understand why it can be difficult to move forward.

Simply asking directly “Why can’t you?” could be seen as a criticism or confrontational, so may not be well received or give you the real reason.

A simple, but concerned “… Because?”  might elicit the real reason, but check this isn’t just a stalling device or excuse. So, if example they tell you they can’t do it because they don’t have enough time due to another project or task, you might respond with something along the lines of “if we could re-gig your priorities and free up some time, what then?” This will help to flush out if this is the real reason or just an excuse and if there is another underlying reason which they may be more reluctant to tell you.

So, when you hear comments such as “I can’t do that”, or “we can’t do that” look out for and listen for hesitation and find out what’s behind their response.

Related video: The power of questions

Related article: Old habits die hard