Monthly Archives: June 2022

How to Review Induction

Reviewing induction

Don’t be lazy when reviewing induction

I was chatting with someone yesterday about getting employee feedback to gauge how they are feeling.

We talked specifically about getting feedback during someone’s induction. You and I both know the importance of a good induction programme, so that new employees can:

  • Get up to speed in their role as quickly as possible
  • Feel confident in their new role
  • Form a positive impression of the business and reassure them it’s a place they want to stay

What many businesses do is to set about this with a lazy question.

And that question is

“Is everything OK?”

Asking “Is everything OK?” at best will only give you a yes or no answer.

And more often than not people will respond “yes” irrespective of how they are really feeling. (The same applies with customers by the way.)

Instead here are my top tips for getting meaningful feedback when reviewing someone’s induction and your onboarding process in general, so all your hard earned efforts to recruit don’t go down the drain…

Regular reviews

Schedule weekly meetings with your new starters for a minimum of the first four weeks to review progress, answer questions, and identify when help is needed.

This is also a great time to get feedback from them on their ideas and observations. Often a fresh pair of eyes will highlight things you’ve missed, and they bring with them experience and insights on how to do things better.

Structure

To get the best results from these review meetings ensure you have a structure to follow.

  1. Start by asking how they’re settling in.
  2. If you’ve set them some specific mini goals, ask how things are progressing. To avoid a general “ok” which doesn’t really tell you very much, I find asking people to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 gives you a good starting point then to explore whether there might be any problems or concerns.
  3. Then go on to discuss how you can help to enable them to do their job better. Are they getting all the support, resources and training that they need? What tasks are they finding challenging, and what can you do to make it easier?
  4. What feedback, suggestions or ideas do they have about the way you do things?
  5. Give your own feedback (see this previous post here or watch a recent video here starting at 1:47) on how you feel that they are doing.
  6. Agree what happens next, what to do more of, what to do less of, where they need support from you and what form that might take.
  7. Summarise any actions, record and agree next review date.

If you only do one thing when reviewing induction: Avoid closed questions such as “is everything OK?” and replace them with structured open questions about specifics.

 


I didn’t have time

I didn't have time

How often do your team tell you “I didn’t have time to do that”?

Now more so than ever, with staff shortages, you’ll probably hear “I didn’t have time”

How often have you asked someone to complete a priority task only to discover some time later that it’s not been done because they tell you “I didn’t have time”?

Is it just an excuse, or is there a genuine reason?

I’m sure it’s happened to you, and I’m certain your managers and supervisors hear this ‘excuse’ all too frequently.

And no doubt at some point you’ve been the one saying “I didn’t have time”!

In fact, it’s one of the biggest barriers I come across when I’m helping businesses make improvements either in their customer service culture or with management development; i.e. when people believe they don’t have enough time to devote to the actions they know they need to take.

It can be very frustrating for anyone when they know what’s expected but they feel under pressure to do the task to standard.

And when they feel under pressure one of four things can happen:

  • They simply don’t do the task in hand
  • They do it, but cut corners in that task or try to make time by cutting corners elsewhere, either way resulting in silly mistakes or not completing either task to standard
  • They drop another task to make time
  • They complete the task but only by having to put in extra time, which puts them under duress

In a previous blog I shared some tips on helping people get going on overwhelming tasks, but what if it’s simply routine recurring tasks which aren’t getting done?

If you or your duty managers are hearing “I didn’t have time” from any of your team it’s quite possible that the person doesn’t see the value of the task in relation to all the other things they are spending their time on.

However here are 5 other considerations to help you see that the task gets done:

1. Conflicting priorities

If people have taken on more tasks for whatever reason, what tasks have you dropped to make way? People who have been doing the same job for years, will no doubt have a set routine and tasks they’ve always carried out, and unless they are clear which of these are now a lower priority, they’ll very likely feel the need to carry on with these.

If these are tasks in which they’ve always taken a pride in doing well, these may be things it’s difficult to drop.  Telling them not to bother with It any more can give the impression these tasks weren’t valued, or the standards they’ve maintained aren’t appreciated. So tread carefully.

If team members report to different managers on different shifts, ensure each and every manager is placing the same level of importance on each task.

2. Reactive tasks, distractions or interruptions

All too often important tasks can take a back seat due to the number of re-active tasks people have to deal with.

As with the overwhelming tasks discussed before, https://www.naturallyloyal.com/how-to-beat-overwhelm/ help team members schedule time for important tasks, which might mean that others in the team have to be the ones dealing with the reactive tasks at that time.

Distractions can of course come in the form of time wasting activities such as extended breaks, too much socialising, or running errands for people that have nothing to do with their responsibilities, in which case it may be necessary to go back to the importance of the task or review conflicting priorities.

3. Takes too long

If you believe there should be ample time to complete all their tasks, it’s worth analysing how people approach their tasks and if any (or all) are taking longer than they should.

Are they approaching the task in a round about way? If so maybe some retraining or guidance is needed. Or their expectation is for perfection, above and beyond what is really necessary. Are they disorganised so have to keep to-ing and fro-ing to gather the tools or resources they need for the task?

4. Poor systems or equipment

Tasks can take longer than they should (or simply be put off indefinitely) if people have tools or resources that aren’t up to the task. (see previous post on Spotting Problems). 

For example:

  • Computer systems that are slow, too complicated, don’t integrate with other programmes, or simply no longer fit for purpose
  • Processes that require staff members to go back and forth, due to the layout of the workspace, because they don’t have enough space in their stores, or don’t have access to all the information they need when they are planning or preparing
  • They don’t use a checklist, so it’s easy to forget things and so have to go back for them

5. Bottle necks

If your team members are dependent on others – colleagues, suppliers or customers – are these causing bottlenecks in the process?

For example, if someone can’t finish a task until a supplier has delivered one of the tools or resources for the task, and this doesn’t arrive until minutes before the end of their shift, that might leave the task incomplete when they leave. So the issue here is more to do with when orders are placed or delivery times with the supplier.

Take action

If you only do one thing. Next time someone tells you they have not had time, ask questions to analyse if it’s down to one of the above reasons.

Related video: I didn’t have time on YouTube



Giving Supportive Feedback

Giving supportive feedback

How to give supportive feedback

I was recently a guest on a webinar and was speaking on the topic of giving supportive feedback.

We did a poll at the start to ask if people felt they give or receive enough feedback. 80% responded NO. This stacks up with the feedback I hear from delegates on my workshops too.

I know I’ve written on this topic before and I make no apologies for doing so again as I believe giving supportive feedback is such an important skill for any line manager, mentor or coach. When done well, not only can it improve performance, but it can be a great morale booster too.

I’m not going to go over the structure again as you can read about this here or watch a recent video here (starting at 1:47).

But, here are my before, during and after tips on giving supportive feedback.

Before

  • Know what good looks like, so you know what benchmark you’re using for your feedback.
  • Ensure all line managers are consistent in their expectations and messages; this is particularly important when team members report to different managers/supervisors on different shifts.
  • Be clear on objectives/the outcome you were looking for as result of giving feedback; is it to see an improvement (if so in what way?) or are you aiming to show recognition for a job well done and boost morale.
  • Timing is important. Ideally you want to feed back as soon as possible after the event you’re feeding back on. If you’re feeding back as part of a general review, choose the most recent examples.
  • Consider moods/emotional states, both yours and theirs. If you’re frustrated or irritated by their performance, this will inevitably taint the feedback, so wait until you are in a better frame of mind.
  • Equally, if they are in a negative state e.g. tired after a long shift, this might be fine for giving morale boosting feedback, but if you need to see an improvement in performance this is properly not the best time.

During

  • Avoid fluff (see Fluff busting). Be specific and stick to the facts. If you need to deliver bad news, don’t fluff up the message in cotton wool. If you need to see an improvement, make sure this is clear. So avoid the praise sandwich.
  • Make it a two-way conversation, asking for their comments and ideas on how to improve or build on their successes.
  • Tune into their reaction: watch for signs that they are confused, defensive, or worried, and address these concerns during the conversation.
  • Demonstrate your trust in them. If they sense you have no faith in them, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Commitment: show your commitment and support for any actions needed following the discussion, and get their commitment on their part.

After

  • Be prepared to invest time and attention in following up, otherwise it implies it’s not important.
  • Monitor progress, offering support, guidance and coaching where it’s needed.
  • Maintain momentum; you need to be confident that any changes aren’t just adhered to for the next two days, what about the next 2 weeks or next 2 months? It takes time to embed new habits.
  • Recognise improvement or actions taken as a result of the feedback, and give praise where it’s due, so people feel proud of their progress/achievements. This means people will be more likely to be receptive to future feedback.

If you only do one thing

  • Give a piece of supportive feedback today to at least one person in your team.



How to beat overwhelm

How to beat overwhelm10 tips for getting going on the one thing we should be doing and avoiding the overwhelm

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and if you were working, you’ve set aside some time to relax and recuperate.

Over the weekend I decided to focus on non-work activities; including some tasks that have been hanging around for months. I have to confess, I’m not always the most productive person. I get easily side tracked, and like many people I can be guilty of putting off overwhelming tasks.

But over the years I’ve learnt how to beat the overwhelm. In fact over the past few months I’ve been doing a number of previously considered overwhelming tasks in my garden.

One such task was pruning some rhododendron bushes that had got completely overgrown. It wasn’t a five minute job, but an overwhelming task I’d been putting off for months. As I was sawing through one of the branches I was getting more and more frustrated that the saw was not up to the job. But instead of stopping to sharpen the saw or get another one from the garage, I kept on going. It was only when I finally relented and went to get another newer saw I realised just how blunt the other one was.

If you’re familiar with Stephen R Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” you’ll know the 7th habit is “Sharpen the Saw”. This was (quite literally) what I was failing to do, and the result was frustration and the task taking far longer than it should.

I was also reminded at the weekend of another book “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, who pose the question “What’s the ONE THING you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

In this case, stopping the task and sharpening the saw or finding a replacement was the one thing.

How often do we not do the one thing we should be? Particularly when we are faced with so many potential tasks we could or should be doing. All those urgent and reactive tasks often take over and mean that we never step back and do the things that could be saving time and effort later.

Such as:

  • Training people in our team to do routine tasks so we can delegate them in future
  • Setting up new systems or procedure everyone can follow to ensure consistency and things don’t get forgotten
  • Rewriting parts of our website so it provides additional useful information for our customers which answers their commonly asked questions

Often the reason these pro-active tasks don’t get done is because they can be overwhelming, or we don’t know where to start.

How to beat overwhelm

So here are 10 tips to help you – or any of your team members – to beat overwhelm.

  1. Make a list of everything that needs doing. Involve your team as they’ll often highlight things you’d otherwise miss. Or, if you’re new to your role, you may even discover some of the work has been done already
    .
  2. Prioritise your list focusing on important tasks and those which add value opposed to ‘the nice to do’s’
    .
  3. Often tasks are only overwhelming because they are too large to do all at once. Break tasks down into the smallest possible action. This makes it easier to chip away at the task
    .
  4. Identify tasks that can be easily delegated and brief the appropriate person. Better still, review your task list with your team and ask for volunteers
    .
  5. Prioritise and schedule the tasks that must be done by you. You don’t always need to start at the beginning! Identify some relatively easy quick wins to get momentum going
    .
  6. Set yourself a time limit for the task. If you tend to be a perfectionist, decide up front what will be good enough (and make a commitment to stop when you’ve achieved this criteria, instead of investing a disproportionate amount of unnecessary time and effort into making it perfect)
    .
  7. Decide how you will reward yourself when the task is completed (even if it’s as simple as allowing yourself a coffee break)
    .
  8. Make a commitment to someone who will hold you accountable, and agree when you will review progress
    .
  9. Remove distractions and focus on that task for the time you’ve allowed. Setting a timer and keeping this visible can help
    .
  10. Stop and review at the end of the time set aside, and reward yourself accordingly 🙂

If you only do one thing

Teach your team how to beat overwhelm. Share the above tips with any team members who may be suffering from overwhelm, or need help getting going on any tasks they have been putting off or are struggling to started.