Author Archives: Caroline Cooper

 

onboarding new staff

A couple of weeks’ ago I was a guest panellist on Corecruitment’s recruitment webinar. One common theme is the challenge of recruiting and retaining good staff.

When it comes to retention, having gone to the effort and expense of finding a good fit, don’t waste this by poor onboarding, only to have the employee leave again after a couple of months, leaving you back to square one.

In addition to permanent roles, many hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses will be taking on seasonal staff now.

Maybe you are too?

The first few days and weeks in any job will determine how that person feels about your business and whether or not this is the place they want to stay. It might just be for a season initially, but who knows… maybe even to pursue their career here. Is this an environment where they’ll be happy, fit in and feel their contribution is valued?

Getting this right is as important for temporary or seasonal staff as it is for permanent. They too can act as ambassadors for your business, and make all the difference the next time you need to recruit. Quite apart from the impact they can have on other team members and your customers depending on how well they’re equipped for the job.

People like (and need) to know what’s expected of them. So when people start with you a thorough onboarding is absolutely key to ensuring you’re not wasting all the time, cost and effort you’ve put into recruiting the right person.

A thorough onboarding process firstly ensures they’ll be up to speed and able to carry out their job effectively, resulting in less pressure on other team members, and a better customer experience.

But just as importantly, it creates the right first impression, that shows that their role is valued.

Imagine your new team member getting home from work after their first day and their nearest and dearest asking them “how was your first day?” If you were a fly on the wall, what would you like to hear them say?

“It was ok, I suppose”

“Hmm, I’m not so sure; I didn’t really know what I was doing and they just left me to muddle through. I’ll give it a couple more days…”

“It was brilliant. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful, and they’ve mapped out a great training programme for me so I know what I’m going to be learning and doing over the next couple of weeks. I’m really excited to have got this job, and can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Start the onboarding process as soon as possible; the more you can do before their first day the quicker they’ll get them up to speed.

In your job offer let them know how much you’re looking forward to them coming to work for you and then start with information that lets them know that they’re going to get a warm welcome.

If you need to re-vamp your on-boarding process or want to learn more about how to engage new team members I’ve just made that chore a whole lot easier for you!

Take action

If you only do one thing, take a fresh look at your on-boarding programmes and how you engage new team members, and ask yourself do they really give the best possible start for anyone new to your team to be a productive, happy and engaged team player in your business.

p.s Start your on-boarding process as soon as possible; the more you can do before their first day the quicker they’ll get them up to speed.

Discover more here…

 

 

 

 

 

 


Respect your team

Respect your team

Last week I was invited by a local charity to give a talk. The charity is Oakleaf, who supports people with mental ill health, giving them the skills, confidence and training needed to return to the workplace.

My talk was for their Health Leaders sharing my own thoughts on practical ways employers can help their people feel valued and proud of the work they do – just one small step towards hopefully improving people’s well being at work.

Not forgetting of course the business benefits of how it contribute to productivity, staff retention and customer service.

I covered 5 core leadership actions and one of these was respect.

It’s often little actions (or lack of action) that can unwittingly leave a team feeling they’re not respected. And of course when this happens it can have a negative impact on their perception of the business, the importance of their role, or their relationship with colleagues.

Here are the 5 principles we discussed in relation to respecting your team:

Common Courtesies

This is something most people do without thinking.

That is until we’re having a bad day!

Failing to say a cheery good morning, checking in on how that big event went yesterday, asking about someone’s weekend or holiday, saying please and thank you – all get noticed when they’re missing, even if subconsciously, leaving people feeling unappreciated.

A sunny smile and a cheerful good morning sets everyone up for the day.

Treat your team with the same care, courtesy and respect as you’d like them to show your customers.

Integrity

How you behave or talk about others when they are not present says a lot about your personal integrity.

Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create trust with your team. It goes beyond honesty.  Integrity is conforming to the reality of our words – keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.  One way of demonstrating integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present. Confidentiality about others in your team is paramount.

Care

Show you care as much about your team as you do about the business and results.

Listen and observe so you can spot any staff concerns quickly. Left to fester these can snowball into bigger problems.

Help your team stay healthy. Simply ensuring people aren’t expected to work excessively long shifts back to back. Keep an eye out for anyone working excessively long hours or not taking their due days off or full holiday entitlement. It could be an early warning sign.

Provide support when needed and be receptive to when this is required; not everyone will be confident enough to ask for help. If you recognise they need help in areas you feel you don’t have the skills to deal with, support them in seeking help from someone who can.

Commitments

Apologise when you let someone down.

Keep commitments. Do what you say you’ll do. Making a promise that’s important to someone and then not delivering on it suggests lack of respect.

It’s one thing to make a mistake, and quite another not to admit it. Sincere words – “I was wrong”, “I showed you no respect”, “I’m sorry”.  It takes a great deal of character strength to apologise.

Time

If lockdown taught us anything it’s the value of personal time.

Respect people’s personal lives and commitments. Don’t be so hell-bent on people’s contracted hours that you can’t allow somebody that flexibility to alter their hours or do something out of the norm.

Picking up the kids from nursery on time, attending their grandchild’s graduation, tending to a sick relative, attending a one off event that would mean so much to them, allowing time to get ready for a long awaited holiday or special occasion, celebrating personal or family milestones.

If you know these things mean a lot to them, give them that flexibility.

If you only do one thing:

Showing respect for your team is the first step to them respecting you and your business, so always think about what message your actions send to your team about how much you respect them.

Related article: Puffed up with Pride



Creating a Learning Culture

Creating a learning culture

Can we really learn from mistakes?

Creating a learning culture starts with accepting people will make mistakes.

Providing we’re able to spot the mistake, make the effort to understand the mistake and be open to learning from it.

And the same applies with your team.

Let me explain…

I was at a conference recently where one of the talks was on creating a learning culture. To my mind there was one aspect of this which was completely overlooked. And that was to create a learning culture you have to be prepared for people to make mistakes and to help them learn from these. Unless you do, people will not be prepared to try new things or take a chance on taking action for fear of messing up and being blamed – even when they think it’s the right thing to do.

Here are 10 ideas to help in creating a learning culture, one where it’s ok to take a chance and make the odd mistake, so long as you learn from it.

  1. Set the example. Admit when you’ve made a mistake – when you’re open about making mistakes your team will be recognise that everyone makes mistakes. But, make sure you also focus on what’s been learnt as a result of that mistake (see The Emotional Bank Account)
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  2. Demonstrate your trust in team members by giving them responsibility and authority to do what they believe is right. E.g. to respond to customers’ expectations and requests in the way that they see fit. If they truly understand your values and what’s of most importance generally they’ll work out the best route to get there.
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  3. Define what levels of authority your team members have in any given situation, and give them examples of when they need to refer to a manager or get sign off, and when it’s OK for them to make the decision. But when you do have to get involved use this as an opportunity for others to learn from the situation, by explaining your approach and why you approached it in the way you did.
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  4. Build confidence; often people know what they should be doing, but just lack that certainty and confidence to do this really well, so give time and an opportunity for them to practise in a safe environment.
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  5. Listen out for hesitation. When you hear a team member saying  “I can’t…” that might be an indication they are fearful of making a mistake. Talk this through with them to identify any obstacles. Do they have the necessary resources, time, authority, peer support?  Let them know you are still there to support them.
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  6. Don’t expect perfection straight away. People need time to find their own way of doing things, and they shouldn’t feel afraid to make the odd mistake when they initially put principles into practice. Recognise and reward as they improve, even if things are not yet perfect.
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  7. Foster a supportive culture. It should be okay to ask questions and admit they don’t know all the answers, where they’re encouraged to seek out new activities and it’s accepted that people won’t always get things right. Recognise even marginal gains in performance are a step forward.
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  8. Give supportive feedback, and help people see their own mistakes, as well as encouraging them by pointing out what’s gone well. https://www.naturallyloyal.com/giving-effective-feedback/
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  9. Reframing. Get people into the habit of looking for solutions rather than trying to blame others. Asking “what can I do to improve the situation?” “What’s in my control?” Rather than focusing on what’s gone wrong, or seeing it as a failure.
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  10. Think about your emotional states. When you, your team – any of us – are in an unresourceful state (such as anger, exhaustion, boredom) if faced with challenges the tiniest problem can lead us to frustration or aggression; the slightest failure can lead to disappointment, blame or self-doubt; a hint of rejection can lead to defensiveness.

Take action

If you only do one thing towards creating a learning culture…

The next time you or any of your team make a mistake use it as an opportunity to learn from it and move on.

Book recommendation:

Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed.

An inspiring book about how we cannot grow unless we are prepared to learn from our mistakes, by understanding and overcoming failures and demonstrates how even marginal gains all contribute to success.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Box-Thinking-Surprising-Success/dp/1473613779

Building Confidence Video



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


When you stop noticing the cracks

improvements

Making Improvements

The longer you leave things the more likely they become the accepted norm, and the less likely improvements happen.

It’s just over 30 years since we moved into our house. There aren’t many things we haven’t changed; the whole layout of the rooms, we’ve added an extension and we’ve extended into the roof space.

But there are some things we’ve been meaning to do almost since we moved here; for example it took us 25 years to get round to putting a sign outside with the house name! And it took us three years to fix a broken tile in our kitchen doorway.

You see, the thing is, the longer you live with something the more you become accustomed to it being that way. We simply stop noticing the cracks. And in the case of the kitchen tile we just automatically stepped over it.

And this can happen in a business too. There can be a gradual decline: the fabric of your building, the morale of your team, the speed of response for a customer. When it’s gradual we don’t notice it.

And once it’s been a certain way for any length of time unless it causes us a major inconvenience we simply get used to things that way, and ignore the improvements needed.

So what are the cracks in your business which could be impacting your teams well-being, their productivity, or levels of engagement. Or impacting your customers’ experience?

Even when you stop noticing these things if they have an impact on your team or your customers you can be sure that they won’t have stopped noticing.

Ask the question

Ask your team where there are ‘cracks’ in your business: in your systems, with your equipment, in your customers’ journey. Listen to their views to flush out anything that’s standing in the way of them doing a great job or impacts the customer in some way.

This often highlights frustrations they have in the system or with current resources, levels of authority, existing skills or conflicting priorities.

Ask them to suggest better ways of doing things. Not only can this flag up things you may have been unaware of, if anything needs to change or it needs some effort on their part to make improvements they’ll be far more bought in to doing something well if they have initiated it.

The customer experience

Listen to what your team tell you about shortfalls in the customer journey; they’ll invariably spot where improvements can be made.

Many of your team are much closer to your customers than you are and will see opportunities to enhance the customer experience. So ask for their ideas and be prepared to act on them.

Ask your team to make an honest assessment and reflect on how they think customers currently feel at each of these key touch points.

If they aren’t sure ask them to reflect back on some of the conversations they’ve had with customers.

Arrange for each team member to take the customer journey themselves and see how it feels being on the receiving end.

If you’ve done this exercise with your team before, this time allocate team members to different departments to get a different perspective.  When it’s your own department it’s easy to become protective, oblivious to some of the challenges or frustrations customers may encounter. Reviewing another department can help flush out potential ‘blind spots’.

Ask your team to make a note of everything that isn’t quite perfect yet. It doesn’t mean to say you have to fix everything, but you can make a conscious decision as to which aspects you might put to one side for now and which need to be addressed as a priority.

It can be quite revealing what your team pick up; they’ll often spot things you don’t.

Keeping on top of maintenance

Have a system in place for maintenance, whether this is done in house or with a contractor. Encourage team members to report problems promptly when the equipment doesn’t appear to be functioning on all four cylinders, or gets damaged, rather than apportioning blame on them for causing the problem.

Have a process which makes this quick and easy. Failure to report and deal with problems promptly not only leads to frustrations, and later accusations of whose fault it is, but could cost you dearly in the long run if it causes long-term damage.

Listen to what they have to say

Take action before they become the accepted norm.

Unless followed though promptly your team won’t bother telling you next time.

The longer problems are left unresolved, the less emphasis it places on the importance of their welfare or the customer experience in their eyes and the less importance they will place on their contribution to your business.

Old habits die hard

If my kitchen floor is anything to judge by, the longer it takes to fix the problem the longer it takes for people to adjust to the new way. Be patient with your team whilst they get get used to the improvement.

I was still stepping over that broken tile, even after it was no longer there!

Video: Listening to employees

Article: What we can learn from Formula 1


You are amazing

employee recognition

Employee Recognition starts with telling them

Last week two people in two different situations said to me “You are amazing”. Now, I’m not telling you this to boast or show off, but to illustrate a point. In fact, two points.

Both scenarios came about as a result of me doing something I love and that I know I do well. Of course these two go hand-in-hand; we invariably enjoy the stuff we do well, and when we do something well, we’re more likely to enjoy it.

But when somebody else tells you what an amazing job you’re doing, guess what? It makes you feel proud that somebody’s noticed and you’re far more likely to put in that extra discretionary effort.

So here are two lessons to take away from this.

1. Tap into people’s strengths

We often underestimate people’s capabilities. When we don’t see individual skills or strengths it leads to a tendency to demand all-round competence in a job.  As a result, development focuses on areas where a person is least capable, with time and energy spent on working towards average performance, making everyone 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.

When you allocate responsibility in areas in which people excel, it makes it easier for you to delegate control and ownership, giving them the flexibility to adapt and adopt their own style. When people have one or two areas of specific focus it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise, and gives them a sense of pride.

Often these are skills they don’t necessarily recognise themselves, as they take these things for granted.  When you recognise these strengths it can be a real confidence boost for them.

This is not only good for people’s development; it also helps the team respect other’s roles and share the burden.

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.

 

2. Recognition

Recognise those who go beyond the call of duty e.g. changed domestic arrangements to help out, dropped their own work to support a colleague or gone out of their way to help a customer. Acknowledge those who have put effort into a project even if it has just fallen short of the mark. It’s the effort you’re applauding not the result.

Saying thank you and well done in front of the whole team may make some people feel uncomfortable, so be selective. But when done for the whole team it can give a real boost.

Put some thought into how you say thank you, make it relate to the individual and something that resonates with them.

Being recognised at work so you can be proud of your contribution can have a massive impact on employee engagement, and all the knock-on benefits of staff retention and productivity. And of course, your customers’ experience.

This stems from the top, so if you are recognising your managers and supervisors so they feel pride in what they do, they are far more likely to do the same with their team members.

If you only do one thing:

Pick one thing each of your team members does well and make a point this week of telling them how much you appreciate this.

Recognising strengths article

Employee Recognition Ideas video



ROI on your training and development

ROI on your training and development

Last week I met with a client as a follow up to a development programme I ran for his management team last year, to ensure they were going to get an ROI on their training and development.

The review was due to happen in December, just 2 weeks’ after the last module. Operational issues got in the way, and with Christmas looming the review was put back to early January. That date came and went with no review.

So, when it came to taking stock of the learning and how it would be implemented it all seemed too far back to remember.

Sadly this happens all too often. Time and money invested in learning isn’t taken full advantage of as there is little or no follow up. Resulting in minimal ROI on your training and development.

Such a waste. Not just of time and effort, but of people’s potential.

In this instance all was not lost. At the end of each session everyone had committed to one action and at the start of the next had shared their actions and learnings. But I know there will have been many ideas that got lost as a result of no review.

How does a business stop this happening?

There will always be other pressing things that get in the way.

But here are 7 things any business can do to get the best ROI on their training and development, and make their training budgets go further:

  1. Get people to make at least a verbal – and even better a written – commitment to at least one action they can take (preferably within the next day or two) as a result of any learning or training, with desired result and timescales. Make a note of these, so you can follow up!
  2. Flush out any potential barriers or obstacles to overcome in order to make these happen. Common obstacles include lack of confidence, too much red tape, time pressures, or conflicting priorities. Better to know about these now rather than later when nothing’s been implemented!
  3. Check what additional resources or support people need. Follow up on these promptly, before momentum is lost, and to avoid sending the message that this isn’t important.
  4. Review their actions and progress made (or arrange interim review if a longer term action). Include a review of learning and actions from training in your regular one to one meetings.
  5. Recognise old habits die hard, so give people encouragement to persevere if at first things take time.
  6. Get people to open up about existing challenges and relate back to any relevant previous training which might help them to find a solution. Coach if necessary.
  7. Make continuous learning part of your culture, so you seize every opportunity to learn from day to day situations – good and bad.

If you only do one thing to getting an ROI on your training and development: Check line managers recognise and take responsibility for their role in their team’s development and helping team members implement training. Ensure they have the skills to do this effectively.

And remember, training and development is an investment, but won’t give you the full return unless it’s followed through.

How to prepare for training

Video: Why team development is important