My blog has now moved to my new website, and can be found here: https://www.themanagersacademy.com/blog/
See you there…
My blog has now moved to my new website, and can be found here: https://www.themanagersacademy.com/blog/
See you there…
One of the things I’ll be covering on my Managing for Peak Performance workshop today is building confidence.
When team members lack confidence in a task it will stop them getting on with tasks off their own bat, which can be both frustrating and draining for you, and have a knock on effect for colleagues and customers alike.
That lack of confidence might simply be due to a new task, or something they’ve not done for a while and think they’ve forgotten how.
It might be because you’ve introduced a new way of doing something, and it simply feels a bit clunky. Human nature says we’ll always take the path of least resistance, so the slightest obstacle will send people back to their old comfortable way of doing it.
Or they’re resisting the new way of doing things because in their mind it involves a degree of risk or difficulty.
And then there are the times when it’s a task they’ve done successfully in the past but something hasn’t worked as it should, so they start to doubt themselves.
Whatever the reason, here are 8 ways you can build confidence in your team members, and prevent this happening in your team:
It’s a lot easier for you to allocate responsibility for tasks where people already excel, and the likelihood is when they are good at that task they’ll be confident and probably enjoy it.
You might need to look for the capabilities in others that they themselves may not see and help them to see these for themselves. Focusing on strengths not only boosts confidence, it enables people to shine and excel. It means complementing potential shortcomings of others in the team, contributing unique value in the eyes of colleagues and customers.
That doesn’t mean to say you don’t develop people in other areas, but avoid the temptation to make everyone mediocre at everything.
People hate not fully understanding what’s expected of them; it can leave them hesitant and fearful of making mistakes.
It’s inevitable that some ways of working and duties will have changed. If there are duties that used to be part of their role that are now less of a priority, explain why this is. If these were tasks they did well or took a particular pride in doing, be sensitive to how you handle this, so they don’t get the impression that their previous efforts were not appreciated.
If it’s a new task ensure they understand the significance of the task, and set a clear and simple objective, and what controls such as budget, deadline, when and how any review will take place. Bear in mind, it may take them longer to begin with as people get into the task.
People soon pick it up if you don’t trust them or are reluctant to allocate any responsibility to them, leaving them doubting their own abilities.
Demonstrate trust by letting go. No one wants their boss breathing down their neck the whole time, and it’s frustrating for everyone when team members have to get sign off for everything.
Cut the red tape and give your team the freedom to do what they think is in the best interests of the customer.
Set clear boundaries so they understand the exceptions and when you really do need to be involved.
Allow each of your team to adapt and adopt their own style and let them bring their own personality to the role, particularly when dealing with customers.
If they know the end result you’re looking for they often come up with better ways to get the same result.
Give ownership for areas that require specialist knowledge, so this team member becomes the go to person for this. When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise, and encourages continuous improvement. This in turn can have an impact on your customer experience, when specific knowledge is required to gain the customer’s confidence.
This is not only good for people’s development it also helps the team respect other’s roles and share the burden.
Let them know you are there to support them, and to come to you with later question, concerns or suggestions. Reassure them of your commitment to their safety and ongoing support.
Encourage your team by assuring them that they have the skills and knowledge. If you really are unsure of somebody’s ability to deliver what’s needed reflect on what help and support they would need in order to achieve this and focus on that instead.
Build confidence by providing positive feedback and recognition. Offer plenty of support and encouragement.
When things go wrong this can knock people’s confidence. Foster a supportive culture where people can learn from their mistakes, rather than be blamed.
Encourage everyone to come forward when things haven’t gone to plan, or when there’s been a near miss. Then focus on how to avoid this happening again, not just for that team member, but for anyone else in the team.
Ask your team member(s) for their suggestions. Nine times out of ten they’ll work out for themselves the best way to avoid a repercussion.
Recognise when any improvements are made, even if things are not yet perfect!
Celebrate success so you encourage more of the same.
Establish regular opportunities and events to enable others to share their successes and achievements. This could be as simple as daily briefings where individuals talk about their successes and what others can learn from these, but add more weight to this by publicly recognising their success e.g. sharing achievements with your guests or entering them for awards.
Highlight how individual contributions have had a positive impact on the business as a whole. Recognise and reward individuals, departments or the team as a whole to demonstrate how you value their successes.
Building confidence in your team starts by demonstrating your trust. Empower individuals and the team by giving them authority to make decisions and take action. Generate a climate of confidence by drawing attention to the strengths of the team and individuals and where they complement one another rather than dwelling on shortcomings.
Blog: Learn from mistakes
Video: How people learn
Involving your team in innovation and improvements.
I’ve talked many a time about the importance of listening and tuning in to your team. However, today’s article is also about listening, but this time with a view to involving them, making continuous improvement & creating a culture of innovation.
Sparked by a webinar I attended recently on the topic, here I share my own perspective on this.
The ‘Iceberg of Ignorance’ is a term Sidney Yoshida used, based on an earlier study in the 1980s which stated that “only four per cent of a company’s problems are known to top managers”. This is represented by the part of the iceberg which is visible.
The theory is that only 9% of problems are known to middle management
74% of problems are known to supervisors
100% of an organisation’s problems are known to front-line employees, i.e. collectively, employees know about all of the problems.)
Now, although the study was based on mid-sized organisations, and within your business the gap between front line employees and senior management may be much smaller, the message is still the same. If you don’t consult with your front line you are probably missing a wealth of information that impacts the success of your business.
My own experience of this was back in the late 1990s when I was still in the corporate world, and our then CEO took part in the popular TV show “Back to the Floor”. Because he was working ‘under cover’ he got to hear of a multitude of issues, bottle necks in the system and some brilliant ideas that could be brought back to the business.
As a trainer and facilitator, I also get to hear of all sorts of issues that stand in the way of team members being as effective as they might be – sometimes through irritating glitches which are often (admittedly not always) really easy to fix. The sad thing is, very often these issues could have so easily been rectified if only they’d been asked for their feedback.
Quite apart from the obvious benefit of being made aware of problems, let’s consider why else it’s a good thing to involve your team, and what can you do to apply these principles in your business, or within your own department.
If you only do one thing: Next time you want to make a saving or find a better way of doing something, don’t sit in an ‘ivory tower’ and try to solve it alone – ask your team.
p.s. a starting point for flushing out issues and ideas is through anonymous surveys such as Engagement Multiplier. If you’d like a test drive to see what it could do for your business, request it here directly with Engagement Multiplier who will be happy to arrange this.
** Waitrose are reported to have saved £460,000 in till roll paper as a result of one small change following a suggestion from a staff member’s idea.
If you’ve ever been shopping and forgotten your shopping list, you’ll know how annoying it is.
Not only are you in danger of forgetting important things you need, but it takes so much longer as you end up going down each aisle to remind yourself of what you need.
Your shopping list is a type of system.
A system doesn’t have to be complicated to help you or team members to:
Systems should help, not hinder.
Poor or outdated systems can be not only frustrating for team members, but also impact productivity, the customer experience and ultimately your bottom line.
Here are a few to look out for:
Any of these inevitably puts extra pressure on your team, particularly when there is a direct impact on customers… They are there to support the team, not create red tape, or stifle personality, initiative and good ideas.
Indications that a system needs reviewing include:
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, check the systems and processes you have in place are still doing the job they were designed to do.
Ask your team for their observations and feedback on existing systems and how the system can be improved.
On a recent Managing Performance Workshop one of the skills we discussed that cropped up time and again was question technique.
As any self-respecting salesperson will tell you, question technique is a key skill in the sales process.
But it’s also a critical skill for managers too.
I could go on, but you get the idea…
On my workshop the emphasis was on asking questions in relation to managing performance, but the ability to ask good questions is also important in recruitment, in meeting customers’ expectations, in dealing with complaints, in coaching, so it’s a skill well worth developing.
Of course, the way you ask questions is also important; we don’t want team members (or customers) to feel like they are being interrogated.
To get people talking use ‘open’ questions, starting with the words:
What, how, when, who, where, why, give me an example, or tell me about…..
This will encourage the team member to go into details and not answer yes/no.
However, “why?” is a question to use with caution; it can easily come across as judgemental if we’re not careful. Also asking someone why something happened can be too broad a question which they may not know the answer to. So, as an example, instead of asking “why did you do that?” ask questions along the lines of “what triggered your response?” or “what was your reasoning for approaching it in that way?”, “what had you hoped to achieve?”, “How did you decide?”
In the context of managing performance, e.g. in a one to one review, here are some questions to ask:
Whilst mastering your question technique you’ll also need to listen well.
Because we all filter or delete information, it can mean the information we receive or questions we ask very general or vague, making it difficult for others to fully understand the question, issue or action required. Often it is necessary to drill down to get specifics.
This can be the case when reviewing performance with team members. We might ask a question about a situation and they may be vague or ambiguous with their answers. We interpret their response in one way (and often make assumptions about the detail) when they mean something else. Or maybe they are being vague deliberately, as they don’t have any details to give!
For example: you ask someone how they are getting on with a task you have asked them to complete by the end of the week. When you ask them on Wednesday how they are getting on they answer “Fine”. What does that mean? Does it mean they’ve nearly finished; that they are just half way though; that they have started it but waiting for some information from someone else; that they are stuck, but too shy to ask for help; or they haven’t even started yet?
This is when we may need to do some “Fluff Busting” and I’ve written about that here.
If you only do one thing:
Next time you ask one of your team for an update ask specific questions so you come away knowing exactly where they are up to.
Recruitment and staff retention is a hot topic currently.
Like me, I know you know how important it is to have an engaged team, and the impact this can have on productivity, staff retention and customer experience.
I recently gave a short presentation on just one way to help keep your team engaged, and that was to show we value them.
There are many ways of you can make your team feel valued, but the one I’d like to home in on today is that of tuning in to team members.
Failing to spot disengaged employees isn’t always easy. But if we don’t, we run the risk of these people being a drain on others in your team, being less productive and negatively impacting your customers’ experience. And ultimately resulting in higher staff turnover and all the knock on effects this can have.
So here are 10 ideas to help tune in to your team and individuals within the team so you can not only demonstrate to your team you value them, but you can also nip in the bud any problems brewing before they fester and impact everyone else.
Help your team feel valued by asking for their feedback. If you consider yourself to be a brave, caring owner (or senior decision maker) of a growth focused business, and you’d like to find a simple way to get direct and honest feedback from your team, take a trial assessment. Register your interest here:
to get your company’s engagement score, and discover where to take action to make an impact right away.
Longer term goals are important, but it’s also useful sometimes to set some mini goals. This can be a useful exercise when you want to kickstart some action such as:
By putting tangible metrics in place to measure success, team members can evaluate their progress. And of course reward their success once achieved.
So when defining goals set the KPIs or metrics and describe what good looks like. The more people can visualise the end goal to easier it is for them to work towards this.
Most of us familiar with SMART goals, which are a good starting point.
Here SMART goals are explained; however I’ve added in a few more criteria to make goals that bit more robust and to get more buy-in which means they’re more likely to be achieved.
Be as SPECIFIC as possible. What will they see, hear or feel when the goal is achieved. The more vivid the image the more powerful it will be. Can you easily explain it to someone else? I want you to increase sales is not specific; how much more sales, in areas, at what profit margin, by what date……?
As well as being specific, the goals you set must be STRETCHING. Is the goal something that will get the business further forward, but still provide an element of challenge?
Goals must be MEASUREABLE so you can all quantify their progress and track it. What MILESTONES will you set?
Any goal you set must be MOTIVATIONAL too – What will achieving their goal get them? How well does it fit in with their values and what’s important to them? Does it inspire them? Will it give them a sense of accomplishment on achievement? If not, then the chances of them achieving it are slim!
Getting a balance between being stretching and motivational and at the same time being ACHIEVABLE is key. Unobtainable goals will have a negative impact. But it is important that they are ACTIONABLE by them, not dependent on others’ actions out of their control.
It is also important that the goals you set are AGREED with the individual. If they don’t agree with the goal, maybe because they think it’s unachievable, or not part of their job you will get reluctance and the goal will be put to the bottom of their priority list.
How RELEVANT are the goals to them, their role and the business as a whole? A goal that is incompatible will mean inevitably that something will have to give.
Once you are both happy with their goals ensure you RECORD them. Then keep the goals as a focus of your review process. If they are working on things which do not contribute to their goals ask why.
When wording your goals specify what you are moving TOWARDS rather than what you want to avoid. Our brains find it difficult to process negatives, so by concentrating too much on what you want to avoid actually focuses the brain on this rather than what you want instead. So, for example, if a goal is to reduce complaints, focus on the reaction you want to get from your guests instead.
Finally, goals must be TRACKABLE (including TIMESCALES) so you can review at any time how well your team are on track. We all know the results of leaving everything to the last minute, so set some specific timescales when you’ll review progress, and schedule these into your diaries.
What short-term projects or goals can you set which eases people in gently, but still enables them to see some results quickly.
I often hear managers criticising a team member’s attitude, “they have an attitude problem!” But what do they actually mean? What behaviours convey someone’s attitude? Often it’s their enthusiasm for the job, the way they support their colleagues, how they talk to customers.
But, before considering your team’s attitude, let’s consider yours!
How much of your team’s attitude stems from the example you set?
When you get home from work can you normally sense what sort of mood everyone else is in? Even when no words are spoken it’s usually pretty easy to tell. Your moods and emotions are normally evident to others from your behaviours, facial expressions and tone.
But, like it or not, your mood has a profound impact on the mood of all those around you. Not just your team, but suppliers and customers.
It influences your team’s attitude, their enthusiasm, their willingness to take responsibility, their confidence in you and the business and their loyalty towards you.
In turn, this certainly influences your customers’ perception of you and your team, their level of engagement and ultimately their loyalty to your business.
Rather than wasting energy on those things completely out of your control, focus on what you can control.
Being positive, enthusiastic and energetic might not always rub off on everyone else, but it’s a better bet to energise, engage and motivate your team than if you’re down and focusing on things you can’t control.
Lead by example and be a role model. If you display negativity this inevitably rubs off on your team and in turn, your customers too.
As Zig Zigler said “A positive attitude won’t help you do anything, but it will help you do everything better than a bad attitude will.”
A little exercise I like to do and have shared with many of my clients to help stay focused on the positives, is to write down at the end of each day what you’re GLAD of:
G something you’re grateful for, however small
L something you’ve learnt today
A something you’ve achieved today
D something that’s delighted you, or you’ve done to delight others
p.s. If you want to follow the whole A-Z series subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss a thing:
related article: Attitude over aptitude
I’m involved in two training programmes this week where I’m making reference to the emotional bank account, and in particular the importance of keeping commitments.
When everyone is so busy (and probably quite hot and bothered at the moment to boot) it can be easy for little things to get missed.
Whether this is with a member of your team, a customer or even a loved one, it can certainly have a negative impact.
I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about the Emotional Bank Account before. When I’m training it’s one of the topics that frequently gets picked out as one of the key learning points.
And it’s no surprise really, as it’s such a powerful metaphor. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s what Stephen R Covey describes in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”; it’s a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that has been built up in a relationship.
One of the key ‘deposits’ is keeping commitments.
Telling someone you’ll do something and then not delivering on that promise can leave people feeling let down, or that they’re not valued. When what you’ve promised is important to that person it can compromise your relationship and the level of trust between you.
Sometimes these are things that may seem minor or insignificant to you, but if they’re important to the other person, you need to place the same degree of importance if that person is important to you.
We all know stuff happens and often it’s a genuine oversight, but that doesn’t usually make the other person feel much better!
Or maybe you simply have nothing to report back. But they don’t know that unless you update them. If you’ve promised an update by a certain date, make sure you deliver this, even if it’s to say there’s no news yet.
But with the best will in the world there’ll be times when you’re unable to keep a commitment, even if only in their eyes.
And when this happens it sometimes requires courage to say you’re sorry. Apologising with the sincere words – “I was wrong”, “I showed you no respect”, “I’m sorry”.
It is one thing to make a mistake or let someone down by not keeping commitments, and quite another not to admit it.
Related video: A culture of Trust
Tomorrow I’m delivering a workshop for a small hotel group on delivering excellent events. Inevitably we will be spending a fair proportion of the workshop discussing and reviewing the customer journey.
And in my book, the employee journey is just as important.
Getting this wrong can have a massive negative impact on your team, their levels of engagement and how they come across to customers. I’m a firm believer that if you look after your team they will look after your customers, and their experience will be reflected in your customers’ experience.
Like the customer journey, the employee journey considers all the touch points from the moment a potential candidate applies to your business, to what happens after they leave.
We all know with the customer journey that first impressions count, and the same is certainly true when potential employees apply for a vacancy and how their application is dealt with (whether they are successful or not).
The whole recruitment and on boarding process, right the way through their employment with you makes up the employee journey.
The employee journey will have an impact on employee engagement, productivity, staff retention, your customer’s experience, so it’s important to understand the experience an employee goes through from the very first contact with you.
One of the easiest ways to do this is through gathering first-hand feedback from your team on how they feel about their experience, and involving them in your employee journey mapping.
Some points to consider are what happens before and after they work for you, such as
But you’ll never see it as they do, so to know what it’s like…
Ask for feedback from your most recent recruits on what you can do to improve their experience to date.
Employee Journey video https://youtu.be/p4TJFpL3XVc
Onboarding guide https://www.naturallyloyal.com/resources/onboarding/