Author Archives: Caroline Cooper

Spotting problems

spotting problems

Drip, drip, drip

Have you been spotting problems?

During the lockdown you’ve no doubt had to carry out some tasks you’d normally have delegated to others in your team.

I know I have.

And it’s only when you perform those tasks yourself you realise that they’re not as straight forward as you thought…

Maybe the system is cumbersome, the equipment used doesn’t function as well as it should, or the process simply doesn’t deliver the result you want.

Has this happened to you?

If it has, I bet you’re left wondering “Why didn’t they say anything?

When you perform a task every day or every week you probably don’t notice when it takes longer than it should, or doesn’t work as smoothly as it used to. It’s a gradual change so you simply fail to spot it.

So bit by bit it gets worse and worse and we’re blissfully unaware.

It’s only when we stand back and reassess that we notice.

This gradual decline can happen in all sorts of situations:

  • the fabric of your building
  • the effectiveness of your equipment
  • the quality of raw materials
  • a system that’s out of date
  • short cuts or cutting corners on processes which have become the norm
  • IT infrastructure overload, meaning slower and slower response times
  • the morale of your team

Any of these can impact your team’s effectiveness, their well-being and most likely your customers’ experience too.

As we get back to business, as new procedures are put in place and people take on different tasks, now is a good time to review and amend.

Where you’re performing tasks normally covered by others:

  • What works OK but could be improved
  • What is simply no longer fit for purpose
  • Where has the system become cumbersome
  • Where have corners been cut by others
  • What’s missing
  • What’s no longer relevant
  • How can we improve this

Where team members are returning to existing tasks:

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.

Flush out anything that’s standing in the way of them doing a brilliant 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.

So, ask:

What would they improve if they could? To help people feel comfortable to make suggestions ask questions that allow them to take off the blinkers.

Such as:

  • What would you do if it was your business?
  • What would you do if we had an endless supply of cash?
  • What would you do if you had a magic wand?

Although all these question might result in ‘pie in the sky’ ideas nine times out of 10 you’ll end up with some ideas you can use in some way, and because they’ve suggested them you’ll get far more buy-in to implement them.

Where team members are taking on new tasks:

You have a fresh pair of eyes on the task so make the most if this.

What questions do they have on why they are doing the task or why is it done this way (often it’s simply because you’ve always done tings this way – which isn’t a valid reason!)

Ask them to suggest how they could approach it.

Can they suggest better ways of doing things?

When it’s your own department it’s easy to become protective, oblivious to some of the challenges or frustrations others may encounter. So it’s really important that team members don’t feel intimidated if they suggest improvements.

Prevention is better than cure

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.

Have a system in place for spotting problems and for regular maintenance, whether this is done in house or with a contractor. Encourage team members to report problems promptly when the equipment isn’t performing 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.

Listen to what they have to say

Unless followed though promptly they 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

The longer you live with something the more you become accustomed to it being that way, and the longer it will take for people to adjust to the new way.

Make allowance for this, and test and measure to check the ‘new’ way is working.

Culture for continuous improvement

Keeping on top of these issues is as much down to your culture as it is about the systems.

A culture where it’s OK to speak up if you think something isn’t up to standard.

Where people won’t take offence if someone suggests a better way of doing something.

Where it’s accepted that mistakes happen, the important thing is to learn from it and prevent it happening again.

Take action

If you only do one thing

Spotting problems and making continuous improvement comes from incremental changes. Identify one small change you could make today that will save time, help a customer or reduce effort in the long run.

Related articles: When you stop noticing the cracks 

LinkedIn article: Making continuous improvements


Creating Habits

creating habits

Creating habits takes time… and sometimes a little patience!

Last week I wrote about setting expectations of your team as they start to return to work. Some of this will inevitably mean people taking on different responsibilities or new ways of working.

Once you’ve set your expectations you’ll want to ensure it’s not just a one off, but to create new and lasting habits. 

If you want your child to clean their teeth twice a day you wouldn’t ask them to do it once then forget about it on the assumption they’d continue to do so every day!

You’d follow up, check on progress and keep doing so until you were confident it had become a habit.

Maybe your team don’t need quite as much cajoling as a child does to clean their teeth.

But…

How do you create new and lasting habits?

Here are some things to consider in creating habits and new ways of working within your team:

1. Practice makes perfect

Build confidence gradually; you can’t expect someone to be introduced to something on Friday afternoon and perform it perfectly for the first time on Monday morning, when you’re not even there to offer support. Introduce new areas of responsibility gradually so people have an opportunity to refine and perfect as they go as well as building confidence (theirs and yours) in their ability.

2. Nip it in the bud

Practice does make perfect, but only if done correctly. If people begin by doing the task incorrectly you will be creating habits – but not the ones you want! Don’t give an opportunity for people to establish poor habits, by picking up on these early on.

If the task is something new, it may take a while for people to get the hang of it and if they find a way that feels more natural for them and still gets the same result then that’s fine. But, if there is a best way, and they are struggling with adapting their approach step in and give them guidance before they embed any bad habits.

If it’s an existing task but a new approach, when people have been used to one way of working and now you want it done differently it can feel uncomfortable. When things don’t work perfectly first time, human nature leads us to take the path of least resistance i.e. it’s all too easy to go back the old comfortable way of doing things.

3. Prepare for the unexpected

As well as giving the obvious how to training, equip people to anticipate and deal with the unexpected. There will always be things that don’t go according to plan. The last thing you want the first time it doesn’t go according to the text book is for them to panic!

So let them know what can go wrong and how to handle such situations so that they’ll be confident to deal with them smoothly.

4. Ownership

The sooner you can give individual team members ownership over particular tasks the quicker they’ll develop a sense of pride and ownership. Trust your team to make decisions to do what’s best in a given situation; if they truly understand the objectives of the task it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to work out the best way to achieve it.

5. Breaking old habits

If people have been in the habit of coming to you for answers and now you want them to stand on their own two feet. If they’ve been used to you (or your predecessor) making decisions and maintaining control it may seem uncomfortable to have things passed to them.  Back off gradually, rather than just throwing them in at the deep end. This gives both you and them peace of mind.

You’ll still get asked for guidance and for decisions so when this happens, rather than giving in, bounce it back to them and ask for their views. It may feel uncomfortable to begin with, but you’ll both soon get used to it.

6. Systems

Establish systems and your way of doing things, so there’s consistency irrespective of who carries out that task. This doesn’t mean you don’t allow some creativity and flexibility amongst the team, but just having simple checklists can make the world of difference so nothing gets missed or forgotten that can impact others’ experience.

If you only do one thing in creating habits

Be patient. If you don’t allow time to embed the new habit it will be all too easy to go back to their old way of doing things and you’re back to square one!

Related posts and videos

Old habits die hard

Creating conscious incompetence


 


Setting Expectations

When your team start returning to work you’ll need to be setting expectations. The chances are some of the responsibilities and priorities will change. Determine what needs doing, who is best placed to do it and then set your expectations.

This is something we discussed on last week’s Lessons in Leadership programme and here is my 7 step guide to help you ensure nothing gets missed or taken for granted.

It’s easy to assume people know what to do. But I'm sure you will have had that frustration of discovering after a task should have been completed that it's not been done to your satisfaction, or simply not been done at all.

A little time spent up front will avoid this. 

Setting expectations might not need much time at each of these stages, but at least consider them before leaving team members just to get on with the task how they see fit.

1. What tasks ~ Make a shopping list everything that needs doing:

  • What new practices and procedures are in place
  • What new or amended offerings or service are you now providing that require new ways of working
  • What tasks normally performed by people who are still on furlough need to be covered by someone else
  • Which task which would have been routine pre lockdown are no longer a priority

2. Who ~ Select the best person for the task

  • Not necessarily the one with the best skills or the most time. There may be good reason for allocating some tasks to a less than perfect candidate to develop their skills in areas where they are weak
  • Often what people lack in experience and skill, they may more than make up for in potential and motivation

3. Why

  • Set a clear and simple objective for the task. It should build confidence, develop and stretch, not break the person or be considered an ‘offload’
  • Discuss the assignment and, importantly, how the task fits into the big picture, why it’s important for the business
  • Explain why you’ve chosen the person for the task

4. How

  • Check for understanding and ask for ideas
  • Provide guidance - not ‘how to’ do the task - but all the necessary facts, possible approaches, expected results

5. Where and when

  • Make a ‘contract’ establishing resources available, how often you will follow-up, how performance will be measured
  • Establish controls - budget, deadline, when and how any review will take place

6. Let them get on with it

  • Allocate, then trust them to get on with it. Make yourself available, particularly at critical times, but let them decide whether, and whenever, they need your help and guidance
  • Let everyone know who is responsible for what tasks so there is no stepping on toes, or tasks that fall through the cracks

7. Evaluate and feedback

  • Encourage self-evaluation – they’ll normally be able to work out for themselves how they’ve done
  • Concentrate on:
  • What worked well (giving praise for a job done well)
  • What they’d do differently (identify lessons learned not only for the person but for yourself too!)

We also discussed the longer term goal, but more on that next week.

Take action on setting expectations

If you only do one thing: make a plan of who is best suited to which task.

Related article:  https://www.naturallyloyal.com/old-habits/

Related video: https://youtu.be/546C4nilsxc



Stop the Spinning Plates

 

I guess like many people I’ve been spending some of my lockdown time sifting through old clutter that I no longer need.

Whilst sorting through some old files I came across an exercise I used to use with my leadership coaching clients called “Stop the Spinning plates”

Everything that is incomplete drains our energy. Like keeping plates in the air; all incomplete things provide an opportunity for procrastination, for sending us off on a tangent with displacement activities.

They allow the important things to get lost in the clutter, both literally and metaphorically.

On the basis that now might be the perfect time to get rid of the clutter, so none of these end up as” spinning plates” once our working day gets back to some semblance of normality I thought I’d share the list with you.

The list does start with the obvious, but as you work through I believe you’ll come across a few that have been creating some clutter.

Ticking just a few of these off your list can be quite liberating.

Make a commitment to when you will complete each of these actions.

  1. Make a list of all the things you have to do – a to do list – and refer to it daily.
  2. Get an appointment calendar.  Put all your appointments in it. Refer to it daily.  Plan your time.  Stick to it.
  3. Clean up your house.
  4. Clean up your office.
  5. Throw away everything you don’t use, haven’t used in the last 6 months, or which is outdated.
  6. Organise your papers, file or throw away any unused papers.
  7. Clear out your filing cabinets.  Throw away unused materials.
  8. Clear the top of your desk.  Throw away unused materials and unneeded papers.  File all papers you don’t throw away.
  9. Get all financial statements up to date, including tax returns.
  10. Pay any outstanding bills or make arrangements &/or agreements as to when you will pay them.  Keep those agreements
  11. Make a list of everyone who owes you money, or has borrowed things.  Write or call and ask for the money or borrowed items, and make an agreement as to when you will have it back.  Follow this up.  Alternatively cross the person off the list and decide it is complete.
  12. Make a list of all the things that you have started but not completed. Either diarise when you will complete these (with a time) or make a conscious decision not to do it and take it off your list.
  13. Make a list of all the things you have wanted to do for some time, but have just not got round to doing.  Either diarise when you will complete these (with a time) or make a conscious decision not to do it and take it off your list.
  14. Make a list of all the agreements you have made.  Fulfil past agreements. Renegotiate and make new agreements with any you can’t fulfil.
  15. Take total responsibility for your business.  Do only what you can, delegate the rest.  Agree only what you know you can fulfil.  Never commit to more than you know you can do.
  16. Clean your car, inside and out.  Get it serviced.
  17. Start to take care of your physical body – eat well, exercise well, sleep well, etc

If you only do one thing: Pick just one item off this list and do it today!



Team Communication

team communication

 

Ask any company for the number one thing their employees complain about, or a group of employees for the biggest frustrations with their employer, and a lack of communication will invariably be high on the list.

If you were on the Hospitality Revival Summit last week there were a number of recurring themes. One of these was the importance an engaged team to ensure that when your customers do return they get a fantastic customer experience.

Team communication is a key part of this, and I’ll come back to that in a moment…

With the importance of an engaged team in mind, I am re-running my successful “Lessons in Leadership” programme. This 5 hour programme is delivered over 5 days and we start next Monday 15th June.

If you feel you could benefit from a brush up on your man-management and leadership skills before your team return to work, this is perfect for you and any of your management team who might also welcome the opportunity.

When I ran this in April I had a fabulous response, from junior managers and experienced managers alike. If you missed it then, here’s your chance to catch it this time around.

There’s a nominal registration fee of just £27 per person just to cover my costs, but hoping it still makes it accessible and easy for any managers or aspiring managers who want to invest in their own development, even if the business can’t for whatever reason.

More details on Lessons in Leadership and registration is here: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/resources/lessons-in-leadership-webinars-3/

Communication will be one of the things we discuss next week, but in the interim here are some considerations, bearing in mind that now more than ever, it is critical.

When team members are on furlough or working from home it’s all too easy to feel isolated. Some may be enjoying their time at home – more time with the family, or pursuing their hobbies and not looking forward to returning to work. Some will be bored, stressed from home schooling or being confined, and eager to return.

Here are 3 types of communication to ensure your team stay connected.

1. Broadcast

One way broadcasts to the whole team or your department, to keep everyone in the picture. If not daily, aim to do these at least once a week, ideally at the same time so people know when to expect them.

What are your plans for opening, updates on government guidelines that affect your business, what measures you are taking to keep them safe as and when they return.

2. 1:1

It’s so important you set aside time to speak to people in your team individually. Show you care by listening to how they are felling and to answer their questions. Time to reflection whilst off work might mean their priorities and what’s important to them may have changed.

Answer their questions about returning to work. If they are likely to be one of the last to return it’s even more important that they feel included.

The format you use for these should be based on what feels most comfortable for them; not everyone is happy to be on camera for a Zoom call.

3. Community

Help maintain the team spirit and sense of community. Share ideas for opening, encourage team members to offer support to one another.

If it fits with your culture, organise some fun activities too. A quiz, cooking demos, sharing or showing off some of their new-found hobbies or skills.

related video: Show you are listening



The Emotional Bank Account

emotional bank account

In my Fresh Start training last week, we discussed the Emotional Bank Account.

An emotional bank account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that has been built up in a relationship.  It’s the feeling of assurance you have with another person.

As Stephen R Covey describes in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, when you make enough deposits through kindness, courtesy, honesty and keeping commitments, you make deposits in your Emotional Bank Account, and build up a reserve.

When you have made enough deposits and others have established enough trust in you, you can call upon that trust if you need to.

So if and when you things go wrong, or you end up letting someone down – be that a team member, customer or friend – you have a sufficient balance that any withdrawal doesn’t take you ‘over drawn’.

However, if you are unkind, disrespectful, uncaring and mean, you draw from this account.

When the trust is high, communication is easier, quicker and more effective.

If you make enough deposits with others through courtesy, kindness, honesty and keeping your commitments to them, you build up a reserve.

This means that on the odd occasion when things go wrong, or you end up letting someone down – be that a team member, customer or friend – you have a sufficient balance that any withdrawal doesn’t take you ‘over drawn’.

Because others have established enough trust in you, you can call upon that trust if you need to.

When you are kind, honest, caring and friendly to another person, you make deposits on an Emotional Bank Account. However, if you are unkind, disrespectful, uncaring and mean, you draw from this account.

When the trust is high, communication is easy, instant and effective.

During the Lockdown, if you do nothing it won’t take long to withdraw everything. Your team are no doubt having mixed emotions at the moment: confused, anxious, uncertain, bored, lonely, stressed.

If they are on furlough or working from home, now might be the time when people most need you to make some deposits.

There are six major deposits we can make to the emotional bank account, and how these are relevant right now:

Understanding the individual

One person’s mission is another person’s minutia.  To make a deposit, what is important to another person must be as important to you as the other person is to you.

Recognise that people’s priorities may be a little different right now, so keeping in contact with your team, answering their questions and listening to their concerns is critical right now.

Attending to the seemingly insignificant

Kindnesses and courtesies are so important.  Forms of disrespect make large withdrawals.  In relationships, the things that can seem insignificant to you can count for others.

So, for example if they are on furlough and only getting 80% of their normal pay, that 20% shortfall could make the difference between just getting by, and really struggling to pay the rent or feed the family.

Keeping commitments

Keeping a commitment is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal.  In fact there’s probably no larger withdrawal than to make a promise that’s important to someone and then not keep that promise. 

If you’ve promised an update by a certain date, make sure you deliver this, even if it’s to say no news.

Clarifying expectations

The cause of many relationship difficulties is often rooted in conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.  Unclear expectations will lead to misunderstanding, disappointment and withdrawals of trust.  Many expectations are implicit and the deposit is to make the expectations clear and explicit in the first place.

This takes a real investment of time and effort up front, but saves great amounts of time and effort in the long run.  When expectations are not clear and shared, simple misunderstandings become compounded, turning into personality clashes and communication breakdowns.   It does, however, take courage.

Showing personal integrity

Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create high trust accounts.  It goes beyond honesty.  Integrity is conforming to the reality of our words – keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.  One way of manifesting integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present.

Confidentiality about others in your team is paramount.

Apologising sincerely when you make a withdrawal

Great deposits come in the sincere words – “I was wrong”, “I showed you no respect”, “I’m sorry”.  It takes a great deal of character strength to apologise.  A person must have a deep sense of security to genuinely apologise.  It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another not to admit it.

Last week we discussed the emotional bank account in the context of establishing trust with your team. However, it is just as relevant in building trust with customers, suppliers or third parties.

Action point

If you only do one thing this week:

Review the 6 types of deposits and identify just one whereby doing more of it (with either your customers or your team) could make a major impact in your emotional bank account.

Related post: How to earn trust

Related video: Do your customers and team feel trusted



Celebrate

Celebrate

You may not feel there is much to celebrate right now if your business is closed. But I believe we can all find small mercies to be grateful for, whether it’s the fine weather we’ve had during most of the lockdown, the convenience of modern technology to keep in touch, or simply having some downtime to spend with the family.

Yesterday I was celebrating with hubby; our 35th wedding anniversary; my brother was 70 on Saturday, and another friend was due to celebrate moving to her new home with a house warming party but had to settle for an online quiz with friends and family. Just because we couldn’t get together didn’t mean we didn’t want to do something to mark the occasions.

I’ve talked in previous emails about the importance of keeping in touch with both customers and team alike, to let them know you’re still thinking of them and care about them during the lockdown.

Marking a special occasion is a perfect way to engage with both customers and team members. Recognising a personal milestone, proud moment or a significant event shows you care.

What can we celebrate?

Thinking beyond birthdays and wedding anniversaries, what else can we celebrate…

The anniversary of….

  • the date each of your team members joined your business
  • the start of your business
  • the start of your customer/client’s business
  • a customer becoming a customer

Proud moments

Although there won’t be many things happening in gaining qualifications or awards there will still be plenty happening in the lives or your team members and customers to warrant celebration

  • The birth of a child or grandchild
  • A significant contribution to charity (it may not be in the same leagues as Captain Tom’s incredible achievement, but any charitable achievements are worthy of acknowledgement)
  • Learning a new skill
  • First anniversaries – look back at the events you help this time last year. What first anniversaries are coming up?

Lastly don’t forget all those postponed events – many of which would have been to celebrate a special occasion. Even if people can’t celebrate with you, the date should still be marked and celebrated in some way.

Celebrations don’t need to be lavish. What’s more important is that they are sincere and relevant to those you are congratulating.

Recognise that some people love the limelight, others hate it. Sometimes a quiet “congratulations and well done” is all that’s needed and will have more impact than any razzmatazz announcement.

And make a note to follow up with something appropriate for when the lockdown is over.

In the meantime, raise that imaginary glass of champagne and drink a toast.

Related Articles:

Lessons in Loyalty  https://www.naturallyloyal.com/2015/05/

Recognising your team (video)


Personal Development ~ the perfect opportunity

personal development

Personal development planning

There are only so many hours you can spend binge watching on Netflix or catching up on your favourite soap.

With many now having time on their hands it’s a fantastic opportunity for personal development; something which often takes a back seat in the day to day hubbub of the business.

With team members on furlough, it’s a good opportunity to keep their minds active as well as the chance to up-skill to make them better in their existing role, or develop new skills or expertise to fulfil their longer-term aspirations.

Don’t rule out team members who have be laid off; supporting them in their personal development can help in the quest for a new job. By showing your interest in them is a good boost for their morale, as well as how they perceive you as an employer.

Here are 4 considerations for drawing up personal development plans for existing or future roles.

1. Know what you want to achieve

When identifying personal development needs, ascertain yours and their expectations, what you each want to improve, and how will you know when it’s been achieved.

What’s missing

If there was one skill or one piece of knowledge that they feel would help them in their role (or roles they may be applying for) what would that be? How would that help?

Identify and build on strengths

Utilise individuals’ known strengths to capitalise on them, and stretch them.  It’s all too easy to focus solely on the gaps, but we need to tap into people’s talents too, and build on these so they can excel in some areas rather than being mediocre in everything!

Looking to the future

If discussing development for future roles, find out what’s important to them. Don’t try and second guess this, or make an assumption of their aspirations – ask them!

  • What motivates them in work? What’s important to them outside work?
  • What career path do they have in mind? What are the things that they value and are not prepared to give up?
  • What do they enjoy?  The chances are things they enjoy they’ll put more effort into.

Do a sense check that what you or they have in mind is a good fit.

The skill will matrix is a useful tool which you may want to complete first before undertaking the other activities. Or watch the video here

Their expectations and perception

If you are discussing the possibility of development into other roles ask them for their perception of the role by asking these or similar questions.

  • What do they consider to be the key areas of performance against which they’d be measuring their success?
  • What will they hear, see and feel when they are performing this role?
  • How soon do they expect to be able to get to this level?
  • What do they need to happen between now and then? (This is a good question to open up the discussion on development and support needed).

2. Plan personal development activities

Formal training is obviously not an option right now, and even when it is, it can be expensive, time consuming and present logistical challenges, particularly with complicated shift patterns.

Normally I’d recommend using everyday activities as opportunities for learning and development, and suggest a combination of different activities, which will be more effective than a one off ‘training session’ as it gives an opportunity to reinforce learning and maybe take in different perspectives.

However, if people are working from home, furloughed or laid off, what are the options?

There is so much information available online it would be easy to spend every minute of every day searching, reading and viewing this.

Go back to your objectives. What do you/your team member want to achieve and learn?

Review the objectives and content of online programmes and sessions and only sign up for those that are relevant.

3. Scheduling personal development activities

Don’t feel compelled to attend every session; if following a whole programme, there’s no shame in missing an individual session if it’s not of interest or relevant to your/their development.

Conversely, maintain momentum.

Stick with one or two options on each topic. Too many can lead to conflicting messages which can lead to confusion as well as overload.

4. Monitor progress

At the end of each session encourage participants to review their learning. Ask, “what’s the most useful thing they learnt”, or “what one thing will you put into action?”

This serves three purposes:

  • it encourages the participant to review and they are far more likely to remember and implement an idea they have repeated back
  • it gives you some feedback on their learning
  • it provides an opportunity to discuss how they will apply or implement this at a future date

If you only do one thing towards personal development

Talk to your team about the opportunities for personal development and suggest they each find one thing they’d like to learn or focus on whilst they have the time now, but that would help them in their role when we are back to normal.

Today’s top tip

Even if your business is temporarily closed, keep up your scheduled 1:1 time with each of your team, so they stay connected and have the opportunity to ask for help or support when needed without feeling awkward. Even if it is beyond the scope as your role as their employer, it’s good to know they have your moral support.


Care for your team

care for your team

How you respond and what you do now in these uncertain times will certainly be remembered in years to come, by your team, your customers and your community, and in turn will have an impact on how quickly your businesses recovers once the lockdown is over.

Last week I talked about keeping in touch with your customers. This week my focus is on how you care for your team, who quite understandably will be concerned for their safety, their income and the future of their jobs.

Before the lockdown we were concerned about attracting and retaining talent. Now we have the opposite; what to do with the talent we have. But one thing is for certain, this situation won’t last forever and unless you look after them now and show you care for your team now you’ll likely be back to the search for talent once this is all over.

Here are 5 ideas to show you care about your team and have their best interests at heart throughout the crisis.

I’m sure they’re doing most of these already, but this will act as a reminder.

And let me know what else you are doing to care for your team.

Personal safety

Keeping your front-line team members safe is the priority. If you still have team members travelling into work or having contact with customers, do they have all the necessary precautionary measures:

  • Give a choice as to whether they work or not
  • Have a means of getting to work without having to use crowded public transport
  • Have procedures in place to avoid direct contact with others
  • Have access to appropriate PPE

Resources

If your team members are working from home, ensure they have what they need to do the best job possible:

  • Access to information e.g. via your shared folders, Google docs, or whatever you use internally
  • The right equipment; an iPad might be great for small tasks, but has limitations, particularly older models.
  • A reliable IT connection (which can vary at different times of day, depending on demand)
  • Access to reliable, knowledgeable and helpful IT support; you don’t want them wasting time searching YouTube for answers to simple problems

Be flexible

Yes, there may have to be systems and processes in place for some activities, but new ways of working need new ‘rules’:

  • What flexibility do they have around the hours they work to fit in with others at home – partners, children or other dependents.
  • Play to people’s strengths and demonstrate your trust by delegating control and ownership, which creates a sense of pride

Stay connected

Whether working at home or in the business, ensure you keep your team connected – both to you, and each other.

  • Maintain a routine for daily check-ins, when everyone knows they can connect with everyone else (Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams* will allow you to do this). Stick to a schedule or same time each day, so everyone can plan
  • Be open, honest and factual. Focus on what you can do for them rather than dwelling on what you can’t do
  • Keep them informed of any of the Government advice that is relevant to them and/or the business as a whole
  • Offer emotional support
  • Keep the team spirit alive, and share some fun and positive achievements, stories or anecdotes

Show you care

Even when social distancing or working remotely all the normal rules of care apply, if not, even more so:

  • Don’t forget your normal common courtesies; a simple sunny and cheerful good morning, saying please and thank you, is just as important as at any other time.
  • Listen and observe. Keep your ears and eyes open to recognise when things aren’t as they should be, and spot concerns quickly. Left to fester these can snowball into bigger problems
  • Be approachable; not everyone feels comfortable raising concerns or questions, so be observant and look/listen for the signs of cries for help, so you don’t leave people feeling abandoned
  • Continue to invest in people’s personal development; in most cases they’ll have more time on their hands now (even if just a saving on travel time), so allow them the opportunity to use this time to everyone’s advantage
  • The most obvious and easiest thing you can do to show your team you care about them is to make a point of thanking them for their support and commitment during these difficult times. It’s stressful for them as well as you.

If you only do one thing:

Every offer of support counts. Let people know you’re there for them, even if the offer never gets taken up. You don’t want to be checking in on people every 5 minutes, but it’s always reassuring to know that you’re there to support them when it’s needed – whether that be work-related or a personal issue.

Remember, as Maya Angelou said “…people will never forget how you made them feel”, so make sure your team feel cared for.

Related post: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/10-ways-to-show-your-team-some-love/

YouTube: Show your team your Care

* but I’m no expert on this, so please seek professional advice if you need it.


How to Keep Your Customers Attention

How to Keep Your Customers

My heart goes out to you and your team at this difficult time.

I believe it is important we do whatever we can now to put things in place that will help us spring back into action the moment the ‘go’ light comes back on.

One of those actions is to…

Stay on your customers’ radar to keep your customers

You’ve worked so hard to find them in the past, and I’m sure you’ll want to do everything we can to keep your customers and get them back once this situation is over.

Keeping in touch is a great way to continue to maintain the relationship with your customers and keep you in their mind when the time comes for a return visit or when asked to make a recommendation.

There are so many options to stay on their radar, and what works best for you is dependent on your audience, be that social media, email or good old fashioned snail mail, which with a hand written envelope, will always get someone’s attention far more effectively than 10 emails.

Irrespective of the format, the important thing is to stay on their radar (obviously observing GDPR guidelines – check Information Commissioner’s Office website www.ico.gov.uk) .

What’s happening

Keep your customers up to date with what’s going on.

  • What services (if any) are you still offering. How can people access these? Do they need to cancel any existing bookings or orders if they can’t be fulfilled?
  • Are you taking future bookings with a guarantee of a refund if it can’t go ahead?
  • What’s happening with your team during the outbreak.
  • What are you doing to support your local community?

This isn’t an excuse for a “PLOM party” (Poor Little Old Me) – it’s to talk about the positives that are coming out of this, and to demonstrate to your customers you are still true to your values.

What have you planned for the year ahead?

Maybe you haven’t planned this far ahead yet. So, if that’s the case, ask your customers what they’d like to see.

Keep Your Customers by Adding Value

The quickest and easiest way to create an impression and get remembered by your customers is to send a thank you note to show you appreciate their custom and loyalty in the past, and show you care and are thinking about them.

But, what can you do to educate your customers, whilst building credibility and adding value?

Could you share your knowledge or expertise by giving online classes (or at the very least share ideas via your mailing list or social media) to engage with your customers? With modern technology it’s easy to record and share these lessons either live or pre-recorded.

For example…

  • Ask your head chef to provide a recipe of the week, tips on baking the perfect meringue or crusty bread, a buyers’ guide to choosing fresh fish, easy recipe ideas based on what is in season right now, or anything related to what would normally be on the menu right now.
    .
  • If you are a park or garden, ask your gardening team to share seasonal tips. Or tips from the kitchen garden.
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  • For golf courses, share tips on the latest equipment, or techniques to hone their swing.
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  • From the spa, ask your spa team to share information on relaxation techniques (much needed right now!), aromatherapy remedies, tips for the perfect pedicure, skin care regimes, etc, whilst they can’t get these done for them.
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  • Ask housekeeping for tips on stain removal, cleaning household items such as glass, leather, silk etc. so people can make use of their time stuck at home.
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  • If you are a wedding venue ask any of your joint venture partners or preferred suppliers such as florist, photographer, limousines, suit hire for their top tips. Couples will still be getting married even if the event is postponed.
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  • If your target market are families with young children, share 10 ideas to keep the kids entertained whilst they are stuck at home.
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  • Create a prize draws or competition, with relevant prizes from your own products or services for when you are back to normal.

Get ready for the green light

When we get the first signs things look like getting back to normal, build a sense of anticipation with your customers. What have you planned?

Rebuild the relationship and get your customers excited about the prospect of a visit.

Create a sense of intrigue and curiosity; tell them about your plans, changes you’re making, what’s new (e.g. your new menu, new toiletries, changes to products or services). You then have a reason to invite them back or make an offer.

Send an exclusive invitation to something you’ve got planned that you know they’d love. Start a priority waiting list, so they can jump the queue. Pique their interest with teaser campaigns. Offer incentives for early booking to get the cash flowing again.

Offer your help in booking complementary services – restaurants, (yours or JV partners’), entertainment, outings, taxis, accommodation, attractions. etc. Anything that will make their stay or visit with you easy and ultimately more memorable.

No one wants to be bombarded with sell, sell, sell messages, so strike a balance between letting them know what you’re doing with enough juice to capture their interest without being too salesy.

If you want to keep your customers, don’t leave a return visit (or referral) to chance. Ensure you’re keeping yourself in your customers’ minds; keep in touch.

So when all this is over, you’re the first place people think of to get them out of the house! And keep your customers sane…

Related post “Building a Mailing List