Author Archives: Caroline Cooper

How far you’ve come

Following on from last week’s email about my biking misadventures; I’d like to share with you today another idea I’ve been reminded of on my road to recovery.

It would be all too easy to put all my focus on all the things I can’t yet do: cook a meal, wear anything with sleeves or simply cut up my food unaided! Let alone drive, ride my bike or dig my garden.

Thinking this way only gets me frustrated.

Instead I focus on how far I’ve come… Getting dressed unaided, opening jars, I even managed to hang out washing and a spot of one-handed ironing the other day!

Of course, I still have goals of what I want to achieve and by when (I’m absolutely determined to get back on my bike again before the summer is out!), but by focusing on those small incremental improvements I’m seeing every day just helps to keep everything in perspective.

So how is this relevant to employee engagement or customer service?

I believe this focus on how far you’ve come is relevant in many ways, but here are just three:

Performance Improvements

When an employee is under-performing its certainly important to identify the gap between the standard you want and where that person is performing now.

But as they make improvements it’s far more encouraging and motivational  to focus on how far they’ve come and improvements that they’ve made rather than focusing solely on the remaining gap.

Which, of course, means the sooner they’re likely to close that gap.

Developing Team Members

When any of your team members are learning a new skill or a new process and it doesn’t work immediately it’s easy for them to get despondent and disheartened, whether this is something that is going to take them a day to master, or a year.

By reviewing how far they’ve come, what they’ve learnt and the little incremental improvements they’ve made it can help keep them engaged as well as learning from the feedback on what’s working and what’s not working.

Personal Progress

The same principles can apply in our own personal growth. It could be all too easy to focus on what we have not achieved, rather than thinking just how far we’ve come.

Action point

So if you only do one thing, as we near the end of the week look back and identify at least one area in which you or one of your team members has made progress this week… And give yourself or them a pat on the back!


Stuff happens

Every so often life throws at you something totally unexpected. Just under 2 weeks ago on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning I came off my bike. This resulted in 2 open fractures to my lower arm, over 3 hours in surgery and 5 days in hospital. Hence no e-zine from me last week.

I’m not telling you this to get your sympathy (… Well, okay, a little bit would be nice!). But those five uncomfortable and dreary days in hospital reminded me of a few important lessons in showing you care and helping people feel good about themselves.

I believe each of these are just as relevant in the business world in showing your team members you care about them, and ultimately improving employee engagement.

  1. Common courtesies. In the hospital 95% of the staff introduced themselves and their role, and added a polite good morning/good afternoon. There were just 2 or 3 staff members who didn’t do this, and there was a marked difference in how I felt with these people. In the business world a simple sunny smile and a cheerful good morning sets everyone up for the day. I always live by the principal of treating your team with the same care, courtesy and respect you’d like them to show customers.
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  2. 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. No more so in my case when several hours after my surgery I stopped responding. Thankfully for me my nurse picked this up instantly!
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  3. Be approachable. When points 1 and 2 above are observed this is likely to happen naturally. Not everyone feels comfortable raising concerns or questions, particularly in front of their colleagues (or fellow patients). Being open to and responsive to individual questions or cries for help means you don’t leave people struggling and floundering, and enable them to get back to the job and up to speed as quickly as possible.
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  4. Focus on what you can do rather than on what you can’t do. At one point I was in a lot of pain, but because I had reacted badly to morphine I was not allowed any more. One nurse (who incidentally never introduced herself) just frankly told me I couldn’t have a more morphine and left me at that. Whereas another nurse explained why I couldn’t have morphine but what he was going to give me instead.
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  5. Be flexible. In any organisation – be that your business or the NHS – there have to be systems and processes in place. But there are occasions when being so hellbent on the rules serves nobody.
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  6. Let people know you’re there for them. I’ve had a wealth of messages, phone calls, cards and visitors all offering their sympathies, support if needed and wishes for a speedy recovery. Every one of these has made me feel good; even if I don’t ever call on any of these people for their support, it’s so reassuring to know it’s there if I need it. In the business world you don’t want to be checking in on people every 5 minutes, but it’s always reassuring for anyone in your team to know that you’re there support them when it’s needed – whether that be work-related or maybe some personal issue that could be on their mind.

If you only do one thing, just take one action today to show your team members that you care for them and you’re there for them if they need you.

If you’d like more ideas on how to show your team you care about them, so they care for your customers and your business there 131 tips here



Attitude over Aptitude

I’ve had conversations with 3 different businesses this week about staff recruitment and getting the right people on-board. 

Getting your recruitment wrong can be costly, not just from the additional expense of recruiting, but all the knock-on impact that can have on staff morale, extra workload for fellow team members and disruption for your customers.

What I see many businesses doing is recruiting solely on qualifications and experience, but when it comes to under-performance that very often comes down to attitude.

In other words, they recruit on aptitude, but fire on attitude.

So, in this week’s blog post here are 3 considerations to help you recruit on attitude rather than aptitude.

  1. Test for a service mentality at recruitment. When your service standards are clearly defined it’s easier to identify the essential attributes you’re looking for in your ideal candidates. You can develop skills by training, but it’s more difficult to change people’s attitudes.
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    Think about your star performers. What are the characteristics that make them stand out? Then look for these traits when recruiting.
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    These can be a little more tricky to identify so ask for examples of situations they have been in that demonstrate these traits.
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    Test their perception of what makes good service and why it’s important. You don’t want to spend your time having to spell this out.
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  2. Create a business were people love to work, and are happy to be advocates and ambassadors for your business. Even when they move on.
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    This way when you come to recruit you’ll be able to do so wisely and have a steady stream of people – who share your ethos – queueing up, rather than your business being a last resort for those desperate for any job they can get!
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  3. Extend the same criteria to third party providers. Your suppliers could be your customers’ very first impression (such as a security guard at your site, a receptionist at your serviced offices or your call answering service) or very last impression (e.g. your delivery company).
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    The two most critical touch points on your customer’s journey. Don’t leave these to chance with your suppliers.

Action point

If you just do one thing, make a list of the traits that make your star team members stand out and put these to the top of your list of prerequisites when recruiting.



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 (as described by Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) .  It’s the feeling of assurance you have with another person.

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.

There are six major deposits we can make to the emotional bank account:

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.



In the real world

In the real world

In all my years as a trainer the #1 mistake I see businesses making with their staff training is not doing enough to make an easy transition from theory to the real world.

What takes place in the safety, and often false environment, of the training room can be very different from what happens in the big bad real world. Particularly so with any skills training which needs practice to perfect, and time to form new habits.

This can mean, not only a poor return on investment, but can also have a negative and demotivating impact on the employee.

Here are 17 ideas to make the transition easy and gain a greater ROI on training:

  1. Avoid people leaving the training session asking “what was all that about then?” Make the link to their role before the training even begins, by discussing how the training is relevant to their job.
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  2. Check understanding of key points, and ask for ideas on how they are going to implement what they have learnt.
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  3. Help the team identify situations where they can put their learning into practice as quickly as possible, preferably within hours, or at least the next day or two, and get their commitment to one or two specific actions.
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  4. Make it clear what you want to happen long term as a result of the training, and get your team’s commitment to some specific actions – with timescales and allow them time to talk through how they’re going to achieve them.
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  5. Allow a free and open dialogue to flush out anything that might be standing in the way of that, or any concerns they have which will make it difficult or even impossible for them to implement any aspects of the training.
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  6. Check they have the necessary resources, time, authority, peer support and opportunity to put it into practice. If not, ensure you get these in place before the momentum is lost.
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  7. Look for signs of uncertainly: lack of confidence or a concern they might make mistakes, unclear on which actions are their job opposed to anyone else’s, not sure how this fits in with existing processes or ways of working, etc.
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  8. Be available for individuals to ask questions on a one to one basis after training; not everyone feels comfortable raising queries in front of colleagues, and some may need a while to reflect on what’s been covered.
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  9. Schedule time for people to practise and time for you or their line manager to check how they are doing. Or assign a mentor, coach or buddy to help overcome the initial barriers to perfecting their new skill.
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  10. Provide back-up resources such as prompt cards, diagrams or checklists.
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  11. Don’t expect perfection straight away. People need time to practise and find their own way of doing things, and not be afraid to make the odd mistake so long as they learn from it.
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  12. Everything takes longer when it’s new and you’re still learning a little from trial and error. Confidence can be low as you get to grips with it all.
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  13. Don’t let potential barriers become an excuse for not putting things into practice. Follow up promptly; the longer problems are left unresolved, the less the likelihood of anyone getting to the point it becomes habit.
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  14. Observe how they handle specific situations e.g. following customer service training observe conversations with customers and give feedback afterwards: what they’re doing well, what they could do more of, and give the appropriate coaching, support and guidance on areas where they need more help.
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  15. Reinforce messages by building exercises and activities into your daily and weekly calendar, etc., as part of team briefings or meetings, 1:1 reviews and ongoing feedback.
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  16. Recognise the role line managers have in the follow up to training. What’s working well, what fresh perspectives have they brought, what needs more practice?
  17. If the training isn’t being implemented identify what’s getting in the way now, not wait until they’ve been struggling and given up hope. When something doesn’t work right first time around it’s all too easy for them to go back to their old and familiar ways.

Get people practising their new skills, systems or ways of working every day and you’ll quickly see them build confidence, develop competence and it will soon become habit.



Ebbinghaus’ Curve of Forgetting

Ebbinghaus Effect

In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus a German doctor of philosophy published “Ebbinghaus’ Curve of Forgetting” showing that a given piece of learning is forgotten by more than half its audience within one hour.  The share of the audience that retains the message is reduced approximately 30% after one day, and to just 25% after only two days.

Which means potentially most training can be a complete waste of your time and effort.

Not a good investment of your training budget!

When you’re investing in training you want people to remember the messages; not just tomorrow, but next week, next month or even next year.

If you want your team to remember the messages it starts with engaging them in the training. And engaging them in the training starts with making the training engaging!

Here are 10 ideas to help make this happen…

  1. Keep things light hearted – it might be a serious subject, but the messages will stick far better if the team are happy and relaxed. Reinforce messages with quizzes and games to add an element of competition and fun.
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  2. Stop thinking about training purely as a classroom activity; get creative with your training. Recognise people’s different learning styles and vary the ways you communicate with your team to appeal to different preferences. Ask the team what training they think they need and how they’d like to learn it.
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  3. Use everyday activities as opportunities for development. Use team meetings to direct focus and reinforce messages. Assign tasks or projects on real business issues to develop team members.
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  4. Get everyone’s involvement. No one wants to sit through a ‘chalk and talk’ lecture. Use team exercises to encourage interaction, get opinions, and generate ideas so everyone benefits from each other’s insights and suggestions.
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  5. Add in fun energiser activities and ‘right brain’ exercises. These might seem trivial, but getting your team involved keeps them energised and in a better state of mind for learning.
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  6. Make full use of the senses. Use props and live examples that people can touch, smell and even taste if appropriate.
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  7. Add variety. Do something different to what people are used to, to make learning interesting or memorable, so everyone remembers the messages.
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  8. Take people away from their normal environment (as long as this doesn’t make them uncomfortable or become a distraction); go outside, use music; alter the layout, introduce unusual props; use interesting presenters or even actors (great for any interpersonal skills training).
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  9. Use role plays. Despite people’s reluctance they are a great way for people to practise what to say and how in a safe setting. So it’s easier when it comes to putting it into practice in the real world. Make these less intimidating by running in small groups with colleagues acting as an observer to give feedback.
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  10. Keep messages simple and use memory aids and support materials so people can remind themselves of the key messages when needed.

Of course, you still need to ensure people understand the relevance of what you are training and follow up afterwards to help them put it into practice and embed new habits and behaviours.

But taking one or two of these ideas will go some way to making your training memorable. And if you can build in several of these principles you’ll get people more engaged and give your training some real impact.

Action point

Review the next messages you need to cascade to your team and pick just one thing from the list above – one which you’re not already doing – and build it in to your training.



Yes, but …

Earlier this week I was conducting some complaint handling training for one of my clients.

It’s not an unusual reaction when faced with a complaint – particularly when you believe it’s unjustified, or it’s not your fault – to listen politely, but then respond with “yes, but…

Of course, as soon as the customer hears those words, they know they are likely to be contradicted.

So, here are 2 alternatives:

1. The But Flip

This is when you still use the word but, but you flip the structure of the sentence. So, instead of saying “I’d really like to help you with this, but it’s out of my control”, this becomes “It’s out of my control, but I’d really like to help you with this”.

What’s the difference? The first version ends the conversation, whilst the second version makes a natural transition into looking for a solution.

In essence, what you’re doing is telling the customer what you can’t do first, but then what you can do.

2. Yes, and…

In this instance you are replacing the word but with the word and. (Many people are tempted to use the word however, however… if you’re anything like me when I hear the word however I still know is going to be bad news!)

Yes, but is confrontational and doesn’t get you any further forward, whereas yes, and keeps the conversation positive, and shows you are listening.

Proving the point

Here’s a fun exercise you can use with your team which demonstrates the impact of yes, but and yes, and, whilst giving them an opportunity to practise the technique.

It’s based on improvisation, which means there are no scripts and participants don’t know what they’ll say until they’ve heard the other person. To be successful they have to be present, listen carefully, and contribute freely.

These skills are obviously valuable in a customer service environment, in which adaptability is crucial.

The “Yes, and…” story telling exercise can be carried out by two people or more.

One person starts with one sentence of a story, and the next person builds on that, either bouncing back and forth between two people or circling around in a larger group.

You can take the story in any direction, as long as it builds on top of the previous sentence with a “yes, and…”

It works best with a few simple rules:

  • Don’t deny or contradict
  • Don’t ask open ended questions
  • You don’t have to be funny
  • You can look good by making your partner look good
  • Tell a story

Besides the fun of seeing the story go in the strangest directions, this exercise reinforces a few crucial customer service skills.

One is listening skills. You have to build upon what was said last. Many people – particularly when under pressure – are so focused on what they want to say whilst the other person is talking, they miss half of what’s being said.

It also teaches flexibility. Instead of going against what’s been said, the aim is to build on top of it.

So, set your team a challenge to switch to the but flip or but, and



Puffed Up with Pride

Last week at the HTA Catering Conference panel discussion I was asked if I could pick just one thing for business owners and managers to focus on to improve employee engagement and staff retention what would that be.

My response: “Give people pride in what they do, by recognising and acknowledging their contribution to the business.”

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 customer service, staff retention and productivity.

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.

As well as leading by example, educate your managers and supervisors on the importance of recognition, and give them ideas, support and resources to do this.

Here are 7 ideas to get the ball rolling…

1. Common Courtesies

Treat your team with the same care, courtesy and respect as you’d like them to show to customers. Failing to give a simple please when asking for something or a thank you when it’s delivered soon gets noted, leaving people feeling unappreciated.

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

2. Demonstrate Trust

We often underestimate people’s capabilities. You’ll be surprised just how resourceful your team can be given the right direction. Give flexibility to adapt and adopt their own style.

Demonstrate your trust by delegating some control and ownership. This gives a sense of pride and a desire to get things right. When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise.

Play to people’s strengths, rather than making everyone mediocre at everything. Give them development and responsibility in areas in which they excel.

Identify staff champions for routine activities so there is always at least one person other than you keeping an eye on each aspect of the business. This is not only good for people’s development it also helps the team respect other’s roles and share the burden.

3. Recognition

Show you value their opinion. Involve your team in discussions and ask their advice particularly in areas where they have more involvement than you, e.g. many of them will spend more time with customers than you and often spot things you might miss.

Give meaningful feedback. Tell people how they are doing, what have they done well and how it contributes.

Recognise those who go beyond the call of duty or out of their way e.g. changed their domestic arrangements to stay late to finish a project, dropped their own work to help a colleague who was in need or simply gone out of their way to help out.

Whenever you get positive feedback from a customer publicise this. The sooner you do this after the event the greater the impact.

Acknowledge those who have put considerable effort into a project even if it has just fallen short of the mark. It’s the effort you’re applauding not the result.

4. Celebrate success

Recognise and celebrate successes – for the individual, for the team or the business as a whole.

Let everyone know when you’ve had a good month, brought in that special deal, or achieved an important milestone. Recognise and show your appreciation for those who have contributed to this success. This can be a great morale booster.

Acknowledge the contributions of those working on long-term projects too, and give regular updates on progress. Remember those in supporting roles too, who beaver away behind-the-scenes – including back of house staff, e.g. whoever is responsible for the cleanliness of your premises can have a massive impact on everyone.

Keep your team up to date with the bigger picture – what’s happening in your business, what else is happening in your industry, so they can be proud of your industry as a whole.

5. Going Public

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.

If you’re not the owner of the business, whenever someone does something noteworthy notify your boss (or whoever you are answerable to) and ask them to take a minute to acknowledge that person.

6. And the winner is…

Whether internal or external awards are a public way of giving recognition. Nominate your whole team or individuals for external awards. Just being nominated shows you think they are worthy of being a winner.

Create your own version of an Oscar to award each week. It doesn’t have to be the same criteria every time, just something that is noteworthy e.g. best morale booster, best ambassador for service, award to helping out a colleague, etc. Give kudos to the previous winner and allow them to choose the criteria and award it the following week.

Give public recognition via your physical or virtual noticeboard, where anyone can post a note of recognition for a colleague, so no accomplishment goes unrecognised.

7. Personal achievements

One exercise I love to do is getting people talking about an accolade or something (or someone) they’re proud of, be that in or out of work; something recent or from years back.  Just by getting them talking about these makes people feel good, as well as helping get an insight into what’s important to them.

Take time out to celebrate an achievement or special occasion. Recognise those important proud moments outside work: arrival of their first grandchild, child’s graduation, a significant contribution to a charity, a personal achievement such as passing their driving test.

Simply remembering personal milestones such as a significant birthday or wedding anniversary can make people feel valued, but even better if you do something to mark the occasion even if it’s just a simple card or cupcake.

Whatever you do to show you value your team and create proud moments, make it meaningful to the individual; not everyone is inspired by the same things, so consider what’s important to them.

Recognition is a powerful thing, so if you only do 2 things:

  1. Make a point today (and every day from now on) of doing at least one thing to show your appreciation to one or more of your team
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  2. Share this post with your managers and supervisors and ask them to identify one idea from the list they can start doing today…



Off to a Flying Start

Earlier this week I spoke at The Horticultural Trades Association Catering Conference on attracting and retaining superstars. Of the 7 key ingredients I discussed one focused on giving new team members the red carpet treatment and creating a positive first impression, so they feel valued and engaged from day one.

In last week’s blog I wrote about the steps you can take to create a sense of anticipation and excitement before new team members even start. This week I’d like to focus on their induction once they are in the job.

It’s all too easy to expect new starters to hit the ground running and throw them in at the deep end. Especially when you’ve been understaffed and are desperate for the new pair of hands.

But this can be counterproductive.

In the same way you might think about your customer experience and how you’d like customers to feel as a result of doing business with you, transfer this principle to your staff.

How would you like this new team member to be feeling at the end of their first day?

Overwhelmed and confused? Frustrated, underutilised and bored? Already questioning that this is the right job for them?

Or enthusiastic, excited, looking forward to making a real contribution to the business, and can’t wait to get into work tomorrow?

Make a plan

People can only remember so much information. Spread the induction over several weeks, and limit what they’ll be covering on the first day to a minimum as there will be a lot for them to take in.

During the induction period involve as many other team members as possible as this is a great way for your new team member to meet others, start to understand how their role fits in with everybody else’s and for them to feel part of that team.

Identify who will be involved with what so there are no overlaps or gaps. Then make sure that everyone involved knows what part they play and schedule time to devote to this. No one wants to feel as if they are an inconvenience and this will do little to make the new team member feel welcome.

Here is a checklist of things to include

Here is a checklist of things to include in your induction, and of course every site and every role is different so ensure you tailor the induction around the job they’ll be doing and where they are going to be working. Plan your inductions well in advance, and schedule what will be happening when.

WHAT TO INCLUDE

Here are some key headings, but not necessarily everything under each heading is to be covered in one go. Think about what’s essential for day one, what’s to be covered within the first week, and then space other things over the coming 3 to 4 weeks.

The lay of the land

Show people where they will be working, where they can find things, where they can leave their personal things, where they can take their breaks, where to find key information, resources, and the people they’ll be working with. Point out health and safety needs such as fire evacuation points, first aid kit and any hazardous areas.

The job itself

Although you would have discussed this at the recruitment stage now is the time to go into detail. Let people know exactly what is expected and how this will be measured, how progress will be reviewed and how their role fits in with everybody else’s.

The bigger picture

Where does their job fit into the bigger picture? What are the goals and targets of the business as a whole and how they contribute to this.

Where does their role fit in with everybody else’s? What does everybody else do? What are all the other services and facilities that you provide?

What we stand for

Think about your purpose, values and culture. What is important to you as a business and what is the type of experience you want your customers to have when they do business with you? Communicate this.   If you have won prestigious awards be proud of these and share what this means and what you need to do to sustain this level.

Customer expectations

Help new team members understand your customers’ expectations. Describe your customer profile and what they will be looking for. Why do people come to you rather you’re your competition, what makes you different or unique. Take people through the customer journey and allow them to see everything from a customer’s perspective as far as possible; not only for their own department, but all the other services your customers use, starting with your website*.

* This is a great exercise to do with all new starters. As part of their induction ask them to find certain information from your website. They learn about the business, and you can get some feedback on how user-friendly and informative your website is.

How we do things round here

How this translates into the day-to-day role might come better from a fellow employee, a sort of buddy, rather than necessarily always coming from you. However if you are going to do that, make sure that the person they are buddied up with knows the standards, knows the expectations, and knows what you want from them.

The law of the land

This is where you cover all contractual parts of their role such as work permits, absence reporting, signing their contract, how and when they get paid. Talk about holiday entitlement and how they go about booking this so there are no later disappointments as late notice holiday requests get turned down.

History and heritage

It’s nice to know a little bit about the background, heritage and key historical facts about your business, but people don’t need every little detail. Home in on what’s relevant, so if for example your building has an interesting history and your customers are interested in this, cover the key points and let them know where they can go for more information if they want to dig deeper.

One of the family

Help new starters to settle in by involving them in team activities in the workplace, and ensuring they get an invitation to any social activities. Let them know who the people are to go to for help and guidance, who are your champions or experts in different areas, who should they turn to when you’re not there.

Practice makes perfect

Don’t expect everyone to be superb in every aspect of the job straightaway. Plan on the job skills training appropriate for the role they are going to do and allow time for them to get up to speed.

Getting stuck in

For new people it can sometimes feel to them as if they are not achieving much in the early days. So consider allocating a specific project that they can get stuck into and for which they have some responsibility and ownership. This is a great way to get them involved and give them something where they can contribute early on.

Regular reviews

Schedule weekly meetings with your new starters for a minimum of the first four weeks to review progress, answer questions, and identify when help is needed. This is also a great time to get feedback from them on their ideas and observations. Often a fresh pair of eyes will highlight things we’ve missed, and they bring with them experience and insights on how to do things better.

So, for the next person you take on, don’t waste your recruitment effort & costs by poor induction.  Increase the likelihood that they will want to stay, do the job to the standard you expect, and become a loyal employee, by giving them a thorough planned induction, backed up by the right support and resources to deliver the job well.



Employee Engagement Starts Here

Nearly every business owner I know lists recruiting and retaining good staff high on their list of priorities.

Having gone to the effort and expense of finding a good fit, don’t waste this by poor induction.

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 and if they’re able to pursue their career here; is this an environment where they can feel happy and get on with their fellow team members? Employee engagement starts here.

People like (and need) to know what’s expected of them. But induction should go far deeper than simply their duties and contractual obligations.

During someone’s first few weeks is also an opportunity for you, as you have a fresh pair of eyes to review your business, to spot things that maybe we’ve become accustomed to, and to come up with new ideas.

Start the induction 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.

Create a Welcome Pack

The easiest way for you to do this is to create a standard welcoming pack. This might include:

  • A short personalised welcome letter or card from you, the owner or general manager personally signed.
  • The background to your business, your values and what’s important to you.
  • An outline of what they’ll be doing in the first week – training, briefings, range of work.
  • Map of the area with local information: banks, useful shops, a park to enjoy during their break. Go to Google Maps and print out.
  • Information about personal safety at work, plus travelling to and from the job. (Particular important for those who will be working unsociable hours) This might include information about parking and public transport, even a timetable (download and print).
  • For hospitality, leisure or retail businesses a voucher for them to come and be a customer with you so they can experience things from a customer’s perspective.
  • Vouchers from other local businesses – find those who will be happy to do a reciprocal arrangement (all good for the local community). Make them of real value, and something your staff will care about.
  • Information about social media they can connect to: the Facebook Page, Instagram account, Twitter and a private Facebook Group for staff if you have one. (And if you don’t now might be a good time to think about one!)
  • A short summary of the Staff Manual with key things they need to know.
  • Their contract of employment so they have an opportunity to read through this before day one
  • Any current topical information, such as your latest newsletter
  • An invitation to any events happening between now and when they start
  • A copy of their induction programme and their point of contact for day one
  • What to wear and what to bring on their first day

Putting all this in a smart folder with their name on it and sending it to them before they start will make them feel more welcome and they are more likely to be looking forward to the first day and getting into their job quickly.

You could also put this information online and give them the url to access it (or in a pdf you send to them), so you can embed links to access useful local information and all your social media pages.

So, once they start what needs to be covered in that induction to get them off to a flying start?

Next week I’ll share a handy checklist for creating your own induction programmes.

I’ll also be talking about this at the HTA catering conference next week, so if you happen to be there, I’ll see you then!