Category Archives: Employee Engagement

Putting Theory into Practice

parachute-brittany-gaiserIn all my years as a trainer the number 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.

Of course this means not only does the business not get a good return on their investment, it can also have a negative and demotivating impact on the employee.

The link

Making the link to their role really starts before the training even begins, by discussing with the team member how the training is relevant to the job.

But this needs to be followed through during the training itself, asking for ideas on how team members are going to implement what they have learnt. Help them identify situations where they can put their learning into practice as quickly as possible, preferably within the next day or two, and get their commitment to one or two specific actions.

Flush out any questions or concerns, or anything they know of which will make it difficult or even impossible for them to implement what they’ve learnt. 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 that momentum is lost.

These might be things you don’t want to hear, but better to know about these now (and have an opportunity to put them right) than them going away confused or negative through questions unanswered and discover two weeks on that nothing has changed!

On an individual level this might include a lack of confidence or a concern they might make mistakes. They may be unclear on which actions are their job opposed to anyone else’s. They might not even see these actions as part of their role, but somebody else’s responsibility.

Be available for individuals to ask questions on a one to one basis after any training; not everyone will feel comfortable raising their queries in front of colleagues, and some may need a while to reflect on what’s been covered.

Set some specific medium-term goals to focus people’s attention in implementing the training. It might simply be based on customer feedback, or a specific target to sell x number of a certain product or service.

Finish training by giving recognition for their participation. Create a link to further training, or how you’ll be following up in the workplace.

Making the transition

Sometimes the only way to really hone new skills and develop true competence is once applied on the job. It simply can’t always happen in the confines of the training session or without the pressures of the real world.

We shouldn’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.

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.

Unless followed though promptly, any potential barriers will simply provide an excuse for not putting things into practice. The longer problems are left unresolved, the less the likelihood of anyone getting to the point it becomes habit.

So when you plan training, schedule time for team members 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.

Observe how team members handle the conversations with customers and give them feedback after the event on 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.

Maintaining Momentum

Provide back up resources such as prompt cards or checklists. Reinforce messages by building exercises into your daily and weekly calendar, etc., as part of team briefings or meetings, 1:1 reviews and ongoing feedback.

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?

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.

It takes time to instil new habits.

If you don’t measure it how can you manage it?

As a business owner understandably you’re focused on sales and growth.employee engagement

Most business owners I work with are too. But I also see many letting money slip through their fingers unnoticed. Profits they could retain with a few simple steps.

We’ve finally woken up to the benefits of having an engaged team yet evidence still shows that 80% or more of staff are not engaged at work.

That’s shocking and frankly quite sad.

What’s more it’s costing us millions.

It’s crazy that business owners measure their financial and sales performance, yet so few measure how engaged their employees are.

And if you don’t measure it how can you manage it?

Unfortunately disengaged employees aren’t necessarily that easy to spot.

They come to work on time, they do what’s asked of them and they say yes to your requests.


These are also the people who only do the minimum expected and seldom more, they rarely go out of their way to support their colleagues, and are liable to whinge the minute your back is turned.  They’re not consciously unhappy, but nor are they enthused, excited or energised about their job.

But the worst of it is they are like a rotten apple. If we don’t spot them early they bring everyone else along with them.

Look here to see how you can measure your engagement levels right now. And stop those profits sneaking out the back door.

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Sitting on a Goldmine

Gold (1600x1066)I believe many businesses are sitting on a potential untapped goldmine.

Most managers think of team development to achieve one of two things:

  • to fix someone’s weaknesses
  • as a way of grooming somebody for promotion

Fixing faults v seeing strengths

Rather than making everyone mediocre in everything by trying to fix weaknesses, by focusing on people’s strengths we’re able to tap into opportunities to enable a person to really excel.

If you think about a football team or an athlete they work on honing their skills in the areas in which they already perform well. A football team where everyone is trained to be a striker, goalie and a midfielder is unlikely to go places. Instead the focus is put on where they are already strong so that they can excel in those positions.

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. And in most cases the tasks we’re good at we enjoy more, excite us and keep us engaged.

Stagnate v stretch

Grooming for promotion might be one intention or outcome for development, but even when we know that a team member has probably reached their peak, or we know full well they are not interested in progressing; it doesn’t mean to say we let them stagnate.

A bored employee is unlikely to shine and even less likely to wow you or your customers!

So look for opportunities to stretch team members within the current responsibilities or in areas where they’re already strong. Maybe give them responsibility for training others in that area, giving them ownership over the procedures, looking for ways to make efficiencies or refine a process or improve that task. By giving individual team members ownership over particular tasks we create a sense of pride and responsibility.  And with this comes the desire to get things right.

When they have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise. You’ll be amazed what people can achieve when their strengths are recognised and they’re given the authority and autonomy to apply them. This can take the pressure off you as this person then becomes the go to person instead of you.

Most businesses I talk to are blissfully unaware of the potential goldmine sitting right in front of them within their team.

Are you sitting on an untapped goldmine?
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But, I do that already!

One of my clients was telling me last week of her frustration when her team were reluctant to get involved in training.  “They think they know it all already” she said.

Have you ever experienced that too? I know I have.

A big barrier to training, particularly customer service training or management skills, is when an employee thinks they know it all or are already doing everything correctly already. So they see the training as a criticism.

This means they are not receptive, which is not only frustrating for you, but means in all likelihood your training is a waste of time, money and effort.

Here are some ideas to get over this…


10 ways to show your team some love

love hearts laura-ockelIf you’re like me you’ve probably already had half a dozen email declarations of love today from suppliers and those touting for your business. It happens every Valentine’s day, doesn’t it?

I wonder if these businesses put the same amount of time and attention into declaring their love for their team.

Unless your team feel valued and loved they’re not likely to share much love for your customers either.

But if you take care of and show some love for your team they’re far more likely to care for and show love to your customers.

A loved team is an engaged team.

So here are 10 ideas you can use to show your team some love so they in turn show your customers some love and give an all-round great customer experience.

Not just for today, but any day.

1. Know what’s important

Understand each of your team members and what’s important to them. Recognise there are things which may seem insignificant to you, but can mean a lot for others.

What are the things they enjoy? What are the things they’re proud of, be that in or out of work. Express an interest in what they do away from work.

Never under estimate the value sitting down in private with each of your team on a one-to-one basis. Schedule these in advance and stick to your schedule; nothing smacks more of I’m not valued than constantly cancelling these meetings.

2. Common courtesies

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

Keep your commitments; letting people down suggests a lack of respect, but if you can’t do what you say you’ll do at the very least say “I’m sorry”.

Give a simple please and thank you, a sunny smile and a cheerful “good morning”, and a “good night and have a good evening” at the end of their day or shift.

3. Pay attention

Listen to your team’s feedback, ideas and suggestions. Show them you value their opinion: ask for their advice or suggestions on matters that affect them or where they may be able to present a different perspective.

Be approachable, and listen and observe so you can act on any staff concerns before they become a problem. Provide support and be receptive to when this might be needed.

4. Keep your team informed

A well-informed team not only gives them confidence and enables them to make decisions, it also helps establish trust with your customers. Let everyone know what’s going on in your business through regular staff briefings, and use these to get feedback from your team on any customers’ comments, or discuss any questions or suggestions that arise about operational issues.

Keep your team up to date with the bigger picture: what’s happening in your business, in your industry, and with your competitors.

5. Invest in your team’s development

Provide development opportunities to tap into their strengths and keep them stretched. Not everyone wants to progress but it doesn’t mean to say they don’t want to be stretched given opportunities for new challenges. A bored employee is unlikely to wow your customers.

Give everyone an opportunity to learn something new; it’s a win-win as the business will benefit too. Add variety, set them a challenge and trust your team to make decisions to do what’s best.

6. Promote teamwork

Upskill and cross train your team to cover other’s responsibilities so everyone is confident the job still gets covered even when they’re sick, on holiday or have an extra heavy workload. This also promotes a greater appreciation at each other’s roles as well as making it easier to create a culture where everyone takes responsibility when necessary rather than passing the buck.

It doesn’t have to be all about work. It’s difficult to please everyone but if you can find something that appeals to everyone’s tastes, personal commitments and budget, social activities is a great way to bring the team together. Even if this is simply some after hours team activities in the workplace that taps into the interest, talents or expertise of your team.

7. Guide and support

Give your team the support, resources and guidance needed to do a good job. This starts with providing clear direction on your expectations and providing everyone with the resources they need (including sufficient time and manpower).

Observe your team in action and give supportive feedback, encouragement and coaching, so you build their confidence and their productivity.

Every business has its times when things go wrong, so equip your team to deal with the unexpected and empower them to handle these situations with confidence.

8. Two-way trust

Lead by example and be a role model so there are no mixed messages. Ensure or your management team used the same criteria for awarding and recognising the team’s contribution, so people don’t get confused of feel deflated when something worthy of recognition gets ignored.

Play to people’s strengths and demonstrate your trust by delegating some control and ownership. This gives a sense of pride and a desire to get things right.

9. Recognise and reward success

Recognise those who go beyond the call of duty. Give public recognition when you receive positive feedback from a customer.

Share your good news to give everyone a boost and recognise those who have contributed. Make any rewards meaningful; not everyone is motivated by the same things to consider what’s important to the individual.

Have some fun. You might be dealing with serious subjects but people are more productive when they’re happy and relaxed. Laughter is the best medicine and a good hearty laugh release tension and it’s contagious!

10. A simple thank you

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. Whether that’s a heartfelt thank you at the end of a busy shift or hectic day, when they’ve made an extra effort or used their initiative, or gone out of their way to help a colleague or a customer. Send a handwritten letter or a thank you card when they’ve gone the extra mile; a physical letter or card will have 10 times more impact than an email.

These ideas can go a long way towards creating staff loyalty which in turn will contribute to customer loyalty.

3 things to do today to get 2017 off to a flying start

Here’s  a short video with 3 things you can be doing this week to get your team engaged, enthused and energised for the year ahead and get 2017 off to a brilliant start. If you get them engaged now and show you are enthusiastic about the year ahead this will rub off on your team and in turn your customers too, and help with your whole customer experience.

6 ways to show your gratitude

thank-you-im-so-gratefulChristmas is a time of showing our gratitude – not that you shouldn’t be doing this all year round of course – to our team.

Unless your team feel valued and loved they’re not likely to give their best and to deliver the type of customer experience either you or your customers expect.

So how can you add a touch of magic for your team this Christmas and bring a smile to their face without it costing you a fortune in bonuses or incentives?

There’s a perception that everyone is motivated by money. There’s no doubt cash is a contributing factor. Pay them late, mess up their overtime or deny them the pay rise they were promised and you’re probably going to have an unhappy person. And unhappy team members invariably lead to unhappy customers.

But how would you feel at Christmas if your loved one just gave you money? Unless it was a ton of cash or you’re saving up for something really special it’s not very exciting. It feels as if no care or thought has gone into it. It’s impersonal. It might be fine for Aunty Joan to give you money or a voucher at Christmas as she doesn’t know what you’d like (and it’s better than the alternative of a pair of slippers!), but if someone’s taken the trouble to find that something special and buy it for you – that’s going to have far more impact, right?

Money is a very short term motivator. And let’s face it, unless your team are on performance related bonuses few of us can be doling out monetary rewards every five minutes.

So what can we do to show our team some love?

Before you do anything…

The golden rule is to treat others how you would wish to be treated. And that’s certainly a good start. But the platinum rule is to treat others how they wish to be treated.

So find out what’s important to them.

Not everyone values or is interested in the same things.

Whilst some love the sense of achievement or recognition others get a buzz from supporting others. Some love to have their say and see their ideas put into practice, whilst others are happiest when they’re learning or being stretched.

And if it really is just tangible rewards people love? Well, I know I’d rather be given a bunch of flowers any day over a fiver go and buy my own!

We should never assume what our team would like and what’s important to them. If you’ve never had the discussion, it’s high time you did!

So start by doing a little bit of homework to find out what’s likely to bring a smile to their face… which they’re sure to pass on to your customers.

Here are some six things you might consider .…

1. Say thank you

I know I’m always talking about showing your customers your appreciation, but it’s just as important to demonstrate to your team that you appreciate their contribution.

The simplest thing you can do is to say thank you. Recognise and reward good performance, achievements and a job well-done. For many, that is all they need to feel encouraged.

Yes, they work for pay, but it always helps to know that their work is recognised. Not just as a routine passing comment; go out of your way to thank individuals when you spot them doing something in support of a colleague or that will delight your customers. Bring the team together at the end of a hectic day, busy shift or demanding project when everybody has pulled their weight to make sure everything went smoothly.

If you are genuine in your appreciation, and choose it for the right moment, it can work wonders. A simple but honest appreciative remark can go a very long way.

Celebrate and share successes. And if you are going to praise an individual, don’t just leave it till you are on your own with them. Find an opportunity when they are with their colleagues, and your praise will create a buzz! Make sure it’s genuine and specific for the task carried out, or the person might be seen by their colleagues as ‘teacher’s pet’.

2. Token gestures

Become aware of your team’s hobbies and interests. Then when you are out and about and see something that has to do with that particular interest, pick it up for them.

Coming into the business and saying: “I really appreciate what you do, and I got this for you as a small token of my appreciation”,  will make them feel they are recognised for a great job.

It doesn’t have to cost the earth; just a token. But the thought it evokes will make a real difference.

3. A treat

Give people the occasional treat. No need to be a lavish; look at ways to reward that create a win-win:

For example maybe a visit to a sister business or somewhere where they will be on the receiving end of outstanding service and are motivated to bring back more ideas that can be implemented in your business.

When your team have worked long or unsociable hours that had an impact on their personal life, extending the treat to be shared with their loved one not only makes your team member feel good but shows your appreciation of the support given by their friends and family. This paves the way for future good deeds too!

4. Time Off

For some people a little free time could be the most valuable gift you can give them.

Allowing flexibility to go home early to attend their kid’s sports’ day or the day before their holiday, have a lie in or the evening off on their birthday, or take an hour out to attend to a personal matter.

Allow the freedom for having fun too; this doesn’t mean being unprofessional, but looking for opportunities that create a relaxed and enjoyable place to work.

Simply a rest or just have a bit of fun can work wonders to their state of mind.

5. Awards

For those with a competitive spirit consider awards, competitions, or even a league table. This might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has the opportunity to be recognised for their particular skills and strengths.

External awards are a great way to give recognition for the whole team. Keep your eye out for awards which are relevant to your business or your market. Just being nominated an award is a great booster, as I recall from my corporate days when our sales director put me forward for the Institute of Marketing Sales Trainer of the year award. I didn’t win but I was one of the finalists, which gave me a huge boost, and an opportunity to invite my colleagues along to the awards dinner which was great for my profile and for the business.

Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, or those in non-customer facing roles. They all have their part to play.

6. Opportunities for personal development

We so often think of development as solely grooming somebody for promotion. This might be one intention or outcome but even when we know that a member of our team has probably reached their peak, that doesn’t mean to say that we just let them stagnate. A bored employee is unlikely to wow your customers!

Development should have the intention of making people the best they can be at their jobs, and this might lead to making the job easier, more rewarding or simply getting the job done in less time.

Rather than making everybody mediocre at everything they do, tap into their strengths, talents and passions so they excel in certain areas, and work as a team to bridge the gaps in individuals’ abilities or interests.

Identify and utilise their strengths, providing further development when needed to bring out the best in these areas. Delegate and give some control and ownership; this gives them pride in what they do and they will appreciate that you’ve recognised where they do a good job, providing of course you’re careful not to overburden or just dump these tasks on them.

Once we understand what’s important and a little bit of creativity there are plenty of ways we can say “I appreciate you” and find the things they’ll love.  And your customers will feel that love too!

When you stop noticing the cracks

25 years!cracks

It’s 25 years this week since we moved into our house. There aren’t many things we haven’t changed; the whole layout of the rooms, we’ve added an extension and we’ve extended into the roof space.

But it’s taken this long to put up a sign outside with the house name (this was something we said we would do before we even moved in, and yes, it has taken us 25 years!). And three years to fix a broken tile in our kitchen doorway.

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

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

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

So what are the cracks in your business which could be impacting your teams well-being or productivity, or your customers experience?

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

So ask the question

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

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

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

The customer experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping on top of maintenance

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

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

Listen to what they have to say

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

If my kitchen floor is anything to judge by, the longer it’s taken to fix the problem the long it take for people to adjust to the new way.

I’m still stepping over the broken tile, even though it’s no longer there!


Bouncing back

boredHow’s your first day of the new term been?

Is everyone firing all cylinders?

Or is there a definite case of the post-holiday blues?

There’ll be many cheering that the kids are back at school, but when you’re surrounded by those who are fed up, bored, or just generally wishing they were still lying on that beach in the sun, playing football with their kids, or simply chilling out at home with a good book this inevitably rubs off on others.

It only takes one or two team members to ‘infect’ the entire team.

And of course this then rubs off on your customers’ experience

…and ultimately your bottom line.

Whether you’re drawing breath at the end of your busiest season, or just back from your well-earned summer break – here are 10 ideas to get you and your team back into the swing of things and on a roll now it’s back to business as usual.

1. Play from a 10

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, which if we think it’s going to be tough getting back into the swing of things the chances are it will be.

Not just for you, but for your team as well.

The way we feel emotionally will influence the feelings of people around us. In other words if we mooch around all day resenting coming back to work after our fantastic holiday or quality time with the kids we’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions, than if we’re smiling, laughing and generally being positive about being back at work.

Being confident, enthusiastic and energetic might not always rub off on everyone else, but it’s a better bet than if you’re down and moping about resenting being back at work!

2. Set mini goals

It can often feel as if you’re not achieving much in the first few days or weeks back at work, or when you’re recovering from a busy period. Consider allocating some specific short term projects or goals which everyone can get stuck in to and for which they can see some results within the first few days back.

It will certainly help focus attention back onto the job in hand, and get everyone back into full flow as quickly as possible.

3. Fresh perspectives

When people have been away from the business for a couple of weeks, or even a few days, they often get a fresh perspective and see things in a new light.

What ideas have your team seen on their holidays or days out which they’ve appreciated and which could be applied in some way in your business?

Take a few moments this week to ask their views on any opportunities they can see to improve your service, to add value or make recommendations to customers.

4. In the loop

When people have not seen each other for a few weeks or simply been head down focussing on their own areas it’s easy to feel out of the loop. Once everyone is back together again give an update on what’s been happening in your business so they all feel involved.

Have an update on your plans for the year ahead, share up-to-date product information, what’s happening in your industry, with your competitors, or anything in the press.

A knowledgeable team not only gives them confidence, it enables them to make decisions and help build trust with your customers.

5. Time for reflection

Time off often gives people time for reflection and can prompt them to start thinking about other options, career moves or even career changes.

Quash any feelings of insecurity.  In what ways were they missed when they were away, and what’s been happening over the summer that people may have missed?

Schedule 1:1 reviews as early as possible to discuss individual contributions and where they fit in with your plans.

6. New challenges

The new school year is a good time to take stock of the team’s development needs.

Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean you should let them stagnate. A bored employee is unlikely to wow your customers!

Discuss with them how you can add variety, set new challenges or stretch them.

Identify and utilise people’s strengths, providing further development where needed to bring out the best in these areas.

7. Fresh focus

Customer Service is continually evolving, and there will always be little tweaks you can make to improve your service.

Review your entire customer journey and all the various touch points your customers experience.

Give individual team members responsibility over specific moments on the customer journey; this gives a sense of pride and ownership. And with ownership comes the 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.

8. Near misses

It’s inevitable there will be times when things don’t go according to plan or mishaps happen. Review some of the things that have not gone to plan over the past few months. Listen to your team and flush out any other potential risky situations.

Rather than dwelling on the negatives, reflect on what you and the team have learnt from these events.

Even if you think it was a one off and unlikely to happen again your team might be aware of other ‘near misses’ or situations that are almost an accident waiting to happen!

Agree what steps you can take to avoid them or minimise their impact, so they are confident they will be better prepared next time!

9. In it to win it

Focus people’s attention on service by aiming for an award, competition or simply an internal league table. It can be great motivation for those with a competitive spirit: For internal reward this might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has the opportunity to recognise their particular skills and strengths.

External awards are a great way to give focus and recognition for the whole team. Keep your eye out for awards which are relevant to your business or your market. Just being nominated for an award is a great booster it itself.

10. Celebrate and share successes

For many the end of September marks the half way point in their financial year. What an opportune moment to review progress.

Summarise and share your achievements of the past 6 months with your team. What milestones have you achieved as a business, what have been the highlights of the year to date, and what’s been the team’s contribution to these?

Give praise where it’s due so it creates a buzz amongst your team for the remainder of year ahead!

So whether you’ve just had break and gearing up for the new term, or just taking stock of your summer season, don’t let those post-holiday blues get you down.



Riding on the crest of a wave

Celebrate successI was hooked.

And had far too many late nights.

I simply loved the Olympics.

Can you believe it? – 67 medals.

Brilliant. Well done Team GB!

Did you notice the euphoria as people realised their success? Did you see the pride on the athletes’ faces as they stepped up onto the podium and receive their medal?

And did you notice how much of a buzz it created whenever a team or individual won a medal? Not just in that discipline, but how it sent a ripple around the entire team.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could emulate just a fraction of that pride, enthusiasm and momentum within our businesses?

The Team GB success was not a fluke. We know there was lottery funding for many of the sports, and although this obviously helped our success would not have happened without the hard work, determination and sheer commitment from our athletes, coaches and their entire supporting team. How much did our success in 2012 contribute? Riding on the wave of success of the London Olympics created a huge boost of confidence. Look how many of the athletes went on to defend their Olympic titles, and in 13 cases retained them too.

What lessons we can learn from this success to apply to business as a morale boost for our team so apply some of that energy to our businesses and pass on some of that enthusiasm to our customers.

Here are my 10 ideas to take away…

1. Having a benchmark

When Usain Bolt runs the 100 metres he knows exactly where the finishing line is. When Jessica Ennis Hill or Nick Skelton are competing in the heptathlon or show jumping they both know exactly how the scoring works in their respective events so they have a measurement of how well they’re doing at any one point in the competition.

It’s the same in your business. Unless you know what success looks like it’s going to be very difficult for you (and your team) to know when they’ve done a good job.


2. Awards

For those with a competitive spirit awards, competitions, even a simple league table can add an extra dimensional to that benchmark: External awards are a great way to give recognition for the whole team. Keep your eye out for awards which are relevant to your business or your market. In the same way that just making the Olympic team is a big deal, just being nominated for an award is a great booster.

League tables might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has the opportunity to be recognised for their particular skills and strengths. Just as long as it’s relevant to your definition of success.


3. Celebrate success

Of course Team GB was celebrating. Celebration helps to reward those who have been successful. So when your team performs well the least you should do is help them celebrate.

It’s an opportunity to demonstrate you value a job well done. However small their success, do or say something to acknowledge and celebrate their achievements. Not only does it show them you care, but it sends a message to others to reinforce what best practice looks like and helps spread the message to encourage more of the same.

Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, or those in non-customer facing roles. They all have their part to play.


4. Feedback

None of our athletes could perfect their skills without constant feedback. One tiny adjustment can make the difference between a gold and silver. As we saw in the men’s Taekwondo just one second can be the difference between jubilation and heart break

Build confidence by providing positive feedback and recognition. But give constructive feedback too when it’s needed to develop, refine and perfect people’s performance, whilst offering support and encouragement to make the necessary adjustments.


5. Learn from mistakes

In some of the preliminary rounds we saw athletes making mistakes. The important thing is they learnt from them and put things right before the final event. Foster a supportive culture where people can learn from their mistakes, rather than be blamed.

Recognise when these improvements have been made even if things are not yet perfect!

Encourage everyone to come forward with their own areas of improvement and how they will achieve these. Many of your team will spot opportunities so show them you value their suggestions and ideas, and be prepared to act on them.


6. It’s not about the money

There’s a perception that everyone is motivated by money. Do you think it’s money that drives those athletes?

In the workplace there’s no doubt money can be a contributor, but it has very limiting and short term affects as a motivator. However, when you get it wrong by messing up their overtime or deny them the pay rise they were promised it will certainly act as a demotivator for even the most loyal and committed members of your team.


7. What’s their gold medal equivalent?

Of course in the Olympics we know that gold medal is always the focus, at least for those who know they are in with a chance.

Recognise though that within your team not everyone values or is interested in the same things. Whilst some love the sense of achievement, others favour doing their bit for others. Some love to have their say, whilst others are happiest when they’re learning or being stretched.


8. Rewards

And if you feel it has to be a tangible reward focus on something – however small – that means something to the individual. It doesn’t have to cost the earth; just a token. Something that’s been handpicked for them will always have more of an impact than the equivalent in monetary terms.

Become aware of what hobbies and interests your employees have. Then when you are out and about and see something that has to do with that particular interest, pick it up for them.

Give people the occasional treat. No need to be a lavish; look at ways to reward that create a win-win.

For some people a little free time could be the most valuable gesture you can give them as a reward.


9. Thank you

When interviewed most of our medal winners made a point of thanking the rest of their team.

The simplest thing you can do with your team is to say thank you. A genuine heartfelt thank you and well done to recognise and acknowledge a team member’s good performance, achievement or a job well-done might be all that is all they need for them to feel encouraged.

Not just as a routine passing comment, go out of your way to thank individuals when you spot them doing something where they’ve made an extra effort. Bring the team together at the end of a hectic day, busy shift or demanding project when everybody has pulled their weight to make sure everything went smoothly.

When you are genuine in your appreciation, and choose it for the right moment, it can work wonders. A simple but honest appreciative remark can go a very long way.

If you are going to praise an individual, don’t just leave it until you are on your own with them. Find an opportunity when they are with their colleagues, and your praise will create a buzz! Make sure it’s genuine and specific for the task carried out.


10. Continue to grow

Most of our Olympians will be continuing to work on their technique and keep themselves in peak condition for their next competition and some of them even looking as far ahead as Tokyo 2020 to do even better or retain their Olympic title.

Even those retiring from competition sport will be thinking of ways they can contribute and support the sport, particularly encouraging youngsters coming through the ranks.

So when any of our team members have had great success this isn’t an excuse for them to sit back on their laurels or to stagnate.

Utilise and capitalise on people’s strengths. Give some control and ownership, or let them share their expertise by coaching or supporting others.


So while we’re all still riding high from the success of the Olympics ask yourself what can you be doing in your business to recognise those who excel and emulate that same sense of pride we’ve been seeing over the last 2 weeks.