Category Archives: Your team

Learn to Let Go

Balloons letting go

I caught myself this week doing something I really should have delegated to someone else.

Not only was this tying up my valuable time when I could be doing something only I can do; the person who should have done it would have done a better job, and quite possibly in half the time!

Do you ever find yourself falling into this trap?

I’m not just referring to doing routine administrative or mundane tasks. There’s many a time that the things we do to respond to customers’ needs and expectations could also be done just as well (or even better) by others.

When we have an excellent relationship with customers it can be difficult to let go. We often feel guilty or obliged to that customer to look after them ourselves; to give them a personal service. And we’re potentially worried they won’t feel as valued if we delegate some aspects of the customer relationship to our team.

But in doing so we could actually be diluting our efforts and giving a poorer customer experience. What happens when we’re on holiday, tied up with other projects, or when two or more customers all need us at the same time?

We can’t do everything! We need to put our trust in others and delegate some of that responsibility.

But what if we’re not confident anyone in the team is up to it?

I’m not talking here about abdication. You if you were teaching your child to swim you wouldn’t just dump them in at the deep end and let them get on with it. You’d show them, coach them, support them until they were ready to go it alone. And even then you’d be watching at the poolside until you could see they were safe.

Ah, but… I hear some say.

  • “My customer trusts me and expects to deal with me”
    They expect to always deal with you because that’s what you’ve always given them. If they are never given the chance to speak to your team that will never change. Set expectations early on with your customers so they know who is the best person to speak to when. Introduce your customers to your team so they know who they’re dealing with and build trust (and their expectations) early on.
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  • “It takes too much time to explain, I can do it quicker”
    In the short-term yes, but in the longer term if you delegate you are saving time to attend to more important things to add value for your customer. Having simple systems in place for routine queries means you might only have to invest the time once.
  • “They aren’t yet capable”
    And never will be unless you start incorporating delegation and trust into your people development plans.
  • “They won’t do it as well as me”
    Maybe, but are you being too much of a perfectionist? Does the task need such a degree of excellence?  If not, maybe someone can deal with the task adequately in less time so the customer isn’t kept waiting. 
  • “They aren’t yet qualified, authorised or licenced to do that”
    Everyone has to start somewhere so get them involved and leave time for you to approve or endorse their efforts before it gets sign off or the rubber stamp. (None of us would ever pass our driving test if we weren’t able to actually get out on the road and drive; it just needs plenty of practice and handholding along the way until ready.)
  • “If they are left to deal with someone else my customer won’t be happy and I’ll lose their respect”
    You’ll upset customers far more and lose more respect by delaying your response and by not devoting enough time to the areas of expertise they’re paying you for because you are too distracted by routine and administrative issues.

So in regard to having an obligation to that customer to look after them and give them a personal service – yes you should. But you won’t be able to if you get sucked into tasks that don’t require your level of expertise or experience.

The skill is knowing when to let go of the day to day issues, and put your trust in someone else to get on with things, leaving you to focus on the more important aspects of your relationship that only you can do and on the more strategic aspects of the businesses.



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.

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Perceptual Positions

percetual positionsBy the time you read this thankfully all the campaigning will be over and we’ll know one way or the other.

There’s been a bit of a difference of opinion in the Cooper household. Hubby and I have homed in on different merits for and against remaining/exiting the EU!

Seeing things from different perspectives extends far beyond which way to vote in the EU referendum. When I’m coaching managers to get the best from their team or training staff in dealing with customer complaints encouraging them to see things from other people’s perspectives is such an important part of resolving difficult situations.

One technique uses that of perceptual positions, which helps you imagine what difficult situations look like when viewed through others’ eyes, in other words to imagine what others perceive by imagining that you are that other person.

This involves looking at it from 3 different perspectives

  • First position is your natural perspective. You are fully aware of what you think and feel regardless of those around you. This is of course the perspective we find most familiar. But as you focus on it you may only then start to realise what is important to you and what you want from this interaction. You will probably become more aware of what you believe and value, and more likely to be assertive about your own needs.
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  • Second position is about stepping away from our own position and imagining what it’s like to be the other person, experiencing the situation as they would.Some people are very good at considering others’ needs and concerns; for others imagining second position can be a completely alien view. When you are really in their shoes everything you do or say makes perfect sense to you.
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    When you do this well you start to get a sense of what the other believes and values; what is important to them, and a better understanding of what they want. And the better you get at this the more empathy and rapport you create. You might even be able to predict how they might respond in this situation. You are certainly in a better position to offer better customer service to a customer support to a team member.
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  • Third position is an independent position where you act as a detached observer noticing what’s happening between two other people. I like to think of this as the ‘fly on the wall’ or ‘The Consultant’s perspective’ What is important is that this position is an impartial insight into a situation.Imagine you are watching and listening to each of the people involved as they communicate without getting involved yourself, without having to feel their feelings and emotions.
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    From this new perspective, you more likely to get an overview of the situation, the bigger picture. You can start to notice patterns and become aware of similarities and differences between the parties involved, and you’re better able to analyse the situation logically with less emotional involvement. What’s also important is you can start to see yourself as others see you.
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    From this position what advice would you give ‘first position’?

When to use Perceptual Positions

It can be particularly useful when you are dealing with a situation where you are having strong negative feelings towards the other party, or do not understand their actions.

For example:

  • When a team member is acting in a way that you find destructive to the task in hand, or negative towards others in the team.
  • In customer service training to illustrate how to handle an angry and (to our mind) unreasonable customer

It doesn’t just help in negative situations, it can also help clarify the way forward in for example sales situation when it will help to see things from the clients’ positions or in a consultant position to see the situation better and help the client achieve their outcomes easier.

It works best when you physically change position when moving from 1st position to 2nd position and then 3rd position; e.g. in 2nd position move round to sit or stand when the other person would normally see or stand when you meet with them, and when the ‘fly on the wall’ stand up and physically look down on the situation.

The real learning comes by stepping out of first position to explore second and third positions and see what light it sheds on a situation.

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“That’s not my job”

A true service culture is more than just a sheep dip customer service training exercise for your front line team.

Service is everyone’s responsibility

Customer service training

It’s part of your DNA and reflected in everything you do. A bit like a stick of rock – no matter where you break it the core message is still the same.

This means it goes far beyond how your customer facing teams interact with customers.

It isn’t just the responsibility of the sales team, the receptionists or customer service desk.

Everyone in your business contributes in some way to the customer experience either directly or indirectly (or why are they there?).

This includes how your support teams not only interact and serve your external customers, but how they serve the internal customer. How your customer facing teams are supported and treated internally will inevitably have a knock on effect on your customers. So include them too in your customer service training.

The more customers are kept in mind for every decision taken in the business the easier it will be to give a consistent level of service to your customers. This includes the design of your internal as well as customer facing systems. It means recruiting the right people; i.e. not just for their technical skills but those who are aligned with your customer service culture.

Everyone in your business must understand the basics, what good service looks like and recognise the role they play in achieving this. Not by having endless policies, but by having the freedom to use their initiative to do what’s right for the customer; be they internal or external.

Your customer service ethos has to be demonstrated by everyone in your business not just the front line team.


Show your team some love

do your team feel lovedYou might be doing all the right customer service training, but however much you invest in the training, unless you show your team you care about them as much as you care about your customers and your bottom line they are unlikely to demonstrate the behaviours and deliver the customer experience you’d hope.

I believe behaviour breeds behaviour. So a happy customer is dependent on a happy team. Have you ever been served by someone who isn’t happy and still felt you had a good experience? Unlikely.

Keeping your team inspired and engaged can be a challenge for some businesses. But a demotivated team can lead to poor performance, poor customer service, poor attendance and ultimately to losing not only your best people, but also losing your most valued customers.

So how do you show your team members that they are valued and what incentives can you give that show that you appreciate them without costing the Earth.

 

A good place to start…

Start by finding out what’s important to them. Not everyone values or is interested in the same things.

Most might say money, but it has a very short term impact. Get their money wrong and you’ll have a very disgruntled employee, but pay them more today and by next month it’s forgotten.

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.

So ask the question.

Depending on the outcome here are 6 simple things to do:

 

1. Say thank you

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

It always helps to know that their work is recognised, even if this is what they are paid to do. Make a point of thanking individuals when you spot them doing something that shows they’ve made an extra effort or used their initiative.

Celebrate and share successes. Bring the team together to show you appreciate their efforts at the end of a hectic day or when everybody has pulled their weight towards a project. Your praise will create a buzz and a genuine thank you can work wonders.

 

2. A treat

You don’t have to go overboard, but an occasional treat is always appreciated. It could be something that is a win-win such as time out to visit a competitor or sister business to see how they do things and report back on 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, extend the treat to include their loved one. This not only makes your team member feel valued but paves the way for future good deeds by showing your appreciation of the support given by friends or family.

 

3. Time Off

Allowing the option to go home early, come in late, or take an additional day off to attend to a personal matter or just have a bit of fun can be very energizing.

We all lead hectic lives, so for some people some flexibility or time off could be the most valuable gift you could give them.

 

4. Make it personal

A little something that’s unexpected can evoke a very positive response.

If you’re aware of people’s interests when you see something that has to do with that particular interest, pick it up for them. Saying “I really appreciate what you do, and I got this for you as a small token of my appreciation”, not only will it make them feel they are recognised but it shows you’ve taken an interest in what’s important to them. It doesn’t have to cost the earth; just a token. Be careful it doesn’t embarrass them in any way, so consider when it is given, but at the right time can make an employee feel special and appreciated.

 

5. Prizes

There are bound to be people in your team with a competitive spirit. So consider awards, competitions, or even a league table.

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. Tie this in with your values (it’s a great way to bring these alive!)

Keep your eye out for external awards which are relevant to your business or your market. These are an excellent way to give recognition to the whole team or an individual who has excelled. Just being nominated for awards is a great booster, and working towards an award gives a sense of focus and pride.

 

6. Development opportunities

Development isn’t just about grooming somebody for promotion. That might be one intention or outcome but even when we know that a team member has no aspirations to go further, or reached their peak, that doesn’t mean to say that we just let them stagnate.

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.

Delegate and give ownership, such as making people champions for certain tasks. This gives them pride in the task and they’ll appreciate you’ve recognised where they do a good job (ensuring you’re careful not to overburden or just dump these tasks on them).

Think about life skills; for example offering English lessons for migrant workers.

Give people the opportunity for career progression where possible and appropriate. You may not be able to accommodate everyone’s aspirations particularly if you’re a small business, but having some kind of succession plan in place gives people something to work towards.

 

In summary

So by doing a little bit of homework and a little bit of creativity there are plenty of ways you can recognise and reward your team to show them some love and bring a smile to their face which they’re sure to pass on to your customers.


It all stems from the top

staff-trainingI’ve been starkly reminded this month just how important it is to be a role model for your team.

I’ve been in a couple of businesses recently where, although the managers and senior team are completely bought into the importance of delivering memorable customer service, sadly that ethos has not filtered down to the line managers of the customer facing team.

Take for example some training I did last week where I had a line manager defending one of his team for being rude to customers. And another whose body language said it all during the customer service training.

No one can ever really expect their team to deliver first class customer service when they don’t get the motivation, encouragement and support from their line managers. Their behaviour really does breed behaviour, and any apathy or reluctance towards customers and your service ethos will invariably be damaging.

And of course it’s not just how line managers treat customers. How they treat their team sets the whole tone.

Whenever I conduct customer service training in person I know that the training on its own will never be enough to change people’s behaviours. It’s what happens before and afterwards. So without the managers buy-in and support to embed new habits and behaviours it won’t be long until everyone’s back to their old comfortable way of doing things.

So what ever training you are planning in your business, be that customer service skills or otherwise, first check you have the line managers buy in. And if not work on them first!

Lack of buy in from line managers is just one reason why customer service training fails.

Here are 6 more reasons to be aware of


Trust your team and pass the baton

handing over the batonWatching the relay team in the World Athletics Championship last weekend reminded me of a recent meeting with a law firm, when we were chatting about the solicitors and partners trusting their team.

A trusted team is one of my 5 key components of a 5 star customer experience.

And here’s why…

When we have an excellent relationship with our customers it can be difficult to let go. We feel guilty or that we have an obligation to that customer to look after them; to give them a personal service. And we are potentially worried they won’t receive the same degree of recognition if we delegate some aspects of the customer relationship to our team.

But in doing so we could actually be diluting our efforts and giving a poorer customer experience. We need to put our trust in others around us and delegate some of that responsibility. Just as an athlete would in handing over the baton to his or her teammates.

Here’s what’s happening currently in this law firm. If the solicitor is not at their desk when a client phones them directly all they get is their voicemail. Irrespective of their reason for calling the call by-passes junior solicitors and secretaries. So the client is left hanging.

Meanwhile the junior is missing opportunities for his or her development. Could this be something that they could resolve quite easily? And what is the secretary doing during this time? Presumably he or she has access to the client’s files, and might well manage the solicitor’s diary.

From the client’s perspective if all they need is the answer to a simple query – such as the start date of a contract, whether or not you have received some documentation, or to confirm the time and place of a forthcoming meeting – is there really a need for them to speak directly to the solicitor?

The result is a frustrated client, a junior who is probably feeling undervalued, and a secretary who is being underutilised. Plus of course the extra burden on the solicitor to return the client’s call… who by now is no longer available, so they start playing telephone tag! Is this what he or she is really paid to do?

Even if the solicitor is the only person who can deal with the client’s query I’m quite certain there’ll be instances where the secretary or junior could be doing some of the background work to make it quicker and easier for the solicitor to deal with the client’s query or request.

And what happens when the solicitor is away for a few days or even a couple of weeks’ holiday? If the client only has one point of contact, who do they go to then?

Of course this type of scenario is not limited to law firms!

Whatever your business I’m sure you have a good relationship with your customers and want to do everything in your power to sustain this. But how much do you trust your team to take on some of that responsibility?

Ah, but… I hear some say.

■ “My customer trusts me and expects to deal with me
They expect to always deal with you because that’s what you’ve always given them. If there are never given the chance to speak to your team that will never change. Set expectations early on with your customers so they know who is the best person to speak to when. Introduce your customers to your team so they know who they’re dealing with and build trust (and their expectations) early on.

■ “It takes too much time to explain, I can do it quicker
In the short-term yes, but in the longer term if you delegate you are saving time to attend to more important things to add value for your customer. Having simple systems in place for routine queries means you might only have to invest the time once.

■ “They aren’t yet capable
And never will be unless you start incorporating delegation and trust as part of your people’s development plans

■ “No-one, except me, is up to it
Maybe, but are you being too much of a perfectionist? Does the task need such a degree of excellence? If not, maybe someone can do the job adequately in less time

■ “They don’t have the authority or licence to do that
Everyone has to start somewhere so this doesn’t mean you give them everything to do but start getting them involved in some of the more complex issues, that you are then able to sign off or rubber stamp. (None of us would ever pass our driving test if we weren’t able to actually get out on the road and drive; it just needs plenty of practice and handholding along the way until ready.)

■ “If they are left to deal with someone else my customer won’t be happy and I’ll lose their respect
You’ll upset customers more and lose more respect by delaying your response and by not devoting enough time to the areas of expertise they’re paying you for because you are too distracted by the routine issues

So in regard to having an obligation to that customer to look after them and give them a personal service – yes you should. But you won’t be able to if you get sucked into tasks that don’t require your level of expertise or experience.

Trust your team to deal with these so that you can be focusing on the more important aspects of your relationship that only you can do.

Just like the athlete in a relay you can’t run all four legs.  You have to trust your team and pass them the baton.

 

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How to engage your team in customer service

How engaged are your team in customer service? Customer service and the customer experience are dependent on your team. The customer’s perception of service is only as good as their last experience!

If you’d like to explore more activities to engage your team in customer service you’ll find 28 activities here


Can a leopard change his spots?

It really doesn’t matter how much time and effort you invest in customer service training if you don’t have the right people in the first place!

Leopard lying on the treeHaving a happy, motivated and productive team is critical to delivering great customer service.

Your team can be your point of differentiation so what is the secret to having an engaged, motivated and eager to please team who will deliver outstanding customer service?

What so many people focus on when recruiting are the skills at the expense of the attitude. We then end up recruiting on aptitude, but firing on attitude.

Unless they have the right attitude in the first place you have little chance of changing it.

So recruit first on attitude then on aptitude.

There are of course times when previous experience or industry knowledge is imperative; your head chef obviously needs a combination of culinary and management skills, your maintenance engineer needs to be familiar with the technical and safety requirements, your fitness instructor needs to have the appropriate qualifications and licenses, your sommelier needs to know his or her wines.

But if you’re a tourist attraction appealing to young families then loving children (and having the ability to relate to them as well as parents) surely has to feature high up on the list of attributes.

If you’re a travel company you are selling an experience, so booking your holiday of a lifetime should become part of the experience, and the person they are dealing with has a huge role to play in this.

And whether you’re a 5 star country house hotel, an entertainments company or a sporting venue, don’t you want people who have a can do; nothing is too much trouble attitude? If so, add it to the top of your criteria.

Create an avatar of your ideal candidate

In marketing we’re told to create a customer avatar. Why not do the same for your team? What are the values, beliefs and attitudes that person needs to demonstrate to really excel in that role. If you have a particular philosophy that you stress as part of your identity and point of differentiation it’s important to recruit people who can relate to this.

Systems and procedures and basic skills can be taught, whereas an enthusiasm for your industry, product or customers can’t be.

If you use social media or your website to advertise vacancies use language that appeals to your ideal candidate. If you want someone enthusiastic, dynamic and lively make your ad enthusiastic, dynamic and lively too!  You’re not looking to attract anyone who’s desperate for a job; make it clear what you’re looking for and who fits the bill of the ideal candidate.

Build your network

Rather than waiting till you have a vacancy and you’re at desperation point to take anybody who comes along, start creating a list of the people you can call upon whom you’re confident share your values and would jump at the chance to work with you when the opportunity comes.

Don’t limit your recruitment search to people who respond to your adverts.  Use your network of business contacts, your existing team and even your customers to help you find the best candidates.

Network or socialise where your prospective staff are; this will not only help to build relationships and reputation but will give you an opportunity to see people in a more relaxed environment. Start developing a “candidate pool” rather than waiting until you suddenly have a vacancy to fill.

Develop relationships with agencies as well as recruitment officers from local colleges and universities. Allow your existing team to participate in professional associations and training where they’re likely to be in contact with potential candidates.

Might the position be suitable for an apprentice? It potentially involves more input from you, but the rewards will often far outweigh the extra effort.

Become a great place to work

Make your business somewhere people love to work, and are happy to be advocates and ambassadors for your business. That way when you come to recruit you’ll be able to do so wisely and have a steady stream of people queueing up!

Create a culture where positive attitudes prevail, and build a reputation as a good employer so you attract the best people. A prerequisite is looking after your existing team; they are far more likely to recommend you to others and spread the word it’s a great place to work.

Monitor the reputation of your business; listen to what your staff say, especially those who leave.

Put yourself forward for awards to help build your repetition as a good employer.

Measure against your criteria

If attitude is more important to you than skills plan in advance how you’re going to measure these less specific or less tangible aspects; those attitudinal things.

Know what you want beforehand, think about what might demonstrate those attributes, and then don’t take their word for it; test it, challenge them and look for real examples.

You may ask about their past experience, how they’ve handled specific situations, or ask them to describe their own examples of when they have gone that extra mile for someone, or handled a particularly challenging customer. Even with a school leaver look for examples of things they have done outside school to demonstrate taking on responsibility, working as a team, and so on.

Not everything can be measured though via traditional interview questions.  Get creative. Use exercises to measure teamwork, problem solving, or creativity if these are important to the role. Spend the first 10 minutes of the interview talking about what motivates or inspires them. I do this on training courses – it’s so simple and really helps to get people talking…

If you’re not involved with the recruitment process yourself, ensure you train your management team how to recruit. Do they also know what values and attitudes you are looking for?

Better to find out in the interview if they haven’t got what it takes than after you’ve hired them and invested time and effort in customer service training.

You won’t change their spots, so look for people with the right spots!