Category Archives: Customer Experience

Glass half full or glass half empty?

employee engagement glass half empty

How employee engagement impacts

When you get home from work how long does it normally take to sense what sort of mood everyone is in?

If you’ve said “almost immediately”, you’ll find the same is true in the workplace.

That is, everyone’s moods are evident to those around them – be they their manager or a colleague.

I’m sure we both can relate to the type of person who constantly looks at the downside of everything; the type of person who drains your energy and your enthusiasm; the ‘Mood Hoovers’ who suck the life out of everything.

Not only is this draining for the team, but generally it’s picked up by customers too, and is bound to have an impact on a customer’s experience.

But have you ever wondered whether or not you have others in your team who have this impact on their colleagues?

We often hear of managers complaining about the lack of employee engagement; but have they ever stopped to think about whether they are the cause of it?

Our physiology certainly influences our feelings and the feelings of people around us. So, if we mooch around all day with shoulders dropped, hands in pockets, we’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions, than if we’re smiling, animated and making eye contact.

Certain emotions or un-resourceful states will certainly have a knock-on impact on everyone around them – colleagues and customers alike. Being irritated, flustered, impatient, worried, angry, bored, frustrated, resistant, confused, tired or distracted all rub off on others.

But, when we focus on the positives it has a positive impact on others too. Smiling and laughing can rub off on others to help make everyone feel good and happy.

What’s more… it’s infectious…

If you want your team to be enthusiastic, flexible, motivated, interested, confident, energetic, happy, welcoming, and friendly this has to start at the top.

Want to know how this can happen?

Related posts: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/how-to-engage-new-team-members/



Hello, I’m Caroline

build rapport

Build rapport using names

Do you remember the TV series Cheers? And the theme tune “… where everyone knows your name”

Using someone’s name is a powerful way to build rapport.

According to Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”  “… any person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.  ….we can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering the name.”

This is true, not just for customers, but your team members too; in fact, anyone you speak to.

However, sometimes it can be challenging to remember names. I remember about 20 years ago, the company I was working for at the time ran a series of Roadshows. At the time I was a management development executive at our international training centre. This meant that over the course of the year I would meet hundreds, if not thousands, of managers attending training.

Because I knew so many people I was asked to help with registration at each event, and because so many of those attending knew me, they made a beeline to me expecting me to remember them too. But when you have thousands of people registering at each event, it’s quite a challenge remembering everybody’s names, and some people got quite offended when I couldn’t remember who they were!

I learnt a little trick to get around this, which I’ll tell you about in a moment. But in the meantime, here are my other top tips for helping you and your team members remember and use people’s names.

  1. Start with your team, greet them by name, and use the name they want to be known by. So, if they have a preference to be known by their middle name, use this. Never shorten or abbreviate their name unless they ask you to. So, Andrew doesn’t become Andy, Christopher doesn’t become Chris, and Deborah doesn’t become Debbie, unless that’s what they request.
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  2. Repeat it. How often do we ask someone’s name and then instantly forget it? So, listen with intent, and then immediately repeat their name. This not only helps you to committed it to memory, but allows an opportunity for the other person to correct it if you’ve got it wrong or missed pronounced. If the pronunciation is a little tricky for you, always ask the other person, whether you’ve got the pronunciation correct. It’s far less awkward for both of you to correct it now than on your fourth or fifth meeting.
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  3. Can you spell that please? Spelling someone’s name incorrectly can feel insulting, so check the spelling if you need to. Even relatively common names often have more than one spelling; Cathy or Kathy, Iain or Ian, Philip or Phillip.
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  4. Formal, friendly or familiar. It’s difficult sometimes to know whether to address the customer as Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms. or use their first name. The rule of thumb is to follow their lead; how they introduce themselves.
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  5. Personalise your automation. Have you ever had a letter that’s addressed to you personally on the envelope, but the salutations reads “Dear Sir or Madam”. With technology today there should be no excuse not to address emails or letters with someone’s name (or at least the name they have given you).
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  6. Create a memory. If you can create an association between someone’s name and a characteristic or relate to a famous person. For example, my husband is terrible at remembering names and when he first met my parents this was no exception. Their names were Liz and Phil. So, I told him to just think of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip!.
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  7. Tags, cards and badges. Spotting name badges on luggage tags, payment cards or name badges at corporate events can help; a word of caution, don’t get too clever with this! Check the name their tag, card or badge is the one they want to be addressed by.  If you know which customers you are expecting remind yourself of their names (and personal preferences if you know them) before they arrive.
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  8. And what of employee name badges? They can make it easy for the customer to engage with and remember the people who have served them (as well as a level of accountability). But it’s a very individual decision, and what best suits your business and your style service. A name badge should never be a substitute for a personal introduction from a team member to a customer.

Take action

If you only do one thing – encourage your team members to use customers’ names, so they feel valued and important. Set the example and help make your team also feel extremely valued and important by always addressing them by name too.

And that little trick I discovered on registration? Thankfully, all the name badges were arranged in alphabetical order by people’s surnames. So, I’d always greet them with a cheery smile and ask how they are; and then ask absentmindedly “sorry, just remind me of your surname again”. It seemed forgetting their surname was acceptable, and when I found their name badge, hey presto, I was reminded of their first name too, and could then use this as I handed them their badge.

related article: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/creating-rapport-with-your-hospitality-business-customers/

 


How trust impacts customer experience

trust impacts customer experience

Last week I gave a short presentation at our local Institute of Directors meeting. It was only 4 minutes, but it’s surprising what you can fit into that time.

I spoke about pride.

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 productivity, staff retention and the customer experience.

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, too.

I covered 3 ways as leaders we can help people feel proud of their contribution, but I’m just going to cover one of those today; demonstrating trust.

People soon pick up when you fail to trust or allocate any responsibility to them, leaving them frustrated or worse, doubting their own abilities. When you demonstrate trust on the other hand, you’ll be surprised just how resourceful people can be.

Here are 5 ways you can demonstrate trust in your team members:

  1. Play to people’s strengths. It’s a lot easier for you to delegate responsibility for tasks where people already excel, and the likelihood is when they are good at that task they’ll be confident and probably enjoy it.
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    That doesn’t mean to say you don’t develop people in other areas, but avoid the temptation to make everyone mediocre at everything.
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  2. Learn to let go, and empower them to do the job you’ve employed them to do. No one wants their boss breathing down their neck the whole time, and it’s frustrating for everyone when team members have to get sign off for everything.
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    Cut the red tape and give your team the freedom to do what they think is in the best interests of the customer.
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    Set clear boundaries so they understand the exceptions and when you really do need to be involved.
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  3. Give flexibility to adapt and adopt their own style. Let them bring their own personality to the role, particularly when dealing with customers.  If they know the end result you’re looking for they often come up with better ways to get the same result.
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  4. 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.
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  5. Develop ‘experts’ and give ownership for areas that require specialist knowledge, so this team member becomes the go to person for this. When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise, and encourages continuous improvement. This in turn can have an impact on your customer experience, when specific knowledge is required to gain the customer’s confidence.

We often underestimate people’s capabilities. When you demonstrate your trust in your team by delegating some control and ownership, this gives a sense of pride and a desire to get things right.

This ultimately has a knock on impact on your customer experience as customers do  notice the difference between someone just doing their job and someone who is genuinely proud of the job they do and the contribution them make.

Take action

If you only do one thing: demonstrate your trust in someone today by giving them the go ahead to do something their way.

Here’s my 4 minute presentation

Related article: I don’t have authority


Going the extra inch – Exceed Expectations

exceed expectations

What a fabulous weekend we had for sport! Although we did have a conflict in the Cooper household, which resulted in Formula 1 in one room, and tennis in another. Sorry, if you’re a cricket fan, that didn’t get a look in!

Thinking back, is there anything we can learn from Federer and Djokovic in that brilliant Wimbledon men’s final?

Here are 3 lessons I believe we can take away that relate to customer experience, and one aspect we probably want to avoid.

1. You’re only as good as your last experience

In Wimbledon, you’re only as good as your last match.

If you don’t win you simply don’t get through to the next round.

Likewise, in the customer’s eyes you’re generally only as good as your customer’s last experience. So, get it wrong once and you need on average 10 positive experiences to outweigh the negative experience.

To build trust your customers should be getting the same level of service each and every time they visit you so they won’t be disappointed on their second, seventh or even 70th visit.

2. You have to keep training

To keep delivering to such a high standard they have to train.

Not just every so often, but all the time. Always looking for incremental improvements.

It’s the same being at the top of your game with service. You have to train your team, not just as a one off, but ongoing, always refining their skills and your processes. You need to – not just meet expectations – but exceed expectations, so with regular customers this means continuous improvement.

3. Establish routines, rituals and habits

To keep playing their best they have their own routines and rituals.

The same applies in your business, to deliver a consistent level of great customer service and customer experience you have to have systems in place that help create habits, otherwise no two days will be the same and no two customer experiences will be the same. Have systems, routines or rituals for your team to follow, whoever is on duty…. Not just your exceptional team members, even your average ones should be able to deliver outstanding service every day.

4. The extra mile or extra inch?

These guys gave it their all.

So, I doubt either could sustain this level of performance day in day out.

This is where your customer service differs.

Everyone talks about going the extra mile. And of course it’s good to exceed expectations, but it doesn’t have to be massive. Whilst going the extra mile is good, just going the extra inch or two can make a difference and still leaves you with more in the bag to pull out next time!

Simple things such as getting back to people quicker than anticipated – speed always impresses, including something you thought they’d like just because you know it’s their favourite (the fact you’ve remembered this will of course earn you bonus points), or any of the little unexpected extras I talked about in last week’s blog, or in the video here

If you only do one thing

Delivering what you’ve promised is a given. But what can you and your team do to exceed expectations? Go the extra inch; not massive leaps; but aim for Consistency +1%.

That way you’ll always have something left for next time to impress those regulars!


Don’t ruin the surprise!

giving surprises

It’s my birthday today, and my husband is away, helping out a friend in France. I think it’s the first time in our 34 years of marriage we’ve not been together for at least some of the day on my birthday.

When the phone rang yesterday morning, I answered it with my normal greeting “Good morning, Caroline Cooper”. So the call didn’t exactly get off to a good start when the voice at the other end said “Is that Clive Cooper?”

When I went on to tell her he was away, she proceeded to tell me she was calling from an Interflora florist about the delivery of flowers for today; completely ruining the element of surprise!

To add insult to injury, she wasn’t allowed to discuss it with me (despite the fact that the flowers would be addressed to me) as I was not the person who had ordered them. Oh well, I just hope I’m not disappointed when they arrive!

Rather than ruining surprises we should be creating them instead.

That’s what GLUE does.

GLUE stands for Give Little Unexpected Extras, and this is a concept which works equally well for your team as it does for customers.

  • Giving little unexpected extras means firstly that you give something, so you’re not necessarily expecting anything in return; it’s not intended to be reciprocated, it’s simply being generous.
  • Little, means it doesn’t have to be anything lavish, it could be as simple as a thank you card. It’s not a big deal, but is actually something that means something to the individual.
  • It’s unexpected, so that means that not everyone is going to get otherwise is no longer surprise.
  • And it’s something extra, something over and above what you normally do, offer or include

So let’s think of a few examples:

  • It could be that one of your team members are about to go on holiday, they’ve put in extra effort over the last few days so as a thank you, you give them the opportunity to go home a couple of hours early to get sorted and packed.
  • It could be as simple as putting a little thank you card in the post, to a customer saying we really appreciate your business, or to a team member saying thank you for helping out or going above and beyond on a particular project or event.
  • It could be as simple as this, you see it’s raining, and the customer doesn’t have an umbrella, so you find them an umbrella to see them on their way.
  • Or a customer mentions something you don’t normally stock, but you go out of your way to find it for them
  • Gift wrapping or packing something with a personal touch or greeting because you notice it’s for a special occasion
  • Including something extra just because you think they’ll appreciate it due to e.g. the weather, time of day, who they have with them.

All these are spontaneous unexpected extras – all of which are tailored to the individual and the situation. They’re simple little gestures that don’t cost much.

They are all things that are low cost to you but which the recipient will really value.

So, make your ‘extras’ relevant, well timed and personal.

Start by giving little unexpected extras  to your team, so they are on the receiving end and they know how it feels.

And then give them licence to give little unexpected extras to your customers.

Take action

If you only do one thing, add some GLUE for someone today – whether it’s their birthday, as a thank you, or simply to let them know you care about them.

Related video: https://youtu.be/aWQtQx8tMtU

Related post: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/employee-recognition/



Getting emotional

improve customer experience

Why Emotions Matter to your Customer Experience

Last week was full of emotions for me. Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of my mother’s death, Wednesday would have been my father’s 90th birthday and of course Thursday commemorated D-Day. Who couldn’t fail to be moved by some of the incredible stories told by the veterans?

But emotions aren’t all ones of sadness, reflection or gratitude.

Emotions are key in influencing our customers’ perception of service and their likelihood of buying from us, becoming a repeat customer and in recommending us to others.

In fact:

Over 50% of the customer’s experience is down to emotions.

Your customers’ experience can be your single most valuable competitive advantage, whatever type of business you are in.  But, when it comes to experience based businesses such as hospitality, leisure and tourism this of course is even more important.

It’s the experience and emotions you create for customers that gets remembered.

Their experience is based on their perceptions and how they feel about your business. In other words, it’s based on their emotions. And you and your team are the key drivers of these.

So, what do we want customers to think and feel about us and when with us; what emotions do we want them to have?

These could be emotions of fun, joy, happiness. They might be ones of pride, excitement, achievement. They might be security, reassurance, comfort, or indulgence, inspiration, relaxation… I could go on!

Think about what your customers really care about and why they buy from you specifically.

When you and your team know the emotions you want your customers to have at each stage of the customer journey it makes it so much easier for everyone to determine what needs to happen at each stage and therefore what actions and behaviours are appropriate. All too often we tell people what they should do or say, but not necessarily explain why.

When getting team members to think about customers emotions here are a couple of exercises I use:

1. The Thank You Letter

This is a useful exercise to get your team thinking about how they want customers to feel about the business as a whole but also about them personally.

The participants are to imagine they have just received an appreciative thank you letter from a customer, one which makes them feel happy and proud.

Ask them to jot down a few ideas about what might be in that letter that makes them feel good. What would be the things they’d like that customer to notice about them.

Then ask them to write the letter they’d love to receive!

The purpose of this exercise is to get them thinking about the perfect customer experience and how they might contribute to it.

2. Customer Needs and Expectations

Delivering excellent customer service and ensuring people have a memorable experience when they visit starts with understanding what they want and expect.

This exercise helps your team recognise that different customer groups will have different requirements and will want different things.

When I’m training I ask participants to identify their main customer groups, then get them to visualise each group – picturing the person (if a family, they might want to split this into parents and children and even sub-divide for different ages of children)

They are to give each person a name, gender, age, where they live, disposable income and other basic demographic information, then start adding in the detail. You can start to build up a detailed profile of them, their family and friends, their favourite pastimes, food, habits, interests, values, etc. Anything that’s important to them so you build up a profile until you feel you know them as a friend. Then draw an image of this person (and family if appropriate). A stick man is fine!

Under the picture I ask them to identify the needs, wants and expectations of that customer, that will be specific to that category and not so important to other categories of customers, thinking about their emotional needs a well as their physical needs?

Recognising that the customer journey and what influences their perception of the customer service can be determined before they even make direct contact with you, this can impacted by how they are feeling at this first touch point.

With these needs, wants and expectations in mind in an ideal world…

  1. How would they like these customers to be feeling before they arrive?
  2. How would they like these customers to feel whilst here?
  3. How would they like these customers to feel as a result of their visit? E.g. how would you like them to feel when they leave, how would you like to be remembered?

Emphasise you want them to be thinking about feelings and emotions, not about actions and behaviours.

At the end of the exercise ask them to identify:

  1. What you do brilliantly? This might include things you do that are unique or special that make you stand out from your competitors.
  2. What are the things you do really well, we’re 99% there, but with just a 1% tweak, we could make even better? (i.e. with minimal effort we could make a big difference.)
  3. Pick one emotion or feeling you are not yet achieving as well as you could. What could you do or put in place to improve this? Get them to focus on things which are within their own sphere of influence, i.e. things they could do, say or put in place that would make a difference.

Take action

If you only do one thing to improve your customers’ experience – identify the top 3-4 emotions you’d like your customers to experience when they visit/buy from you.

Related posts: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/employee-recognition/

https://www.naturallyloyal.com/emotional_triggers/


The Problem with ‘No Problem’

On one of the workshops I was delivering last week we were discussing the use of positive language. One of my pet hates is the response “no problem”. So we got into a discussion on why “No problem” is a problem…

Firstly, our brains are not very good at processing negatives. So, if we tell someone not to worry, tell a child don’t spill your drink, or a customer there’s no problem our brains focus on worry, spill, and problem.

Secondly, people think of you and associate you with the words that you tell them to associate with you. It’s no accident that in advertising you see words like luxury, easy, fresh, safe, exciting, etc.

This means you can plant the image in your customer’s head of what or how you’d like them to think about you and/or your business.

For example, if you offer a service or any kind of help, although you might solve your customers’ problems you certainly don’t what them to associate you with problems, but rather with help, helpful, solutions, easy.

If you offer accommodation depending on what your customers value most you may want to be associated with a good night’s sleep, comfort, relaxing, peaceful, pleasure, value, convenience.

If you’d like your customers to associate you with pleasure, use the word pleasure frequently. For example, when someone says, “thank you”, rather than responding “no problem” respond “my pleasure”.

In other words, people will associate you with the words you tell them to associate with you. So, unless you want your customers to associate your business with problems, stop your team using “no problem”!

Instead, start by identifying 4-5 words you’d like customers to associate with you/your business. Of course, every business will be different, and you want your customers to associate you with something that differentiates you from your competitors. If you have clearly defined values you probably already have some of these words already.

Then weave these words into conversations as often as possible.

So, the example of a helpdesk might use some of the following phrases:

“Yes, I can help you with that”,  “Let’s see how I can help you with that”, “Let’s see what we can do to help you with that”, “If we do x would that help you?”, “I’m glad we could help you”, “Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Give your team visual cues to remind them of the words to use. Although I’m not a fan of scripts, you can still encourage the use of these phrases in opening lines and closing lines of any customer conversations.

Action

If you only do one thing: Listen to how often your team say “no problem” to customers and find an alternative phrase for them to use which better reflects what you’d rather your customers associate with your business.


How to change your team members’ moods

I’m sure from time to time even your most outgoing team members have their off days – those times when they are down, flustered, bored, angry or frustrated.

And of course, this impacts their colleagues.

And your customers.

Most people believe they can’t change their moods, but here are 4 things (including an exercise you can do with your team as part of your customer service training) you can do with your team to influence their moods, so they are more productive and engaged with their job and engaged with servicing your customers well.

Action point

If you only do one thing as a result of watching this, help your team members identify when they are in an unresourceful state and how to change this.



Ways with Words and how they impact customer experience and service culture

words impact service culture

Do you remember the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?

Won’t they?

Ask any experienced marketing copywriter and they’ll be able to tell you just how powerful words can be in creating both positive and negative emotions, and prompting people to take notice, put up barriers or take action.

In today’s video in my mini video series on the A-Z of creating a service culture (we are up to the letter W now) I talk about the importance of your choice of words, and how some can create a positive or negative emotion; not from a marketing perspective, but how they might impact how your customers and/or the team members feel and how this gets reflected in your customers’ experience and service culture.

 

Building Rapport

People generally like (and feel more comfortable with) people like themselves. Using similar words, terminology and expressions helps build rapport with customers and team members alike. So, listen out for the terminology others use and try to use their terms rather than yours.

(This extends to showing common interests, common goals and common values.  So, assuming you share these let them know, as these can help to bond you together.  A relationship with a customer or team member will be a lot easier if you share something you have in common.)

 

Adding Value

Do you remember how Gerald Ratner described the jewellery he sold in his (up till then successful) jewellery stores?

The words you use to describe your products and services will have a big impact on how people perceive them, and the value they place on them.

Describing something as ‘just…’ or ‘only…’ can work to play down the price, but when you’re describing a product or service you have the impact of diminishing its value. Instead, use powerful words which will create emotional appeal (bearing in mind that most buying decisions are based more on emotions than logic). Such as: gorgeous, luxurious, delicious, creamy, warming.

Teach your team to use such descriptions for your products and services. That doesn’t mean to say they need a script, but get them to identify what – for them – best describes that product or service, a description they are comfortable with when explaining to a customer.

 

Dealing with disagreements

Whether it’s handling complaints, dealing with poor performance, or simply having to say no to a customer or a team member, your choice of words can have a big impact. Some are like red rags to a bull. Here are a few examples we so often hear…

Yes, but… As soon as anyone hears the word ‘but’ they know they are about to be contradicted. See: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/yes-but/

It’s our policy – no one cares about your policies, they just want to get what they want (or the next best thing).

You can’t, you have to, you must – people don’t like being told what to do; offer suggestions, recommendations, if you do X you’ll get Y (Y being a solution or something of benefit to them).

That’s not my job, that’s not our department, that’s not my responsibility.  Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do – even if this is simply helping to put them through to the appropriate person or department.

 

Blinded by science

It’s easy to fall into the trap of using industry jargon, but if your customer or team member is not familiar with this jargon, it can make them feel embarrassed, uncomfortable or patronised.

Don’t dumb down if you don’t need to, but just beware of using terms others either simply don’t understand or could be misinterpreted.

 

Common courtesies

Ensure your greetings are sincere; there’s a huge difference between a scripted, bland and robotic “how are you today, sir? ” without even bothering to look up or listen to the answer, and being greeted with a sunny smile and a cheerful “Good morning, Mr Smith! We haven’t seen you for a while; welcome back!”

Using someone’s name when you greet them makes them feel more valued. However, never shorten their name unless they ask you to. So, Mr Smith doesn’t become Fred, Andrew doesn’t become Andy or Deborah doesn’t become Debbie unless that’s what they request.

Never under estimate the value of a heartfelt “thank you” be that to a customer, team member, supplier or colleague.

 

If you only do one thing

Over the next 24 hours take stock of the words and language you use and listen the words your team use.

Ask: do these create a positive emotion or leave people with a negative impression, and how well does the outcome reflect the service culture you want to create.


When I have more time

The reality is that we will never have more time; everyone has the same 1440 minutes in a day, and the same 168 hours in a week. (Okay, so if you’re in the UK you will have had an extra hour on Saturday night, but don’t forget that will be cruelly snatched back from us in March!).

It’s what we do with that time that counts.

It’s not just how we spend our time that impacts us, but how our team spend their time, too. When they’re not being as productive as you think they should or could be it’s important to stand back and analyse why.

That’s one of the things I’ve been doing this week for one of my clients. I’ve been working with some newly appointed customer service supervisors, who have been getting too bogged down in the day-to-day reactive tasks (which really should be carried out by their team members) and thus making very little headway on some of the proactive activities they should be working on to drive their customer service forward.

I find it’s not unusual for newly appointed managers or supervisors to lack confidence in allocating or delegating tasks, for fear of losing control or in case the team member doesn’t do it as well as they would’ve done. Particularly when they have been promoted internally.

However, when they fail to delegate and trust team members to get on with things this can lead to frustration all round. The supervisor has too much to do and ends up with too little time to complete bigger picture and more proactive tasks. Their line manager is frustrated because there is little headway on these proactive activities. And the team members end up feeling undervalued.

Of course, this all has a knock-on effect on the customer too. Even if they don’t sense the frustration amongst the team, they will undoubtedly end up not receiving the best service possible.

If your supervisors are struggling to let go here are 7 ideas and points to review with them.

  1. Get them to identify what they are here for; what things wouldn’t happen if the job didn’t exist. Most people will give you a list of the tasks or activities that won’t get completed. Let them give you this list but then go back and get them to identify the outcomes of those activities. For example: an activity might be conducting monthly 1:1 meetings with each of their team members, one of the outcomes of which is for team members to feel valued, ultimately contributing to their level of engagement and productivity.
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  2. Ask them to track and then analyse a day’s activity. Of all of the activities they completed during the day how many of these and what proportion of time was spent on things that only they could do, and that contributed to what they’re there for. Then get them to identify all the things that in a perfect world could be delegated to somebody else. See if there are any activities left, that really don’t need to be done at all.
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  3. Explain to them the difference between importance and urgency (ref: Stephen R. Covey ~ The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People). Help them identify examples of tasks which are non-urgent but important (QII activities). Then get them to break down these activities into the smallest possible denominator, so they can identify which tasks could be delegated, and schedule in the rest, so they can be chipping away at these QII activities.
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  4. Ask them to identify what holds them back with delegating; for them to be as honest as possible. Their responses might include: fear of losing control, reluctance to give up the tasks they enjoy, thinking it will be quicker to do it themselves, they’re not confident team members are capable, they’re afraid they’re going to get a negative response when they ask, they don’t want to overburden anyone.
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  5. Help them identify what can be gained from delegating tasks: free up time for proactive tasks, develop and/or stretch team members, the job might get done more quickly, more cheaply, and maybe even done better!
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  6. Before delegating anything, get them to prepare, by thinking through the purpose of the task, how it will be measured, what this person will need to carry it out effectively, and how it will be followed up. Here’s a checklist I use with inexperienced managers and supervisors to help them really think it through in advance. They won’t need this every time, but it helps focus their mind on what they need to consider beforehand.
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  7. Monitoring and measurement is an area where you might have extremes. Some newly appointed managers are so nervous about letting go, they hover the whole time and never give the person a chance to get on with it. But then at the other end of the spectrum you might have managers who simply make the assumption that everything is on track, and don’t do enough to monitor or follow-up that the task of been completed, as requested.

Letting go is a gradual process, and any inexperienced manager or supervisor will need time to build up their confidence before they will trust their team members to get on with the task in hand. So, in the same way you would expect them to review and follow-up with tasks they have allocated, you’ll need to do the same with them to build up their confidence and skill.

 

p.s. If you’d like some help training your first line managers set up a call with me here, via my online diary