Category Archives: Employee Engagement

It’s not the cost that counts for employee recognition

Don’t you just love it when you open up a gift, and it’s perfect for you?

It feels really good that somebody’s gone to the trouble of finding something that they knew you’d love.

You’re delighted that they paid attention to something you happen to have mentioned in passing.

You’re touched that they’ve gone to so much trouble to find the precise thing you’ve always wanted.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could leave our team members or customers feeling that way about what we give them?

Last week I wrote about the new John Lewis Christmas advert and how it prompted me to think about 2 things which are important factors in creating a service culture.

The first of these was emotional triggers and anchors, which if you missed it you can read here.

The second one was how often we focus on the cost of something rather than the value it brings.

I see the underlying message of the advert is that it’s not what gift you give or how much you spent on that gift, but what that gift can mean to the person you give it to.

So, how can we apply this principle in the context of creating a service culture?

As human beings we all like to be appreciated!

But there are many ways we can show that appreciation. It’s not about how lavish the gift, in fact it might not even be a tangible gift at all.

Ongoing, simple but sincere gestures – however small – that demonstrates your gratitude will certainly contribute to your team’s and your customers’ loyalty.

Here are a few ideas to show employee recognition and build customer loyalty:

  1. Help people celebrate: Something that seems insignificant to us might be a big deal for a team member or customer. Share in their excitement. What can you do to help them celebrate their special day or achievement?
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  2. Make them smile: In the same way you might share a joke, compliment a friend on their new shirt, or point out something fun, it might just be something we say or small gesture that really makes someone’s day. Spot opportunities to bring a smile to someone’s face.
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  3. I saw this and thought of you: Remembering an interest, a hobby or a project they are working on. And when you see something or meet someone related to it you make a note and send them over an article, buy a magazine or introduce them to someone who shares their passion. So long as it’s relevant, well timed and personal.
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  4. Remember people’s like and dislikes: People feel touched when you remember their likes and dislikes: their favourite foods, favourite colour, or simply the way they take their coffee. Never under estimate the impact when you remember someone’s preferences especially when they aren’t expecting it.
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  5. Spot opportunities to Give Little Unexpected Extras: Doing something spontaneous when you know the other person will appreciate it.
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    For example, for a customer finding something they’ve mentioned even though it’s not something you normally stock; gift wrapping or packing something with a personal touch or greeting because you know it’s their birthday.
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    For team members, letting them leave early because you know it’s their partner’s  birthday, their children’s sports day, or tomorrow they leave on a holiday of a lifetime.
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  6. Creating Magic Moments: Identify the little finishing touches that you can give to leave people with that wow factor. Picking up on an earlier conversation you’ve had that enables you to give a customer a personalised memento of their visit.
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    What is there that makes your business or offer unique, that others might enjoy taking home or share with others to create magic moments, not just for your customers or team members but their families and friends too?
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  7. Generate ideas. Challenge your team to come forward with their own ideas – If they were a customer coming to your business what little touches would they love that would make it memorable or extra special for them?
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    Ask them to imagine they had a magic wand and had all the time in the world, and a limitless budget… this can give you insights into what they might like too!

What can you give that can turn an average day into an amazing day for your team or customers?

Value, not price

A present should not be about the best or the most expensive thing. It’s not about the money, but about the thought that has gone into it. So that it means something to the person you give it to. This might be to delight, inspire, excite or simply make them feel special or valued.

This privilege shouldn’t be reserved for customers. If you make your team members feel special or valued they’ll do the same for your customers.

 



Another perspective

Both my grandfathers served in the First World War. My mum’s dad (Pop) was an officer in India. Dad’s dad (Granddad) a private in the trenches in northern France.

As you can imagine Pop and Granddad had very different experiences and very different perspectives of the war.

They also both responded in very different ways. Whilst in India Pop kept a diary which included drawings to illustrate events, effectively creating an historical document (since donated to the Imperial War Museum).

Granddad, on the other hand, never ever talked about the war. He simply wanted to block out the horrors he’d witnesses and endured. And who could blame him.

Whatever your own perspective, in the workplace it’s always useful to consider things from other people’s perspectives. Whether that is getting commitment from team members, dealing with customers, or merely seeking ideas or solutions to problems.

Let’s look at a few examples:

1. The Angry Customer

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.

Let’s focus on an example of a customer who is extremely angry and (to our mind) unreasonable. This customer is important to you because she spends a lot of money with you, but every time she visits or calls you anticipate some kind of confrontation or anger on their part. This is upsetting to you and your team but because they are a valuable customer you feel you need to do something to improve the relationship.

Your perspective

What I hear is a raised voice, curtness, demands for attention. What I feel is nervousness for what’s going to come next, frustration at her for doing this, defensiveness towards my team. What I’m saying out loud is calm, polite, but what I’m saying inside is how I’m determined I am not to be insulted. What I believe is this person is rude, arrogant and ignorant and likes to get her own way.

Customers perspective

As the customer I am stating what I want and the deadlines I need to meet. I hear someone who is meek and I’m not sure if they really understand my urgency and the pressure I’m under to get served quickly. I’m concerned that unless I make it very explicit I’m not going to get what I need, and I’m putting myself at risk of getting a hard time from my boss.

This second position (in this case getting into the customers shoes) helps create empathy and can give clues to a potential way forward. But although empathy will help it won’t necessarily lead to a solution both parties are happy with.

You both want the same thing – the customer getting what they need and going away happy

2. Poor Performance

When a team member isn’t acting appropriately or not doing what is asked of them. Imagine you’ve asked one of your team to carry out a refund for a customer. It’s a simple task, but when you check up on it later in the day you discover it’s not been done.

Your perspective

I’m irritated; I’ve given this person instructions on what’s needed. This is part of their job, and he should know what to do as he’s seen everyone else do it. If he doesn’t do it soon either the customer is going to get very irate, or someone else in the team will have to do it. I feel frustrated he’s not dealing with it, and appears to be putting it off.

Team members perspective

I’m confused. I’ve been asked to do this task (my old manager always processed refunds himself). Although I’ve seen others do it, I’m not really sure how to get the information I need. I was shown once but it was a while ago and I’ve forgotten all the details. I know it’s important for the customer to process these promptly, but also I’m nervous about getting it wrong. I’d ask for help, but everyone is really busy. I have 101 other things to do, so I’ll get on with those for now, and ask for help later.

You both want the same thing – the task done correctly

3. Making changes

When you need to get buy-in to a change, unless you consider others perspective you can find resistance to that change. Let’s imagine you are about to install a new system for taking bookings. You know it will mean fewer errors.

Your perspective

I’m relieved we are finally installing the new system as I know it will reduce errors such as double bookings or bookings left off the system altogether. It will streamline the process so making it easier for the team and reduce complaints from customers when there have been errors.

Teams perspective

Do they think it’s our fault? We believe it won’t make much difference as people prefer the personal touch, and probably won’t use it. Also, for regulars we know their personal preferences so if it’s all automated, we’ll end up with our regular customers being unhappy with their room or table allocation. If they aren’t happy they’ll moan to us and it’s bound to have an impact on our tips.

You both want the same thing – happy customers (who tip well!).

4. Finding solutions

It doesn’t just help in negative situations, it can also help clarify the way forward, when for example when you are stuck for a solution or a way forward on something that affects others.

For example: you have peaks and troughs of activity so when you’re quiet team members are sometimes under-utilised and end up wasting time. But at others you are really busy and then have an issue with customers being kept waiting.

Your perspective

I’m frustrated I’m paying wages for people to hang around doing nothing. But I know I need to have people there as when we are busy.

Their perspective – person A

We have a lot of hanging around, which is boring, and it makes the day go so slowly. I don’t want to be doing this job for the rest of my life and would love to get involved with some of the things happening in other departments. Why can’t I spend the downtime helping in other departments, and they help us when we are busy?

Their perspective – person B

I don’t know why I have to rush to get here so early as all we do for the first hour is hang around. I’d love to spend an extra hour with the kids before I come in, and I’d happily make up extra time if needed when we are busy.

You all want the same thing – not to have to hang around doing nothing.

In each of these scenarios you can see that the other person isn’t wrong, they just have a different perspective of the situation. Even when YOU think their belief is wrong or unfounded something must have led to their perception; to them this is the reality. Even if you believe you need to change their perception you must first seek to understand what it is and what it’s based on, and show you understand their perspective.

Then take a step back from an onlookers perspective to look for the areas of commonality so you can find a solution; ideally a joint solution that satisfies you both.

Related posts: Perceptual Positions 


Just a different type of skill…

 

At last week’s Independent Hotel Show Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality suggested we stop talking about low skilled and high skill staff.

I agree.

Everyone has skills, it’s just that different jobs require different skills. It takes a certain type of skill to run a busy bar, calm down an irate customer, service a bedroom in 30 minutes. These examples are in the context of hospitality, but whatever your industry I’m sure you’ll see the same principles apply.

Sadly, it’s often only when these people leave that we miss what they bring to the team. (….could that lack of recognition be the very reason they leave?)

When we don’t see individual skill strengths there’s a tendency to demand all-round competence in a job.  As a result, development focuses on areas where a person is least capable with time and energy spent on working towards average performance.

Imagine what would happen if you were to focus on people’s strengths.  You could help them go from strong performance to real excellence in their areas of greatest ability.  How much more motivated would team members be if they could focus on what they’re best at?

Of course, in reality we can’t always let people just do what they’re best at, but we can at least make sure that they’re not always under pressure to improve what they’re worst at.  A great team will have a balance of abilities and strengths so that people can contribute their best and don’t have to excel at everything.

Identifying people’s skills and strengths enables you to capitalise and build on these. This recognition means the team member can take pride in that skill. And knowing where you have strengths in the team can also help to identify ways to bridge any gaps you have elsewhere.

And in most cases

…the tasks people are good at are those they enjoy more, excite them and keep them engaged.

So, here’s an exercise you can carry out with your team to recognise their strengths.

First, make a list of the members of your team and consider each one personally:

  • What is he/she really good at?
  • What does he/she love to do?
  • When do you see him/her working really well?
  • What is his/her greatest talent?
  • What do you like or value about this person?
  • What do other people in the team value about him/her?

Now look at the team as a whole

  • What is your team’s greatest achievement to date?
  • What is the team really good at?
  • When does your team work best?
  • What do other people value about your team?
  • Why do you enjoy leading this team?
  • What are your team’s greatest strengths?

Having completed this exercise are there any strengths you’ve identified that you can capitalise on to bridge any gaps elsewhere?



One Bad Apple

We have 4 apple trees in our garden and I love this time of year when you can just pick an apple off the tree. We have more than we can eat, and as we all know, if you inadvertently store a bad apple along with others ultimately all the others will go rotten too. They look OK, but open up the box in a few months’ time and you soon discover your mistake.

It can be the same in your business too.

One of my clients has one of these bad apples in her team. It wasn’t obvious at first, but over time the issues are immerging. Tasks left half done, customers given inaccurate information, other team members left to deal with more challenging tasks.

Unfortunately, these disengaged employees on the surface look the same as everyone else.

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

But…

When you’re not around things get missed. They only do the minimum expected. They seldom go out of their way to support others, and they manage to avoid doing those jobs everyone hates.

They may not be consciously unhappy, but nor are they enthusiastic, excited or energised about the job.

And the worst of it is …

they are like the bad apples. If we don’t spot them soon enough they bring everyone else along with them.

It only takes one negative or obstructive person to get in the way and undo all your efforts. These people can have a massive impact on employee engagement, people’s performance and ultimately on your customer service levels.

Do you have any rotten apples in your business?

P.S. If it makes sense to measure financial and sales performance, it also makes sense to measure engagement.  Peter Drucker said it beautifully: “If you don’t measure it, how can you manage it?

Why not find out exactly where you are now.

Get your company’s engagement score in under 10 minutes, FREE

https://www.engagementmultiplier.com/en-gb/partner/naturallyloyal/



Ignore what she told you

I occasionally get asked to deliver one off training workshops. There’s nothing wrong with a one-off workshop providing it’s not just a sheep dip or tick box exercise, and everything else is in place to support delegates once they get back to the workplace.

I’m sure you, like me, can think of occasions when you’ve attended training, a seminar, or workshop, and returned to work the next day and carried on exactly as you did before. You’ve probably seen this happen with colleagues too.

It’s such a waste!

Not just of precious training budgets, but of people’s time and talents.

One of the reasons one off training can fail is when not everyone in an influential position is bought into the messages.

 “Ignore what she told you.  I know that’s what they told you on the course, but that’s not the way we do things in this department”.

Not only is this confusing, it can be very demoralising, and certainly not good for maintaining employee engagement.

Let’s look at this in the context of customer service training.

Is it that important?

Your team will fail to see its relevance if you’re saying one thing but doing another. For example:

  • You’re stressing the importance of customer service and to keep the customer happy, but all your metrics are centred on the bottom line and profitability.
  • On the one hand you’re saying how to treat customers, but on the other your team get to hear or see a poor attitude to customers from supervisors or managers.
  • When you’re stressing the importance of their commitment to the training, it’s important your team see that commitment coming from the top.
  • Reinforce the company’s commitment to customer service by getting involvement and endorsement from senior management for the training.

Varying standards

It’s easy for different managers to have different expectations and different interpretations of the standards you expect.

  • The more clearly you have these defined (and documented) in behavioural terms the easier it will be for everyone to be consistent and know exactly what’s expected of them.
  • This is particularly important when your team work shifts, and may report to different managers or supervisors at different times.
  • This is just as important for support functions as it is for customer facing departments if you want support functions to support your customer care focus.
  • At the very least everyone in the management team needs to be able to define these  (and be a role model) to set expectations, ensure consistency, and avoid any mixed messages.
  • And, of course, ensure whoever is delivering the training knows your standards and expectations too

Recognise and reward good service

Acknowledge when you spot great examples of good practice. This helps reinforce messages, demonstrates to everyone what good service looks like and helps bring the training to life.

  • Recognise and reward staff who go the extra mile and give exceptional customer service.
  • Share successes and results so everyone recognises the impact.

I’ve used customer service training as an example here, but these principles hold true with any training, particularly any behavioural skills training.

Having the capability to deliver training and coaching in house is one way to alleviate some of these challenges, but that’s not always possible.

So if you only do one thing…

Before you embark on your next piece of training, check that line managers and all those in influential positions are brought into the standards and principles you are teaching and expecting from your team members.


I didn’t know that!

Set Expectations

In my experience, none of us like to be he left not knowing what’s expected of us.

For example, have you ever parked somewhere, thinking it’s perfectly okay, until somebody angrily tells you that it’s private parking and you can’t park there. Or worse still you come back to your car and find you’ve been issued with a parking ticket.

In the first instance you probably feel awkward and apologetic (and probably a bit frustrated that it wasn’t clear and now wondering where you can park instead). And in the second instance you’re probably downright angry as it wasn’t clear there was no public parking.

The same principle of not know what’s expected of you can be confusing and leads to uncertainty within your team. At the very least it makes people feel awkward, and if they’re conscientious they feel bad if they’ve let you down. And of course, it’s frustrating for you because they’ve now not done what you expect.

But, in the long-term of course it can also lead to the same frustration, anger and resentment we might feel if issued a parking ticket when it simply wasn’t clear. Not good for keeping employees engaged or for productivity.

So, here are 10 considerations for setting your expectations with your team

  1. Define what great looks like. It’s easy to assume your team members’ ideas of a good standard is the same, but we all have different perceptions. This is particularly so with criteria which are less tangible, such as the way they interact with customers. ‘Good service’, ‘being helpful’ or ‘giving a warm welcome’ mean different things to different people. Give people examples, and describe what you will see and hear in behavioural terms.
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  2. Focus on telling people what you want to achieve i.e. the end result, rather than always dictating how to do it (unless of course for legal or safety reasons a specific process must be followed). This leaves people with the flexibility to adopt their own style, (and it will be surprised how often they end up improving the process).
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  3. Lead by example, so there are no mixed messages. What you do and say sets the tone and example for your team to follow. Ensure the same rules apply to everyone and that the rest of your supervisory team are consistent with their expectations.
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  4. There will always be times when things don’t go exactly to plan. If your team fully understand the most critical and non-negotiable activities or standards, this will help them prioritise. So, on the odd occasion when something might get left undone it’s the least critical things that get missed off.
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  5. Put tangible metrics in place to measure success. People normally put more effort into the things you monitor than those you don’t. Rather than just measuring your sales or your bottom line, have some yardstick for measuring other aspects of people’s jobs that are critical to your success, e.g. how do you measure the various aspect of your customer service?
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  6. Communicate your metrics. If everyone knows what’s required of them and how this will be measured they can keep track of their own performance and know how they’re doing.
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  7. Set your expectations of new team members early on; no one likes uncertainty or being left in the dark. Establish a thorough induction programme, so new team members can get up to speed as quickly as possible, making it easier for them and putting less pressure on the rest of the team.
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  8. Train from scratch in your way of doing things. Even if you recruit someone with extensive experience it’s vital they fully understand your way of doing things not just how they did things in their last job.
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  9. Observe the same principles for your seasonal team as you do for your permanent team members. Your customers won’t differentiate, and one person not knowing the ropes can have a negative impact on the whole team.
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  10. Communicate to everyone when there is going to be an exception. Maybe there are circumstances on a particular day which mean that some of your rules and processes won’t apply. Make sure though that you remind people when you’re going back to normal.

 

Action

If you only do one thing, review the last time one of your team members didn’t complete a task the way you expected, and ask yourself how tangible was your expected outcome.



Having Fun

Last week I was invited to a meeting to share with a group of business leaders and managers a case study of a programme I’d delivered in the same industry earlier in the year. The objective of this programme was to increase restaurant sales through “up selling”. (This is a term I hate, as it often makes staff feel they need to be pushy. I prefer using the term “adding value”. But I can talk about that another day…).

I’m not a great one for stuffy formality, so when I learnt that the meeting was taking place outside followed by a barbecue I knew it would be okay to be a little less conventional in terms of my ‘presentation’.

So, I incorporated some very interactive exercises as examples from the training programme, which got everyone involved, and having a few laughs into the bargain.

[One of these centred around descriptive selling which involved some scrumptious organic coconut macaroons, very kindly supplied by Ineke at Nourish (www.nourish-growcookenjoy.com). Thank you Ineke, they achieved my objective perfectly.]

I’m a great believer in having some fun, whether that be a business meeting, an internal meeting with your team or training.

When I look back at the feedback from the original training one of the underlying themes which led to its success was having fun. This resulted in participants feeling relaxed, maintaining interest and making it enjoyable.

And just as importantly, everyone remembering and applying the key messages.

It was apparent that previous training had not achieved any of these things, and in the past participants had been reluctant and unenthusiastic about attending training, which doesn’t make for an auspicious start!

Allowing people to have fun at work makes them more receptive and engaged (which is important for you) and enjoyable (important for the team). Smiling and laughter trigger dopamine, which in turn activates the learning centres in the brain, so is particularly relevant when training.

All good for contributing to your employee engagement, productivity and staff retention, all of which has a positive knock-on effect on your customer’s experience.

So, is it possible to have fun, even when it’s a serious topic?

Absolutely!

Here are 10 ideas for injecting some fun.

  1. Tap into their inner child. Reinforce messages with quizzes, create games or league tables to add an element of competition and fun. Copy some of the gamification ideas you see on apps such as awarding badges, progress charts, treasure hunts.
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  2. Add impact to meetings. Take people away from their normal environment occasionally (as long as this doesn’t make them uncomfortable or become a distraction); go outside, use music; alter the office layout, introduce unusual props.    Make full use of the senses. Use props and live examples that people can touch, smell and even taste if appropriate.
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  3. Add variety. Create opportunities for the team to do something different to what they are used to, to make their day more interesting. Break up routine activities with fun energisers and ‘right brain’ activities. These might seem trivial, but getting your team members involved and keeps them energized and in a better state of mind. There are also great for relieving any tension and getting the brain warmed up before meetings and/or training.
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  4. Celebrate obscure national days: Winnie the Pooh Day, Tell an old joke Day, National Popcorn Day. (In case you’re interested 24th of August is Vesuvius Day, Peach Pie Day and Pluto Demoted Day!)
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  5. Lunch on us. Bring in lunch or arrange for caterers to come in and produce a team lunch. Or if the occasion warrants it to celebrate or say thank you organise a long team lunch (or dinner) out with the business picking up the bill.
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  6. Team outing. Take the team out for a treat. It can be as lavish or as little as you like: afternoon tea, wine tasting, pizza nigh.
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  7. Find some quirky ways to recognise noteworthy achievements or events however small. Whether it’s the boss making the coffee all day, or awarding the team mascot for the day; just a small gesture they appreciate and means it gets recognised.
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  8. Charity appeal. Do something fun but with a serious note in aid of charity. Whether it’s Red Nose Day, Children in Need, Macmillan coffee morning or something of your own to support a nominated charity or a charity with special meaning for one or more of your team.
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  9. Create a company (or department) team. Whether it’s football, pub quiz, or bell ringing! Let them choose, but give it your backing, cheer them on and celebrate their successes.
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  10. Monday morning motivation. Banish Monday morning blues with something on a Monday morning for your team to truly look forward to. You don’t need to decide what this is – ask them!

So, whatever your business, keep things light hearted.  You might be dealing with serious subjects, but people will be more productive when they are happy and relaxed.

Laughter is the best medicine. A good hearty laugh relieves tension and helps boost the immune system. And it’s contagious.

So….   Have some fun!

 


How far you’ve come

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

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

Thinking this way only gets me frustrated.

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

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

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

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

Performance Improvements

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

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

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

Developing Team Members

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

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

Personal Progress

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

Action point

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


Stuff happens

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Emotional Bank Account

An emotional bank account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that has been built up in a relationship (as described by Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) .  It’s the feeling of assurance you have with another person.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding the individual

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

Attending to the seemingly insignificant

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

Keeping commitments

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

Clarifying expectations

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

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

Showing personal integrity

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

Apologising sincerely when you make a withdrawal

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

Action point

If you only do one thing this week:

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