Category Archives: Employee Engagement

How was I supposed to know!

setting expectations

Setting Expectations

I’m just preparing a workshop focusing on setting expectations, for the next module on an in-house management development programme.

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, 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.

Related video: Setting objectives

Related post: Fluff Busting



Encourage your team

Encourage your team

Encourage your team to do their best by taking some lessons from the Olympics. If these help win gold medals, what impact they can have on your team?

Nine years ago, I was hooked. I’ve never really been a big sports fan, but as my husband enjoys athletics, we’ve always enjoyed the Olympics.

Particularly in 2012.

I’d always regretted not taking up the opportunity to work at the Sydney Olympics when Sodexo (who I was working for at the time) were heavily involved in the catering and support services.

So, I wasn’t going to miss out a second time, and got involved with delivering customer service training for some of the local temporary Tourist Information Centres, and the Games Makers. I went along to see the Olympic flame come through our local town of Petworth on a wet and miserable Monday morning.

Then, I think like so many people, I was captivated by the opening ceremony; who could ever forget The Queen dropping into the stadium from a helicopter?! On the opening day of events, I made my way up to Box Hill to cheer on our cyclists.

And for the next 15 days, I can safely say I got very little work done!

But so far this year, I haven’t watched a single event in Tokyo.

What’s changed?

For me, without the crowds, it’s completely lost all atmosphere. Is this important? I think so.

The other day I was reading an interview with Greg Rutherford. He was recounting his feelings as he entered the Olympic stadium on what became known as “Super Saturday”, and how the crowd’s reaction really spurred him on (and even isolated one voice in the crowd who called out “Come on Greg, this is your time”).

Of course, Greg went on to win the gold medal, along with Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah both also winning gold medals that same evening.

Drawing on the energy of the crowds, I’m sure it makes a massive difference to people’s performance.

So, what has this to do with managing people?

I believe, just like those athletes, people in your team can get spurred on and encouraged by those around them.

Here are 7 lessons I believe we can take away from the Olympics or sports in general and apply in business:

1. Set goals

Every athlete knows what their goal is. It’s not always to win, it might be to qualify and get through to the next round, it might be a personal best, or simply an improvement on their last performance.

Does everyone in your team understand their goals and what constitutes success for the day ahead?

2. Focus on strengths

Whether within a team, or in an individual event, sportsmen work to hone their skills. They don’t compete in events that are not suited to, and in team events they complement one another.

How often within our teams do we create a Jack of all trades, but masters of none?

3. Supportive feedback

When sportsmen perform, they don’t just get feedback on their performance compared to competitors, but also some specific feedback on their individual performance. If they didn’t win or achieve their goal, they want to know what to do differently next time; if they did win or achieve their goal, what did they do to achieve this.

Do your team members always get useful feedback on their performance?

4. Coaching

There’s a reason why so many sportsmen give credit and recognition to their coach. It’s one thing having feedback, but it’s quite another having the support and guidance to act on that feedback.

Does everyone in your team get the necessary coaching and guidance from their line managers to improve their skills.

5. Putting it in perspective

Goals can be less inspiring and motivating when they are too far-reaching. It can be more encouraging sometimes to look back at how far they’ve come, rather than how far there is still to go.

This is a useful strategy to use with people who lack confidence or doubt their ability to succeed.

6. Lap of honour

When a sportsman’s been successful, they can revel in the limelight with their lap of honour, audience applause and prize-giving.

Do your team members get an opportunity to revel in the limelight, to get the recognition they deserve, when they’ve done a good job, supported a colleague, or gone out of their way to make a customer’s day?

7. Continuous improvement

No sportsmen will stay at the top of their game if they become complacent. Even after a big win, it’s not long before they’re back in training and fired up again, working towards the next goal.

What do you do in your business to get your team fired up again after a big event, or after reaching a significant goal?

If you only do one thing to encourage your team:

Review these 7 lessons and pick just one to do more of over the next 2 weeks of the Olympics.

Related video: 5 Ways to help employees feel valued

Related blog post: Setting mini goals


Respect people’s wishes

respect peoples wishes hug

Just because we could didn’t mean we should!

Respect people’s wishes, as others may not be quite so relaxed about ‘freedom day’.

I went to my first party on Saturday; limited to 30, and all adhering to guidelines, of course.

There were lots of friends I hadn’t seen in person for 18 months or more, people I so wanted to give a great big hug.

But just because I could, it didn’t mean I should. There were some who, for a variety of reasons, were still nervous about being exposed to any risk, and wanted to maintain their distance. It would have been easy to forget this and leave people feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable.

Just because freedom day has finally arrived, I believe it’s really important we respect people’s wishes when it comes to the degree of contact they are happy to have, be those team members, customers or suppliers, or simply people we pass on the street.

It’s easy to forget that when something isn’t important to us, that it might still be very important to others around us.  Just because we’re double jabbed and happy to get up close, doesn’t mean everyone else is.

It’s prompted me to mention two things I’ve written about before, which it wouldn’t hurt us to keep in mind…

Understanding the individual

As Stephen R Covey describes in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, understanding the individual is probably one of the most important deposits you can make in what he calls the Emotional Bank Account.

What might be important for you may not be perceived as important for others. And vice versa.

He suggests that what is important to the other person should be as important to you as the other person is.

In the context of personal safety and how comfortable people feel in the workplace, now might be a good time to follow up on your return to work interviews, as a lot has changed since then.

Listen

In a previous blog, when discussing return to work interviews I suggested it was important to discover how they feel about being back at work.

It’s still early days with restrictions lifted, and although they might feel fine now, as customers’ and suppliers’ behaviours change, this could lead to team members feeling more vulnerable.

What concerns do they now have, now that restrictions have been lifted and more people have been vaccinated? Do they ever feel uncomfortable about any of the tasks they need to perform, or situations they find themselves in.

Remember, some people are very good at putting on a brave face; listen to their tone and watch their body language. Listen out for the things they don’t say or any questions they avoid answering. You may need to probe a little to get to the heart of any concerns.

Let them know you are there to support them, and to come to you with later questions, concerns or suggestions. Reassure them of your commitment to their safety and ongoing support.

If you only do one thing: And if anyone in your team, customers or visitors want to maintain their distance, or wear a mask, please respect their wishes.

 


Maintaining Momentum

maintaining momentum

How to maintain engagement with your team

Hooray, we can now hug, go to the flicks, visit museums and of course most important of all…

… we can go out to eat and drink in comfort indoors, and stay away at friends or in hotels or B&Bs.

If you’ve reopened this week or you’ve recently welcomed your team back to the workplace, I’m sure you’ve invested much time and energy into ensuring they came back feeling confident and energised.

Everyone I’ve spoken to is predicting a busy period ahead, and it’s quite possible your team have already been working flat out.  So, don’t let all that effort you put in pre-opening simply stop just because you’re busy.

Continue to take steps to help your team feel valued, and maintain the momentum right through the summer and beyond.

Recognition

Recognise and reward the extra effort that goes into the first few weeks, whilst everyone is getting to grips with new ways of working, alongside keeping your guests, members and visitors happy.

Give your team members a voice. Ask for their feedback and ideas, particularly over the first few shifts, to review how things are working. Acknowledge any improvements made, however small, even if things are not perfect yet.

Carry on setting mini goals so people continue to get that sense of accomplishment as they see these achieved.

Trust

Earn and maintain trust with your team by showing you have their best interests at heart, demonstrating your integrity.  Address any concerns, and always doing what you say you’ll do.

Be positive and optimistic about the opportunities ahead. However, be honest too, your team will see through any false bravado.

Trust is two way, so demonstrate your trust in them.

Give team members flexibility to adapt and adopt their own way of doing things. Empower them by giving responsibility and ownership for the areas within their control. When they have ownership they’re more likely to take pride in what they do and do an even better job.

Ongoing development

Although there may be lots to learn in the weeks leading up to and post opening, ensure you continue to offer your team ongoing development, to give them the opportunity to grow and keep them interested and engaged.

It many ways the pandemic has brought out the best in people. One of the results of this is revealing strengths and interests people weren’t aware of before. Recognise any projects or activities they’ve been working on whilst on furlough, so you can take advantage of these, or give them the opportunity to continue their development in these areas.

Continuing to invest in them will help maintain commitment, engagement and loyalty.

If you only do one thing to maintain momentum: Continue to be mindful of how people are feeling and respond appropriately.

This was one of the topics I covered in my interview last week for Savvy Says with Kate Plowright. You can watch the whole interview here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k26bnSU1gKg


Building Confidence

building confidenceBuilding confidence with team members as they return to work

As your team return to work, you may need to do some confidence building. If they’ve been on furlough or working from home for some time, the may need some reassurance once they return, either to their old duties, or new tasks which are now part of their role.

Whether it’s because they’ve not done something for a while, or you’re introducing something new or a different way of doing things is bound to feel a bit clunky to begin with.

And when you need to make changes to the way they do things it takes even longer to get used to the new way.

Human nature says we’ll always take the path of least resistance, so the slightest obstacle will send people back to their old comfortable way of doing it.

However, sometimes there can be a real reluctance even to have a go. There might be a number of reasons for this. But often it’s just down to a lack of confidence, especially if the new way of doing things involves a degree of risk or difficulty, at least from the employee’s perspective.

And longer term a lack of confidence will stop them getting on with tasks off their own bat, which can be both frustrating and draining for you, and have a knock on effect for colleagues and customers alike.

Here are 7 ways you can build confidence in your team members, and prevent this happening in your team:

1. Play to people’s strengths.

It’s a lot easier for you to allocate 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.

You might need to look for the capabilities in others that they themselves may not see and help them to see these for themselves. Focusing on strengths not only boosts confidence, it enables people to shine and excel. It means complementing potential shortcomings of others in the team, contributing unique value in the eyes of colleagues and customers.

That doesn’t mean to say you don’t develop people in other areas, but avoid the temptation to make everyone mediocre at everything.

2. Establish expectations

People hate not fully understanding what’s expected of them; it can leave them hesitant and fearful of making mistakes.

It’s inevitable that some ways of working and duties will have changed. If there are duties that used to be part of their role that are now less of a priority, explain why this is. If these were tasks they did well or took a particular pride in doing, be sensitive to how you handle this, so they don’t get the impression that their previous efforts were not appreciated.

If it’s a new task ensure they understand the significance of the task, and set a clear and simple objective, and what controls such as budget, deadline, when and how any review will take place. Bear in mind, it may take them longer to begin with as people get into the task.

3. Empower

People soon pick it up if you don’t trust them or are reluctant to allocate any responsibility to them, leaving them doubting their own abilities.

Demonstrate trust by letting go. 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.

Cut the red tape and give your team the freedom to do what they think is in the best interests of the customer.

Set clear boundaries so they understand the exceptions and when you really do need to be involved.

3. Give flexibility

Allow each of your team to adapt and adopt their own style and 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.

4. Develop ‘experts’

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.

This is not only good for people’s development it also helps the team respect other’s roles and share the burden.

5. Reassure

Let them know you are there to support them, and to come to you with later question, concerns or suggestions. Reassure them of your commitment to their safety and ongoing support.

Encourage your team by assuring them that they have the skills and knowledge. If you really are unsure of somebody’s ability to deliver what’s needed reflect on what help and support they would need in order to achieve this and focus on that instead.

Build confidence by providing positive feedback and recognition. Offer plenty of support and encouragement.

6. Learn from mistakes

When things go wrong this can knock people’s confidence. Foster a supportive culture where people can learn from their mistakes, rather than be blamed.

Encourage everyone to come forward when things haven’t gone to plan, or when there’s been a near miss. Then focus on how to avoid this happening again, not just for that team member, but for anyone else in the team.

Ask your team member(s) for their suggestions. Nine times out of ten they’ll work out for themselves the best way to avoid a repercussion.

Recognise when any improvements are made, even if things are not yet perfect!

7. Celebrate and reward success

Celebrate success so you encourage more of the same.

Establish regular opportunities and events to enable others to share their successes and achievements. This could be as simple as daily briefings where individuals talk about their successes and what others can learn from these, but add more weight to this by publicly recognising their success e.g. sharing achievements with your guests or entering them for awards.

Highlight how individual contributions have had a positive impact on the business as a whole. Recognise and reward individuals, departments or the team as a whole to demonstrate how you value their successes.

In summary

Building confidence in your team starts by demonstrating your trust. Empower individuals and the team by giving them authority to make decisions and take action. Generate a climate of confidence by drawing attention to the strengths of the team and individuals and where they complement one another rather than dwelling on shortcomings.

Related content

Blog: Learn from mistakes 

Video: How people learn

LinkedIn share

 


Resourceful states

resourceful statesHow unresourceful & resourceful states influence employee engagement

When you get home from work can you normally sense what sort of mood everyone else’s in? Even when no words are spoken it’s usually pretty easy to tell. Our moods and emotions are usually evident to others from our behaviours, facial expressions and tone.

Certain emotions or unresourceful states will inevitably have a knock-on impact on everyone around us – family, friends, colleagues and customers alike. Such as worried, angry, bored, frustrated, resistant, confused, irritated, flustered, tired, impatient or distracted.

When you, your team – any of us – are in these unresourceful states, if faced with challenges the tiniest problem can lead us to frustration or aggression; the slightest failure can lead to disappointment, blame or self-doubt; a hint of rejection can lead to anger or defensiveness.

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

And from a position of these resourceful states we can more readily find solutions to problems, learn from our failures and bounce back from rejection.

On the Fresh Start session I ran last week we discusses this in the context of helping your team feel positive about returning to work.

Here’s an exercise I shared with the group which might work for you too….

3 x 3

Grateful

At the start of the day write down 3 things which you are grateful for, however major or minor they may be.

Get done

Secondly write down 3 things you must get done today. These are the things that above all else you must complete, even if it’s just making one phone call to progress a project.

Achieved

At the end of the day reflect on your day and write down 3 things you’ve achieved, however small.

Do these 3 small activities every day, and see if they help make you feel good about yourself and the world. Writing them down helps bring these things into your conscious awareness.

Take action

If you only do one thing try this simple exercise for the week ahead and see for yourself if it works for you!

Related articles: One bad apple

Video: Influencing employee attitude


Reopening your business

reopening

Very best of luck if you are reopening your business today or this week and you’re welcoming back customers. I’m not sure which I’m more excited about… Going to the pub or getting my hair cut!

Of course, this is good news for your team too, and the first steps to getting back to some kind of normality.

But this is just the beginning, and what you can learn from these first few days back will stand you in good stead as your team (and customers) return over the coming weeks.

Here are 7 tips to help this go smoothly with your reopening.

1. Tune in

Keep your ears and eyes open and observe your team in action. See for yourself what’s working and what’s not. But, just as importantly, look out for any signs of stress, friction amongst the team, or where things aren’t running smoothly.

2. Talk to your customers

Capture feedback from your customers. Find out what they loved (so you can do more of the same) and what was confusing, disappointing or made them feel uncomfortable, so you can address these. Do this now while their emotions are still running high from their experience.

Many of your customers may be new, visiting you for the first time. Get them engaged to increase the likelihood of a return visit. Follow up with them to show you appreciate their business, and use this as an opportunity to let them know what you have planned for the weeks ahead.

3. Thank You

Show you appreciate your team. Thank them for any extra hours or effort they’ve put in to make your opening a success.

A thank you and an acknowledgement of a job well done is far more sincere if you’re specific about what you’re recognising. So, say what it is about their actions that you appreciate. It might be spotting them doing something that shows you they’ve made an extra effort, helped a colleague, gone out of their way to help a customer, or used their initiative to get over a challenge.

4. Team feedback

Ask for feedback from your team members. Involve everyone in your review process as they’ll often be aware of things you’ve missed.

Ask 3 questions:

  • What went well for them?
  • What didn’t work and needs attention tomorrow, next week or with phase 2 of reopening?
  • What did they find difficult or where they struggled to meet customers’ expectations?

Accept feedback with good grace, and thank them for an honest response, and agree how you will address any concerns.

5. Near misses

It’s inevitable not everything will have gone according to plan or mishaps happened. Review the things that have not gone so well. Listen to your team and flush out any other potential risky situations, particularly if they have the potential to impact the team or customer service.

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

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

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

6. Celebrate and share successes.

Celebrate what’s gone well and create a buzz for the day, week and month ahead!

Continue to set mini goals so you and your team all see some quick wins, and keep the momentum going.

7. Play from a 10

The way you feel emotionally will influence the feelings of people around you.

Being confident, enthusiastic and energetic might not always rub off on everyone else, but if you’re not, you can’t really expect your team to be either!

Take Action

If you only do one thing – take some time out this week to sit down with your team and reflect what lessons you can take from the first few days of reopening.



What’s going on?

team briefings

Team briefings. Your chance to keep your team in the loop.

Things change daily in your business and no one in your team wants to look unprepared or be caught unawares.

This might be something as simple as a product or service which isn’t available, so customers end up being disappointed. Perhaps it’s a particular customer who has special requirements, who might need some specialist treatment or VIP attention. Or it could be something completely out of your team’s control, such as roadworks or severe weather, but that impacts customers.

Whatever the reason, your team need to be in the know. What’s happening and what you’re doing to add value for customers, or offering to minimise any negative impact.

So just how do your team members get kept abreast of what’s happening day to day in your business which can have an impact on them and your customers?

In our haste to get on with the day ahead it’s tempting to rely on notice boards or email. But there’s a problem with this… they are limited to one way, and no opportunity to question or clarify. You lose the ability to judge people’s reactions, or even know for sure it has been read.

A simple 10 minute “Buzz Briefing” at the start of each day or shift plugs this gap.

As the name suggests it’s your opportunity to create a buzz for the shift or day ahead.

It’s your chance to update everyone on anything that affects that day’s operation. Plus, it’s your opportunity to get feedback from your team on things that need attention, to answer their questions, or listen to their ideas.

So, even on your busiest mornings make sure these briefings still happen – it’s generally on the days that are your busiest that things go wrong, and in many businesses it’s on your busiest days when you have the best opportunities for increasing sales.

Take action

If you only do one thing. Next time you have an important message to share with the team gather everyone round and deliver the message in person rather than sending a blanket email. Notice what happens when you deliver the message in person and encourage a two way dialogue.

Related posts: Someone could have told us

Someone could have told us

 

 

 


Redefining your purpose

defining your purpose

Redefining your purpose so everyone is aligned

As you prepare for team members to return to work, remind people of your purpose.

Bear in mind, some of them may not have seen one another for the whole of the lockdown. You may even have new people in your team who haven’t met anyone yet.

So it will important for you to take steps now to bring the team together, and ensure when they return that everyone is aligned.

One area to start is by reminding people of your purpose, and theirs.

People perform better when they feel a sense of belonging, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to have a shared purpose. As a lot’s changed in the last 12 months, so it’s possible your vision, mission, or values have shifted.

Even if this isn’t the case, remind your team of your purpose, and by doing this collectively you know that everybody has had the same message.

In the lead up to opening, you’ll also have some immediate goals and priorities. If you let everyone know now what these are, and how they contribute to them, it means they can be more prepared for them as and when they return. This enables everybody to be working towards the same goals and targets from the outset.

When we think of purpose we might only think about the impact on the world. But Daniel Pink talks about two types of purpose. Purpose with a small p is making a contribution in the job. When people understand their own purpose or the part they play in your business as a whole, they are more likely to come forward with ideas and input. Your team will often have a different perspective, so give them a voice, which in turn gains buy in and helps them feel valued.

Take action

If you only do one thing: Prior to people returning from furlough or working from home, share your key priorities and focus for the next few weeks so everyone in your team is aligned.

Today’s top tip

Always welcome your team’s ideas, thoughts and suggestions for anything that might save time, improve your customers’ experience, or make their lives easier, however minor.

One percent improvement in 1,000 things is better than 1,000% improvement in one thing. Tom Peters

Getting buy-in blog

Giving your team a sense of purpose video


Quick wins

easy wins

 

Do you get that feeling of satisfaction when you cross things off your list, or is that just me?

Conventional wisdom says get the worse things out of the way first. As Brain Tracy referred to it as “Eat That Frog”.

But if your team are on furlough or working from home I believe it’s going to be hard enough for them getting back into the swing of things as it is when they come back to work.

So give them the opportunity to tick some things off their list early on, so they feel they are seeing some results within the first few days back.

Consider now what short-term projects or goals can you set everyone, which eases them in gently, but still results in some quick wins. It will certainly help focus attention back onto the job in hand, and get everyone back into full flow as quickly as possible.

Put tangible metrics in place to measure progress and success; it will be far more rewarding when they are can recognise success for themselves.

Give each individual team member responsibility over specific activities. This gives a sense of pride and ownership.

If you only do one thing:

Set short term goals for yourself and everyone in your team, so you have something to work towards this week.