Category Archives: Employee Engagement

Giving Effective Feedback

giving effective feedback

Giving effective feedback

Last week I was a guest on a webinar and was speaking on the topic of giving effective feedback. We did a poll at the start to ask if people felt they give or receive enough feedback. 80% responded NO. This stacks up with the feedback I hear from delegates on my workshops too.

I know I’ve written on this topic before and I make no apologies for doing so again as I believe giving effective feedback is such an important skill for any line manager, mentor or coach. When done well, not only can it improve performance, but it can be a great morale booster too.

I’m not going to go over the structure again as you can read about this here or watch a recent video here (starting at 1:47).

But, here are my before, during and after tips on giving effective feedback.

Before

  • Know what good looks like, so you know what benchmark you’re using for your feedback.
  • Ensure all line managers are consistent in their expectations and messages; this is particularly important when team members report to different managers/supervisors on different shifts.
  • Be clear on objectives/the outcome you were looking for as result of giving feedback; is it to see an improvement (if so in what way?) or are you aiming to show recognition for a job well done and boost morale.
  • Timing is important. Ideally you want to feedback as soon as possible after the event you’re feeding back on. If you’re feeding back as part of a general review, choose the most recent examples.
  • Consider moods/emotional states, both yours and theirs. If you’re frustrated or irritated by their performance, this will inevitably taint the feedback, so wait until you are in a better frame of mind.
  • Equally, if they are in a negative state e.g. tired after a long shift, this might be fine for giving morale boosting feedback, but if you need to see an improvement in performance this is properly not the best time.

During

  • Avoid fluff (see Fluff busting). Be specific and stick to the facts. If you need to deliver bad news, don’t fluff up the message in cotton wool. If you need to see an improvement, make sure this is clear. So avoid the praise sandwich.
  • Make it a two-way conversation, asking for their comments and ideas on how to improve or build on their successes.
  • Tune into their reaction: watch for signs that they are confused, defensive, or worried, and address these concerns during the conversation.
  • Demonstrate your trust in them. If they sense you have no faith in them, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Commitment: show your commitment and support for any actions needed following the discussion, and get their commitment on their part.

After

  • Be prepared to invest time and attention in following up, otherwise it implies it’s not important.
  • Monitor progress, offering support, guidance and coaching where it’s needed.
  • Maintain momentum; you need to be confident that any changes aren’t just adhered to for the next two days, what about the next 2 weeks or next 2 months? It takes time to embed new habits.
  • Recognise improvement or actions taken as a result of the feedback, and give praise where it’s due, so people feel proud of their progress/achievements. This means people will be more likely to be receptive to future feedback.

If you only do one thing

  • Give a piece of effective feedback today to at least one person in your team.



Employee Recognition starts with Thank You

Employee Recognition78% of employees don’t feel recognised!

That’s according to Debra Corey – one of the many interesting speakers at last week’s  “The Caterer People Summit“.

That’s a pretty shocking – and sad – statistic. She also cited of the money spent on employee recognition, 87% is spent on recognising long service (which is unlikely to have much impact on an ambitious 20 something), and her own research found that 72% of employees felt saying a simple “thank you” would make them feel more motivated and help build morale.

I know I’ve written about employee recognition many times before, but here are 6 of my own, thoughts on saying thank you:

  1. A thank you will have more impact if it’s spontaneous and in the moment; at the end of a busy shift, when you spot someone helping a colleague, when you see someone going out of their way to help the customer, whenever anyone demonstrates you values.
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  2. Saying thank you will have far more impact if you’re specific; what are you thanking them for, what impact that has had on the team, for your customers, for the business, etc.
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  3. Ensure your thanks extends to those beavering away behind-the-scenes. Your grounds and building maintenance teams, your housekeepers or cleaners, your finance team. All these people have an impact on your customers’ experience, either directly or indirectly, and ultimately on your business success.
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  4. Make your thank you’s personal and appropriate for the individuals. What would they appreciate most? Public recognition? A handwritten note from you or your owner/managing director? The opportunity to leave an hour earlier to tend to a personal matter? A small token gift relevant to an interest or hobby? Apart from the last idea, none of these cost; it’s never about the money. It’s the thought that counts.
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  5. Encourage your supervisors and line managers to show recognition. Recognition doesn’t have to be rationed, so encourage them to give this freely. Help them identify how powerful recognition can be. This, of course, starts with you and how you recognise them; be their role model!
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  6. Recognition doesn’t just come from the top. Make it easy for team members to show recognition for one another: when a colleague has stepped in to help someone who is struggling, when another department has mucked-in to support on a big event, when someone’s made a personal sacrifice to cover sickness.

Take action

If you only do one thing, make a point of thanking every one of your team members for something this week.



How to Re-energise, Enthuse and Engage Your Team

Engage your teamEngage your team after a busy Easter

I hope you had a good Easter, and if you were open you were able to provide all your customers with a good time and helped make some happy memories.

It’s probably back to business as usual today, but don’t forget to do a debrief. What went well, what didn’t go so well and what can we learn from it?

As a result, you may be planning on more training before your next peak time. If so I have just the thing for you, so you get maximum benefit.

Here are five ideas to re-energise, enthuse and engage your team for the next few weeks ahead

1. Say thank you

If your team were working hard right over Easter (and maybe missed out on family and friends events) don’t forget to tell them how much you appreciate their efforts.

Update your team on your achievements for the Easter period. What milestones has the business achieved, what were the highlights, and what’s been their contribution? Give praise where it’s due to create a buzz for the rest of the season ahead!

2. Near misses

In any business there are times when things don’t go according to plan or mishaps happen. Review what’s not gone to plan over the past few weeks. Rather than dwelling on the negatives, reflect on what you and the team have learnt from these events, and ask how equipped they are to deal with these situations if they happen again.

3. Fresh perspectives

There will always be little tweaks you can make to improve your service.

It’s amazing what your team pick up and the opportunities they see to improve the whole customer experience

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

4. What’s next

Update your team on what’s happening in your business and your plans for the next few months ahead, so they’ve a sense of purpose and focus.

It’s easy to feel you’re not achieving much in the first week after a particularly busy period. Whilst it’s good to catch your breath, don’t leave it too long before setting new goals. Allocating specific short term projects or goals gives everyone some fresh focus to get stuck in and see some results within the first few days.

5. New challenges

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

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

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

Utilise strengths, providing further development where needed to bring out the best in these areas.

Take Action

And if you only do one thing give recognition to the team of a job well done.

 

related post: Play from a 10


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.



Inject some energy

employee productivitySo here we are at the end of the first full week back to normal after all the festivities. How good has employee productivity been so far?

As a business owner you’ve probably plans, hopes or dreams for the year ahead. But for some, being back at work in January doesn’t always have the same attraction.

Whether your team have been working flat out over the Christmas and New Year period, or they’ve taken time off to take a well earned break, either way it’s often tough getting back into the swing of things in the new year.

It’s time to inject some new energy. Give your team something to work towards so they’ve a sense of purpose and focus, which will in turn improve employee productivity.

Here are 6 actions you can take to get you going…

1. Thank You

Simply say thank you to show your appreciation for their input and contribution over the past year. 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 pick out some specifics.

 

2. Celebrate and share successes.

Remind your team of all your achievements over the past 12 months. What milestones have you achieved as a business and individually. What were the highlights, and what’s been their contribution?

Staff are more likely to be loyal and work harder for a business they believe in.

Give praise where it’s due to create a buzz for the year ahead!

 

3. What’s your Why?

Remind people of your purpose and values. now as a good time to review your purpose and values. Are these living breathing and evolving and referred to and reflected in your day to day activities? Or simply a statement that’s tucked away and forgotten?

Be passionate about your purpose – if you aren’t how can you expect anyone else to be?

 

4. Fresh Focus

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

Share your plans for the coming year with your team so they feel involved.

Schedule one to one reviews early to discuss individual contributions and where they fit in with your plans for the year ahead. Ask for their input to demonstrate you value their contribution.

Encourage everyone in your team to have their own goals too. Even if these don’t include working for you long term, discuss how you can help them achieve their goals together.

 

5. Getting stuck in

It can often feel as if you’re not achieving much in the first few days or weeks back at work. Set some short term goals or mini projects so that everyone can get stuck in and can see some results within the first few days back at work.

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

 

6. Plan your training and development

As well as your routine refreshers, look at where you can be

  • Upskilling and cross training people to cover other’s responsibilities
  • Capitalising on individual strengths to enable people to really excel
  • Look for opportunities to stretch team members within their current responsibilities so they don’t get stale
  • Discuss how you can add variety, set new challenges or stretch them
  • Identify what development people need to work towards future roles and aspirations.

So inject some energy into your team to improve employee productivity.


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

employee engagement

Employee engagement ~ how behaviour breeds behaviour

It only takes one “rotten apple” to affect employee engagement across your whole business.

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.

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