Category Archives: employee productivity

Setting Expectations

Setting Expectations with Employees

Setting Expectations with Employees

On a recent workshop I was delivering on core management skills one of the managers had a light bulb moment. She suddenly realised that although four months into her role she had never really been specific about setting her standards and expectations for each of her team, and until now they had only been working to the way her predecessor had done things.

I know it can be tempting when you move into a new management role to put your stamp on things and making lots of changes very quickly, which can be unsettling for team members. And just because something isn’t being done the way you would do it, doesn’t make it wrong. But, she had taken time to understand her new role; and observed the team, before evaluating what needed to change. But she’s never really communicated with her team precisely what new expectations were.

This echoes one of the frustrations I often hear when I’m working with a business, i.e. the confusion on exactly what’s expected. What’s expected of the managers and what’s expected of team members.

It’s easy to assume everyone knows what’s expected of them, but a lack of clear direction can be frustrating, confusing and leads to uncertainty for your team members, inconsistencies for your customers and frustration for you.

When expectations are not clear and shared, simple misunderstandings become compounded, potentially turning into personality clashes and communication breakdowns.

Be specific

The more specific you are about the tangible and measurable indicators, the easier it will be for the other person to measure their success. What does great look like, sound like or feel like for you? What criteria are you using to measure performance?

Quantitative standards or pointers are easier to interpret than qualitative ones. So, for example, if you want the phone answered quickly, specify in how many rings. When it comes to qualitative standards, it can be far more open to personal interpretation, so giving examples and/or demonstrations can be helpful, but still be prepared to make the comparison between the preferred way and the old way.

Often, it’s subtle little nuances that make all the difference to reflect your service culture or improve employee productivity.

By focusing on what you want people to achieve i.e. the end result, rather than dictating how to do it, allows them flexibility to adopt their own style (you’ll be surprised how often they end up improving the process) rather than living in fear of not being able to comply with strict processes.

People are more likely to go above and beyond if they understand how their role helps the overall team’s or business’s objectives.

Be consistent

Your team only get frustrated and confused if you’re saying one thing but doing another. Lead by example, so there are no mixed messages.  Simple things such as how you answer the phone, how engergised and positive you are, how much trust you put in others, how open and honest you are when you make a mistake or let someone down.

It’s easy for different managers to have different expectations and different interpretations of the standards. When there is a need for a strict process, if these are detailed in behavioural terms and documented, it’s so much easier for everyone to be consistent. Ensure these same rules apply to everyone and that the rest of your supervisory team are consistent with their expectations. This is particularly relevant if any of your team report to different managers on different shifts.

Make it possible for your team to reach your expectations by providing the appropriate tools, time and training to do the job effectively.

Check your metrics and measures of success are in line with your expectations. For example, if 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 this can send a mixed message.

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.”

Albert Einstein

Working with friends and family

No one likes a teacher’s pet and if one person gets recognised more than others or gets singled out for recognition it will certainly not go down well with those who don’t get the same attention (as well as potentially embarrassing the person who gets all the glory).

Be aware of when any of your supervisors or managers are managing friends or family members, This can feel awkward not only for the manager, but also the friend/relative and other team members. Sometimes in an effort to avoid any accusations of favouritism the manager is harder on these people than they are on others in the team. But it’s important they have the same expectations of them as any other team member.

Similarly, when people have been promoted to management positions internally, and are now managing people they’ve worked alongside previously, it might be uncomfortable at first, but if they openly discuss the new dynamics with the team members, By talking about their role, defining boundaries, and aligning on expectations makes it easier all round, and is more likely to gain support.

Action point

If you only do one thing:
Ensure everyone understands the end result you’re aiming for and why.

Setting expectations with employees video

Reminding people of your expectations article


I can’t do that

I can't do thatWhat does it mean when they say “I can’t do that”?

Here’s a scenario I’m sure you’re familiar with – when you ask someone to do something and they tell you “I can’t do that!”

But, what do they really mean?

Let’s imagine it’s a member of your team. You ask them if they can do a particular task and they respond “I can’t do that”. It may not be quite as direct as that; “Erm, I don’t think so” or a simple “no”.

But the result is the same – a barrier.

Of course, the words alone might miss some of the meaning. What does their tone suggest? Is it one of hesitation, or of indignation? What does their body language imply? Fear, frustration, disgust?

Find out what’s prompted their reaction.

Is it merely an excuse due to a lack of willingness because they’re not convinced it’s worth the effort?

Or do they genuinely mean that they’re not capable, due to a lack of skill or knowledge, or some other underlying reason?

I can’t…” might simply mean a lack of confidence, and they’re in need of some reassurance, coaching or practice. Perhaps there are other skills that are a prerequisite, which they don’t yet have. Or, worse they fear it will expose other weaknesses they feel they have.

I can’t…” could mean they haven’t got all the resources they need. Maybe there’s special equipment needed, or a budget they don’t have. Perhaps they don’t think they have the time, or know what they can leave out instead to make time.

I can’t…” may be because they’ve simply not been allowed to do this before. Old systems, processes or procedures have prevented them, and despite the fact you’ve moved on nobody as yet has set out the new ‘rules’, or demonstrated their faith in them to do it.

We mustn’t dismiss the reason might be because they don’t feel it’s right; they don’t believe it’s the right solution for the situation, they might feel is not their place to do it, or they might be concerned it’s not ethical or just.

Why?

Whatever is behind it unless you understand why it can be difficult to move forward.

Simply asking directly “Why can’t you?” could be seen as a criticism or confrontational, so may not be well received or give you the real reason.

A simple, but concerned “… Because?”  might elicit the real reason, but check this isn’t just a stalling device or excuse. So, if example they tell you they can’t do it because they don’t have enough time due to another project or task, you might respond with something along the lines of “if we could re-gig your priorities and free up some time, what then?” This will help to flush out if this is the real reason or just an excuse and if there is another underlying reason which they may be more reluctant to tell you.

So, when you hear comments such as “I can’t do that”, or “we can’t do that” look out for and listen for hesitation and find out what’s behind their response.

Related video: The power of questions

Related article: Old habits die hard


Jump start to productivity

Productivity

 

Giving your team a productivity boost

7 ideas to help you and your team get back to full productivity.

After two weeks of late nights and sleeping in late, getting up again at my ‘normal’ time this morning was a bit of a struggle.

And I don’t know about you, but all those plans of stuff to get done or sorted over Christmas didn’t come to much.

I confess, I am the master of procrastination, putting things off until later if there is anything in the least bit more attractive to get done!

Whether you’ve been working flat out over Christmas and new year, just doing the minimum, or simply taking a well earned break, it can sometimes be tough to get back into a routine.

The same applies to your team; it can be all too easy to fritter away the first few days back at work and achieve very little.

So whether you and your team are already back, or taking their break right now after working over Christmas, here are 7 ideas to help jump start you and your team back to full productivity from day one.

1. Celebrate and share successes

Update your team on your achievements for the past 12 months. 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 year ahead!

2. Fresh Focus

It can feel a bit flat if it’s back to business as normal; give your team something to look forward to over the next few weeks and months.

Share your plans for the coming year with your team as best you can, so they feel involved.

3. Set mini goals

What short-term projects or goals can you set which eases everyone in gently, but still enables them to see some results within the first few days back.

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 success, so people can evaluate their progress. And of course reward their success once achieved.

4. Time for a change?

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

Schedule one to one reviews early to discuss individual contributions and where they each fit in with your plans. 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. (Watch this short goal setting guide here )

5. New challenges

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

When reviewing individual contributions and where they fit in with your plans, discuss how you can add variety, set new challenges or stretch them.

Identify and utilise people’s strengths, and give individual team members responsibility over specific activities. When people have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise, resulting in a sense of ownership and pride. 

6. Fresh perspectives

When people have been away from the business for a couple of weeks, or even a few days, they often get a fresh perspective and see things in a new light.

What ideas have your team seen over Christmas which they’ve appreciated, and which could be applied in some way in your business?

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

7. Play from a 10

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; if we think it’s going to be tough getting back into the swing of things the chances are it will.

Behaviour breeds behaviour.  So, if we mooch around all day resenting being back at work we’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions, than if we’re confident, enthusiastic and energetic.

If you only do one thing to improve productivity in your first week back:

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

Related post: Productivity ~ Stop those Spinning Plates



Improving Productivity Guest Blog

improving productivity

The power of smart systems for your business and improving productivity.

Hotel management software company, Preno, shares why the right software has the power to revolutionise the way you work.

Running a business with out-of-date tools can cost time, patience, and money. When daily tasks like stock-taking, bookings management, and reconciliation are done manually, they waste hours of valuable time every day. At Preno, we think those hours should be spent focusing on business growth and customer experiences – instead of elbows-deep in admin. 

Our hotel management software is designed to streamline and simplify the way accommodation owners run their businesses. So it’s no surprise that we believe smart software solutions can change the way you work for the better. Here are just a few core reasons why.

A smart system keeps your business hyper-connected

When you’re running your business on multiple disconnected systems – like Excel spreadsheets, Google calendar, and an accountant – crucial data and information can be easily lost. One integrated system keeps things far simpler. For example, you might use Xero’s accounting software to take care of finances, and another industry-specific software solution (like Preno) to manage point-of-sale, stock-taking, customer service, and more. Used together, the two platforms will give you one connected system for everything from sales to accounting. A seamless approach like this means fewer mistakes, less double-handling of information, and better communication across departments. 

You can learn even more about what makes your business tick

The best software solutions don’t just keep all of your information in one easy-to-access place. They also come with reporting features that let you in on valuable insights that you might otherwise have missed. Many smart systems offer daily, weekly, or monthly overviews of how things are tracking – analysing metrics like revenue, sales, and customer demographics. You can then use these handy details to make more informed business decisions. For example, you could learn which type of customer is likely to spend the most money at your business, then invest in advertising that specifically targets those high-value customers. For the hotel-owners who use Preno, these reports can reveal useful information about their guests. Their staff can then use that information to create a more tailored experience – leaving the team feeling empowered to act, and their guests feeling incredibly well looked after.

Smarter systems mean more time to grow your business
When you’re busy running a business, time really is money – and the right software will give you back plenty of it. From emails, to payments – systems let you automate just about everything. No more long nights replying to emails, or manually re-entering information across different platforms. With a smart system like Preno, the routine admin is all taken care of, so hotel-owners can focus on taking care of their guests. Automation isn’t the only way smart software saves valuable time. When there’s only one system to learn, you can drastically cut down the time it takes to train your team to master multiple tools. And all those hours you’re saving on repetitive admin, you can spend finding ways to focus on your customers and build your business for the better.

In today’s world, smart systems aren’t just the best way to run your business. They’re the only way to run your business.  

So do a little digging, and find the right software solution to help your business grow. And if you’re a hotel owner or operator looking for a cloud-based property management software you can rely on, try Preno for free. 

Related post I didn’t have time


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

 

 

 


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.