Category Archives: Leadership & Management

Using the Coaching model GROW

coaching model

Using a coaching model in managing performance

In last week’s managing performance masterclass one of the principles we discussed was to identify when your team need support. One indication of this is when they say “I can’t do this” or after the event when they say “I didn’t have time”.

There can be many reasons someone doesn’t perform to standard and these might include

  • lack the skills and appropriate training
  • inadequate resources or tools
  • not enough time due to too much to do or staff shortages
  • they have not been given authority or access to everything they need
  • mixed messages from management about what they should be doing

But despite having everything they need it doesn’t necessarily mean they can do the task to standard, or do it at all!

Why?

Reasons may include, for example

  • They lack confidence in their ability or worried they will make a mistake
  • They are approaching the task the wrong way
  • They are cutting corners or rushing things so making silly mistakes

Coaching may be the answer.

How is this different to training?

With coaching you are helping the team member to come up with their own solutions.

It can help people tap into what they already know and find their own solutions. So if someone is struggling to apply a new skill, or simply making mistakes with a task they’ve been able to do ok in the past, coaching might well be the answer to identify what’s standing in the way and how to improve performance.

Probably one of the most widely known coaching models is GROW.

GROW stands for GOAL, REALITY, OPTIONS and WILL

It is not appropriate for every situation, but can be used to great effect to tap into people’s existing knowledge and experience and develop potential.

It is based on the principle that the ‘coach’ asks questions and draws the answer from the ‘coachee’ or team member.

This leads to increased awareness, better buy in and commitment, increases confidence and is good development.

Goal

Setting the overall coaching objectives and the goals for the coaching session. Goals need to be SMART*. There may two types of goal – one long term goal, then a short term goal for this discussion. Goals need to focus on what will be observed or happening once it is achieved.

In the case of when someone’s performance has dropped the GOAL would be to raise the level of performance to the set standard. Help them identify what good looks like, which might include how if feels for them when they are achieving this. Watch out for abstract words such as ‘confidence‘ or ‘improve‘ as they are subjective; ensure you are both clear what these mean. (see ‘Fluff Busting’ article here)

Reality

Checking and raising awareness of the situation right now. This brings out the employee’s perception of the situation, which can sometimes be very different from the manager’s. It is important that you don’t make assumptions about what is happening, even if you think you already know! It is important to get a full a picture as possible about what is happening to get to the root of the problem.

Options

Finding alternative strategies, solutions, answers. This is usually the hardest part for the manager acting as coach, as it is all too easy to give the answers or make suggestions. This means the employee will continue to be dependent on you to come up with solutions and not have to think for themselves. It is far more rewarding for the employee to come up with their own solutions.

And they will be far more committed to acting on solutions that they themselves have identified

Will

There’s a big difference between saying what you CAN do and what you WILL do!

We’ve all been to meetings when there has been a lot of talk and ideas and then you meet again a few weeks later and nothing has happened. The same will happen following a coaching discussion if there is no summing up of the course of action, and commitment from the employee to take action.

So it’s important to test the team member’s commitment to action by making concrete, realistic plans to reach it. This may involve flushing out any barriers or concerns, so they don’t get in the way and become an excuse for failing to take action.

The GROW coaching model

This format works well for day to day discussions in supporting your team in their work, as well as more formal one to one discussions on performance, objective setting, and development planning. It also gives a structure to use in team meetings for group problem solving.

If you only do one thing:

Next time you have a discussion with one of your team on what they need to do to resolve a problem, before you just tell them what to do, stop and consider if they could come up with the solution themselves by exploring each of these 4 questions.

An alternative version of SMART goals 


How are you doing?

Listen radio12th and final post in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

12. How are you doing?

Ask your team for feedback on how you are doing in their eyes. It can feel uncomfortable to give feedback to the boss, so ask in a more conversational way such as “What could I be doing to make your job easier?”

Be brave. We don’t always want to hear about the things that frustrate your team, particularly if you may be contributing to the problem! Be open to the truth and willing to listen.

Create the opportunity for people to give anonymous feedback. People may be afraid to say what they really think if they’re concerned about being labelled a problem or complainer.

Ask for feedback regularly. Things change and problems can fester.

Accept feedback with good grace, and thank them for an honest response. Address concerns. This doesn’t mean that you have to resolve every personal whim, but it means identifying trends, recurring problems or prioritising what needs attention.

Communicate progress. If people have taken the time to let you know how they feel let them know what and how you are addressing any issues or following through on their suggestions.

Action point:

If you consider yourself to be a brave, caring owner of a growth focused business, I think you’ll be fascinated by this FREE assessment.

Get your company’s engagement score on 10 minutes or less.

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

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Setting Expectations

setting expectations

If you're about to reopen or to launch your Christmas offerings it's important to set expectations. The chances are some responsibilities and priorities will have changed, so your team need to know what's expected.

Determine what needs doing, who is best placed to do it and then set your expectations.

This is something I always discuss on my management programmes, as it's all to easy to assume people know what's expected of them. But when there's any doubt it leads to confusion, tasks getting left undone or wasted time and energy on the wrong tasks or done in the wrong way.

All of which leads to frustration on your part and becomes demotivating for your team.

A little time spent up front will avoid this. 

So here is my

7 step guide to setting expectations

...to help you ensure nothing gets missed or taken for granted.

Setting expectations might not need much time at each of these stages, but at least consider them before leaving team members just to get on with the task how they see fit.

1. What tasks ~ Make a shopping list of everything that needs doing:

  • What new practices and procedures are in place
  • What new or amended offerings or service are you now providing that require new ways of working
  • What tasks normally performed by people who are still on furlough need to be covered by someone else
  • Which task which would have been routine pre lockdown are no longer a priority

2. Who ~ Select the best person for the task

  • Not necessarily the one with the best skills or the most time. There may be good reason for allocating some tasks to a less than perfect candidate to develop their skills in areas where they are weak
  • Often what people lack in experience and skill, they may more than make up for in potential and motivation

3. Why

  • Set a clear and simple objective for the task. It should build confidence, develop and stretch, not break the person or be considered an ‘offload’
  • Discuss the assignment and, importantly, how the task fits into the big picture, why it’s important for the business
  • Explain why you’ve chosen the person for the task

4. How

  • Check for understanding and ask for ideas
  • Provide guidance - not ‘how to’ do the task - but all the necessary facts, possible approaches, expected results

5. Where and when

  • Make a ‘contract’ establishing resources available, how often you will follow-up, how performance will be measured
  • Establish controls - budget, deadline, when and how any review will take place

6. Let them get on with it

  • Allocate, then trust them to get on with it. Make yourself available, particularly at critical times, but let them decide whether, and whenever, they need your help and guidance
  • Let everyone know who is responsible for what tasks so there is no stepping on toes, or tasks that fall through the cracks

7. Evaluate and feedback

  • Encourage self-evaluation – they’ll normally be able to work out for themselves how they’ve done
  • Concentrate on:
  • What worked well (giving praise for a job done well)
  • What they’d do differently (identify lessons learned not only for the person but for yourself too!)

We also discussed the longer term goal, but more on that next week.

Take action on setting expectations

If you only do one thing: make a plan of who is best suited to which task.

Related article:  https://www.naturallyloyal.com/old-habits/

Related video: https://youtu.be/546C4nilsxc



Attitude problems?

Attitude problems

A is for Attitude

I often hear managers criticising a team member’s attitude, “they have an attitude problem!” But what do they actually mean? What behaviours convey someone’s attitude? Often it’s their enthusiasm for the job, the way they support their colleagues, how they talk to customers.

But, before considering your team’s attitude, let’s consider yours!

How much of your team’s attitude stems from the example you set?

Let me ask you…

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

Of course the current situation is affecting us all, and I know how difficult it can be for some to remain positive when there is so much uncertainty and things out of your control.

But, like it or not, your mood has a profound impact on the mood of all those around you. Not just your team, but suppliers and customers; all of whom are probably looking for guidance and reassurance.

It influences your team’s attitude, their enthusiasm, their willingness to take responsibility, their confidence in you and the business and their loyalty towards you.

In turn, this certainly influences your customers’ perception of you and your team, their level of engagement and ultimately their loyalty to your business.

Rather than wasting energy on those things completely out of your control, focus on what you can control.

Being positive, enthusiastic and energetic might not always rub off on everyone else, but it’s a better bet to energise, engage and motivate your team than if you’re down and focusing on things you can’t control.

Lead by example and be a role model. If you are all doom and gloom this inevitably rubs off on your team and in turn, your customers too.

As Zig Zigler said “A positive attitude won’t help you do anything, but it will help you do everything better than a bad attitude will.

Take action

A little exercise I like to do and have shared with many of my clients to help stay focused on the positives, is to write down at the end of each day what you’re GLAD of:

G something you’re grateful for, however small

L something you’ve learnt today

A something you’ve achieved today

D something that’s delighted you, or you’ve done to delight others

p.s. If you want to follow the whole A-Z series subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss a thing:

related article: Attitude over aptitude



How to earn trust

earn trust Why you need to earn trust

According to a recent Harvard Review Survey 58 percent or people say they trust strangers more than their own boss.

This is truly shocking.

If your team don’t trust you, imagine what impact that can have on their performance, your staff turnover, your customers’ experience and your bottom line.

If you want your team to thrive, stay engaged and wow your customers start by ensuring you have their trust, and that people believe you and you will do what you say you will do.

I’ve written previously about demonstrating your trust in your team.

But trust is two way.

How to earn trust

How can you earn trust, and get team members to put their trust in you too?

  1. Show you genuinely care about them, and always have their best interests and long-term well-being at heart, not just business interests.
    A specific – but probably counter intuitive  example – is not giving in to the excessive or unreasonable demands of a customer who is having a negative impact on the well-being of team members.
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  2. Keep commitments. Do what you say you’ll do and avoid making commitments you will struggle to keep; breaking a commitment or promise is a major way to destroy trust, particularly when it’s somethings that’s important to the other person.
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  3. Lead by example, so there are no mixed messages. If you aren’t seen to adhere to the same principles and behaviours you expect from your team this is a sure way to lose their trust. Be of service and support to others in the same way you’d expect your team to be of service or support to their colleagues and your customers.
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  4. Don’t play favourites. 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).
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  5. Show personal integrity. Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create trust. It goes beyond honesty.  One way of manifesting integrity and earn trust is to be loyal to those who are not present.
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  6. Demonstrate trust. When you demonstrate your trust in your team you will usually earn trust in return.
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  7. Play by the same rules. Sincere appreciation is an essential ingredient to earn trust. Ensure all your management team all use the same criteria for rewarding and recognising the team’s contribution, so people don’t get confused or feel deflated when something worthy of recognition gets ignored.
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  8. .Habit forming. It takes time to build and earn trust, so if you have new members in your team or you are new to the team, focus on small daily commitments.
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  9. Apologise when you’re wrong. It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another not to admit it. Saying “I’m sorry” or admitting when you’ve forgotten something or messed up will go a long way to avoid losing trust.
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  10. Trust yourself. Earning trust from others is not enough if you don’t have trust in yourself. If there’s something you really believe to be right you have to show others what you stand for and what you stand against

Take Action

If you only do one thing to earn trust:

Treat your team with the same care, courtesy and respect as you’d like them to show your customers. Listen to them and take on board their requests, and work with them to make their lives easier (which invariably helps productivity and frees up time to improve service levels).

Related video: Do your customers and team feel trusted?



Mastering your Motivation

mastering your motivation

Four strategies for Mastering your Motivation

Mastering your motivation and how you feel determines your behaviour, your results, and effects the people around you. If you want your team to be motivated it starts with you.

Do you ever get those days when it seems the world is conspiring against you, when it’s a struggle to find your motivation?

I know I do!

I’ve left the back door open and my kittens have escaped, a red sock has got mixed in with the white wash, a saucepan boils over, I burn the toast…

Particularly after a long week or a few late nights we can all get a little tetchy, and it’s very easy to start to apportion blame, even if it is just blaming our tools. As the saying goes “a bad workman blames his tools”.

But as I know, there was only one thing to blame, and that’s me!

Although on each of these examples it is just down to me – operator error, we can’t always control our experience.

But we can control is our response to it and therefore the outcome.

Examples of this are when we allow others to influence how we feel, for example when someone criticises us personally, when a customer complains, or when a colleague snaps at us. Or when something happens that’s not aimed at us personally, but we know it will mean more work, or impact the business, such as new government guidelines. Or it could simply be something as mundane as the weather.

I’m sure we can all think of people we live or work with who are “Mood Hoovers”; they are the ones who don’t like it when you are full of the joys of spring, when they’ve got out of bed on the wrong side and made up their mind to stay in their grumpy state, determined to burst your bubble and literally suck your good mood and all your energy from you.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can hurt you without your consent”.

As a trainer and coach I know only too well how the way I feel determines my behaviour, and therefore my results, including the knock on effect on the people I’m working with.The  ‘trick’ to mastering your motivation is to decide, irrespective of what happens on the outside, that I choose to feel good on the inside. We can’t control the wind, but we can learn to set a better sail.

Easier said than done? Here are my top four strategies for mastering your motivation:

1. Start by being outcome focused.

It’s inevitable we get more of what we focus on, so if I’m focusing on something positive, for example “how can I make today a great day?” opposed to “I know today is all going to go horribly wrong!” I know I have a much greater chance of having a good day. My mind is focused on the things I do want.

This strategy also translates well into the workplace, keeping people focused on a positive outcome If people know what’s expected of them, and more importantly the outcome, there is a much greater chance that they’ll achieve it. We start to pick up on the knowledge, skills and behaviours that take us further forward towards the goal, and can adjust our course accordingly.

2. Always playing from a 10.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, that if we approach things from a position of negativity the chances are we’ll end up with a negative result.

So instead of approaching challenging tasks or people from an unresourceful state such as self-pity, lethargy, lacking confidence, confused or expecting failure, approach from a resourceful state such as creative thinking, how you can have some fun, being confident, enthusiastic and energetic.  It’s amazing how this rubs off on even the most reluctant people!

The same goes for problem solving in the workplace – if the boss implies that it’s tough, it probably can’t be done, or that people aren’t up to the task, guess what? They’ll prove the boss right. This doesn’t mean to say that they should make everything out to be easy, but let’s think about how much doom and gloom we’ve heard of late and the impact this has on us.

3. Reframing

When problems arise, (let’s face it, even with the best laid plans things can go array from time to time) rather than trying to blame others, approaching these from a place of independency. Asking “what can I do to improve the situation?” “What’s in my control?” Rather than focusing on what’s gone wrong, seeing it as a failure.

Take the approach that Thomas Edison took, by establishing what you’ve learnt.

This is also a useful technique for anyone lacking confidence coaching situation; learn from it and move on. Developing this approach in the workplace can engender a learning culture, where it’s OK to make mistakes, as long as you learn from it and don’t make the same mistake again. What better way to develop people and foster creativity and innovation.

4. Emotion is created by motion

The way we feel emotionally affects the way we feel physically. The reverse is also true. When we move physically, we move emotionally, too. So, our physiology will influence our feelings and the feelings of people around us. This means, if we mooch around all day lethargically, we’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions, than if we’re smiling, making eye contact and making gestures. It’s difficult, if not impossible to be depressed if you stand tall, head up, and with a smile on your face and with deeper breathing. Smiling and laughing make us feel good and happy.

The energy we put into our actions will be reflected in the energy of those around us.

It is remarkable to see how our behaviours (winning or not) have a knock on effect on the people around us, and the results we ultimately achieve. And I’m sure that if you were to ask any of your colleagues they can certainly tell when you’re playing from something other than a ten.

What winning behaviours do you, or could you, adopt to master your motivation?

Take Action to Master your Motivation

If you only do one thing: The next challenge you face today ask the question “What’s within my control, and what can I do to resolve the problem or improve the situation?”

Related video Choose your Mood

Related article Misery Loves Company



How am I doing? Conducting effective 1-1 meetings

How to conduct effective 1-1 meetingsConducting effective 1:1 meetings

Conducting effective 1-1 meetings is an essential skills for any manager. Never under estimate the impact of sitting down regularly with each member of staff on a one to one basis.

Whether you call them “one to one meetings”, “reviews” or simply “chats” really doesn’t matter; the important thing is that they happen.

And regularly.

But, why would you want to have these if you see your team members every day and give them feedback as you go?

Because conducting effective 1-1 meetings provides an opportunity for a private discussion, to raise points which you may not want others to hear, and for them to raise things they might not want everyone else to hear.

They also provide that window of time to focus on them:

  • not just you telling them how they’re doing,
  • but allowing them the opportunity to tell you how they think they are doing.
  • and to listen to their ideas, questions, concerns and suggestions

Your aim in conducting a 1-1 meeting should be:

  • To motivate your team members to either continue or sustain good performance
  • For team members to feel confident that they have the ability and support to fill any gaps where they need development.
  • It’s an opportunity for them to have their contribution recognised – not just performance, but have their ideas heard.
  • It devotes time to set direction and goals for the coming weeks.
  • The net result should be an enthused and motivated employee who knows what they should be focusing on, and how this will contribute to the business.

Two-way

I often hear of managers spending literally hours preparing for the meetings, then finding themselves having to work twice as hard to get the employee to contribute their ideas and views to the meeting. One to ones are as much for their benefit as yours, so ask them to take some responsibility for the preparation too.

There may be things they’ve done that are worthy of comment, which you are oblivious to; remember you don’t see them every minute of every day they are at work. So ask them to plan what they would like to discuss.

  • Ask open questions to get their ideas on performance and how to move forward.
  • Use the AID* model for feedback: They’ll still want your view on performance
  • Ask for their views
  • Offer support: If there are shortfalls you need to understand why, and then help bridge that gap.

3 core questions for conducting-effective-1-1-meetings

As a minimum you may like to consider these 3 questions:

  • Achievements
  • Shortfalls
  • Focus

1. Achievements

What successes or achievements have you had this month or what have you done this month that you’re proud of?

  • What have been your top 2/3 successes?
  • What have you accomplished towards this year’s goals?
  • What has gone particular well for you this week/month/period?
  • What have you been particularly pleased with?
  • What have they achieved towards pre-determined goals, targets, KPIs, etc.

Start on a positive and is an opportunity for the employee to blow their own trumpet.

Of course if these are things you’ve spotted too this is your opportunity to give praise where it’s due, and reinforce their success.

This is a time when you might discover other strengths or successes that you’ve been previously unaware of, so take note and ask for examples if you need to.

Ensure you build on their successes and discuss how they can do more of this or emulate this in future. (See the AID model)

Compliment them, tell them why you value their contribution, focus on strengths.

2. What’s not gone so well?

What disappointments or frustrations?

  • If you had a magic wand, what would you change or do differently?
  • Where have you fallen short against this month’s goals/KPIs?
  • What hasn’t gone to plan?
  • What have you been disappointed with?
  • What have you set out to do but it hasn’t yet happened?

Sometimes people will be very hard on themselves, and even if people have not done everything you’ve asked of them, when they are identifying this for themselves it’s a lot easier for both of you to have that conversation.

How have they gone about this? Something may have given a good result at first glance, but it’s all very well achieving all their targets but not so good if they’ve upset colleagues or customers along the way.

Look at this as an opportunity to learn, so discuss what got in the way and how to overcome this in future. This might need some more support or training from you or additional resources.

3. Where’s the next focus?

What do you feel needs to be your number 1 focus for the coming month?

Alternatives:

What needs to be the focus for the coming week/month/period?

This is your opportunity to look ahead and either set some goals for the forthcoming period or to summarise any development that has been identified as result of the previous 2 questions.

  • What needs to be focused on or addressed, and what support or development do they need to do this

At the end of the meeting ask if they have anything to add.

Summarise theirs and your actions, record and agree next review date.

If there needs to be more commitment or input on their part ask them to do the summarising. This way you know there is at least an understanding of what’s expected over the coming period, and an opportunity to set this straight if their interpretation is different from yours.

If you simply ask the 3 questions on a regular basis over time your team will get used to you asking these and as time goes on hopefully they’ll be more prepared for each question giving it some thought prior to your meeting.

Their preparation obviously doesn’t let you off the hook altogether, but if they are well prepared it will certainly reduce the amount of time needed for conducting effective 1-1 meetings.

See a short video on Conducting effective 1-1 meetings here: https://naturallyloyal.wistia.com/medias/4unqvbced5

If you only do one thing: Find some time in the coming week to schedule a one to one with each of your team.



A non directive approach

non directive

Does your team need your direction all the time?

Have you ever noticed how those people who constantly look to you to solve the slightest problem or to make the easiest of decisions, seem to manage fine when you are away for a day or two, or even a few hours?

Having to deal with every question or every problem your team face can be draining for you and does little to develop your team.

If you’ve always been quick to resolve problems for them it’s all too easy for this to become the accepted norm. But doing this denies team members of the opportunity to think for themselves. By turning things around and getting them to come up with their own solutions leads to an increased awareness of what they are doing and how they are doing it, better buy in and commitment to the solution, increases their confidence and is good for their development.

Of course this approach may not be possible or appropriate in every situation. So when is a more direct response needed opposed to asking them to solve their own problem or question?

A more directive approach may be more appropriate when:

  • It calls for speed
  • It’s a high risk situation
  • When you need to retain full control
  • There’s no debate as it’s a policy or legal decision has already been made
  • When the person isn’t yet capable or had sufficient experience, and asking them may make them feel vulnerable

The downside of being very directive

  • Limits people’s potential
  • Restricts innovation and fresh approaches
  • Gives no ownership or responsibility
  • Provides no opportunity for development and can even make people ‘lazy’ if you always solve their questions
  • It assumes you are right!

A non directive approach has the following benefits

  • Develops people assuming they have the basic experience or knowledge to build on
  • Gives them ownership
  • Helps with problem solving as it can generate more than one solution
  • Allows for continuous improvement as they might find a better way of approaching the situation
  • Gives a sense of achievement
  • Builds confidence when team members come up with their own solutions
  • Takes the pressure off you in the long term as people get used to coming up with their own solutions
  • Means you don’t always need to know the answer!

So the following situations might lend themselves to a non directive approach

  • There is reduced risk, or at least an opportunity to monitor or correct things before putting anything at risk
  • The team member has the appropriate skills, experience or knowledge to work things out for themselves (even if they don’t have the willingness to do so)
  • When there’s a degree of flexibility in the way something can be approached (even if the end result is not negotiable, such as legal requirements or demanding targets)
  • It’s not time critical and provides some time for the team member to think or talk it through

What if the customer is waiting?

Most often speed is given as a reason not to use a non directive approach.  “We can’t keep the customer waiting while I coach them. I’ll have to spell out what they should do.” Or you end up taking over completely and dealing with it yourself.

In this instance use a directive approach initially, then go back afterwards to review with the team member what you told them to do (or how you handled it), and why, and what they could do in similar circumstances to resolve the issue for themselves.

As a line manager team members will still need direction and guidance from you, but to develop them, get their buy in and improve productivity put some of the onus on them to come up with their own ideas and solutions as often as possible. It won’t happen over night, but if you always encourage them to come up with their own answers they’ll soon get used to it.

Action

If you only do one thing – the next time someone comes and asks for you for guidance or has a question turn it back on them and ask “what do you think?”

Related articles

Using the Coaching GROW model


Creating a Learning Culture

Creating a learning culture

Can we really learn from mistakes?

Well, yes. Providing we’re able to spot the mistake, make the effort to understand the mistake and be open to learning from it.

And the same applies with your team.

Let me explain…

A few weeks’ ago, I was at a conference and one of the talks was on creating a learning culture. To my mind there was one aspect of this which was completely overlooked. And that was to create a learning culture you have to be prepared for people to make mistakes and to help them learn from these. Unless you do people will not be prepared to try new things or take a chance on taking action for fear of messing up and being blamed – even when they think it’s the right thing to do.

Here are 10 ideas to help create a learning culture, one where it’s ok to take a chance and make the odd mistake, so long as you learn from it.

  1. Set the example. Admit when you’ve made a mistake – when you’re open about making mistakes your team will be recognise that everyone makes mistakes. But, make sure you also focus on what’s been learnt as a result of that mistake (see The Emotional Bank Account)
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  2. Demonstrate your trust in team members by giving them responsibility and authority to do what they believe is right. E.g. to respond to customers’ expectations and requests in the way that they see fit. If they truly understand your values and what’s of most importance generally they’ll work out the best route to get there.
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  3. Define what levels of authority your team members have in any given situation, and give them examples of when they need to refer to a manager or get sign off, and when it’s OK for them to make the decision. But when you do have to get involved use this as an opportunity for others to learn from the situation, by explaining your approach and why you approached it in the way you did.
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  4. Build confidence; often people know what they should be doing, but just lack that certainty and confidence to do this really well, so give time and an opportunity for them to practise in a safe environment.
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  5. Listen out for hesitation. When you hear a team member saying  “I can’t…” that might be an indication they are fearful of making a mistake. Talk this through with them to identify any obstacles. Do they have the necessary resources, time, authority, peer support?  Let them know you are still there to support them.
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  6. Don’t expect perfection straight away. People need time to find their own way of doing things, and they shouldn’t feel afraid to make the odd mistake when they initially put principles into practice. Recognise and reward as they improve, even if things are not yet perfect.
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  7. Foster a supportive culture. It should be okay to ask questions and admit they don’t know all the answers, where they’re encouraged to seek out new activities and it’s accepted that people won’t always get things right. Recognise even marginal gains in performance are a step forward.
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  8. Give supportive feedback, and help people see their own mistakes, as well as encouraging them by pointing out what’s gone well. https://www.naturallyloyal.com/giving-effective-feedback/
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  9. Reframing. Get people into the habit of looking for solutions rather than trying to blame others. Asking “what can I do to improve the situation?” “What’s in my control?” Rather than focusing on what’s gone wrong, or seeing it as a failure.
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  10. Think about your emotional states. When you, your team – any of us – are in an unresourceful state (such as anger, exhaustion, boredom) 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 defensiveness.

Take action

If you only do one thing towards creating a learning culture…

The next time you or any of your team make a mistake use it as an opportunity to learn from it and move on.

Book recommendation:

Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed.

An inspiring book about how we cannot grow unless we are prepared to learn from our mistakes, by understanding and overcoming failures and demonstrates how even marginal gains all contribute to success.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Box-Thinking-Surprising-Success/dp/1473613779



When I have more time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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