Tag Archives: employee engagement

Engaging your team

Engaging your team

Have you sussed what makes them tick?

I had some lovely feedback last week from one of my clients relating to a development programme I’m running for his management team. He was referring to some actions taken from the programme and on this occasion it related to finding out what’s important.

Too many managers waste time trying to work out for themselves what motivates people in their team.

But the answer’s quite simple.

Why

Before I talk about how, let’s understand why; why it’s important for you to understand what’s important to your team members.  When you know what’s important to someone about their work, it enables you to ‘manage’ them in a way that helps them feel valued.

Finding out about what people value outside work as well as in work can be a real insight too.

When you know what’s important to someone outside work you’re in a much better position to allocate tasks that will resonate and engage that person. By looking at the attributes and skills that are needed in those situations that could be applied in the workplace. What people get involved in outside work can give you an inkling as to where their strengths lie.

For example, if they demonstrate a creative streak, do they get involved with highly competitive sports or activities, do they have a role of helping the community, supporting and caring.

Rather than making everybody mediocre at everything they do, why not tap into those strengths, talents and passions so they excel in specific areas, and work as a team to bridge the gaps in individuals’ abilities or interests?

Of course, it’s not always be practical or possible, but if you aim to do this wherever you can you’ll soon see your team members engaging more with their work and get the best from them.

Ask the question

One of the exercises I often do as an ice breaker is to get people either talking about or even drawing images of an accolade or something they’re proud of, be that in or out of work and something recent or from years back.  Just by getting them talking about these makes people feel good, as well as helping me get an insight into what’s important to them. This is a great activity to run in a group setting as team mates also see what’s important and often they’ll discover common interests with their colleagues, which help bring them together.

I also do a variation of this with managers asking them to draw their idea of motivation and engagement. Nine times out of ten I get a £, and invariably I get drawings of trophies, and winning, but what’s also interesting is the variety of other ideas and themes that go up too. Pictures of families and friends, trees and mountains, of sporting activities, to name but a few.

Money, money, money

Everyone assumes money is a key motivator. There’s no denying it’s important; I’m sure none of us would work as hard as we do – if at all – if we weren’t getting paid for it. But does it really motivate or engage people? No. But taking it away will definitely leave people demotivated and disengaged.

So messing up their overtime, delaying their pay review, challenging legitimate expenses, or passing them over for promotion without being given a chance will all inevitably have a negative impact. In the same way as any other ‘hygiene factors’ such as safe working conditions, giving them the right tools and resources for the job, avoiding too much red tape.

No one is going to say “wow” when you provide them, but oh boy, will they notice when you take them away.

Are we any different?

When working with managers I often ask them to list the things that motivate and engage them. Then to think about the most challenging team member and write list of what they believe motivates and engages that person.

The first thing of note is that invariably these lists look very different. Why is it that challenge, achievement and personal development often feature on the first list but not the second? And money, job security and making the job easy often feature on the second list but not on the first.

I then go on to ask which one of the lists they think is most accurate. Of course it’s their own! Because nine times out of 10 the manager hasn’t ever asked the question nor had a discussion on what’s important to that person. It’s all based on assumption and perceptions, and sadly these are so often way off the mark.

So is it any wonder then that it’s easy to end up with a disengaged team if we don’t know what will engage them?

Ask the question

Finding out what’s important to people might start at the interview, and can be built upon during one-to-one reviews, informal discussions and meetings.

Being overly direct and asking ‘what motivates you?’ might not get you the information you’re looking for. So reframe the question, to make it more conversational, such as asking what they enjoy about certain tasks and why; how they feel about particular aspects of their job, what they’ve been most proud, or recent achievements at work. Conversely ask about the things that disappoint or frustrate them, and what they’d change if they could.

Ask casually about how their weekend was or what they have planned for the evening ahead or their day off, and show an interest in what they get up to outside of work.

Take action

So, stop trying to suss out for yourself what makes your team members tick. Ask them!

Related content

How important is happiness at work

Understanding your team video



Measuring Employee Engagement

measuring employee engagement

Measuring employee engagement. Poor engagement is costing businesses millions, but if you don’t measure it how can you manage it?

As a business owner understandably you’re focused on sales and growth.

Most business owners I work with are too.

But I also see many letting money slip through their fingers unnoticed. Profits they could retain with a few simple steps.

We’ve finally woken up to the benefits of having an engaged team yet evidence still shows that 80% or more of staff are not engaged at work.

That’s shocking and frankly quite sad.

Particularly as according to a study by Gallup, having a highly engaged workforce leads to 20% higher sales, and 21% higher profitability.

The high cost of disengagement

So, if engaged employees improve revenue and profit, how much are disengaged employees costing you? The numbers can be staggering. When Gallup collected data on this, they found disengaged employees have a 37% higher rate of absenteeism, 18% lower productivity, and 15% lower profitability.

So it’s costing businesses millions.

It’s crazy that business owners measure their financial and sales performance, yet so few measure how engaged their employees are.

And, as the management guru Peter Drucker famously said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Unfortunately disengaged employees aren’t necessarily that easy to spot.

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

But…

These are also the people who only do the minimum expected and seldom more, they rarely go out of their way to support their colleagues, and are liable to whinge the minute your back is turned.  They’re not consciously unhappy, but nor are they enthused, excited or energised about their job.

But the worst of it is they are like a rotten apple. If we don’t spot them early they bring everyone else along with them.

Look here to take the first step in measuring your engagement levels right now.

Are you measuring employee engagement?

If you only do one thing towards measuring employee engagement:

Request a free engagement assessment here to get anonymous feedback on what you can do to improve and make your business a better place to work.

And stop those profits sneaking out the back door.

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How was I supposed to know!

setting expectations

Setting Expectations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Action

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

Related video: Setting objectives

Related post: Fluff Busting



Respect people’s wishes

respect peoples wishes hug

Just because we could didn’t mean we should!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding the individual

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

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

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

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

Listen

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Team Development

Team development

Doesn’t every manager have a responsibility for team development?

As recruitment continues to be a challenge, I make no apologies for continuing this week with my theme of team development.

When I worked in the corporate world as head of training I was really proud of the training and development we offered. We had a dedicated residential training centre set in 7 acres, with fabulous facilities for chefs’ training and management development, which demonstrated our commitment to investing in people. But just because we had the training centre didn’t mean that was the only opportunities for development.

I had responsibility for a team who supported the training and development of over 55,000 employees. There was no way we were going to be able to touch all those people directly, or that everyone would have a chance to come to the training centre in Surrey.

Probably over 90% of training took place on job or supported by activity on job. And this is the reality in most businesses. Just because you don’t have a dedicated training team or training centre doesn’t mean training goes by the wayside. Far from it.

I believe every line manager has a responsibility towards their team’s development, whether that is on job coaching or simply identifying what training and development they need, so that team members feel valued. Even if their long term future isn’t with your business, if you have done everything you can to support that person get where they want to be, at least when the time comes for them to move on, they will leave with a good impression of your business, and become an ambassador.

Here are some considerations that every manager should be able to fulfil.

Development discussions

How do they see their role & contribution, now or in the future? They may have a different idea of how their role contributes to the business or how it could evolve. You may have one idea of their next role, but they may have aspirations in other areas (just look at how some people have taken on new projects during lockdown).

Strengths

Last week we discussed building on strengths. What do you see as their greatest talent, or when do you see them working really well? What are the things that they love to do? And if you don’t know the answer to this question, you need to ask! What do you/others like or value about them? Maybe they have some talent, or a flare for something that they aren’t even aware of.

Regular feedback

To build on strengths, continue to give feedback and recognition, and discuss how to make things even better.

Spot on job opportunities

There are always opportunities all around, but you and they will only spot these if you know what your objectives are. Such as

  • Cross train – Job swaps – Delegate
  • Buddying
  • Staff champions – Mentoring others
  • Supplier support
  • Daily activity ~ daily briefings ~ debriefs
  • Learning from mistakes & successes
  • Projects

Make a plan

Ensure everyone in your team has a development plan. It doesn’t have to be grand; simple small projects and activities making incremental improvements all add up, and help people feel as if they are being stretched. Let the team member come up with their ideas and suggestions to meet their development needs; they may suggest things you hadn’t thought of, and the chances are if they suggest it, it’s something they will feel comfortable with, so it’s more likely to happen.
The key headings are: What ~ why ~ how ~ where ~ when ~ who

Ownership

The number one person who loses out if their development doesn’t happen is the team member themselves. Give them ownership, and trust them to make sure it happens. That doesn’t mean you abandon them, they will still need support and to be reviewed, but if they’ve been involved with drawing up the plan they will hopefully already be bought in and committed to it.

So you really don’t need to have a swanky training centre or a dedicated training team to demonstrate your commitment to training. You and your line managers all have their part to play in ensuring your team have opportunities to develop so they feel valued

If you only do one towards your team’s development:

Get your diary out and set dates to meet with each of your team to discuss their ongoing development, and ask your managers and supervisors to follow suit.

Why development matters video

 


Why team development is important

why team development is importantSo why is team development so important?

In my role I often hear managers and owners say, “What if I train them and they leave?” What they should be asking is “What if I don’t and they stay?”

As Henry Ford once said,  “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

This morning I am a guest on the Online Forum for Hoteliers, and will be sharing my thoughts on Team Development. I’m covering 3 topics, and thought I’d share the first of these today.

I can bet that whilst you’ve had team members either on furlough or working from home, that some of them will have taken the opportunity to learn, to do something towards their personal development. Whether that is something work related or simply something that interests them, isn’t the point. But what it demonstrates is that people want to learn, to grow and develop.

And if they are in a job that doesn’t satisfy that desire, the chances are they’ll either lose interest and motivation, or they’ll up and leave. Neither option is a good one for the business.

Developing people shouldn’t be something that’s reserved for management. It’s easy to assume that some people have no desire for development. They may have no desire to move into more senior roles or take on more responsibility, but that doesn’t mean we allow them to stagnate.

If you’re not convinced of the need to invest in people’s development, or you need to sell the idea to someone else, read on…

Here 5 good reasons why team development is worth the investment:

1. Shows you value them

Investing in your team in any way demonstrates that you believe them worthy of investment. It helps people feel they have been recognised. This in turn leads to them being more motivated and engaged. This is likely to have a positive impact on their performance both as a result of their engagement and their new skills/abilities. The more engaged and competent your team the better your customers’ experience.

And back to the concern of “What if I train them and they leave?”, not investing in your team could be the very reason they do leave. Which reminds me of something Richard Branson once said “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

2. Succession planning

It’s easy to think of succession planning simply about grooming people for more senior positions. But don’t ignore the need to cross train your team so they can cover not only in the short term, but also so they can take a sideways more to a new role or department at a later date. Succession plans shouldn’t be written in tablets of stone, but far better to have exposure to another role or department now, than when the time comes to make that move, that it’s not the role for them after all.

It can also be a positive development activity for the person currently in that role.  Spending time with a colleague showing them all that’s involved gives them a sense of pride as well as developing their coaching skills. Even if their potential successor has to wait a year or two to step into the role, both learn and grow as a result and have a great respect for each other.

3. Gives flexibility

The more you cross train and upskill across your team, the greater your flexibility. Don’t limit this just to cross training within a department. Inevitably there are times when one department is stretched and others are quiet, so if you have people who can switch to support the stretched team, so much the better.

It’s easy for a colleague to look on thinking that someone else’s job looks easy. But it’s only when they get a taste it first-hand that they realise the challenges associated with that role. So cross training will not only help the team to support one another, but it can also create a higher respect for each other’s roles.

4. Improves your employer brand

If you want to attract people who see joining your team as a career move rather than a fill in before finding their ideal role, you need to demonstrate there’s potential to grow and develop. If you’re not able to share what development opportunities there are, they’ll go to someone else who has a track record if investing in their team’s development.

Your existing team should always be your greatest advocates, so if they have positive stories to share about their own development you’re more likely to attract others …

5. Continuous improvement

People’s development doesn’t ever have an end date. There will always be things that one can improve on, however small. Yes, there may be times when they are on a steep learning curve, but once at the top, it’s important to look for those little incremental improvements that can all add up over time. And importantly not allow that person to stagnate.

If you only do one thing: Decide which of these 5 reasons is the most important one for you or your business and focus on that as your priority for now.

Next week I’ll share the second topic I’m covering with the Hoteliers’ Forum. Until then, have a good week.

Related posts:

Continuous Improvements can make a big difference

A-Z of managing people D is for development 


Maintaining Momentum

maintain engagement

How to maintain engagement with your team

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

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

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

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

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

Recognition

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

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

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

Trust

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

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

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

Give team members flexibility to adapt and adopt their own way of doing things.

Maintain engagement by empowering them, by giving responsibility and ownership for the areas within their control. When they have ownership they’re more likely to take pride in what they do and do an even better job.

Ongoing development

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

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

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

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

Avoid these 7 engagement mistakes.

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


Building Confidence

building confidenceBuilding confidence with team members as they return to work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Play to people’s strengths.

It’s a lot easier for you to allocate responsibility for tasks where people already excel, and the likelihood is when they are good at that task they’ll be confident and probably enjoy it.

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

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

2. Establish expectations

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

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

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

3. Empower

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

Demonstrate trust by letting go. No one wants their boss breathing down their neck the whole time, and it’s frustrating for everyone when team members have to get sign off for everything.

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

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

3. Give flexibility

Allow each of your team to adapt and adopt their own style and let them bring their own personality to the role, particularly when dealing with customers.

If they know the end result you’re looking for they often come up with better ways to get the same result.

4. Develop ‘experts’

Give ownership for areas that require specialist knowledge, so this team member becomes the go to person for this. When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise, and encourages continuous improvement. This in turn can have an impact on your customer experience, when specific knowledge is required to gain the customer’s confidence.

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

5. Reassure

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

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

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

6. Learn from mistakes

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

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

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

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

7. Celebrate and reward success

Celebrate success so you encourage more of the same.

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

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

In summary

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

Related content

Blog: Learn from mistakes 

Video: How people learn

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Quick wins

easy wins

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you only do one thing:

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

 

 



Continuous Improvements Can Make a Big Difference

continuous improvement

Making small continuous improvements all add up and can make a big difference

Here’s a perfect example of continuous improvements. Back in the 1950s Formula 1 pit stops used to take in the region of 67 seconds. Now they take a only 2-3 seconds.

How have they achieved this?

By finding ways to make incremental changes, and refining the process.

Can you imagine if they only worked on finding and making those changes once the season started? They certainly wouldn’t wait until the first race to be making any changes.

But as we wait for announcements of a timetable for the end of the lockdown, there’s still time to take stock and review where improvements can be made to systems, process, and skills in your business. Once everyone tries to get back to full productivity there simply won’t be time.

But this might well involve changes for team members too. And people generally don’t like change, particularly when you’ve been doing a job the same way for years.

One of the objections you often hear is:

“But, we’ve always done it this way”

Can you imagine if Formula 1 teams took that attitude?

There’s a multitude of reasons why people are reluctant to change. And it’s not an unusual response to be wary of change. Whilst some might rise to the challenge you’re just as likely to have people who’ll resist any change to the norm.

However, I’m sure you already recognise, people will be returning with mixed emotions.

One way to help them prepare is to get them involved as soon as you can (without infringing any furlough rules).

Getting your team involved in this way has 3 benefits:

  • It gets them involved early on, and gives them a focus.
  • It taps into their perspective, which may highlight things you were blissfully unaware of
  • Because they’ve suggested them you’ll get far more buy-in to implement any changes that result

So, ask you team to come forward with ideas, suggestions, recommendations of where small changes can be made. Maybe simply shaving 30 seconds off a task that’s done repeatedly, freeing up valuable time to spend elsewhere; reporting equipment that needs repairs or upgrading; refining a systems that misses important steps, or need adjusting to reflect new procedures; removing a bottleneck, or simply devising a checklist or SOP for a routine task to make it easy to achieve consistency.

Be aware that when a task has been done a certain way for any length of time, unless it causes a major inconvenience people simply get used to things that way. Flush out anything that’s standing in the way of them doing a brilliant job or impacts them, their colleagues or customer in any way.

This often highlights frustrations they have in the system or with current resources, levels of authority, existing skills or conflicting priorities.

So, ask:

What would they improve if they could? To help people feel comfortable to make suggestions ask questions that allow them to take off the blinkers.

Such as:

  • What would you do if it was your business?
  • What would you do if we had an endless supply of cash?
  • What would you do if you had a magic wand?

Although all these questions might result in ‘pie in the sky’ ideas, nine times out of 10 you’ll end up with some ideas you can use in some way.

Your contribution

During the lockdown you’ve probably noticed a few things yourself. If you’ve carried out some tasks you’d normally have delegated to others in your team you may have come to realise that they’re not as straight forward as you thought…

Maybe the system is cumbersome, the equipment used doesn’t function as well as it should, or the process simply doesn’t deliver the result you want.

If it has,  you might be left wondering “Why didn’t they say anything?”

When you perform a task every day or every week you probably don’t notice when it takes longer than it should, or doesn’t work as smoothly as it used to. It’s a gradual change so simply fail to spot it. Which means that bit by bit it gets worse and worse and we’re blissfully unaware.

If this is the case, share your findings with the team members involved, but let them help to come up with a solution.

The more you involve your team in finding ways to make improvements, the more you’ll work towards a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

Take Action on continuous improvements

If you only do one thing: Invite your team to put forward suggestions on improvements, however small.

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”
Mark Twain

Related blog post: When you stop noticing the cracks

Related video: Listen to your team