Tag Archives: employee engagement

If you don’t measure it how can you manage it?

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

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.

What’s more it’s costing us millions.

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

And if you don’t measure it how can you manage 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.


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 see how you can measure your engagement levels right now. And stop those profits sneaking out the back door.

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Sitting on a Goldmine

Gold (1600x1066)I believe many businesses are sitting on a potential untapped goldmine.

Most managers think of team development to achieve one of two things:

  • to fix someone’s weaknesses
  • as a way of grooming somebody for promotion

Fixing faults v seeing strengths

Rather than making everyone mediocre in everything by trying to fix weaknesses, by focusing on people’s strengths we’re able to tap into opportunities to enable a person to really excel.

If you think about a football team or an athlete they work on honing their skills in the areas in which they already perform well. A football team where everyone is trained to be a striker, goalie and a midfielder is unlikely to go places. Instead the focus is put on where they are already strong so that they can excel in those positions.

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. And in most cases the tasks we’re good at we enjoy more, excite us and keep us engaged.

Stagnate v stretch

Grooming for promotion might be one intention or outcome for development, but even when we know that a team member has probably reached their peak, or we know full well they are not interested in progressing; it doesn’t mean to say we let them stagnate.

A bored employee is unlikely to shine and even less likely to wow you or your customers!

So look for opportunities to stretch team members within the current responsibilities or in areas where they’re already strong. Maybe give them responsibility for training others in that area, giving them ownership over the procedures, looking for ways to make efficiencies or refine a process or improve that task. By giving individual team members ownership over particular tasks we create a sense of pride and responsibility.  And with this comes the desire to get things right.

When they have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise. You’ll be amazed what people can achieve when their strengths are recognised and they’re given the authority and autonomy to apply them. This can take the pressure off you as this person then becomes the go to person instead of you.

Most businesses I talk to are blissfully unaware of the potential goldmine sitting right in front of them within their team.

Are you sitting on an untapped goldmine?
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Learn to Let Go

Balloons letting go

I caught myself this week doing something I really should have delegated to someone else.

Not only was this tying up my valuable time when I could be doing something only I can do; the person who should have done it would have done a better job, and quite possibly in half the time!

Do you ever find yourself falling into this trap?

I’m not just referring to doing routine administrative or mundane tasks. There’s many a time that the things we do to respond to customers’ needs and expectations could also be done just as well (or even better) by others.

When we have an excellent relationship with customers it can be difficult to let go. We often feel guilty or obliged to that customer to look after them ourselves; to give them a personal service. And we’re potentially worried they won’t feel as valued if we delegate some aspects of the customer relationship to our team.

But in doing so we could actually be diluting our efforts and giving a poorer customer experience. What happens when we’re on holiday, tied up with other projects, or when two or more customers all need us at the same time?

We can’t do everything! We need to put our trust in others and delegate some of that responsibility.

But what if we’re not confident anyone in the team is up to it?

I’m not talking here about abdication. You if you were teaching your child to swim you wouldn’t just dump them in at the deep end and let them get on with it. You’d show them, coach them, support them until they were ready to go it alone. And even then you’d be watching at the poolside until you could see they were safe.

Ah, but… I hear some say.

  • “My customer trusts me and expects to deal with me”
    They expect to always deal with you because that’s what you’ve always given them. If they are never given the chance to speak to your team that will never change. Set expectations early on with your customers so they know who is the best person to speak to when. Introduce your customers to your team so they know who they’re dealing with and build trust (and their expectations) early on.
  • “It takes too much time to explain, I can do it quicker”
    In the short-term yes, but in the longer term if you delegate you are saving time to attend to more important things to add value for your customer. Having simple systems in place for routine queries means you might only have to invest the time once.
  • “They aren’t yet capable”
    And never will be unless you start incorporating delegation and trust into your people development plans.
  • “They won’t do it as well as me”
    Maybe, but are you being too much of a perfectionist? Does the task need such a degree of excellence?  If not, maybe someone can deal with the task adequately in less time so the customer isn’t kept waiting. 
  • “They aren’t yet qualified, authorised or licenced to do that”
    Everyone has to start somewhere so get them involved and leave time for you to approve or endorse their efforts before it gets sign off or the rubber stamp. (None of us would ever pass our driving test if we weren’t able to actually get out on the road and drive; it just needs plenty of practice and handholding along the way until ready.)
  • “If they are left to deal with someone else my customer won’t be happy and I’ll lose their respect”
    You’ll upset customers far more and lose more respect by delaying your response and by not devoting enough time to the areas of expertise they’re paying you for because you are too distracted by routine and administrative issues.

So in regard to having an obligation to that customer to look after them and give them a personal service – yes you should. But you won’t be able to if you get sucked into tasks that don’t require your level of expertise or experience.

The skill is knowing when to let go of the day to day issues, and put your trust in someone else to get on with things, leaving you to focus on the more important aspects of your relationship that only you can do and on the more strategic aspects of the businesses.

But, I do that already!

One of my clients was telling me last week of her frustration when her team were reluctant to get involved in training.  “They think they know it all already” she said.

Have you ever experienced that too? I know I have.

A big barrier to training, particularly customer service training or management skills, is when an employee thinks they know it all or are already doing everything correctly already. So they see the training as a criticism.

This means they are not receptive, which is not only frustrating for you, but means in all likelihood your training is a waste of time, money and effort.

Here are some ideas to get over this…


3 things to do today to get 2017 off to a flying start

Here’s  a short video with 3 things you can be doing this week to get your team engaged, enthused and energised for the year ahead and get 2017 off to a brilliant start. If you get them engaged now and show you are enthusiastic about the year ahead this will rub off on your team and in turn your customers too, and help with your whole customer experience.

6 ways to show your gratitude

thank-you-im-so-gratefulChristmas is a time of showing our gratitude – not that you shouldn’t be doing this all year round of course – to our team.

Unless your team feel valued and loved they’re not likely to give their best and to deliver the type of customer experience either you or your customers expect.

So how can you add a touch of magic for your team this Christmas and bring a smile to their face without it costing you a fortune in bonuses or incentives?

There’s a perception that everyone is motivated by money. There’s no doubt cash is a contributing factor. Pay them late, mess up their overtime or deny them the pay rise they were promised and you’re probably going to have an unhappy person. And unhappy team members invariably lead to unhappy customers.

But how would you feel at Christmas if your loved one just gave you money? Unless it was a ton of cash or you’re saving up for something really special it’s not very exciting. It feels as if no care or thought has gone into it. It’s impersonal. It might be fine for Aunty Joan to give you money or a voucher at Christmas as she doesn’t know what you’d like (and it’s better than the alternative of a pair of slippers!), but if someone’s taken the trouble to find that something special and buy it for you – that’s going to have far more impact, right?

Money is a very short term motivator. And let’s face it, unless your team are on performance related bonuses few of us can be doling out monetary rewards every five minutes.

So what can we do to show our team some love?

Before you do anything…

The golden rule is to treat others how you would wish to be treated. And that’s certainly a good start. But the platinum rule is to treat others how they wish to be treated.

So find out what’s important to them.

Not everyone values or is interested in the same things.

Whilst some love the sense of achievement or recognition others get a buzz from supporting others. Some love to have their say and see their ideas put into practice, whilst others are happiest when they’re learning or being stretched.

And if it really is just tangible rewards people love? Well, I know I’d rather be given a bunch of flowers any day over a fiver go and buy my own!

We should never assume what our team would like and what’s important to them. If you’ve never had the discussion, it’s high time you did!

So start by doing a little bit of homework to find out what’s likely to bring a smile to their face… which they’re sure to pass on to your customers.

Here are some six things you might consider .…

1. Say thank you

I know I’m always talking about showing your customers your appreciation, but it’s just as important to demonstrate to your team that you appreciate their contribution.

The simplest thing you can do is to say thank you. Recognise and reward good performance, achievements and a job well-done. For many, that is all they need to feel encouraged.

Yes, they work for pay, but it always helps to know that their work is recognised. Not just as a routine passing comment; go out of your way to thank individuals when you spot them doing something in support of a colleague or that will delight your customers. Bring the team together at the end of a hectic day, busy shift or demanding project when everybody has pulled their weight to make sure everything went smoothly.

If you are genuine in your appreciation, and choose it for the right moment, it can work wonders. A simple but honest appreciative remark can go a very long way.

Celebrate and share successes. And if you are going to praise an individual, don’t just leave it till you are on your own with them. Find an opportunity when they are with their colleagues, and your praise will create a buzz! Make sure it’s genuine and specific for the task carried out, or the person might be seen by their colleagues as ‘teacher’s pet’.

2. Token gestures

Become aware of your team’s hobbies and interests. Then when you are out and about and see something that has to do with that particular interest, pick it up for them.

Coming into the business and saying: “I really appreciate what you do, and I got this for you as a small token of my appreciation”,  will make them feel they are recognised for a great job.

It doesn’t have to cost the earth; just a token. But the thought it evokes will make a real difference.

3. A treat

Give people the occasional treat. No need to be a lavish; look at ways to reward that create a win-win:

For example maybe a visit to a sister business or somewhere where they will be on the receiving end of outstanding service and are motivated to bring back more ideas that can be implemented in your business.

When your team have worked long or unsociable hours that had an impact on their personal life, extending the treat to be shared with their loved one not only makes your team member feel good but shows your appreciation of the support given by their friends and family. This paves the way for future good deeds too!

4. Time Off

For some people a little free time could be the most valuable gift you can give them.

Allowing flexibility to go home early to attend their kid’s sports’ day or the day before their holiday, have a lie in or the evening off on their birthday, or take an hour out to attend to a personal matter.

Allow the freedom for having fun too; this doesn’t mean being unprofessional, but looking for opportunities that create a relaxed and enjoyable place to work.

Simply a rest or just have a bit of fun can work wonders to their state of mind.

5. Awards

For those with a competitive spirit consider awards, competitions, or even a league table. This might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has the opportunity to be recognised for their particular skills and strengths.

External awards are a great way to give recognition for the whole team. Keep your eye out for awards which are relevant to your business or your market. Just being nominated an award is a great booster, as I recall from my corporate days when our sales director put me forward for the Institute of Marketing Sales Trainer of the year award. I didn’t win but I was one of the finalists, which gave me a huge boost, and an opportunity to invite my colleagues along to the awards dinner which was great for my profile and for the business.

Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, or those in non-customer facing roles. They all have their part to play.

6. Opportunities for personal development

We so often think of development as solely grooming somebody for promotion. This might be one intention or outcome but even when we know that a member of our team has probably reached their peak, that doesn’t mean to say that we just let them stagnate. A bored employee is unlikely to wow your customers!

Development should have the intention of making people the best they can be at their jobs, and this might lead to making the job easier, more rewarding or simply getting the job done in less time.

Rather than making everybody mediocre at everything they do, tap into their strengths, talents and passions so they excel in certain areas, and work as a team to bridge the gaps in individuals’ abilities or interests.

Identify and utilise their strengths, providing further development when needed to bring out the best in these areas. Delegate and give some control and ownership; this gives them pride in what they do and they will appreciate that you’ve recognised where they do a good job, providing of course you’re careful not to overburden or just dump these tasks on them.

Once we understand what’s important and a little bit of creativity there are plenty of ways we can say “I appreciate you” and find the things they’ll love.  And your customers will feel that love too!

Bouncing back

boredHow’s your first day of the new term been?

Is everyone firing all cylinders?

Or is there a definite case of the post-holiday blues?

There’ll be many cheering that the kids are back at school, but when you’re surrounded by those who are fed up, bored, or just generally wishing they were still lying on that beach in the sun, playing football with their kids, or simply chilling out at home with a good book this inevitably rubs off on others.

It only takes one or two team members to ‘infect’ the entire team.

And of course this then rubs off on your customers’ experience

…and ultimately your bottom line.

Whether you’re drawing breath at the end of your busiest season, or just back from your well-earned summer break – here are 10 ideas to get you and your team back into the swing of things and on a roll now it’s back to business as usual.

1. Play from a 10

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

Not just for you, but for your team as well.

The way we feel emotionally will influence the feelings of people around us. In other words if we mooch around all day resenting coming back to work after our fantastic holiday or quality time with the kids we’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions, than if we’re smiling, laughing and generally being positive about being back at work.

Being confident, enthusiastic and energetic might not always rub off on everyone else, but it’s a better bet than if you’re down and moping about resenting being back at work!

2. Set mini goals

It can often feel as if you’re not achieving much in the first few days or weeks back at work, or when you’re recovering from a busy period. Consider allocating some specific short term projects or goals which everyone can get stuck in to and for which they can 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.

3. 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 on their holidays or days out 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 service, to add value or make recommendations to customers.

4. In the loop

When people have not seen each other for a few weeks or simply been head down focussing on their own areas it’s easy to feel out of the loop. Once everyone is back together again give an update on what’s been happening in your business so they all feel involved.

Have an update on your plans for the year ahead, share up-to-date product information, what’s happening in your industry, with your competitors, or anything in the press.

A knowledgeable team not only gives them confidence, it enables them to make decisions and help build trust with your customers.

5. Time for reflection

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

Quash any feelings of insecurity.  In what ways were they missed when they were away, and what’s been happening over the summer that people may have missed?

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

6. New challenges

The new school year is a good time to take stock of the team’s development needs.

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

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

Identify and utilise people’s strengths, providing further development where needed to bring out the best in these areas.

7. Fresh focus

Customer Service is continually evolving, and there will always be little tweaks you can make to improve your service.

Review your entire customer journey and all the various touch points your customers experience.

Give individual team members responsibility over specific moments on the customer journey; this gives a sense of pride and ownership. And with ownership comes the desire to get things right. When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise.

8. Near misses

It’s inevitable there will be times when things don’t go according to plan or mishaps happen. Review some of the things that have not gone to plan over the past few months. Listen to your team and flush out any other potential risky situations.

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

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

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

9. In it to win it

Focus people’s attention on service by aiming for an award, competition or simply an internal league table. It can be great motivation for those with a competitive spirit: For internal reward this might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has the opportunity to recognise their particular skills and strengths.

External awards are a great way to give focus and recognition for the whole team. Keep your eye out for awards which are relevant to your business or your market. Just being nominated for an award is a great booster it itself.

10. Celebrate and share successes

For many the end of September marks the half way point in their financial year. What an opportune moment to review progress.

Summarise and share your achievements of the past 6 months with your team. What milestones have you achieved as a business, what have been the highlights of the year to date, and what’s been the team’s contribution to these?

Give praise where it’s due so it creates a buzz amongst your team for the remainder of year ahead!

So whether you’ve just had break and gearing up for the new term, or just taking stock of your summer season, don’t let those post-holiday blues get you down.



Rotten Apples

Have you any rotten apples in your team?


If your customer service training or any other efforts to get the best from your team are just not working maybe you have rotten apples in your team. It only takes one or two negative or obstructive people to get in the way and undo all your efforts. These people can have a massive impact on employee engagement, people’s performance and ultimately on your customer service levels.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Actions speak louderWhen working with businesses on improving their
customer experience and supporting their
customer service training one of the
messages I stress is how our
actions speak louder than words.

Everything you do in your business sends out a message. Not just to your customers, but to your team too.

Being a role model

We all know the importance of being a role model to our team. How we behave towards customers naturally sets the tone for how our team behave towards customers.

It’s not just our daily interaction with customers, but how we regard them in general. Bad mouthing or criticising a customer in their absence will certainly send the message that it’s OK to be rude about customers, or even that customers are a nuisance or interruption to our job, rather than the very reason the job exists.

Putting customers first

How highly you value customers is also communicated through your systems and practices. To what extent are you prepared to put yourself out for the benefit of a customer?

This isn’t just obvious things such as being available for your customers when it’s convenient for them rather than you.  (One of my pet hates is businesses – particularly customer service desks – that only open Monday to Friday 9 till 5 yet they support customers who invariably only have time or access during nonworking hours.)

What really frustrates me is when I see businesses where the powers that be clearly see themselves as being far more important than the customer. If you play golf I’m sure you’ll know what I mean when you see all the plum parking spaces immediately outside the clubhouse being reserved for the committee. Or in corporate offices were there are 3 or 4 empty parking spaces immediately outside the front door reserved for the chief executive and his/her entourage, while visitors have to park way way down the car park (if they can find a parking space at all that is!). Just as insulting is when management park in disabled bays. Just what sort of message does that convey to a customer, and in turn what message does that convey to your team about the importance you place on customers?

It goes far beyond just parking spaces. Simple things such as interrupting a member of staff who is talking to a customer without so much as acknowledging the customer; not trusting team members by delegating authority to do what they think is best for the customer; blaming the customer or quibbling over minor customer disputes. All these send the message we put ourselves before the customer.

Behaviour breeds behaviour

We are all familiar with the mood Hoovers; you know – those days when you come into work full of the joys of spring, and someone comments dryly “what are you so flipping happy about”, sucking all that energy and enthusiasm from you like a Hoover.

Our physiology certainly influences our feelings and the feelings of people around us. In other words if we mooch around all day with shoulders dropped, hands in pockets, expressionless with our head down we’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions, than if we’re smiling, making eye contact and making gestures.

Smiling and laughing make us feel good and happy. And it’s infectious…

The platinum rule

The golden rule is treat others how you would wish to be treated. And that’s certainly a good start. But the platinum rule is treat others how they wish to be treated.

Whenever I hear of managers or business owners complaining about lack of enthusiasm or engagement from their team (which of course is critical if you’re to give customers good service) I like to look at how they are treated by management, and what if anything they are doing to dampen their enthusiasm.

When I ask managers what’s important to their team members it’s usually quite revealing when I get an all too common response of “money and a quiet life”, or “I don’t know”. The former might sometimes be the case but sadly it’s often an assumption. The only reason managers don’t understand this is because they never asked the question.

Spending time with team members and finding out what’s important to them is just as important as your team spending time with customers, finding out what’s important to them.

You are always on duty

When you leave the ‘office’ you don’t suddenly become a different person. In the eyes of your team and your customer you still represent your business. So how any of us behave in the supermarket car park when someone pinches our parking space, or on the dancefloor at the Christmas party, or what we post on social media will still reflect on us, our values and what we see as acceptable behaviour.

This doesn’t mean to say we can never let our hair down or show our personality; it just means remembering everything we do sends a message.

These actions will speak far louder than any words.

Related topics









“That’s not my job”

A true service culture is more than just a sheep dip customer service training exercise for your front line team.

Service is everyone’s responsibility

Customer service training

It’s part of your DNA and reflected in everything you do. A bit like a stick of rock – no matter where you break it the core message is still the same.

This means it goes far beyond how your customer facing teams interact with customers.

It isn’t just the responsibility of the sales team, the receptionists or customer service desk.

Everyone in your business contributes in some way to the customer experience either directly or indirectly (or why are they there?).

This includes how your support teams not only interact and serve your external customers, but how they serve the internal customer. How your customer facing teams are supported and treated internally will inevitably have a knock on effect on your customers. So include them too in your customer service training.

The more customers are kept in mind for every decision taken in the business the easier it will be to give a consistent level of service to your customers. This includes the design of your internal as well as customer facing systems. It means recruiting the right people; i.e. not just for their technical skills but those who are aligned with your customer service culture.

Everyone in your business must understand the basics, what good service looks like and recognise the role they play in achieving this. Not by having endless policies, but by having the freedom to use their initiative to do what’s right for the customer; be they internal or external.

Your customer service ethos has to be demonstrated by everyone in your business not just the front line team.