Tag Archives: employee engagement

One Bad Apple

We have 4 apple trees in our garden and I love this time of year when you can just pick an apple off the tree. We have more than we can eat, and as we all know, if you inadvertently store a bad apple along with others ultimately all the others will go rotten too. They look OK, but open up the box in a few months’ time and you soon discover your mistake.

It can be the same in your business too.

One of my clients has one of these bad apples in her team. It wasn’t obvious at first, but over time the issues are immerging. Tasks left half done, customers given inaccurate information, other team members left to deal with more challenging tasks.

Unfortunately, these disengaged employees on the surface look the same as everyone else.

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

But…

When you’re not around things get missed. They only do the minimum expected. They seldom go out of their way to support others, and they manage to avoid doing those jobs everyone hates.

They may not be consciously unhappy, but nor are they enthusiastic, excited or energised about the job.

And the worst of it is …

they are like the bad apples. If we don’t spot them soon enough they bring everyone else along with them.

It only takes one negative or obstructive person to get in the way and undo all your efforts. These people can have a massive impact on employee engagement, people’s performance and ultimately on your customer service levels.

Do you have any rotten apples in your business?

P.S. If it makes sense to measure financial and sales performance, it also makes sense to measure engagement.  Peter Drucker said it beautifully: “If you don’t measure it, how can you manage it?

Why not find out exactly where you are now.

Get your company’s engagement score in under 10 minutes, FREE

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



I didn’t know that!

Set Expectations

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 of course 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.



Having Fun

Last week I was invited to a meeting to share with a group of business leaders and managers a case study of a programme I’d delivered in the same industry earlier in the year. The objective of this programme was to increase restaurant sales through “up selling”. (This is a term I hate, as it often makes staff feel they need to be pushy. I prefer using the term “adding value”. But I can talk about that another day…).

I’m not a great one for stuffy formality, so when I learnt that the meeting was taking place outside followed by a barbecue I knew it would be okay to be a little less conventional in terms of my ‘presentation’.

So, I incorporated some very interactive exercises as examples from the training programme, which got everyone involved, and having a few laughs into the bargain.

[One of these centred around descriptive selling which involved some scrumptious organic coconut macaroons, very kindly supplied by Ineke at Nourish (www.nourish-growcookenjoy.com). Thank you Ineke, they achieved my objective perfectly.]

I’m a great believer in having some fun, whether that be a business meeting, an internal meeting with your team or training.

When I look back at the feedback from the original training one of the underlying themes which led to its success was having fun. This resulted in participants feeling relaxed, maintaining interest and making it enjoyable.

And just as importantly, everyone remembering and applying the key messages.

It was apparent that previous training had not achieved any of these things, and in the past participants had been reluctant and unenthusiastic about attending training, which doesn’t make for an auspicious start!

Allowing people to have fun at work makes them more receptive and engaged (which is important for you) and enjoyable (important for the team). Smiling and laughter trigger dopamine, which in turn activates the learning centres in the brain, so is particularly relevant when training.

All good for contributing to your employee engagement, productivity and staff retention, all of which has a positive knock-on effect on your customer’s experience.

So, is it possible to have fun, even when it’s a serious topic?

Absolutely!

Here are 10 ideas for injecting some fun.

  1. Tap into their inner child. Reinforce messages with quizzes, create games or league tables to add an element of competition and fun. Copy some of the gamification ideas you see on apps such as awarding badges, progress charts, treasure hunts.
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  2. Add impact to meetings. Take people away from their normal environment occasionally (as long as this doesn’t make them uncomfortable or become a distraction); go outside, use music; alter the office layout, introduce unusual props.    Make full use of the senses. Use props and live examples that people can touch, smell and even taste if appropriate.
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  3. Add variety. Create opportunities for the team to do something different to what they are used to, to make their day more interesting. Break up routine activities with fun energisers and ‘right brain’ activities. These might seem trivial, but getting your team members involved and keeps them energized and in a better state of mind. There are also great for relieving any tension and getting the brain warmed up before meetings and/or training.
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  4. Celebrate obscure national days: Winnie the Pooh Day, Tell an old joke Day, National Popcorn Day. (In case you’re interested 24th of August is Vesuvius Day, Peach Pie Day and Pluto Demoted Day!)
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  5. Lunch on us. Bring in lunch or arrange for caterers to come in and produce a team lunch. Or if the occasion warrants it to celebrate or say thank you organise a long team lunch (or dinner) out with the business picking up the bill.
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  6. Team outing. Take the team out for a treat. It can be as lavish or as little as you like: afternoon tea, wine tasting, pizza nigh.
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  7. Find some quirky ways to recognise noteworthy achievements or events however small. Whether it’s the boss making the coffee all day, or awarding the team mascot for the day; just a small gesture they appreciate and means it gets recognised.
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  8. Charity appeal. Do something fun but with a serious note in aid of charity. Whether it’s Red Nose Day, Children in Need, Macmillan coffee morning or something of your own to support a nominated charity or a charity with special meaning for one or more of your team.
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  9. Create a company (or department) team. Whether it’s football, pub quiz, or bell ringing! Let them choose, but give it your backing, cheer them on and celebrate their successes.
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  10. Monday morning motivation. Banish Monday morning blues with something on a Monday morning for your team to truly look forward to. You don’t need to decide what this is – ask them!

So, whatever your business, keep things light hearted.  You might be dealing with serious subjects, but people will be more productive when they are happy and relaxed.

Laughter is the best medicine. A good hearty laugh relieves tension and helps boost the immune system. And it’s contagious.

So….   Have some fun!

 


How far you’ve come

Following on from last week’s email about my biking misadventures; I’d like to share with you today another idea I’ve been reminded of on my road to recovery.

It would be all too easy to put all my focus on all the things I can’t yet do: cook a meal, wear anything with sleeves or simply cut up my food unaided! Let alone drive, ride my bike or dig my garden.

Thinking this way only gets me frustrated.

Instead I focus on how far I’ve come… Getting dressed unaided, opening jars, I even managed to hang out washing and a spot of one-handed ironing the other day!

Of course, I still have goals of what I want to achieve and by when (I’m absolutely determined to get back on my bike again before the summer is out!), but by focusing on those small incremental improvements I’m seeing every day just helps to keep everything in perspective.

So how is this relevant to employee engagement or customer service?

I believe this focus on how far you’ve come is relevant in many ways, but here are just three:

Performance Improvements

When an employee is under-performing its certainly important to identify the gap between the standard you want and where that person is performing now.

But as they make improvements it’s far more encouraging and motivational  to focus on how far they’ve come and improvements that they’ve made rather than focusing solely on the remaining gap.

Which, of course, means the sooner they’re likely to close that gap.

Developing Team Members

When any of your team members are learning a new skill or a new process and it doesn’t work immediately it’s easy for them to get despondent and disheartened, whether this is something that is going to take them a day to master, or a year.

By reviewing how far they’ve come, what they’ve learnt and the little incremental improvements they’ve made it can help keep them engaged as well as learning from the feedback on what’s working and what’s not working.

Personal Progress

The same principles can apply in our own personal growth. It could be all too easy to focus on what we have not achieved, rather than thinking just how far we’ve come.

Action point

So if you only do one thing, as we near the end of the week look back and identify at least one area in which you or one of your team members has made progress this week… And give yourself or them a pat on the back!


Stuff happens

Every so often life throws at you something totally unexpected. Just under 2 weeks ago on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning I came off my bike. This resulted in 2 open fractures to my lower arm, over 3 hours in surgery and 5 days in hospital. Hence no e-zine from me last week.

I’m not telling you this to get your sympathy (… Well, okay, a little bit would be nice!). But those five uncomfortable and dreary days in hospital reminded me of a few important lessons in showing you care and helping people feel good about themselves.

I believe each of these are just as relevant in the business world in showing your team members you care about them, and ultimately improving employee engagement.

  1. Common courtesies. In the hospital 95% of the staff introduced themselves and their role, and added a polite good morning/good afternoon. There were just 2 or 3 staff members who didn’t do this, and there was a marked difference in how I felt with these people. In the business world a simple sunny smile and a cheerful good morning sets everyone up for the day. I always live by the principal of treating your team with the same care, courtesy and respect you’d like them to show customers.
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  2. Listen and observe. Keep your ears and eyes open to recognise when things aren’t as they should be, and spot concerns quickly. Left to fester these can snowball into bigger problems. No more so in my case when several hours after my surgery I stopped responding. Thankfully for me my nurse picked this up instantly!
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  3. Be approachable. When points 1 and 2 above are observed this is likely to happen naturally. Not everyone feels comfortable raising concerns or questions, particularly in front of their colleagues (or fellow patients). Being open to and responsive to individual questions or cries for help means you don’t leave people struggling and floundering, and enable them to get back to the job and up to speed as quickly as possible.
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  4. Focus on what you can do rather than on what you can’t do. At one point I was in a lot of pain, but because I had reacted badly to morphine I was not allowed any more. One nurse (who incidentally never introduced herself) just frankly told me I couldn’t have a more morphine and left me at that. Whereas another nurse explained why I couldn’t have morphine but what he was going to give me instead.
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  5. Be flexible. In any organisation – be that your business or the NHS – there have to be systems and processes in place. But there are occasions when being so hellbent on the rules serves nobody.
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  6. Let people know you’re there for them. I’ve had a wealth of messages, phone calls, cards and visitors all offering their sympathies, support if needed and wishes for a speedy recovery. Every one of these has made me feel good; even if I don’t ever call on any of these people for their support, it’s so reassuring to know it’s there if I need it. In the business world you don’t want to be checking in on people every 5 minutes, but it’s always reassuring for anyone in your team to know that you’re there support them when it’s needed – whether that be work-related or maybe some personal issue that could be on their mind.

If you only do one thing, just take one action today to show your team members that you care for them and you’re there for them if they need you.

If you’d like more ideas on how to show your team you care about them, so they care for your customers and your business there 131 tips here



Off to a Flying Start

Earlier this week I spoke at The Horticultural Trades Association Catering Conference on attracting and retaining superstars. Of the 7 key ingredients I discussed one focused on giving new team members the red carpet treatment and creating a positive first impression, so they feel valued and engaged from day one.

In last week’s blog I wrote about the steps you can take to create a sense of anticipation and excitement before new team members even start. This week I’d like to focus on their induction once they are in the job.

It’s all too easy to expect new starters to hit the ground running and throw them in at the deep end. Especially when you’ve been understaffed and are desperate for the new pair of hands.

But this can be counterproductive.

In the same way you might think about your customer experience and how you’d like customers to feel as a result of doing business with you, transfer this principle to your staff.

How would you like this new team member to be feeling at the end of their first day?

Overwhelmed and confused? Frustrated, underutilised and bored? Already questioning that this is the right job for them?

Or enthusiastic, excited, looking forward to making a real contribution to the business, and can’t wait to get into work tomorrow?

Make a plan

People can only remember so much information. Spread the induction over several weeks, and limit what they’ll be covering on the first day to a minimum as there will be a lot for them to take in.

During the induction period involve as many other team members as possible as this is a great way for your new team member to meet others, start to understand how their role fits in with everybody else’s and for them to feel part of that team.

Identify who will be involved with what so there are no overlaps or gaps. Then make sure that everyone involved knows what part they play and schedule time to devote to this. No one wants to feel as if they are an inconvenience and this will do little to make the new team member feel welcome.

Here is a checklist of things to include

Here is a checklist of things to include in your induction, and of course every site and every role is different so ensure you tailor the induction around the job they’ll be doing and where they are going to be working. Plan your inductions well in advance, and schedule what will be happening when.

WHAT TO INCLUDE

Here are some key headings, but not necessarily everything under each heading is to be covered in one go. Think about what’s essential for day one, what’s to be covered within the first week, and then space other things over the coming 3 to 4 weeks.

The lay of the land

Show people where they will be working, where they can find things, where they can leave their personal things, where they can take their breaks, where to find key information, resources, and the people they’ll be working with. Point out health and safety needs such as fire evacuation points, first aid kit and any hazardous areas.

The job itself

Although you would have discussed this at the recruitment stage now is the time to go into detail. Let people know exactly what is expected and how this will be measured, how progress will be reviewed and how their role fits in with everybody else’s.

The bigger picture

Where does their job fit into the bigger picture? What are the goals and targets of the business as a whole and how they contribute to this.

Where does their role fit in with everybody else’s? What does everybody else do? What are all the other services and facilities that you provide?

What we stand for

Think about your purpose, values and culture. What is important to you as a business and what is the type of experience you want your customers to have when they do business with you? Communicate this.   If you have won prestigious awards be proud of these and share what this means and what you need to do to sustain this level.

Customer expectations

Help new team members understand your customers’ expectations. Describe your customer profile and what they will be looking for. Why do people come to you rather you’re your competition, what makes you different or unique. Take people through the customer journey and allow them to see everything from a customer’s perspective as far as possible; not only for their own department, but all the other services your customers use, starting with your website*.

* This is a great exercise to do with all new starters. As part of their induction ask them to find certain information from your website. They learn about the business, and you can get some feedback on how user-friendly and informative your website is.

How we do things round here

How this translates into the day-to-day role might come better from a fellow employee, a sort of buddy, rather than necessarily always coming from you. However if you are going to do that, make sure that the person they are buddied up with knows the standards, knows the expectations, and knows what you want from them.

The law of the land

This is where you cover all contractual parts of their role such as work permits, absence reporting, signing their contract, how and when they get paid. Talk about holiday entitlement and how they go about booking this so there are no later disappointments as late notice holiday requests get turned down.

History and heritage

It’s nice to know a little bit about the background, heritage and key historical facts about your business, but people don’t need every little detail. Home in on what’s relevant, so if for example your building has an interesting history and your customers are interested in this, cover the key points and let them know where they can go for more information if they want to dig deeper.

One of the family

Help new starters to settle in by involving them in team activities in the workplace, and ensuring they get an invitation to any social activities. Let them know who the people are to go to for help and guidance, who are your champions or experts in different areas, who should they turn to when you’re not there.

Practice makes perfect

Don’t expect everyone to be superb in every aspect of the job straightaway. Plan on the job skills training appropriate for the role they are going to do and allow time for them to get up to speed.

Getting stuck in

For new people it can sometimes feel to them as if they are not achieving much in the early days. So consider allocating a specific project that they can get stuck into and for which they have some responsibility and ownership. This is a great way to get them involved and give them something where they can contribute early on.

Regular reviews

Schedule weekly meetings with your new starters for a minimum of the first four weeks to review progress, answer questions, and identify when help is needed. This is also a great time to get feedback from them on their ideas and observations. Often a fresh pair of eyes will highlight things we’ve missed, and they bring with them experience and insights on how to do things better.

So, for the next person you take on, don’t waste your recruitment effort & costs by poor induction.  Increase the likelihood that they will want to stay, do the job to the standard you expect, and become a loyal employee, by giving them a thorough planned induction, backed up by the right support and resources to deliver the job well.



Employee Engagement Starts Here

Nearly every business owner I know lists recruiting and retaining good staff high on their list of priorities.

Having gone to the effort and expense of finding a good fit, don’t waste this by poor induction.

The first few days and weeks in any job will determine how that person feels about your business and whether or not this is the place they want to stay and if they’re able to pursue their career here; is this an environment where they can feel happy and get on with their fellow team members? Employee engagement starts here.

People like (and need) to know what’s expected of them. But induction should go far deeper than simply their duties and contractual obligations.

During someone’s first few weeks is also an opportunity for you, as you have a fresh pair of eyes to review your business, to spot things that maybe we’ve become accustomed to, and to come up with new ideas.

Start the induction process as soon as possible; the more you can do before their first day the quicker they’ll get them up to speed.

In your job offer let them know how much you’re looking forward to them coming to work for you and then start with information that lets them know that they’re going to get a warm welcome.

Create a Welcome Pack

The easiest way for you to do this is to create a standard welcoming pack. This might include:

  • A short personalised welcome letter or card from you, the owner or general manager personally signed.
  • The background to your business, your values and what’s important to you.
  • An outline of what they’ll be doing in the first week – training, briefings, range of work.
  • Map of the area with local information: banks, useful shops, a park to enjoy during their break. Go to Google Maps and print out.
  • Information about personal safety at work, plus travelling to and from the job. (Particular important for those who will be working unsociable hours) This might include information about parking and public transport, even a timetable (download and print).
  • For hospitality, leisure or retail businesses a voucher for them to come and be a customer with you so they can experience things from a customer’s perspective.
  • Vouchers from other local businesses – find those who will be happy to do a reciprocal arrangement (all good for the local community). Make them of real value, and something your staff will care about.
  • Information about social media they can connect to: the Facebook Page, Instagram account, Twitter and a private Facebook Group for staff if you have one. (And if you don’t now might be a good time to think about one!)
  • A short summary of the Staff Manual with key things they need to know.
  • Their contract of employment so they have an opportunity to read through this before day one
  • Any current topical information, such as your latest newsletter
  • An invitation to any events happening between now and when they start
  • A copy of their induction programme and their point of contact for day one
  • What to wear and what to bring on their first day

Putting all this in a smart folder with their name on it and sending it to them before they start will make them feel more welcome and they are more likely to be looking forward to the first day and getting into their job quickly.

You could also put this information online and give them the url to access it (or in a pdf you send to them), so you can embed links to access useful local information and all your social media pages.

So, once they start what needs to be covered in that induction to get them off to a flying start?

Next week I’ll share a handy checklist for creating your own induction programmes.

I’ll also be talking about this at the HTA catering conference next week, so if you happen to be there, I’ll see you then!



Mixing Things Up

“Talking it through in our group I’ve now got some brilliant ideas.”

“It was great talking to others and realising they have the same challenges”

“I now have a better understanding of xx department, and know what I can do to make both our lives easier”

“It was great to get someone else’s perspective, as I’d not seen things that way before.”

These are typical of the comments I get from delegates on my workshops.

I can guarantee I will always get at least one delegate (if not nearly all) on every workshop I run saying that meeting other people or mixing with people in other departments was an invaluable part of the workshop.

Why?

  • It generates new ideas (in fact the very same happened to me this week when I was a delegate – and came away with a cracking idea from another delegate – more of which you’ll learn at a later date).
  • It gives a greater understanding of each other’s roles, and the demands on them so people and departments become more supportive of one another
  • It helps build relationships and connections, helping team members to understand each other better, knowing what’s important to them and how to get the best from them
  • It helps each other identify where their strengths and expertise lie, so where they may be able to support one another
  • It reminds everyone that ultimately they are working towards the same goal

But…

It doesn’t need an externally run workshop to enable these things to happen.

There are plenty of things a business can do internally to get team members and departments working well together, exchanging ideas, supporting one another, and generally creating a harmonious team.

Here are just a few…

Mixed meetings and briefings.  Mix departments to work together and share best practice and see others’ perspectives. Proactivity mix people up to sit with people they don’t normally work alongside, otherwise everyone just gravitates to towards their own team or their buddies.

Upskill and cross train people to cover other’s responsibilities so people are confident their job still gets covered when they are sick, on holiday or have an extra heavy workload. (Upskilling also demonstrates your commitment to your team, and shows people they are valued.)

Set up job swaps so everyone has a greater appreciation of each other’s roles and create teamwork and a culture where everyone takes responsibility when necessary, rather than passing the buck.

When there are special circumstances, such as working on a big project define responsibilities to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort.

Get rid of rotten apples. It only takes one or two negative people to get in the way and spread their negativity onto everyone else and drag them down to their level. Deal with them or get rid of them before they make everyone else’s life miserable.

Social events. Finding something that appeals to everyone’s tastes, personal commitments and pockets can be challenging, so never force people to attend.

Involve your team in organising the event. However, be careful this isn’t seen as a chore, or you will undo all the goodwill you’re trying to achieve.

After-hours team activities in the workplace can open up accessibility for those who can’t or won’t otherwise get involved. Cookery classes, wine tasting, talent contest; anything that taps into the interests or expertise of your team members.

Personal Development. Offer extra-curricular activities through suppliers open to all team members. For example, if you are a hospitality business you might ask your alcohol supplier to organise a gin tasting, or a cocktail making demonstration or competition.

Social Media. Set up a private Facebook Page or WhatsApp group where your team members can chat, share ideas, ask questions.

These are just a few ways you can get your team talking to one another. If you’d like to talk though more ideas specific to getting the best from your team set up a call with me here.



Mapping the Journey

Earlier this week I attended a customer experience seminar. We had some excellent presentations, including one on what went on behind-the-scenes for the London Olympics in creating such a memorable visitor experience through the Games’ Makers (in which – I am proud to say – I played a small part).

One of the sessions was on customer experience journey-mapping. As the name suggests this is looking at everything on the customer’s journey from the customer’s perspective, and should include everything that happens leading up to the point of purchase (awareness, decision to buy, etc) as well as what happens afterwards (e.g. staying in touch, recognition of loyalty).

Mapping the journey is one thing, but then review the experience your customers get at each stage on that journey. What do you want them to feel at each point, and how well do you achieve that?

Of course, the most obvious people to ask about the customer journey from a customer’s perspective are your customers.

But failing to start by asking your team members is a massive lost opportunity on three counts:

  1. Firstly, you get a fresh pair of eyes (and ears) on what the customer sees, hears or experiences. It’s amazing what team members will spot as opportunities to improve or modify the customer touch points to give a smoother or enhanced customer experience.
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    Your customer facing team members will invariably hear first-hand from customers of your short-falls and their frustrations.
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  2. Secondly, when team members spot improvements it gives them a sense of ownership over any changes, rather than being seen as a criticism.
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    So you’ll get employees engaged and get buy-in and commitment to making the changes happen.
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  3. Lastly it helps your team members to engage more readily with your customers.
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    Because they’ve experienced everything first hand for themselves they are able to appreciate what’s important to the customer at that point, and can relate easily to them when discussing or describing any aspect of your service or products.
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    This is just as relevant for back of house staff too.

Because we can become oblivious to what we’re involved in every day (and sometimes quite protective) it helps to mix teams up a bit. Even old hands can give you another perspective by experiencing another department.

Often it’s seemingly simple things. The layout of counters forcing customers to backtrack or double up wasting time and effort; poor directions or signage, meaning customers get lost or miss things altogether (often impacting your sales too);

Build it into your induction process as new team members will be experiencing things for the first time, giving you a fresh perspective.

Of course, it may not always be possible or practical for team members to experience everything but even if you sell exotic holidays or exclusive wedding dresses there will still be plenty of opportunity to get a sense of what your customers experience, particularly the various touch points your customer experiences before or after doing business with you, which so often get forgotten.

But you might be in a position to use the exercise as rewarding activity. If, for example, you run a hotel, having your team members stay at the hotel (and have access to everything your guests do) might be a treat for them, but gives you the opportunity for feedback too, so it’s a win-win.

How often do you put any of your team members in your customers’ shoes?



Congratulations!

If you’re anything like me, you love having an excuse to celebrate. Today happens to be my wedding anniversary, and at 33 years I think that’s cause to celebrate.

Marking special occasions is a great way to engage both customers and team members. Recognising a personal milestone, proud moment or a significant event shows you care.

What’s the occasion?

The most obvious things to celebrate are birthdays and anniversaries. Not just personal anniversaries such as a significant wedding anniversary, but maybe noticing the anniversary of the date each of your team members joined your business or your department. If you’ve a large team you might decide to celebrate the anniversaries of everyone who joined in the current month. This is a great excuse to bring people together who might not normally work closely together.

For business customers congratulate them on a significant anniversary in their business, or the anniversary of when you started working with them (and this helps to reinforce your relationship).

And of course, don’t forget anniversaries for your own business; it’s a great way to blow your own trumpet!

Recognise those important and proud moments for your team members outside of work. The arrival of their first grandchild, passing their driving test, their child’s graduation, gaining a qualification, making a significant contribution to a charity e.g. through a fundraising event, running a marathon, etc.

Celebrate and share your business successes. Let everyone know when you’ve had a good month, and thank them for their contribution. Celebrate that special deal or contract you’ve won. Pass on the recognition you’ve received from an important customer.

Cheers

Celebrations don’t need to be lavish. What’s more important is that they are sincere and will be appreciated by those you are congratulating.

Recognise that some people love the limelight, others hate it. Sometimes a quiet “congratulations and well done” is all that’s needed and will have more impact than any over the top celebration.

For a customer a little unexpected gift (which might also be an excuse for them to visit again, but ensure it is something they will value, not just a blatant promotion for more business) can make them feel special and appreciated.

If it’s an occasion to be shared will taking time out for coffee and cake to celebrate the occasion be more appropriate than taking everyone down to the pub?

And it may be that the best and simplest way to help team members mark the occasion is giving them the opportunity to knock off early, so they have more time to celebrate with their family and friends.