Tag Archives: employee engagement

 

onboarding new staff

A couple of weeks’ ago I was a guest panellist on Corecruitment’s recruitment webinar. One common theme is the challenge of recruiting and retaining good staff.

When it comes to retention, having gone to the effort and expense of finding a good fit, don’t waste this by poor onboarding, only to have the employee leave again after a couple of months, leaving you back to square one.

In addition to permanent roles, many hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses will be taking on seasonal staff now.

Maybe you are too?

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. It might just be for a season initially, but who knows… maybe even to pursue their career here. Is this an environment where they’ll be happy, fit in and feel their contribution is valued?

Getting this right is as important for temporary or seasonal staff as it is for permanent. They too can act as ambassadors for your business, and make all the difference the next time you need to recruit. Quite apart from the impact they can have on other team members and your customers depending on how well they’re equipped for the job.

People like (and need) to know what’s expected of them. So when people start with you a thorough onboarding is absolutely key to ensuring you’re not wasting all the time, cost and effort you’ve put into recruiting the right person.

A thorough onboarding process firstly ensures they’ll be up to speed and able to carry out their job effectively, resulting in less pressure on other team members, and a better customer experience.

But just as importantly, it creates the right first impression, that shows that their role is valued.

Imagine your new team member getting home from work after their first day and their nearest and dearest asking them “how was your first day?” If you were a fly on the wall, what would you like to hear them say?

“It was ok, I suppose”

“Hmm, I’m not so sure; I didn’t really know what I was doing and they just left me to muddle through. I’ll give it a couple more days…”

“It was brilliant. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful, and they’ve mapped out a great training programme for me so I know what I’m going to be learning and doing over the next couple of weeks. I’m really excited to have got this job, and can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Start the onboarding 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.

If you need to re-vamp your on-boarding process or want to learn more about how to engage new team members I’ve just made that chore a whole lot easier for you!

Take action

If you only do one thing, take a fresh look at your on-boarding programmes and how you engage new team members, and ask yourself do they really give the best possible start for anyone new to your team to be a productive, happy and engaged team player in your business.

p.s Start your on-boarding process as soon as possible; the more you can do before their first day the quicker they’ll get them up to speed.

Discover more here…

 

 

 

 

 

 


Creating a Learning Culture

Creating a learning culture

Can we really learn from mistakes?

Creating a learning culture starts with accepting people will make mistakes.

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

And the same applies with your team.

Let me explain…

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

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

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

Take action

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

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

Book recommendation:

Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed.

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

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

Building Confidence Video



Supporting a Charity

Supporting a Charity

Make a Difference by Supporting a Charity

Last Friday I was at the annual quiz night for a local charity Oakleaf, who provides vocational training for those suffering from mental health issues, helping people get back into work.

We came 4th out of 19 teams, so not too shabby, and we helped raise an impressive £6,405, whilst having some fun.

Today’s workforce is looking for meaning or purpose in their work, and supporting a charity is potentially one way to contribute to this. Giving back creates a positive mentality. It also fosters pride and loyalty.

Getting involved in social and charity initiatives doesn’t have to be all consuming; . you can donate time and involvement, money, or sharing your specialist skills pro bono or to raise funds.

If you don’t already support a charity, here are some of my thoughts on what to consider.

Choosing a charity

Identify a charity that you would like to do something for as a team.

It’s important your chosen charity reflects your values, as well as something that resonates with your team, and hopefully your customers too. It might be a charity with special meaning for one or more of your team.

Get the team together, have everyone pitch a cause and pick the one you want to support. It’s important that you make it personal, and that you make it count.

Set your own Charity Challenge

Consider what you’re willing to commit to doing for that charity.  Put it on the agenda for your team meeting and discuss the kind of support you could give, and for how long.

How much time, money or resources are you willing to invest; will any involvement be during normal working hours; how long will you continue your involvement (you may consider changing the charity of the year or every 2 years).

It might simply be a case of raising money, through traditional activities such as a sponsored event, a ‘bring-and buy’ sale or even just ‘tin-rattling’ around the office. If you’re inclined to be more creative, then look for more imaginative way to raise money.

You may have skills that are scarce in the charitable organisation, but easy for you to apply.  For example, updating technology, coaching people, providing work experience opportunities or coaching staff members or project planning.

Perhaps you could elect a team member to contact your chosen charity and ask what kind of help would be appreciated.

Do Something as a Team

Volunteering and fundraising events are a good way to get everyone working together as a team, potentially, alongside other departments.

It might be challenging to get everyone together if you are a 24-hour/7 day operation, but even if you cannot get all your team or all your direct reports together, see if collectively you can involve everyone in some way.

You may decide you’re only going to commit to one or two activities a year, such as Red Nose Day, Children in Need, Macmillan coffee morning.

Remember, that this is about involving your team in something meaningful, so if there isn’t anyone in your team who wants to take up any of the tasks involved or has the time, there is little value to the team in you as team leader taking this on alone.

I don’t know what will work for you and your team, that’s up to you, and no one should be forced to get involved.

PR for your charity

For many smaller charities, one of their biggest challenges is awareness. You might still be pleasantly surprised how easy it can be to gain publicity in your local newspapers or on local radio.

Write a press release, concentrating on topical relevance of what you’re doing. Email or phone your local newspapers and radio stations. Contact specialist publications relevant to your organisation or the charity your challenge will benefit.

This activity could easily be done by just one person, so consider whether you want to encourage a number of people to get involved or if you’re happy for one person to volunteer.

Proud personal moments

Recognise and celebrate with your team members those who are involved in other charities outside work, particularly when they have made a significant contribution to their charity such as volunteering, taking part in a sponsored event or fundraising.

Maintain momentum

Keep your charity appeal alive with a regular review, updates or progress charts. This doesn’t have to be done by you; ask for volunteers in your team.

Celebrate your wins and give recognition for achievements along the way.

Share your activities with your customers and suppliers too; it all helps raise the profile for your charity and demonstrates your values to your customers.

Involve your suppliers too, they may even be prepared to sponsor your activities or donate prizes or gifts.

Have fun

I’m a great believer in having some fun at work. Allowing people to have fun at work all helps with employee engagement, productivity and staff retention, all of which has a positive knock-on effect on your customers’ experience.

Doing something for charity is a great opportunity to do something fun but with a serious intent.

Going it alone

Even if you have no team, or you have little buy-in from the team for supporting a charity, there are plenty of ways you can still contribute to a good cause. For example, I donate to an organisation called B1G1, which allows me to make small contributions to any one of a wide number of projects every time I work with a client, all of which add up over time. Find out more about B1G1 here:  http://bit.ly/exploreb1g1

 

Action

If you only do one thing…

What difference could you make? Find a cause that resonates with your team and involve them in that cause.

 


I can’t do that

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

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

But, what do they really mean?

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

But the result is the same – a barrier.

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

Find out what’s prompted their reaction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

Related video: The power of questions

Related article: Old habits die hard


When you stop noticing the cracks

improvements

Making Improvements

The longer you leave things the more likely they become the accepted norm, and the less likely improvements happen.

It’s just over 30 years since we moved into our house. There aren’t many things we haven’t changed; the whole layout of the rooms, we’ve added an extension and we’ve extended into the roof space.

But there are some things we’ve been meaning to do almost since we moved here; for example it took us 25 years to get round to putting a sign outside with the house name! And it took us three years to fix a broken tile in our kitchen doorway.

You see, the thing is, the longer you live with something the more you become accustomed to it being that way. We simply stop noticing the cracks. And in the case of the kitchen tile we just automatically stepped over it.

And this can happen in a business too. There can be a gradual decline: the fabric of your building, the morale of your team, the speed of response for a customer. When it’s gradual we don’t notice it.

And once it’s been a certain way for any length of time unless it causes us a major inconvenience we simply get used to things that way, and ignore the improvements needed.

So what are the cracks in your business which could be impacting your teams well-being, their productivity, or levels of engagement. Or impacting your customers’ experience?

Even when you stop noticing these things if they have an impact on your team or your customers you can be sure that they won’t have stopped noticing.

Ask the question

Ask your team where there are ‘cracks’ in your business: in your systems, with your equipment, in your customers’ journey. Listen to their views to flush out anything that’s standing in the way of them doing a great job or impacts the customer in some way.

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

Ask them to suggest better ways of doing things. Not only can this flag up things you may have been unaware of, if anything needs to change or it needs some effort on their part to make improvements they’ll be far more bought in to doing something well if they have initiated it.

The customer experience

Listen to what your team tell you about shortfalls in the customer journey; they’ll invariably spot where improvements can be made.

Many of your team are much closer to your customers than you are and will see opportunities to enhance the customer experience. So ask for their ideas and be prepared to act on them.

Ask your team to make an honest assessment and reflect on how they think customers currently feel at each of these key touch points.

If they aren’t sure ask them to reflect back on some of the conversations they’ve had with customers.

Arrange for each team member to take the customer journey themselves and see how it feels being on the receiving end.

If you’ve done this exercise with your team before, this time allocate team members to different departments to get a different perspective.  When it’s your own department it’s easy to become protective, oblivious to some of the challenges or frustrations customers may encounter. Reviewing another department can help flush out potential ‘blind spots’.

Ask your team to make a note of everything that isn’t quite perfect yet. It doesn’t mean to say you have to fix everything, but you can make a conscious decision as to which aspects you might put to one side for now and which need to be addressed as a priority.

It can be quite revealing what your team pick up; they’ll often spot things you don’t.

Keeping on top of maintenance

Have a system in place for maintenance, whether this is done in house or with a contractor. Encourage team members to report problems promptly when the equipment doesn’t appear to be functioning on all four cylinders, or gets damaged, rather than apportioning blame on them for causing the problem.

Have a process which makes this quick and easy. Failure to report and deal with problems promptly not only leads to frustrations, and later accusations of whose fault it is, but could cost you dearly in the long run if it causes long-term damage.

Listen to what they have to say

Take action before they become the accepted norm.

Unless followed though promptly your team won’t bother telling you next time.

The longer problems are left unresolved, the less emphasis it places on the importance of their welfare or the customer experience in their eyes and the less importance they will place on their contribution to your business.

Old habits die hard

If my kitchen floor is anything to judge by, the longer it takes to fix the problem the longer it takes for people to adjust to the new way. Be patient with your team whilst they get get used to the improvement.

I was still stepping over that broken tile, even after it was no longer there!

Video: Listening to employees

Article: What we can learn from Formula 1


10 ways to show your team some love

show your team some love

Show your team some love ❤️

Do you remember as a teenager how important it was to get at least one Valentine’s card? And how awful it felt if you got none! Did this mean nobody loved you?

Maybe these days we don’t need a wad of Valentine’s cards to know we are cared for. But we do all like to be told in some form from time to time.

And it’s no different for your team.

Unless your team feel valued and loved they’re not likely to share much love for your business, or your customers either

So…

What can you do to show your team some love?

Here are 10 everyday activities you can use to show your team some love so they in turn show your customers some love and give an all-round great customer experience.

Not just for Valentine’s Day, but any day.

1. Know what’s important

Understand each of your team members and what’s important to them. Recognise there are things which may seem insignificant to you, but can mean a lot for others.

What are the things they enjoy? What are the things they’re proud of, be that in or out of work. Express an interest in what they do away from work.

Never under estimate the value sitting down in private with each of your team on a one-to-one basis. Schedule these in advance and stick to your schedule; nothing smacks more of I’m not valued than constantly cancelling these meetings.

2. Common courtesies

Treat your team with the same care, courtesy and respect as you’d like them to show your customers.

Keep your commitments; letting people down suggests a lack of respect, but if you can’t do what you say you’ll do at the very least say “I’m sorry”.

Give a simple please and thank you, a sunny smile and a cheerful “good morning”, and a “good night and have a good evening” at the end of their day or shift.

3. Pay attention

Listen to your team’s feedback, ideas and suggestions. Show them you value their opinion: ask for their advice or suggestions on matters that affect them or where they may be able to present a different perspective.

Be approachable, and listen and observe so you can act on any staff concerns before they become a problem. Provide support and be receptive to when this might be needed.

4. Keep your team informed

A well-informed team not only gives them confidence and enables them to make decisions, it also helps establish trust with your customers. Let everyone know what’s going on in your business through regular staff briefings, and use these to get feedback from your team on any customers’ comments, or discuss any questions or suggestions that arise about operational issues.

Keep your team up to date with the bigger picture: what’s happening in your business, in your industry, and with your competitors.

5. Invest in your team’s development

Provide development opportunities to tap into their strengths and keep them stretched. Not everyone wants to progress but it doesn’t mean to say they don’t want to be stretched given opportunities for new challenges. A bored employee is unlikely to wow your customers.

Give everyone an opportunity to learn something new; it’s a win-win as the business will benefit too. Add variety, set them a challenge and trust your team to make decisions to do what’s best.

6. Promote teamwork

Upskill and cross train your team to cover other’s responsibilities so everyone is confident the job still gets covered even when they’re sick, on holiday or have an extra heavy workload. This also promotes a greater appreciation at each other’s roles as well as making it easier to create a culture where everyone takes responsibility when necessary rather than passing the buck.

It doesn’t have to be all about work. It’s difficult to please everyone but if you can find something that appeals to everyone’s tastes, personal commitments and budget, social activities is a great way to bring the team together. Even if this is simply some after hours team activities in the workplace that taps into the interest, talents or expertise of your team.

7. Guide and support

Give your team the support, resources and guidance needed to do a good job. This starts with providing clear direction on your expectations and providing everyone with the resources they need (including sufficient time and manpower).

Observe your team in action and give supportive feedback, encouragement and coaching, so you build their confidence and their productivity.

Every business has its times when things go wrong, so equip your team to deal with the unexpected and empower them to handle these situations with confidence.

8. Two-way trust

Lead by example and be a role model so there are no mixed messages. Ensure your management team use the same criteria for awarding and recognising the team’s contribution, so people don’t get confused of feel deflated when something worthy of recognition gets ignored.

Play to people’s strengths and demonstrate your trust by delegating some control and ownership. This gives a sense of pride and a desire to get things right.

9. Recognise and reward success

Recognise those who go beyond the call of duty. Give public recognition when you receive positive feedback from a customer.

Share your good news to give everyone a boost and recognise those who have contributed. Make any rewards meaningful; not everyone is motivated by the same things, so consider what’s important to the individual.

Have some fun. You might be dealing with serious subjects but people are more productive when they’re happy and relaxed. Laughter is the best medicine and a good hearty laugh release tension and it’s contagious!

10. A simple thank you

The most obvious and easiest thing you can do to show your team you care about them is to make a point of thanking them. Whether that’s a heartfelt thank you at the end of a busy shift or hectic day, when they’ve made an extra effort or used their initiative, or gone out of their way to help a colleague or a customer. Send a handwritten letter or a thank you card when they’ve gone the extra mile; a physical letter or card will have 10 times more impact than an email.

These ideas can go a long way towards creating staff loyalty which in turn will contribute to customer loyalty.

Take Action

If you only do one thing: Make a point of saying a sincere and personal thank you to everyone in your team at some point today, or if you don’t see them every day, then at least once this week.

Show some love to new team members

Help people feel loved and cared for from day 1, by ensuring they get a thorough induction into their role and your business.

Here’s a tried and tested template to get you started. 



Hello, I’m Caroline

build rapport

Build rapport using names

Do you remember the TV series Cheers? And the theme tune “… where everyone knows your name”

This coming weekend I will be helping at a charity event ‘Bolt Round the Holt’ in aid of GUTS (Guildford Undetected Tumour Screening). I normally get involved with registration at this event, and thinking of the task ahead it reminded me of the importance of names.

Using someone’s name is a powerful way to build rapport.

According to Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”  “… any person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.  ….we can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering the name.”

This is true, not just for customers, but your team members too; in fact, anyone you speak to.

However, sometimes it can be challenging to remember names. I remember about 20 years ago, the company I was working for at the time ran a series of Roadshows. At the time I was a management development executive at our international training centre. This meant that over the course of the year I would meet hundreds, if not thousands, of managers attending training.

Because I knew so many people I was asked to help with registration at each event, and because so many of those attending knew me, they made a beeline to me expecting me to remember them too. But when you have thousands of people registering at each event, it’s quite a challenge remembering everybody’s names, and some people got quite offended when I couldn’t remember who they were!

I learnt a little trick to get around this, which I’ll tell you about in a moment. But in the meantime, here are my other top tips for helping you and your team members remember and use people’s names.

  1. Start with your team, greet them by name, and use the name they want to be known by. So, if they have a preference to be known by their middle name, use this. Never shorten or abbreviate their name unless they ask you to. So, Andrew doesn’t become Andy, Christopher doesn’t become Chris, and Deborah doesn’t become Debbie, unless that’s what they request.
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  2. Repeat it. How often do we ask someone’s name and then instantly forget it? So, listen with intent, and then immediately repeat their name. This not only helps you to committed it to memory, but allows an opportunity for the other person to correct it if you’ve got it wrong or missed pronounced. If the pronunciation is a little tricky for you, always ask the other person, whether you’ve got the pronunciation correct. It’s far less awkward for both of you to correct it now than on your fourth or fifth meeting.
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  3. Can you spell that please? Spelling someone’s name incorrectly can feel insulting, so check the spelling if you need to. Even relatively common names often have more than one spelling; Cathy or Kathy, Iain or Ian, Philip or Phillip.
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  4. Formal, friendly or familiar. It’s difficult sometimes to know whether to address the customer as Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms. or use their first name. The rule of thumb is to follow their lead; how they introduce themselves.
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  5. Personalise your automation. Have you ever had a letter that’s addressed to you personally on the envelope, but the salutations reads “Dear Sir or Madam”. With technology today there should be no excuse not to address emails or letters with someone’s name (or at least the name they have given you).
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  6. Create a memory. If you can create an association between someone’s name and a characteristic or relate to a famous person. For example, my husband is terrible at remembering names and when he first met my parents this was no exception. Their names were Liz and Phil. So, I told him to just think of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip!.
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  7. Tags, cards and badges. Spotting name badges on luggage tags, payment cards or name badges at corporate events can help; a word of caution, don’t get too clever with this! Check the name on their tag, card or badge is the one they want to be addressed by.  If you know which customers you are expecting remind yourself of their names (and personal preferences if you know them) before they arrive.
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  8. And what of employee name badges? They can make it easy for the customer to engage with and remember the people who have served them (as well as a level of accountability). But it’s a very individual decision, and what best suits your business and your style service. A name badge should never be a substitute for a personal introduction from a team member to a customer.

Take action

If you only do one thing – encourage your team members to use customers’ names, so they feel valued and important. Set the example and help make your team also feel extremely valued and important by always addressing them by name too.

And that little trick I discovered on registration? Thankfully, all the name badges were arranged in alphabetical order by people’s surnames. So, I’d always greet them with a cheery smile and ask how they are; and then ask absentmindedly “sorry, just remind me of your surname again”. It seemed forgetting their surname was acceptable, and when I found their name badge, hey presto, I was reminded of their first name too, and could then use this as I handed them their badge.

related article: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/creating-rapport-with-your-hospitality-business-customers/

 


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 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