Tag Archives: employee productivity

Quick wins

easy wins

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you only do one thing:

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

 

 



Continuous Improvements Can Make a Big Difference

continuous improvement

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

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

How have they achieved this?

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

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

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

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

One of the objections you often hear is:

“But, we’ve always done it this way”

Can you imagine if Formula 1 teams took that attitude?

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

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

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

Getting your team involved in this way has 3 benefits:

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

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

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

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

So, ask:

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

Such as:

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

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

Your contribution

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Action on continuous improvements

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

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

Related blog post: When you stop noticing the cracks

Related video: Listen to your team



Jump start to productivity

Productivity

 

Giving your team a productivity boost

7 ideas to help you and your team be back to full productivity.

After two weeks of late nights and sleeping in late, getting up again at my ‘normal’ time was a bit of a struggle.

And I don’t know about you, but all those plans of stuff to get done or sorted over Christmas didn’t come to much.

I confess, I am the master of procrastination, putting things off until later if there is anything in the least bit more attractive to get done!

Whether you’ve been working flat out over Christmas, forced to close or on furlough due Covid, or simply taking a well earned break, it can sometimes be tough to get back into a routine.

The same applies to your team; it can be all too easy to fritter away the first few days back at work and achieve very little.

So whether you and your team are already back, or you are waiting for the next Government update to reopen, here are 7 ideas to help jump start you and your team back to full productivity from day one.

1. Fresh Focus

It can feel a bit flat if it’s back to business as normal; give your team something to look forward to.

Share your plans for the coming year with your team as best you can, so they feel involved.

2. Set mini goals

What short-term projects or goals can you set which eases everyone in gently, but still enables them to 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.

Put tangible metrics in place to measure success. People normally put more effort into the things you monitor than those you don’t.

3. Time for a change?

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

Schedule one to one reviews early to discuss individual contributions and where they each fit in with your plans. Ask for their input to demonstrate you value their contribution.

Encourage everyone in your team to have their own goals too. Even if these don’t include working for you long term, discuss how you can help them achieve their goals together. (Watch this short goal setting guide here )

4. New challenges

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

When reviewing individual contributions and where they fit in with your plans, discuss 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.

5. 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 over Christmas 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 operation, your service, or to add value for customers.

6. Responsibility

Give individual team members responsibility over specific activities. This gives a sense of pride and ownership. And with that 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.

7. Play from a 10

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

Behaviour breeds behaviour.  So, if we mooch around all day resenting being back at work we’re far more likely to elicit negative emotions, than if we’re confident, enthusiastic and energetic.

If you only do one thing to improve productivity in your first week back:

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

Related post: Productivity ~ Stop those Spinning Plates



How to Engage New Team Members

How to Engage New Team Members

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.

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. But your on boarding process should go far deeper than simply their duties and contractual obligations.

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…

 


Improving Employee Productivity

Getting the best from your seasonal team

When Christmas is an exceptionally busy time for your business this of course presents a huge opportunity for you. But if you’re left with insufficient manpower, or temporary staff who simply aren’t up to the job, this can leave your existing team stretched and unable to meet your normal levels of service.

So, not only do your regulars leave disappointed, but those first-time customers don’t get the fab first impression they need to convert them into returning long term loyal customers.

If you’re taking on extra seasonal staff for the Christmas period (or at any other time of the year), I’m sure you will want them to be as productive as possible, as quickly as possible.

Here are a few ideas, so you avoid them being thrown in at the deep end or not pulling their weight.

Before

Start the induction process as soon as possible; the more you can do before their first shift the better their first day’s experience is likely to be and the quicker they’ll be up to speed.

When confirming the job 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.

The easiest way for you to do this is to create a standard welcome 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 service culture, your values and what’s important to you.
  • An outline of what they’ll be doing on their first shift – training, briefings, range of work.
  • Information about personal safety at work, plus travelling to and from the job. (Particularly 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.
  • A short summary of the Staff Manual with key things they need to know.
  • Their terms and conditions of employment so they have an opportunity to read through this before day one.
  • Any current topical information, such as your latest newsletter.
  • What to wear and what to bring on their first shift.
  • Anything else they might need to know in advance such as time keeping, break allowance, staff meals, security, health and safety.
  • Avoid being let down at the last minute – Provide out of hours contact numbers and establish procedures for sickness reporting.

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.

Stay in touch with the new team member, particularly if there is a long lead-in time before they start. This will help to avoid the potential “buyer’s remorse”, and instead help to create a sense of excitement and anticipation.

During

Apart from the obvious outline of the job itself, cover the following:

  1. What we stand for: Define your service 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.
  2. First impressions count.  Customers don’t differentiate between permanent or temporary team members; they expect the same service from everyone. Specify your standards for welcoming and greeting customers, answering the phone. including the ordering and/or booking procedures if this is part of their role.
  3. 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 than your competition, what makes you different or unique. Take people through the key parts of the customer journey and allow them to see everything from a customer’s perspective as far as possible.
  4. How we do things round here.  Every business has its own little routines, habits and traditions.  The sooner new-comers get to know these the sooner they’ll start to feel at home. How this translates into the day-to-day role might come better from a fellow employee or their buddy, rather than necessarily coming from you.
  5. Assign a buddy. Assign someone within their team they can go to for day-to-day questions, so they’re not left floundering or too scared to ask for help. This means when they have what they might perceive as being trivial questions they still have someone to turn to rather than the question being left unanswered. Choose your buddies with care, ensuring that they not only know the standards and your expectations, but they are ambassadors for your business and you’re confident they’ll be patient and supportive when asked.
  6. Teamwork is key. Introduce new team members to everyone else in the whole team. Defining everyone’s areas of responsibility so there are no gaps and no duplication of effort. Avoid any friction that can occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things.
  7. Play to people’s strengths. When you offered them the position, what were the key things that stood out for you about this person?  Rather than making everyone mediocre at everything, capitalise on the skills and experience this person displays. Consider allocating a specific task or 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.
  8. Provide thorough product knowledge – People can’t sell something they don’t know exists! What does your business offer – times of service, complementary products, etc.  Let your staff sample products and/or services as far as possible, explain what products are normally sold together (e.g. in a restaurant what accompanies each dish) what the price includes and what’s extra. If they have a role in up-selling what are the products you want them to promote, including any future events?  If your core team are incentivised, make sure you include seasonal staff in the scheme.
  9. Establish protocol in dealing with specific situations. Payment procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed; handling customer complaints, and awkward customers.  Define the line between handling these situations themselves and when to seek intervention from a manager or more experienced staff member
  10. Help make them feel like family. If your team (temporary or permanent) have to work unsociable hours, long nights or sacrifice personal social lives, be open to flexibility. Recognise that people may be missing out on family and friends’ events, so help make up for this in some way.
  11. Recognise their work. Just like permanent employees, let them know that you see and appreciate their efforts. If they’re there to learn (e.g. a student gaining valuable work experience) they’ll welcome supportive feedback. Schedule short weekly meetings to review progress, answer questions, and identify when help is needed.
  12. 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.
  13. Give them something to look forward to and keep them interested for the whole season.  Involve them in any after work social activities and maybe some incentive awarded at the end of the season.

After

Set yourself up for next year or your next busy period by ensuring your temporary team members remember you in a good light and will want to return or at the very least become an ambassador for your business.

How you treat them afterwards is as important as how you treat them during their time with you, especially if there’s a strong likelihood they may work with you again.

  • Ask for their feedback on their experience so you can learn how to make your business an even more attractive place to work in future.
  • Invite them along to any post season team events. This is not only a good way to say thank you afterwards, but helps embed positive memories of their time with you.
  • Maintain communication so you can continue a conversation with potential talent, giving you the ability to hire fast when you need to. You’ll be more readily able to hire people who are already familiar with your business, (or  who help find others like them), and can easily slip back into the business with little to no extra training.
  • Show them opportunity. Some may be looking to forge long-term careers within your industry. To ensure you’re capturing the best talent, show them the opportunity and growth positions that could arise if they return or stay with your business.

Is all this effort worth it if they’re just a temp?

Absolutely.

Treat them well and you’ll be rewarded with improved employee productivity, a happier more engaged team and employee retention, better customer service, and ultimately create advocates for your business.

Maintain your reputation as a good employer; if you treat seasonal staff well, and they will be willing to come back next time you need an extra hand.

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