Tag Archives: Leadership & Management

E is for Empathy

In the A- Z of leadership E is Empathy. Putting yourself in another’s shoes.

 

Empathy is really understanding the other person’s perspective, position and feelings. It is the ability to ‘step back’, and achieve a detachment from our own emotions, and is essential for building trust, rapport and effective relationships.

It involves listening and understanding – not necessarily agreeing (which is different) – to the other person. Listening without judging.

As a minimum a good leader asks open questions to encourage and understand the views, feelings and attitudes of others, and reflects back to show they understand or to clarify. But a good leader will do this without being judgemental of others’ views even if these conflict with their own, and will be open to differences in opinions and perspectives.

 

Empathy goes beyond what is said, it is also demonstrated via your tone and body language. A critical or sarcastic tone will not encourage someone to share their views; neither will raised eyebrows, scowling or defensive body language.

 

Active listening is key, show your interest, ask probing questions (in a non-judgemental way) to ensure understanding. Aim to understand how the other person feels, why they see things as they see things as they do (so bring out any underlying assumptions) and to discover what they want to achieve.

 

Seek first to understand’ is one of the seven habits described by Stephen Covey in ‘The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People

 

Ask for feedback on your own behaviour so you can use this information to strengthen your relationships with your team. Be open with your own feelings and views too to enable your team to see things from your perspective, and by sharing your views you will encourage others to do the same.

Aim to develop a culture of trust and openness where your team can speak out knowing they will be heard and without fear of criticism.

Why is empathy important?

  • When you understand others’ perspectives it can help in the way you sell ideas to them and gain buy in (as well as the way you sell to customers and suppliers).
  • If people know they are listen to it helps to build trust between you and your team
  • It creates a more open and honest environment where you will get to hear of issues and concerns before they become a problem
  • Your team feel able to state their true ideas, feelings and beliefs maximising their contribution.
  • Empathy is also important in dealing with guests and customers, so demonstrating the skill with our teams will act as a role model

 

Building relationships with your team is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will is covered in detail in my new Leading for Peak Performance programme,


B is for Buy in

In the A-Z of hospitality leadership B is for Buy in

How often have you been told to get on with a task with no idea why you should do it and therefore either carried out the task, but to the minimum standard, or worse still simply avoided it altogether?

At the very least for staff to do anything with any degree of commitment they need to understand the reasons why – why does sit need doing in the first place and why them. Identify reasons or benefits that are personal to them, not just how it helps the business.

Better still ask for their input in what needs to be done or in the way it has to be done. You might be thinking “well if it is a new law or company policy it wont be open to discussion”. True, what has to be achieved may not be open to discussion, but the way it is achieved might well be.

Let’s say you have a new piece of health and safety legislation to introduce. It’s the law, so it is not negotiable.  But because it is the law, all the more reason why you cant have people deciding to ignore it. You need that buy in. Threats might work, but not very effectively.

What is negotiable is the way it can be achieved. By asking for people’s ideas, recognising their experience and knowing the work better than e=anyone, they will often come up with the best way to implement something that on the face of it is just extra workload. The greater the level of involvement in the process and decision-making; the greater the level of buy in.

And if they come away thinking it was their idea, the more likely you are to see it done with some degree of enthusiasm, commitment or pride.


The A to Z of hospitality leadership ~ A is for Attitude

Welcome to the first in my A-Z series of hospitality leadership.

A is for attitude. Your attitude.

 

It’s easy to criticise our staff’s attitude, their enthusiasm for the job, the way they support their colleagues, how they talk to your customers. But how much of this stems from the example you set?

Attitude is one of those things it’s sometimes a little difficult to quantify. What we can quantify are the behaviours – what people see or hear – that suggest our attitude.

So to give an example:  You have to announce a change in some internal systems that may not be well received because they involve a little extra work for everyone, including you. The tone of your message – what you say and how you say it – focuses on the negatives and uses words and phrases that emphasise the extra work involved, but make no mention of the benefits and the reasons why. You also stress that you are also being affected. This could easily infer that you have a negative attitude to the changes.  Net result? They will too. Conversely if you focused on the benefits these changes bring and your confidence in the team that they can deliver your attitude will be perceived as being positive.

Your attitude is conveyed in all that you do – how you interact with guest (and what you say about them behind closed doors), your support for management decisions, the enthusiasm at which you approach challenges, how receptive you are the staffs’ ideas and suggestions, even down to your personal organisation and personal presentation.

Always ask yourself – what attitude am I conveying , and is the example I should be stetting for the team?

Involving your team in problem solving is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my tele seminar: Leading for Peak Performance on 19th October.


Dealing with poor performance ~ Part 4

Eliminate the gap

We said that the goal is to improve performance or prevent this happening again. This requires buy in and commitment from the other person. In order to change, there needs to be some incentive. The fear of the disciplinary process may be enough, but it is hardly motivating! Nor is it any guarantee of a change in behaviour.

Understanding the reasons enables us the come up with options, and to gain buy in we need to ask the employee for their ideas on how to improve. Sometimes a simple “don’t do it again” is all that is needed, but it may not be as simple as this.

For example if the issue is poor timekeeping, but the reason is there is no bus that gets them into work in time for the start of their shift, the problem wont just go away – can we change their shift times? Is there someone who passes who could give them a lift? Or they may be a carer or their partner / child is ill and cannot leave home until the nurse or help arrives.

Of course the problem may be down to a flagrant disregard of the rules, in which case you must first help the employee to understand the impact of their behaviour.  Homing in on the effect it has on his or her team mates, of the impact on guests, or the business may not be enough to get buy in. Focus on something that is important to this individual employee. An example might be making their job easier, being able to finish their shift on time, getting cooperation from their team mates, the opportunity to be considered for other roles, etc. The conversation needs to be tailored to suit the individual’s motivators.

Agree on an improvement plan.  This will involve gaining their commitment to improve, and may require some help from you or other members of the team.  Then agree how and when it will be monitored, as well as any consequences if there is no improvement.

Finally show your support and encouragement. If you suggest or imply they can’t or won’t improve it generally becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Managing poor performance is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme Leading for Peak Performance which is being launched in late September.


Dealing with poor performance ~ Part 3

Examine the reasons for the gap

The only way to do this is to get the employee to talk the situation through by asking open-ended questions, and by listening.

There may be a number of legitimate reasons why someone has not performed to standard.  Lack of resources, time pressures, insufficient training, bottlenecks in the system, mixed messages in terms of expectations, for example. (See my earlier article “Bad workmen or poor tools?“).

Everyone has a right to a fair hearing.  However do be prepared for the excuses – “well Fred does it all the time and gets away with it”, or “I don’t see why that’s a problem”, “No one’s ever told me that I had to do that”. Is this a genuine disciplinary problem or an indication that help is required? These last two responses suggest that some more explanation or training is needed, and you may need to draw a line in the sand and set out your expectations for the future.

Also consider if the problem is down to relationships, to get attention, a grievance, or a clash of personalities.

Only by really understanding the reasons are we in a position to turn the situation around or prevent a reoccurrence. Tomorrow we’ll look at how to eliminate the performance gap.

 

Managing poor performance is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme Leading for Peak Performance which is being launched in late September.


Dealing with poor performance ~ Part 2

Establish the Gap

What is it they have done or failed to do? How does this compare with the standard or rules? What is the impact (actual or potential) of their actions? We should be focusing on actual behaviours – what we have seen or heard first hand.

It’s very easy to haul someone into the office to take them up on something you’ve been told by someone else, only to have them deny their actions. So gather facts (opposed to hearsay, and others’ perceptions and opinions). Be prepared to give specific examples, the more recent the better – so don’t start dragging up something they did or said two months ago.

Avoid making judgments about their attitude or personality e.g. “I don’t like your attitude”, or “you are very arrogant”.  What have you seen or heard them do that has led you to that conclusion? Is there a genuine shortfall in standards of performance?

By focusing on their actions and behaviours you are less likely to get a defensive response and it is easier for people to identify what they need to change.

Tomorrfow we’ll go on to look at eliminating the gap.

Managing poor performance is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme Leading for Peak Performance which is being launched in late September.


Nip it in the bud ~ Dealing with poor performance ~ Part 1

Last week I listened to a feature on the radio talking about driving offences and whether or not people should lose their licences even if they are dependent on their car for their job. In the UK we have a points system that states that when you reach 12 points on your licence you should be banned from driving until the offences have lapsed.

Why have the system if some magistrates then let people off the hook and allow them to continue to drive and re offend. If you’ve been caught driving on the motorway using your mobile phone why is someone who drives for a living any less likely to be a risk to others than someone who doesn’t? To be caught a second or third time should come as no surprise to lose your licence and maybe your job. So soapbox rant over…

But is this any different from the way you treat people who break the rules at work?

I remember in my early days of management someone relating discipline to a red hot poker. If you touch a red hot poker you know you will get burnt. The harder you touch it the more it will burn. The poker does not discriminate; anyone who touches it gets burnt. It burns straight away so conditions you not to keep touching it.

Discipline should be no different.

Rules may be set by legislation, the business, the individual site or department or there may be the unwritten ‘rules’, standards or guidelines set by the individual team or line manager. Whoever has set the ‘rules’ needs to ensure they are not only communicated, but check they are measurable and people understand why they are important. Any rules or standards laid down that you have difficulty explaining begs the question are they necessary? (OK, there may be some legislation we find difficult to explain at times, but any internal rules with no value should be reviewed and updated or binned).

Failure to do anything about it sends the message to everyone else that it’s OK to break the rule. We sometimes misguidedly believe that it’s a one off or the problem will go away; but before you know it the problem has escalated – either the person in question continues to disregard the rule or standard, or it becomes custom and practice for everyone to follow suit.

So nip it in the bud and address it straight away. This does not mean giving everyone a lecture in a group meeting – all this does it makes the ‘non offenders’ irritated that they are all being ‘accused’, whilst those to whom you are aiming your comments either just laugh it off, or it goes by without them realising you are referring to them.

Of course every business should have its own disciplinary process, and I am not going to go into that here. But irrespective of the seriousness of the problem – whether it’s someone being late, not greeting a customer in the way you’d expect, breaking health and safety rules, failure to carry out part of their job, arguing with another member of staff, or doing something in a haphazard way with a poor result – your goal is to resolve the issue and improve performance in future. There are three phases to dealing with poor performance and I’ll be covering these over the next three days.

Managing poor performance is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme Leading for Peak Performance which is being launched in late September.


Selecting an appropriate coaching style

Over the last couple of weeks I have written about using a coaching style to get the best from your team.

This approach will have a different outcome depending on where people sit in the ‘skill will’ matrix.

The skill will matrix looks at two dimensions. On the one hand it takes into account someone’s ‘skill’. Here we look at their capabilities based on their experience, knowledge and skill. Even someone with little experience in a particular role or task may still have the knowledge to understand what is required (e.g. how to deal with customers will be from someone’s own experience of being on the receiving end of customer service).

On the other axis we look at someone’s willingness or motivation to perform a particular task. Someone can be quite skilled at a task, but still not be motivated to do it.

 

 

 

Skill


The Problem Child

Knows how but isn’t willing

Coach to motivate

ENTHUSE


 

The Star Performer

Can and Will

Coach to develop and progress

STRETCH

 


The Under Achiever

Neither willling nor able

Coaching less affective and hard work

DIRECT



The Apprentice

Willing but lacks the know how

Coaching help to apply learning        

GUIDE


Will

 

Let’s consider what role coaching has to play in each of these four quadrants.

 

Top right – Star Performers

The aim of coaching here is to stretch people. This does not necessarily mean you are grooming them for a bigger or better job; your aim is to at least make them even better at the existing task, and to prevent them moving across into the top left box.

These people are the ones who will be most receptive to a non-directive coaching approach.

 

Top left – Problem Child

These are people who are quite capable, but not motivated. Often this same person may have been motivated at some point, but over a period of time has crept across into this box due to boredom or lack of recognition. Or they may move from willing to unwilling due to a one off event e.g. something has gone wrong, and they have lost confidence.  Either way your aim is to get them back into the star performer box, so you need to either enthuse them or rebuild their confidence. By using a non-directive approach you will be more likely to get buy in from them, and more likely to get them to recognise their own abilities to build confidence. However people in this category can sometimes be cynical or suspicious of you using a non-directive approach, so tread carefully.

 

Bottom right – The Apprentice

People new to their role or to a particular task will often be enthusiastic, but lack the skills or knowledge needed. Here you need to use a combination of direction followed by non-directive coaching to guide them put their new knowledge and skills into practice. Again you aim is to move them into the top right-hand box.

 

Bottom left – Under achiever

Coaching does not suit every situation or person.  The nearer people sit to the bottom left hand corner the more directive you will need to be.

 

Recognise that individual employees will sit in different boxes on different tasks. Someone who is a star performer in some areas, may lack motivation in others, and may be taking on new tasks from time to time which can put them in wither of the two bottom boxes. Equally someone who is an under achiever in some tasks may still sit in any one of the other boxes for other task.

Do you know where each of your team sit on the matrix for each of the tasks they are responsible for?

 

Coaching and leadership styles will be covered in detail in my forthcoming Leading for Peak Performace programme which is being launched in late September.


Solving an Issue

Here are two sets of questions to use to solve a problem or issue.

Take your problem and work through the first set of questions.

  1. What is the problem?
  2. How long have you had it?
  3. Whose fault is it?
  4. Who is to blame?
  5. What is your worst experience with this problem?
  6. Why haven’t you solved it yet?

How do you feel? Probably not very positive or motivated to do much about the problem!

 

Now work through the problem using the following set of questions.

  1. What do you want instead of the issue?
  2. How will you know when you’ve achieved it?
  3. How can it be solved?
  4. Who can help you reach this objective quickly?
  5. What resources will help?
  6. What can be learnt from this matter?

 

How do you feel about the problem this time around?

The first set of questions all look at directing blame.

The second set are aiming to resolve the problem.

These are great questions to ask your team when asking them to look for solutions to problems. Try using them in one to ones or team meetings when problem solving, and see what results you get.

 

Involving your team in problem solving is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme


Spur of the moment meetings

Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 5

Don’t forget the value of the impromptu communication. This might be anything from a simple “thank you everyone” at the end of a busy shift, to the ’emergency briefing’ when something big hits. The thing is these are impromptu – either loses its impact if scheduled in advance and in the case of the emergency briefing the jungle drums and rumours will take over if delayed.

Communication was one of the topics covered in “How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge” series of interviews, and   my new online leadership coaching programme is being launched in September.