Tag Archives: productivity

Stop the Spinning Plates

 

I guess like many people I’ve been spending some of my lockdown time sifting through old clutter that I no longer need.

Whilst sorting through some old files I came across an exercise I used to use with my leadership coaching clients called “Stop the Spinning plates”

Everything that is incomplete drains our energy. Like keeping plates in the air; all incomplete things provide an opportunity for procrastination, for sending us off on a tangent with displacement activities.

They allow the important things to get lost in the clutter, both literally and metaphorically.

On the basis that now might be the perfect time to get rid of the clutter, so none of these end up as” spinning plates” once our working day gets back to some semblance of normality I thought I’d share the list with you.

The list does start with the obvious, but as you work through I believe you’ll come across a few that have been creating some clutter.

Ticking just a few of these off your list can be quite liberating.

Make a commitment to when you will complete each of these actions.

  1. Make a list of all the things you have to do – a to do list – and refer to it daily.
  2. Get an appointment calendar.  Put all your appointments in it. Refer to it daily.  Plan your time.  Stick to it.
  3. Clean up your house.
  4. Clean up your office.
  5. Throw away everything you don’t use, haven’t used in the last 6 months, or which is outdated.
  6. Organise your papers, file or throw away any unused papers.
  7. Clear out your filing cabinets.  Throw away unused materials.
  8. Clear the top of your desk.  Throw away unused materials and unneeded papers.  File all papers you don’t throw away.
  9. Get all financial statements up to date, including tax returns.
  10. Pay any outstanding bills or make arrangements &/or agreements as to when you will pay them.  Keep those agreements
  11. Make a list of everyone who owes you money, or has borrowed things.  Write or call and ask for the money or borrowed items, and make an agreement as to when you will have it back.  Follow this up.  Alternatively cross the person off the list and decide it is complete.
  12. Make a list of all the things that you have started but not completed. Either diarise when you will complete these (with a time) or make a conscious decision not to do it and take it off your list.
  13. Make a list of all the things you have wanted to do for some time, but have just not got round to doing.  Either diarise when you will complete these (with a time) or make a conscious decision not to do it and take it off your list.
  14. Make a list of all the agreements you have made.  Fulfil past agreements. Renegotiate and make new agreements with any you can’t fulfil.
  15. Take total responsibility for your business.  Do only what you can, delegate the rest.  Agree only what you know you can fulfil.  Never commit to more than you know you can do.
  16. Clean your car, inside and out.  Get it serviced.
  17. Start to take care of your physical body – eat well, exercise well, sleep well, etc

If you only do one thing: Pick just one item off this list and do it today!



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 night.
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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!