Tag Archives: setting expectations

Systems in Management

Systems in management

Systems to help not hinder

If you’ve ever been shopping and forgotten your shopping list, you’ll know how annoying it is.

Not only are you in danger of forgetting important things you need, but it takes so much longer as you end up going down each aisle to remind yourself of what you need.

Your shopping list is a type of system.

A system doesn’t have to be complicated to help you or team members to:

  • Save time
  • Ensure consistency
  • Avoid people having to reinvent the wheel
  • Avoid having to redo things or back track
  • Take the pressure off you

But

Systems should help, not hinder.

Poor or outdated systems can be not only frustrating for team members, but also impact productivity, the customer experience and ultimately your bottom line.

Here are a few to look out for:

  • No system in place for routine tasks so staff reinvent the wheel every time they carry out similar tasks.
  • Not fully understood, so not followed
  • Over complicated or cumbersome
  • Too much red tape or to-ing and fro-ing that slows everything down
  • Unworkable due to lack of time, right equipment, tools, or products

Any of these inevitably puts extra pressure on your team, particularly when there is a direct impact on customers… They are there to support the team, not create red tape, or stifle personality, initiative and good ideas.

Indications that a system needs reviewing include:

  • Team members failing to deliver the job on time
  • When team members frequently struggle, ask for help or make mistakes
  • Recurring customer complaints

It’s easy for us to become oblivious of how ineffective a system works or poor the equipment when we’re not using it every day. So, check the systems and processes you have in place are still doing the job they were designed to do.

If you only do one thing:

Ask your team for their observations and feedback on existing systems and how the system can be improved.

Systems in management Video

I can’t do that 



How to set goals

How to set goals

Setting mini goals

Longer term goals are important, but it’s also useful sometimes to set some mini goals. This can be a useful exercise when you want to kickstart some action such as:

  • When people are returning after a long break, to get the momentum going
  • For new recruits, so they feel they are making a contribution early on
  • When people are promoted or moving into a new role
  • When a team member is struggling with their performance
  • At the start of a new project

By putting tangible metrics in place to measure success, team members can evaluate their progress. And of course reward their success once achieved.

So when defining goals set the KPIs or metrics and describe what good looks like. The more people can visualise the end goal to easier it is for them to work towards this.

Most of us familiar with SMART goals, which are a good starting point.

Here SMART goals are explained; however I’ve added in a few more criteria to make goals that bit more robust and to get more buy-in which means they’re more likely to be achieved.

 

S

Be as SPECIFIC as possible.  What will they see, hear or feel when the goal is achieved.  The more vivid the image the more powerful it will be. Can you easily explain it to someone else?  I want you to increase sales is not specific; how much more sales, in areas, at what profit margin, by what date……?

As well as being specific, the goals you set must be STRETCHING.  Is the goal something that will get the business further forward, but still provide an element of challenge?

 

M

Goals must be MEASUREABLE so you can all quantify their progress and track it.  What MILESTONES will you set?

Any goal you set must be MOTIVATIONAL too – What will achieving their goal get them?  How well does it fit in with their values and what’s important to them?  Does it inspire them?  Will it give them a sense of accomplishment on achievement?  If not, then the chances of them achieving it are slim!

 

A

Getting a balance between being stretching and motivational and at the same time being ACHIEVABLE is key.  Unobtainable goals will have a negative impact.  But it is important that they are ACTIONABLE by them, not dependent on others’ actions out of their control.

It is also important that the goals you set are AGREED with the individual. If they don’t agree with the goal, maybe because they think it’s unachievable, or not part of their job you will get reluctance and the goal will be put to the bottom of their priority list.

 

R

How RELEVANT are the goals to them, their role and the business as a whole?  A goal that is incompatible will mean inevitably that something will have to give.

Once you are both happy with their goals ensure you RECORD them.  Then keep the goals as a focus of your review process. If they are working on things which do not contribute to their goals ask why.

 

T

When wording your goals specify what you are moving TOWARDS rather than what you want to avoid. Our brains find it difficult to process negatives, so by concentrating too much on what you want to avoid actually focuses the brain on this rather than what you want instead.  So, for example, if a goal is to reduce complaints, focus on the reaction you want to get from your guests instead.

Finally, goals must be TRACKABLE (including TIMESCALES) so you can review at any time how well your team are on track.  We all know the results of leaving everything to the last minute, so set some specific timescales when you’ll review progress, and schedule these into your diaries.

What short-term projects or goals can you set which eases people in gently, but still enables them to see some results quickly.

Setting expectations article

How to set goals video


I didn’t have time

I didn't have time

How often do your team tell you “I didn’t have time to do that”?

Now more so than ever, with staff shortages, you’ll probably hear “I didn’t have time”

How often have you asked someone to complete a priority task only to discover some time later that it’s not been done because they tell you “I didn’t have time”?

Is it just an excuse, or is there a genuine reason?

I’m sure it’s happened to you, and I’m certain your managers and supervisors hear this ‘excuse’ all too frequently.

And no doubt at some point you’ve been the one saying “I didn’t have time”!

In fact, it’s one of the biggest barriers I come across when I’m helping businesses make improvements either in their customer service culture or with management development; i.e. when people believe they don’t have enough time to devote to the actions they know they need to take.

It can be very frustrating for anyone when they know what’s expected but they feel under pressure to do the task to standard.

And when they feel under pressure one of four things can happen:

  • They simply don’t do the task in hand
  • They do it, but cut corners in that task or try to make time by cutting corners elsewhere, either way resulting in silly mistakes or not completing either task to standard
  • They drop another task to make time
  • They complete the task but only by having to put in extra time, which puts them under duress

In a previous blog I shared some tips on helping people get going on overwhelming tasks, but what if it’s simply routine recurring tasks which aren’t getting done?

If you or your duty managers are hearing “I didn’t have time” from any of your team it’s quite possible that the person doesn’t see the value of the task in relation to all the other things they are spending their time on.

However here are 5 other considerations to help you see that the task gets done:

1. Conflicting priorities

If people have taken on more tasks for whatever reason, what tasks have you dropped to make way? People who have been doing the same job for years, will no doubt have a set routine and tasks they’ve always carried out, and unless they are clear which of these are now a lower priority, they’ll very likely feel the need to carry on with these.

If these are tasks in which they’ve always taken a pride in doing well, these may be things it’s difficult to drop.  Telling them not to bother with It any more can give the impression these tasks weren’t valued, or the standards they’ve maintained aren’t appreciated. So tread carefully.

If team members report to different managers on different shifts, ensure each and every manager is placing the same level of importance on each task.

2. Reactive tasks, distractions or interruptions

All too often important tasks can take a back seat due to the number of re-active tasks people have to deal with.

As with the overwhelming tasks discussed before, https://www.naturallyloyal.com/how-to-beat-overwhelm/ help team members schedule time for important tasks, which might mean that others in the team have to be the ones dealing with the reactive tasks at that time.

Distractions can of course come in the form of time wasting activities such as extended breaks, too much socialising, or running errands for people that have nothing to do with their responsibilities, in which case it may be necessary to go back to the importance of the task or review conflicting priorities.

3. Takes too long

If you believe there should be ample time to complete all their tasks, it’s worth analysing how people approach their tasks and if any (or all) are taking longer than they should.

Are they approaching the task in a round about way? If so maybe some retraining or guidance is needed. Or their expectation is for perfection, above and beyond what is really necessary. Are they disorganised so have to keep to-ing and fro-ing to gather the tools or resources they need for the task?

4. Poor systems or equipment

Tasks can take longer than they should (or simply be put off indefinitely) if people have tools or resources that aren’t up to the task. (see previous post on Spotting Problems). 

For example:

  • Computer systems that are slow, too complicated, don’t integrate with other programmes, or simply no longer fit for purpose
  • Processes that require staff members to go back and forth, due to the layout of the workspace, because they don’t have enough space in their stores, or don’t have access to all the information they need when they are planning or preparing
  • They don’t use a checklist, so it’s easy to forget things and so have to go back for them

5. Bottle necks

If your team members are dependent on others – colleagues, suppliers or customers – are these causing bottlenecks in the process?

For example, if someone can’t finish a task until a supplier has delivered one of the tools or resources for the task, and this doesn’t arrive until minutes before the end of their shift, that might leave the task incomplete when they leave. So the issue here is more to do with when orders are placed or delivery times with the supplier.

Take action

If you only do one thing. Next time someone tells you they have not had time, ask questions to analyse if it’s down to one of the above reasons.

Related video: I didn’t have time on YouTube



Setting Expectations

Setting Expectations with Employees

Setting Expectations with Employees

On a recent workshop I was delivering on core management skills one of the managers had a light bulb moment. She suddenly realised that although four months into her role she had never really been specific about setting her standards and expectations for each of her team, and until now they had only been working to the way her predecessor had done things.

I know it can be tempting when you move into a new management role to put your stamp on things and making lots of changes very quickly, which can be unsettling for team members. And just because something isn’t being done the way you would do it, doesn’t make it wrong. But, she had taken time to understand her new role; and observed the team, before evaluating what needed to change. But she’s never really communicated with her team precisely what new expectations were.

This echoes one of the frustrations I often hear when I’m working with a business, i.e. the confusion on exactly what’s expected. What’s expected of the managers and what’s expected of team members.

It’s easy to assume everyone knows what’s expected of them, but a lack of clear direction can be frustrating, confusing and leads to uncertainty for your team members, inconsistencies for your customers and frustration for you.

When expectations are not clear and shared, simple misunderstandings become compounded, potentially turning into personality clashes and communication breakdowns.

Be specific

The more specific you are about the tangible and measurable indicators, the easier it will be for the other person to measure their success. What does great look like, sound like or feel like for you? What criteria are you using to measure performance?

Quantitative standards or pointers are easier to interpret than qualitative ones. So, for example, if you want the phone answered quickly, specify in how many rings. When it comes to qualitative standards, it can be far more open to personal interpretation, so giving examples and/or demonstrations can be helpful, but still be prepared to make the comparison between the preferred way and the old way.

Often, it’s subtle little nuances that make all the difference to reflect your service culture or improve employee productivity.

By focusing on what you want people to achieve i.e. the end result, rather than dictating how to do it, allows them flexibility to adopt their own style (you’ll be surprised how often they end up improving the process) rather than living in fear of not being able to comply with strict processes.

People are more likely to go above and beyond if they understand how their role helps the overall team’s or business’s objectives.

Be consistent

Your team only get frustrated and confused if you’re saying one thing but doing another. Lead by example, so there are no mixed messages.  Simple things such as how you answer the phone, how engergised and positive you are, how much trust you put in others, how open and honest you are when you make a mistake or let someone down.

It’s easy for different managers to have different expectations and different interpretations of the standards. When there is a need for a strict process, if these are detailed in behavioural terms and documented, it’s so much easier for everyone to be consistent. Ensure these same rules apply to everyone and that the rest of your supervisory team are consistent with their expectations. This is particularly relevant if any of your team report to different managers on different shifts.

Make it possible for your team to reach your expectations by providing the appropriate tools, time and training to do the job effectively.

Check your metrics and measures of success are in line with your expectations. For example, if you’re stressing the importance of customer service and to keep the customer happy, but all your metrics are centred on the bottom line and profitability this can send a mixed message.

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.”

Albert Einstein

Working with friends and family

No one likes a teacher’s pet and if one person gets recognised more than others or gets singled out for recognition it will certainly not go down well with those who don’t get the same attention (as well as potentially embarrassing the person who gets all the glory).

Be aware of when any of your supervisors or managers are managing friends or family members, This can feel awkward not only for the manager, but also the friend/relative and other team members. Sometimes in an effort to avoid any accusations of favouritism the manager is harder on these people than they are on others in the team. But it’s important they have the same expectations of them as any other team member.

Similarly, when people have been promoted to management positions internally, and are now managing people they’ve worked alongside previously, it might be uncomfortable at first, but if they openly discuss the new dynamics with the team members, By talking about their role, defining boundaries, and aligning on expectations makes it easier all round, and is more likely to gain support.

Action point

If you only do one thing:
Ensure everyone understands the end result you’re aiming for and why.

Setting expectations with employees video

Reminding people of your expectations article


Setting Expectations

setting expectations

If you're about to reopen or to launch your Christmas offerings it's important to set expectations. The chances are some responsibilities and priorities will have changed, so your team need to know what's expected.

Determine what needs doing, who is best placed to do it and then set your expectations.

This is something I always discuss on my management programmes, as it's all to easy to assume people know what's expected of them. But when there's any doubt it leads to confusion, tasks getting left undone or wasted time and energy on the wrong tasks or done in the wrong way.

All of which leads to frustration on your part and becomes demotivating for your team.

A little time spent up front will avoid this. 

So here is my

7 step guide to setting expectations

...to help you ensure nothing gets missed or taken for granted.

Setting expectations might not need much time at each of these stages, but at least consider them before leaving team members just to get on with the task how they see fit.

1. What tasks ~ Make a shopping list of everything that needs doing:

  • What new practices and procedures are in place
  • What new or amended offerings or service are you now providing that require new ways of working
  • What tasks normally performed by people who are still on furlough need to be covered by someone else
  • Which task which would have been routine pre lockdown are no longer a priority

2. Who ~ Select the best person for the task

  • Not necessarily the one with the best skills or the most time. There may be good reason for allocating some tasks to a less than perfect candidate to develop their skills in areas where they are weak
  • Often what people lack in experience and skill, they may more than make up for in potential and motivation

3. Why

  • Set a clear and simple objective for the task. It should build confidence, develop and stretch, not break the person or be considered an ‘offload’
  • Discuss the assignment and, importantly, how the task fits into the big picture, why it’s important for the business
  • Explain why you’ve chosen the person for the task

4. How

  • Check for understanding and ask for ideas
  • Provide guidance - not ‘how to’ do the task - but all the necessary facts, possible approaches, expected results

5. Where and when

  • Make a ‘contract’ establishing resources available, how often you will follow-up, how performance will be measured
  • Establish controls - budget, deadline, when and how any review will take place

6. Let them get on with it

  • Allocate, then trust them to get on with it. Make yourself available, particularly at critical times, but let them decide whether, and whenever, they need your help and guidance
  • Let everyone know who is responsible for what tasks so there is no stepping on toes, or tasks that fall through the cracks

7. Evaluate and feedback

  • Encourage self-evaluation – they’ll normally be able to work out for themselves how they’ve done
  • Concentrate on:
  • What worked well (giving praise for a job done well)
  • What they’d do differently (identify lessons learned not only for the person but for yourself too!)

We also discussed the longer term goal, but more on that next week.

Take action on setting expectations

If you only do one thing: make a plan of who is best suited to which task.

Related article:  https://www.naturallyloyal.com/old-habits/

Related video: https://youtu.be/546C4nilsxc



The accepted norm

The way it is jared-rice

I sometimes see managers getting very frustrated that people in their team aren’t contributing as much as they’d like.

They know, or at least suspect, they are capable of more, but for some reason some people are just not taking responsibility for making decisions or getting things done.

Ask how they see their role?  They may see things differently.  If you (or maybe your predecessor) have always done the thinking for them, maybe that’s accepted as the way it works.

Do they even recognise that you’d like more from them, and if so what?

When we find ourselves getting frustrated that people are not handling things the way we’d like, it’s time to reflect on how well we’ve explained our expectations, and the training and support we’ve given to help them realise these expectations.

Do they know what ‘great’ looks like so they have something against which to benchmark their performance?

Do they have all the tools, resources and enough time to meet your expectations?

Have we given feedback on how they’re doing and comparing it to their understanding or perception of what’s needed?

Are they kept up to date? Quite apart from the fact no one wants to look uninformed, especially in front of colleagues or customers, unless they know ‘what’s happening where’, it will always be difficult for your team members to make considered decisions.

But probably the most important question to ask is: are we giving them the freedom, confidence and autonomy to do what they’re capable of doing and to fully contribute.

Want to know what the next step is….?