Category Archives: Staff training

Perceptual Positions

different perspectives

Seeing different perspectives

Where do you first see the red dot in relation to the Perspex box?

Last week I was running a communication skills workshop for a small hotel group, to help improve communication between the sales teams and operations teams.

One of the principles we discussed was the importance of seeing things from others’ perspectives.

Coming back to the red dot, there are lots of possibilities; it doesn’t matter if in your mind it was on the front face or back face, or suspended in mid air, whether it was in the top left hand corner or the middle; you may even have imagined it behind or in front of the box. Wherever you saw it, you were not wrong. But I imagine the longer you looked at it, the more possible positions you saw.

Seeing things from different perspectives extends far beyond Perspex boxes. When I’m coaching managers to get the best from their team, or training teams to improve communication across departments, or training staff in dealing with customer complaints, encouraging them to see things from other people’s perspectives is such an important part of resolving difficult situations.

One technique uses that of perceptual positions, which helps you imagine what difficult situations look like when viewed through others’ eyes, in other words to imagine what others perceive by imagining that you are that other person.

This involves looking at it from 3 different perspectives:different perspectives

  • First position is your natural perspective. You are fully aware of what you think and feel regardless of those around you. This is of course the perspective we find most familiar. But as you focus on it you may only then start to realise what is important to you and what you want from this interaction. You will probably become more aware of what you believe and value, and more likely to be assertive about your own needs.
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  • Second position is about stepping away from our own position and imagining what it’s like to be the other person, experiencing the situation as they would. The better you know and understand the person, the easier this will be.Some people are very good at considering others’ needs and concerns; for others imagining second position can be a completely alien view. When you are really in their shoes everything you do or say makes perfect sense to you.When you do this well you start to get a sense of what the other believes and values; what is important to them, and a better understanding of what they want. And the better you get at this the more empathy and rapport you create. You might even be able to predict how they might respond in this situation. You are certainly in a better position to get buy in from others, offer better customer service or to give the best support to a team member.
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  • Third position is an independent position where you act as a detached observer noticing what’s happening between two other people. I like to think of this as the ‘fly on the wall’ or ‘The Consultant’s perspective’ What is important is that this position is an impartial insight into a situation.Imagine you are watching and listening to each of the people involved as they communicate without getting involved yourself, without having to feel their feelings and emotions..From this new perspective, you more likely to get an overview of the situation, the bigger picture. You can start to notice patterns and become aware of similarities and differences between the parties involved, and you’re better able to analyse the situation logically with less emotional involvement. What’s also important is you can start to see yourself as others see you..From this position what advice would you give ‘first position’?

When to use Perceptual Positions

It can be particularly useful when you are dealing with a situation where you are having strong negative feelings towards the other party, or do not understand their actions.

For example:

  • When a team member is acting in a way that you find destructive to the task in hand, or negative towards others in the team
  • When you need the support of a colleague, but they are being obstructive
  • In customer service training to illustrate how to handle an angry and (to our mind) unreasonable customer.

It doesn’t just help in negative situations, it can also help clarify the way forward in – for example – a sale’s situation, when it will help to see things from the clients’ position,  or in a consultant position to see the situation better and help the client achieve their outcomes easier.

It works best when you physically change position when moving from 1st position to 2nd position, and then 3rd position; e.g. in 2nd position move round to sit or stand where the other person would normally sit or stand when you meet with them, and when the ‘fly on the wall’ stand up and physically look down on the situation.

The real learning comes by stepping out of first position to explore second and third positions and see what light it sheds on a situation.

If you only do one thing: Get to know and understand your team members, and what’s important to them so you can imagine their perspective.

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Onboarding new team members

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 


Retraining

retraining

Retraining?  I was wrong about this

Before we get on to Retraining, a reminder my Managing Performance Masterclass is on Wednesday 16th February. Who in your management/supervisory team would benefit from support or retraining on how they manage the performance of their team?

When I worked in the corporate world I ran management development workshops nearly every week.

Every now and again I’d see a name on the delegate list that I not only recognised, but I knew full well they’d attended this workshop before.

And it annoyed me.

Because I believed if they’d attended it before and it hadn’t achieved the programme’s objectives, what was the point of retraining them and getting them to attend again. If they hadn’t put into practice what they’d learnt then, the chances were simply either this wasn’t the best way for this person to learn, or they didn’t get the opportunity, support and coaching they needed from their line manager to apply their learning.

But I was wrong about this, or at least partly wrong.

Although there may have been an element of truth in the possibility of a lack of support, or it not have been the best training method for them at the time, what I hadn’t taken into consideration was that, as observed by Heraclitus the Greek philosopher:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

In other words, when a manager came back to attend the same workshop again at a later date, the chances are they had by then got more experience and very likely were in a different situation. Even if their role hadn’t changed the chances were their team had, and they now had different circumstances affecting their team.

Just because someone has been trained in something before, doesn’t mean they don’t ever need that training again, albeit potentially in a different format.

So, if you’ve identified a development need for someone in your team, don’t fall into the same trap I did all those years ago. Listen out for some of these barriers which will prevent people being receptive to any retraining or coaching:

When you hear “I know this already”

  • Ask them to take you through what they know and how they apply this.
  • Ask what they are implementing and to give some specific examples.

When you hear “I do this already”

  • Again, ask for specific recent examples.
  • Ask, how well it’s working for them?
  • Review any bad habits they’ve picked up or short cuts they are making which is affecting the outcome.

Very often – as with many bad habits – they may not realise they’ve got into these habits until pointed out to them. (see Creating Conscious Incompetence post here) Highlight the impact that’s having and how it affects them personally. Only then are they likely to be receptive to further coaching or training.

Thinking specifically about managing performance, you or your managers may have received training or coaching on managing performance in the past. Review how successful that is right now.

  • Are all team members crystal clear on yours/your managers’ expectations?
  • Does everyone meet these expectations?
  • Are you/your managers proactive and monitor performance before it drops?
  • Are any shortfalls picked up and acted upon swiftly?
  • Are you/your managers confident in handling any tricky conversations?
  • Do team members respect you/your managers when discussing performance.
  • If shortfalls are discussed, do team members still come away from those discussions feeling positive and committed to improving.

If you’ve answered no to any of these questions the Managing Performance Masterclass on 16th February could be just the answer to these.

If you only do one thing

Never assume because someone has received coaching or training in a subject that they are able to apply that learning – always look for evidence they can apply it, and ask, if there is anything holding them back in applying this, what that might be.


ROI on training

In the real world

In all my years as a trainer the #1 mistake I see businesses making with their staff training is not doing enough to make an easy transition from theory to the real world, so they fail to get any ROI on training.

What takes place in the safety, and often false environment, of the training room can be very different from what happens in the big bad real world. Particularly so with any skills training which needs practice to perfect, and time to form new habits.

This can mean, not only a poor return on investment, but can also have a negative and demotivating impact on the employee.

Here are 17 ideas to make the transition easy and gain a greater ROI on training:

  1. Avoid people leaving the training session asking “what was all that about then?” Make the link to their role before the training even begins, by discussing how the training is relevant to their job.
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  2. Check understanding of key points, and ask for ideas on how they are going to implement what they have learnt.
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  3. Help the team identify situations where they can put their learning into practice as quickly as possible, preferably within hours, or at least the next day or two, and get their commitment to one or two specific actions.
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  4. Make it clear what you want to happen long term as a result of the training, and get your team’s commitment to some specific actions – with timescales and allow them time to talk through how they’re going to achieve them.
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  5. Allow a free and open dialogue to flush out anything that might be standing in the way of that, or any concerns they have which will make it difficult or even impossible for them to implement any aspects of the training.
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  6. Check they have the necessary resources, time, authority, peer support and opportunity to put it into practice. If not, ensure you get these in place before the momentum is lost.
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  7. Look for signs of uncertainly: lack of confidence or a concern they might make mistakes, unclear on which actions are their job opposed to anyone else’s, not sure how this fits in with existing processes or ways of working, etc.
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  8. Be available for individuals to ask questions on a one to one basis after training; not everyone feels comfortable raising queries in front of colleagues, and some may need a while to reflect on what’s been covered.
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  9. Schedule time for people to practise and time for you or their line manager to check how they are doing. Or assign a mentor, coach or buddy to help overcome the initial barriers to perfecting their new skill.
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  10. Provide back-up resources such as prompt cards, diagrams or checklists.
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  11. Don’t expect perfection straight away. People need time to practise and find their own way of doing things, and not be afraid to make the odd mistake so long as they learn from it.
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  12. Everything takes longer when it’s new and you’re still learning a little from trial and error. Confidence can be low as you get to grips with it all.
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  13. Don’t let potential barriers become an excuse for not putting things into practice. Follow up promptly; the longer problems are left unresolved, the less the likelihood of anyone getting to the point it becomes habit.
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  14. Observe how they handle specific situations e.g. following customer service training observe conversations with customers and give feedback afterwards: what they’re doing well, what they could do more of, and give the appropriate coaching, support and guidance on areas where they need more help.
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  15. Reinforce messages by building exercises and activities into your daily and weekly calendar, etc., as part of team briefings or meetings, 1:1 reviews and ongoing feedback.
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  16. Recognise the role line managers have in the follow up to training. What’s working well, what fresh perspectives have they brought, what needs more practice?
  17. If the training isn’t being implemented identify what’s getting in the way now, not wait until they’ve been struggling and given up hope. When something doesn’t work right first time around it’s all too easy for them to go back to their old and familiar ways.

Get people practising their new skills, systems or ways of working every day and you’ll quickly see them build confidence, develop competence and it will soon become habit, so you get an ROI on training.

The Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting

Planning development video



Planning Development

planning developmentPlanning Development based on strengths and stretch

Most managers think of staff training and team development to achieve one of two things:

  • to fix someone’s weaknesses
  • as a way of grooming somebody for promotion

Although both of these are relevant in their own way, they can leave you and your team wanting.

So here’s an alternative way to approach your team’s development…

Seeing strengths versus fixing faults

It’s all too easy to end up with everybody becoming a “Jack of all trades and master of none”.

Whilst it’s good to cross train your team so you make cover easy, you don’t want to end up everyone mediocre in everything, but expert in nothing.

Imagine what would happen if you were to focus on people’s strengths instead – in the same way you might expect an athlete or members of a football team to hone their skills in areas where they already perform well. You could help them go from a strong performance to real excellence in their areas of greatest ability.  How much more motivated would team members be if they could focus on what they’re best at?

Everyone has skills, it’s just that different jobs require different skills. It takes a certain type of skill to organise an hectic event, to calm down an irate customer, to clean a room to a high standard inside 25 minutes.

Often these are skills employees don’t necessarily recognise themselves, as they take these things for granted.  When you recognise these strengths it can boost confidence, and often the tasks they’re good at are those they enjoy more, so it helps to keep them engaged.

Of course, in reality we can’t always let people just do what they’re best at, but we can at least make sure that they’re not always under pressure to improve what they’re worst at! But by focusing on individuals’ strengths you can balance your team so they complement potential shortcomings in others, so you can bridge any gaps you have elsewhere.

Stagnate versus stretch

Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean you let them stagnate.

We often think of development as grooming people for promotion. This might be one outcome or intention, but it shouldn’t stand in the way of development. Even those who you believe have reached the limits of their capability or have no desire for more responsibility shouldn’t be left to stagnate.

After all, a bored employee is unlikely to shine and even less likely to wow you or your customers!

Look for opportunities to set new challenges within people’s current responsibilities. How can you add variety or stretch them further in areas where they’re already strong?

For example:

– asking them to find ways to make efficiencies or refine a process

– giving them responsibility for training others

– allocating ownership of specific procedures

By giving individuals ownership of particular tasks you create a sense of pride and responsibility.

You’ll be amazed what people can achieve when their strengths are recognised, and they’re given the authority to apply them.

This can also take the pressure off you as that person then becomes the go to person.

Sadly, it’s often only when people leave that we miss what they bring to the team. (….could that lack of recognition be the very reason they leave?)

Here’s an exercise you can carry out with your team to recognise their strengths to take into account before development planning.

Take Action

If you only do one thing towards planning development: take a step back and identify one strength – however small – for each one of your team members, and let them know you value this.

Planning development video

Photo credit: alysha-rosly



Learn from Mistakes

Mistake Photo by Estée Janssens on UnsplashDay 8 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

8. Learn from Mistakes

In any business there are times when things don’t go according to plan. Last year was no exception, even if many of the circumstances were out with our control.

Review some of the things that have not gone to plan over the past year or even the past few weeks.

Rather than dwelling on the negatives, reflect on what you and the team have learnt from these events. Even if you think it was a one off and unlikely to happen again your team might be aware of other ‘near misses’ or situations that are almost an accident waiting to happen!

Your team invariably know how to prevent these. So listen to them and flush out any other potential risky situations. Then agree what steps you can take to avoid them or minimise their impact, so they are confident they will be better prepared next time!

 



Seeing strengths

Strengths cyril-saulnier-250098Day 6 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

6. Seeing strengths

January is often a time to catch up on staff training.

Rather than merely trying to fix weaknesses (which makes everyone mediocre in everything) look back at where individual team members have shown specific strengths. By focusing on people’s strengths we’re able to tap into opportunities to enable them to really excel – in the same way you might expect an athlete to work on honing their skills in the areas in which they already perform well.

You might need to look for the capabilities in others that they themselves may not see and help them to see these for themselves. Focusing on strengths not only boosts confidence, it enables people to shine and excel. It means complementing potential shortcomings of others in the team, contributing unique value in the eyes of colleagues and customers.

And in most cases

…the tasks we’re good at are those we enjoy more, excite us and keep us engaged.


Promote Teamwork

Team raftingDay 5 in my 12 days of Christmas mini blog series

5. Promote Teamwork

Upskill and cross train people to cover other’s responsibilities so people are confident their job still gets covered when they are sick, on holiday or have an extra heavy workload.

Set up job swaps so everyone has a greater appreciation of each other’s roles and create teamwork and a culture where everyone takes responsibility when necessary, rather than passing the buck.

Upskilling also demonstrates you commitment to your team, and shows people they are valued.


Creating Habits

creating habits

Creating habits takes time… and sometimes a little patience!

Last week I wrote about setting expectations of your team as they start to return to work. Some of this will inevitably mean people taking on different responsibilities or new ways of working.

Once you’ve set your expectations you’ll want to ensure it’s not just a one off, but to create new and lasting habits. 

If you want your child to clean their teeth twice a day you wouldn’t ask them to do it once then forget about it on the assumption they’d continue to do so every day!

You’d follow up, check on progress and keep doing so until you were confident it had become a habit.

Maybe your team don’t need quite as much cajoling as a child does to clean their teeth.

But…

How do you create new and lasting habits?

Here are some things to consider in creating habits and new ways of working within your team:

1. Practice makes perfect

Build confidence gradually; you can’t expect someone to be introduced to something on Friday afternoon and perform it perfectly for the first time on Monday morning, when you’re not even there to offer support. Introduce new areas of responsibility gradually so people have an opportunity to refine and perfect as they go as well as building confidence (theirs and yours) in their ability.

2. Nip it in the bud

Practice does make perfect, but only if done correctly. If people begin by doing the task incorrectly you will be creating habits – but not the ones you want! Don’t give an opportunity for people to establish poor habits, by picking up on these early on.

If the task is something new, it may take a while for people to get the hang of it and if they find a way that feels more natural for them and still gets the same result then that’s fine. But, if there is a best way, and they are struggling with adapting their approach step in and give them guidance before they embed any bad habits.

If it’s an existing task but a new approach, when people have been used to one way of working and now you want it done differently it can feel uncomfortable. When things don’t work perfectly first time, human nature leads us to take the path of least resistance i.e. it’s all too easy to go back the old comfortable way of doing things.

3. Prepare for the unexpected

As well as giving the obvious how to training, equip people to anticipate and deal with the unexpected. There will always be things that don’t go according to plan. The last thing you want the first time it doesn’t go according to the text book is for them to panic!

So let them know what can go wrong and how to handle such situations so that they’ll be confident to deal with them smoothly.

4. Ownership

The sooner you can give individual team members ownership over particular tasks the quicker they’ll develop a sense of pride and ownership. Trust your team to make decisions to do what’s best in a given situation; if they truly understand the objectives of the task it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to work out the best way to achieve it.

5. Breaking old habits

If people have been in the habit of coming to you for answers and now you want them to stand on their own two feet. If they’ve been used to you (or your predecessor) making decisions and maintaining control it may seem uncomfortable to have things passed to them.  Back off gradually, rather than just throwing them in at the deep end. This gives both you and them peace of mind.

You’ll still get asked for guidance and for decisions so when this happens, rather than giving in, bounce it back to them and ask for their views. It may feel uncomfortable to begin with, but you’ll both soon get used to it.

6. Systems

Establish systems and your way of doing things, so there’s consistency irrespective of who carries out that task. This doesn’t mean you don’t allow some creativity and flexibility amongst the team, but just having simple checklists can make the world of difference so nothing gets missed or forgotten that can impact others’ experience.

If you only do one thing in creating habits

Be patient. If you don’t allow time to embed the new habit it will be all too easy to go back to their old way of doing things and you’re back to square one!

Related posts and videos

Old habits die hard

Creating conscious incompetence


 


How to get consistency

consistencyOne of the workshops I was delivering last week was for a group of new supervisors. I love delivering this type of training, particularly when the participants are so eager to learn.

One of the things we discussed was the importance of consistency. It’s so easy in an environment where people work different shifts to end up with dual standards. Not intentionally, but when team members may report to different managers or supervisors on different shifts or on different days it can get confusing.

And if manager A says one thing, and manager B says another it’s easy for the team member to make up their own ‘rules’. Even when the standards are laid down, different managers may have different interpretations of the standards, or have different priorities.

This lack of clarity can lead to uncertainty.

In my experience everyone likes to know what’s expected of them.

So here are 10 considerations to help you to help your team be clear about what you expect of them.

  1. Agree what good looks like in behavioural terms and document this, so there is always a point of reference in case of any uncertainty.
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  2. Lead by example; each manager may have their own style, but their interpretations of the standards and their own behaviour should still demonstrate a consistent standard.
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  3. Ensure the same standards apply to everyone. It shouldn’t matter what shift they are on or who is the team leader/supervisor/manager on that shift.
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  4. You can still be flexible by focusing on the end result, rather than dictating how to do a task. This allows people to adopt their own style.
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  5. Once you’ve set your expectations make it possible for your team to reach these by providing the appropriate tools, resources and training to do the job effectively.
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  6. Communication across the management/supervisory team is key. If any of the  supervisory team doesn’t have the same knowledge as everyone else it’s bound to have a knock-on impact on their team.
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  7. Conduct proper handovers at the change of each shift. Make this as simple, clear and easy as possible, otherwise they won’t happen. If you need 2 versions of this one for face to face and one where shifts don’t overlap, have 2 versions.
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  8. Provide a quick and easy forum (such as WhatsApp or Messenger) for managers and supervisors to keep abreast of day to day ideas, questions or issues and anything that’s impacting the team.
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  9. Create an environment where it is easy to share best practice, recognise good performance and nip problems in the bud. Face to face will normally be more productive.
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  10. Whenever you promote someone internally into a supervisory role, ask them for their thoughts and ideas on setting expectations or gaining consistency; they will know from first-hand experience where there are any uncertainties or inconsistencies, and where improvements can be made.

Time for action

If you only do one thing – Bring all your supervisors and managers together and re-establish what good looks like.

Related posts: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/set-expectations/