Category Archives: Staff training

Retraining

retraining

Retraining?  I was wrong about this

Firstly, to remind you my Managing Performance Masterclass is only a week away. Who in your management/supervisory team would benefit from support with 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 video 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 next Tuesday could be just the answer to these. You might be on furlough or working with a skeleton team right now, but this masterclass will stand you in good stead for when you’re back to a full on operation.

 

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 apply this, what that might be.


Planning Development

planning developmentPlanning Development based on strengths and stretch

Normally around this time of year many businesses review training and planning development for their team.

Should this year be any different?

If you are closed and have team members on furlough or any of your team are working from home, people have more time on their hands, and it’s easy for them to stagnate, feel isolated or under valued. So, now is the perfect time to reflect on development needs for yourself and your team, and plan how those needs can be met.

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 staff training and 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



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.


How people learn

How people learn

Creating Conscious Incompetence to help people learn

On last week’s Fresh Start programme one of the topics we discussed was how people learn, re-establishing our expectations and how we identify if someone is already up to standard. Something I’m sure a lot of managers will be doing as their teams return from furlough.

As anyone knows who has had to deal with someone who thinks they know it all already, it can be particularly difficult to get their attention and buy-in.

I’m sure you’re already familiar with how people learn and the Conscious Competence Learning Model.

These are the four stages people go through when they are learning something new.

The learner always begins at stage 1 – ‘unconscious incompetence’, and ends at stage 4 – ‘unconscious competence’, having passed through stage 2 – ‘conscious incompetence’ and – 3 ‘conscious competence’.

It’s not possible to jump stages, so when you’re teaching someone new we need to help them to get to the next stage.

The challenge comes when we dive straight in, but if someone is still at the unconscious incompetence stage – and not yet aware of any need to develop a new skill or behaviour.

Trying to teach somebody something new from this point is the fundamental reason why so much training and coaching fails.

I see this time and again when I’m working with clients. There is an assumption that team members are already at stage 2. In other words it’s assumed that they already recognise any shortfalls or gaps in their knowledge or skills, and the need for change or development.

For someone to learn something new or change their behaviour they need to be motivated to do so, particularly when it requires some effort on their part. Without that recognition they will not be receptive to learning and the barriers will go up thinking “this doesn’t apply to me”.

In some instances people may previously have been at other levels but have regressed to an unconscious incompetence over a period of time.

From conscious incompetence they may simply have forgotten what is involved; from conscious competence they may just have got rusty through lack of practice.

Or from a position of unconscious competence they’ve been doing it so long they’ve picked up bad habits. Or the short cuts they’ve taken on the odd occasion in the past have now become custom and practice.

Or as may be the case right now, you’ve introduced new standards which need to be met.

This can present a challenge for us at times, as to undo a bad habit and replace it with a new habit can be more difficult than creating new habits from scratch.

But a little time invested now, ensuring people are conscious of their ‘incompetence’ and the need to change can save a lot of time and frustration later.

Take action

If you only do one thing: Nip bad habits in the bud to avoid people regressing from unconsciously competent back to unconscious incompetence

Related blog post: Old habits die hard

Related video: Creating Conscious incompetence



 


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


 


Conscious competence and how to move beyond it

conscious competence

Developing unconscious competence

When we learn we start at unconscious incompetence, working through conscious incompetence and conscious competence towards unconscious competence.

Last week I was reviewing progress as a result of some training I’ve been conducting with some managers – helping them get the best from their team, who are all customer facing. I love working with junior managers who lack the experience of managing people, as it is so rewarding when they start to see the results.

In this instance these results just weren’t coming fast enough for their manager! He was expected instant changes. I reminded him Rome wasn’t built in a day!

There were two things we needed to take into consideration to reach the level of unconscious competence:

Having the resources

In this instance the training flushed out a number of resources that were needed for them to do everything they wanted to implement, some of which required time and others needed sign off.

Although you might believe people have everything they need, their perception may be different. And if they believe they don’t have the time, tools or authority to put their new skills or knowledge into practice it becomes a barrier. And the longer it takes to remove that barrier (be it real or imagined) the less likely your training will be put into practice.

So ask them to identify anything that might stand in their way, and resolve any obstacles promptly, otherwise it implies it’s not important.

Moving from ‘conscious incompetence’ to ‘conscious competence’

During training you normally established the standards or process, set expectations, and hopefully people have had a chance to practise their skills in a safe environment.

But, often the only way to really hone these skills and develop true competence is once applied on the job. It simply can’t always happen in the confines of the training room.

When we learn anything new we always begin at stage 1 (‘unconscious incompetence’) on the conscious competence learning model, and end at stage 4 – ‘unconscious competence’, having passed through stage 2 – ‘conscious incompetence’ and – 3 ‘conscious competence’.

At the point people finish a piece of training they are somewhere between consciously incompetent and conscious competence. Unconscious competence will only come later.

At conscious competence they still have to stop and think about how they do something; it doesn’t flow naturally. It takes longer and they’re still learning a little from trial and error. Confidence can be low as they get to grips with it all.

Think of it as you were when you first passed your driving test; you probably took things steady, you had to concentrate really hard, not being distracted by tuning the radio, or chatting to your passengers. And you wouldn’t have rushed out to drive in snow and ice or at full speed on a busy motorway.

So, when your team go through any training, allow time for people to practise, to get feedback on how they are doing, and where it’s OK to ask for help or make a mistake so long as they learn from it. This will help them move from conscious incompetence conscious competence if they’re not get there, and then onto unconscious competence.

It might still be on the job, but don’t expect them to be able to put everything into practice brilliantly straight away. If you do you run the risk of losing their confidence

And when something doesn’t work right first time around it’s all too easy for them to go back to their comfortable old familiar ways, and go back down the competency ladder.

 

Take action

If you only do two things to help people achieve unconscious competence:

  1. Ask people if they are missing any resources they need to implement their training.
  2. Allow time and opportunity for people to build up new skills and habits gradually, giving them plenty of time for practice.

Watch my video on creating Conscious Competence – the critical first step to get people receptive to training

If you’re looking for more ideas to help embed customer service training and get your team from conscious competence to unconscious competence here are 38 activities for you to use https://www.naturallyloyal.com/resources/28activities/



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.
    .
  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.
    .
  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/



Delivering Customer Service Skills in House

customer service skills

I sometimes hear managers and even business owners commenting: “What’s the point in training people if they then leave?

They might also ask the question the other way round, and ask “What if I don’t train them and they stay”!

A lack of investment in your team might even be the very reason they leave.

When it comes to core skills such as customer service skills, having the resources to deliver your training in-house means that you get a far greater return on investment.

What this means to you is…

Far greater flexibility to:

  • Tailor the content to reflect your own challenges
  • Deliver the content in short sharp sessions to maintain participants’ interest, and suit your own schedules
  • Personalise or brand the content and materials to match your internal image and service culture
  • Develop the material to use as and when you need a top up
  • Keep all your new starters up to the same standard as everyone else to maintain your customer service skills standards

You can involve your management team in the training which means:

  • They have a vested interest in seeing it implemented
  • It’s fantastic development of their day to day leadership skills
  • It raises their profile and respect from their team
  • You get consistent messages
  • It’s easier to relate the training to people’s individual roles

And importantly it means your training budget goes so much further!

Developing Service Superstars gives you just that. It’s a ready-made customer service skills training programme giving you everything you need to get started on delivering your own customer service skills training. tomorrow

In short, it’s ideal if you want to deliver your own customer service skills training in-house but don’t have time to create a programme from scratch. So you save time, money and effort on course development

Ensuring you still get the training delivered, enabling you and your team to develop excellent customer service skills and deliver memorable customer experiences every day.

Plus, if you sign up to the programme by midnight on 5th February you will receive my special bonuses which will give you a massive head start in delivering the training and seeing the results.

So if this sounds appealing head on over here to learn more.