Better teamwork to relieve the pressure

With Christmas festivities only a matter of weeks’ away you may now be planning your staffing to ensure your customers get a consistent experience no matter how busy you are.

Last week my tip was to upskill and cross train your team so they can cover each other when need be, and help them respect each other’s roles.

But this is also a good strategy to help improve teamwork and relieve some of the pressure in busy periods, be those Christmas or any other peak periods in your business.

Here are 10 tips to get you started…

  1. Set up job swaps so everyone has a greater appreciation of each other’s roles and create better teamwork.
  2. Encourage staff to take responsibility when necessary, rather than passing the buck.
  3. When there are special circumstances, such as working on a big project, seasonal peaks, or staff shortages, define everyone’s areas of responsibility to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort. Avoid the frictions that occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things. (Customers invariably pick up on these little issues too.)
  4. Capitalise on people’s strengths, rather than making everyone mediocre at everything. Identify staff champions for routine activities so there is always at least one person other than you keeping an eye on each aspect of the service. This is not only good for people’s development; it also helps the team respect other’s roles and share the burden.
  5. Get rid of rotten apples. It only takes one or two negative people to get in the way and spread their negativity onto everyone else and drag them down to their level. Deal with them or get rid of them!
  6. First impressions count. Ensure everyone in your entire team knows the minimum standards for welcoming and greeting customers; answering the phone, including initial enquiries; taking messages or booking procedures even if this is only an occasional requirement.
  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.
  8. Train from scratch in your way of doing things. Even if you recruit someone with extensive experience in customer service it’s vital they fully understand your service culture not just how they did things in their last job.
  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 teamwork, and the service they give.
  10. Check everyone’s level of competence and confidence before letting new team members loose on customers. Not just for the sake of your customers, but for the team member too.

Upskilling and cross train your team give you greater flexibility amongst the team and gives them more variety in their roles. It means they can cover each other’s responsibilities ensuring you are not left in the lurch when key team members are sick or on holiday, or you simply need an extra pair of hands in one area of the business when they’re not needed elsewhere.

Take action

If you only do one thing – check you have at least one other person who can readily cover any one of your key roles, so you’re not left short if someone is unexpectedly absent for whatever reason.

p.s. If you need some guidance on onboarding new team members, so put less pressure on the rest of the team get my Onboarding programme template here


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