I want to talk to you about the lost art of running an effective probation period. Because let's face it, there are so many people working merrily away in businesses who never actually ‘passed’ a probation. They just drifted into full time employment or their probation period has been extended and extended again and extended again because they're ‘such a lovely person’ and, ‘oh, I'm sure they'll get it eventually’.
Hiring is such a big investment you want to make really sure that you are hiring well. You've taken all that time. You've not settled. You've hired to your values, you've taken all that time to get the person that you think is the right person in the door. So these next 90 days are crucial in making sure that they are a good fit for you and your team
And it all starts with their first day…
How do we make our new team member’s first day memorable for all the right reasons? How do we make sure that their first impression of you, your team and your business is a positive one?
So, a memorable first day is the first and crucial part of a probation system.
The second part then is obviously the first week. Here is where you go through all of the paperwork, making sure you’ve got everything you need in place from a legal perspective. Maybe they have to pass a health and safety test or learn about manual handling - get these out of the way in the first week. And get them to spend time understanding the bigger picture of the business - give them time with other members of the team to understand the customer journey.
This first week sets the tone for what follows, so again, you want it to be a good mix of the practical, the informative and the inspirational.
In this first week, you’ll also talk them through two important documents:
The final thing you'll do in the first week, is to put dates in the diary for 3 crucial meetings - a 30 day meeting, a 60 day meeting, and of course a 90 day meeting, to mark the end of their probation period. You want these dates set in stone in your diary and theirs so that they're not forgotten.
During the 90 day period, you’ll then focus on their training, getting your team to work with them to teach them your one right way to do each task. You’ll make sure that they get constructive feedback day to day. You’ll ask your team how it’s going, how they're fitting in.
And then of course, you’ll have those 30 and 60 day meetings to share with them how they're doing overall, what they’re doing well and how they need to improve to pass their probation. Give them all the information they need to succeed, while they've still got a chance to do something about it. If it's still a ‘no' at the end, so be it, but at least give them that chance in those 30 and 60 day meetings.
When it comes to the 90 day meeting, you’ll then take them through their probationary review, refer back to feedback you've given them day to day over the course of their probation period, and during their 30 and 60 day meetings; and then tell them whether they have passed or failed their probation.
Please don’t bottle the ‘yes’/ ‘no’ decision. Don’t go against your gut because someone is a nice person, or you want to give them more time. Don’t waste your time and money hiring someone who you know deep down is not right for your team.
Hire the wrong person, and you're just building in pain, putting off the inevitable, and potentially unsettling the balance of your team. Cut the cord while it’s short, and go find somebody that's absolutely brilliant - the right person for your team!
Right now as business owners, we’re all assessing and re-assessing key elements of our operation - from our business model to our marketing, from our team to our own role in the day to day. We’re thinking about what we’ve missed during lockdown, and what we’ve loved, and wondering if we will be able to build what we’ve loved into our new normal.
But while many of us are thinking about the individuals in our team, what we may not be considering is that they are also thinking about themselves.
Our team will be thinking about the quality of life they are enjoying - or not - during lockdown. Maybe they’re really missing their team mates and the buzz of your work environment and are raring to get back. But there’s also a chance that they’ve loved not having that journey to work - joining rush hour every morning, wasting all that time in the commute.
Many will be relishing the precious time with their children - the chance to have family meals three times a day - the time to help with home-schooling, or making things and doing things they’d never normally have the chance to do. And there’s no doubt that some will be considering their future in a very different light, and may soon be knocking on your door - figuratively speaking of course.
I say all of this because a couple of clients have already had these conversations with team members who’ve taken the opportunity to reconsider what they want out of life, and the business has found itself with a hiring need they really weren’t expecting - and you might too.
So let’s make sure that you’re ready - that you’re in the right mindset and have everything in place, to hire the right person for you and your business. Because the sad fact is that businesses are full of people who were never right!
You know what I’m talking about.
People who take your time and sap your energy.
People you talk about all the time - your family and friends know them very well and get sick of hearing ‘what Brian did today!’
People who the rest of your team are desperate for you to sort out.
Of course you didn’t intend to hire the wrong people, so how did it happen?
Well, chances are, you didn’t stick to the 3 Golden Rules of hiring.
Rule 1. Never hire in a hurry.
Tempting as it often is to rush into hiring someone to fill an immediate need, or to plug the gap from an unexpected departure, don’t! When you do things in a hurry, you make mistakes. So take your time, plug the gap with an interim contract, a temp - or share the role out between you and the rest of your team, until you can find the right person. Temporary pain while you carry out your search, versus long term pain from hiring the wrong person.
Rule 2. Always hire to your values.
We’ve all been there - looking at a great cv, thinking how the individual’s skills could help the business, but having a gnawing in your gut that’s telling you to think again. How often have you ignored your gut and hired the great cv anyway? And how has that worked out for you? Hiring to your values is chief among all rules of hiring. You absolutely have to have people who believe in what you believe in, who share the same principles, who want to live their life to the same values that you do.
Of course first of all you need to work out what your values are - get really clear about what’s important to you about the way you want to operate your business, the lines you won’t cross - and then ask questions in your interviews that uncover those values.
‘Tell me about a time when you…’
‘If you were faced with [this particular] challenge, how would you deal with it?’
‘What’s the best leader you ever worked with, and why?’
‘And the worst?’
Get them talking beyond the skills and achievements listed on their CV, and uncover the real person behind it.
Rule 3. Don’t settle. When you’ve waded through loads of CVs and spent hours interviewing, there’s a real temptation to go for the best person you spoke to. That’s great if they’re the right person, but what if they’re just the best of a bad bunch? Remember: you get who you settle for, so don’t settle for anyone who isn’t the right fit for you and your team.
As big a priority as your hiring may be right now, it’s important to understand that it’s only the first, albeit crucial, step to building your high performing team - a small piece of a proven framework that we use to help motivated business owners like you, to free themselves from the day to day of their business.
After hiring, come those first vital, but all too often muddled, first 90 days of your employee’s journey with you - their probation period. And that’s what we’ll look at next. How to build an effective probation system that gets to the right stay or go answer for you and your new employee.
See you soon!
Like everyone else, I’m wondering what will happen after lockdown, what’s going to have changed for good, and what’s going to go back to business as usual? And how quickly?
Will the milkman, the village shop, the local butcher still get our trade? Maybe we’ve supported them to avoid the crowds at the supermarket, or maybe because they were getting regular supplies of toilet rolls in the early days! Mind you, those early days seem like a long time ago now.
What about the Pilates studios and fitness instructors who’ve been beaming free classes into our living rooms. Will we still support them and keep up our exercises when they re-open? Or the local cafes and restaurants who’ve been giving away free food?
And what about the people we’ve really started to value - the front line workers? Will we still value people working in care homes, who’ve put their lives at risk day in and day out, many of them on minimum wage? Will there be a shift in thinking to value these special people financially rather than just by expressing our gratitude?
Will we keep up our daily walk, taking time to appreciate birdsong; detaching from our phones for an hour a day? Will we keep up the quality time with our children, reading with them, playing with them, getting to know them better? Will we cook from scratch and eat meals together? Will we continue to say hello to strangers, to look out for elderly neighbours, to keep involved in our communities? Will we stop shopping for luxuries that we don’t really need and remember what’s really important in life?
I wonder if all the people who’ve proved to doubtful bosses that they can be productive at home will be allowed to continue with remote working. Imagine if rush hour traffic was a thing of the past. Hard to imagine, I know!
Like everyone else I have no idea, but I’m really hoping that we emerge from this as better people - valuing local, family, community and small independent business. Only time will tell but some of this is in our hands; we can all make a difference.
Would love to know your thoughts.
In the meantime, stay safe.
As I write, we’re in week six of lockdown and I want to share something that’s really struck me over these past few weeks - just how much of pretty much every business owner’s focus, has been on marketing and sales.
Of course that’s sensible - we all need to do what we can to generate revenue and develop new income streams to help us accelerate out of this shadow we’ve all been under, back into the light. But so much of everyone’s effort seems to be going into marketing - new online platforms, new lead magnets, shiny new brochures for innovative new products - that I have to ask:
What happens when this all works?
When I was hiring my first sales person, Rob, the guy who was helping me, asked me: ‘How much business do you want? Once the taps are turned on it’s hard to turn them off, so how much business can you cope with?’
And I’m asking you the same question. What happens when all your new marketing pays off; when you have that wonderful influx of new and returning customers; when your brilliant new marketing has people knocking down your door?
What will break first?
Your on-boarding system? Your delivery system? Your team? You?
What are you doing right now to prepare your operation for life beyond Covid?
Have you mapped your customer journey for the ‘new normal’, for example?
Or identified and developed the training your team will need to deliver that new journey effectively? Do you have a training system that’s focused on your one right way to do everything?
If you need to take on more people to deal with the influx of orders, is your hiring system right? Is your probation system strong? Are you confident you won’t make mistakes by hiring in a hurry and then end up paying for those mistakes down the line?
My mum had an expression, ‘All fur coat and no knickers’ - and I wonder how many businesses will be living up to that saying, coming out of lockdown.
How many business owners will have been so focused on the ‘packaging’ that they haven’t spent any time or focus on the quality of what’s inside? A bit like Dorothy pulling back the curtain to reveal the truth behind the ‘great and powerful’ Wizard of Oz.
Sales and marketing are amazing but the delivery of your customer experience has to be as magical and delightful as the hype.
If what comes after great marketing is amazing - systemised, consistent and a wonderful experience - your clients will tell their clients, their friends, their colleagues, and soon you’ll be enjoying referrals, repeat sales and customers for life.
But if it’s not…
So I really want you to take some time, while you have it, to think about what you need to put in place; to think about your operation; to take a step back and take a helicopter view of your whole business; to think about what will break first…and fix it.
What’s under your fur coat? What’s behind your curtain?
Thanks for reading. Stay safe!
Are you open to feedback - from your team, from clients, from those nearest and dearest to you?
Do you recognise that you don’t have all the answers? That you don’t always get things right? That, just like your team, you can learn something new, and improve your performance, every single day?
I know that when I was a fresh-faced young manager, back in the day, I didn’t get it at all. I felt I had to be right all of the time - I believed I was right most of the time - and I didn’t take feedback well. My mindset around feedback was all wrong.
The truth is that feedback is a gift.
It may not always be packaged well - not everyone has learned about the difference between negative and constructive feedback - but it’s always a gift, because it gives you choices...
What I learned about myself in relation to feedback, was that while I didn’t always receive it well initially, I would always go away and think about it. I’d reflect on what was said, I’d analyse how valid it was, and I’d make a decision to act on it, or not, based on a thorough examination of the facts.
If you recognise that the feedback given to you is valid, great. Accept the feedback and adjust your behaviour to benefit from it.
If you’ve been given feedback that you really disagree with, go back to the person who gave it and talk it through - explain your thinking, your alternative view, because the truth is those of us who give feedback are not always right either. Sometimes we give feedback based on limited information for example, so it's important to create a culture where somebody can challenge us, can challenge our feedback and say, ‘Thanks for your feedback. I've really thought about what you said, and I'd just like to take you through what I've learned - I think it might change your opinion.’
When you've developed that sort of relationship with your people - where you’re able to challenge one another constructively - that's when great things will start to happen in your team.
Feedback opens new doors, it starts discussion, it adjusts mindsets, and it brings about positive change. Your desire to master and continuously improve your ability to give and receive feedback, will have a huge impact on your success as a leader.
Thanks for reading.
‘To work successfully with other people, you have to trust each other. A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision.’ - Sir Richard Branson
Trust has never been such a valuable commodity. With the over night jump in people working remotely, many business owners who have fought against the whole notion of ‘working from home’ for years, believing that their people could never be as productive in their own homes - that they couldn’t be trusted not to spend hours watching Netflix - now have no choice but to trust their team to get things done.
We’re all in different situations right now, facing our own individual challenges, and coping in our own way, but spare a thought for the business owner who is used to micromanaging their people. The boss who’s always looking over a shoulder, who keeps people in the dark, who doesn’t give them the development they need to work independently, who has never learned to trust.
Just imagine what they are going through right now, having never invested in the systems or team training necessary for a team to work without support or supervision, with any level of success.
Now imagine what it’s like for the employee in this business, having got so used to being spoon-fed and micro-managed - from a work point of view they must feel completely alone.
Any business owner who has always judged performance by how long people stay at their desks and how busy they seem, will be at a complete loss right now, being forced to judge performance by results, by productivity and by achievement.
They are going to have to learn to trust, and quickly.
Those people with high-performing, independent teams who have systems and follow them, will have found it much easier to adapt to our new normal. The foundations will already be in place - the nuts and bolts of their operation - which will make dealing with new products, new ways of working or a whole new customer journey, so much easier.
The independent team, where each member has ownership of their role, will have freed the business owner to concentrate on leading, on adapting their strategy, on looking after their cashflow - trusting...knowing...that their team will perform.
Trust is vital in a crisis. Trust between you and your team. Trust between your business and your customers.
But where does trust come from?
Trust in your team starts way back when you hire them. Do they share your values? Care about the same things that you do? Buy into the purpose of your business and your vision for where it’s going?
With the right people in place, their trust in you builds as you train them, as you give them the systems and resources they need to do the job well, as you give them constructive feedback that helps them to grow and develop as people.
When you’re consistent in doing what you say you’ll do, their trust in you grows.
Your trust in your team builds as they follow your systems, get things right first time, show that they care about doing their job well and focus on continuous improvement.
When they’re consistent in doing what you’ve trained them to do, your trust in them grows.
Trust between your business and your customers builds as they enjoy a consistent experience day to day, week to week, month after month. When they can rely on your operational excellence - on getting the same great service and product quality no matter which team member serves them. When the values of your business are clear, and don’t waiver however difficult things become. When they know that you have their back, that you care, and that you value them.
When your business is consistent in all things, your customers’ trust in you grows.
Trust energises individuals, encouraging them to use their skills and gifts, and fulfil their potential. Trust builds highly engaged, high performing teams, which achieve amazing results.
Trust creates the customer loyalty, which can see a business through tough times and deliver long-term success.
To trust and be trusted is a powerful thing.
Have you decided what your goal is for lockdown? Do something transformational in these precious weeks and months, and reap the benefits for years to come.
I’m sure that for many of us the lockdown period has been a chance to rethink what’s really important, and to reset our goals for the weeks and months of enforced isolation; to decide what we want to have achieved and what position we want to be in when the lockdown is over.
Maybe you’ve decided to focus on your children - keeping them entertained - using this time to build a wonderfully close relationship with them.
Maybe you’ve decided to focus on your house - doing the work on it that you've been promising to do fo-rev-er!
Maybe you’re focused on learning a new skill - you've been dying to learn Italian, or play the guitar or cook, or master ‘Fortnite'!
Maybe you're using this time to master an area of your business - your marketing strategy, your product development, or maybe even... your systems!
Whatever you've decided - good for you! But let me ask you this -
“Why have you never focused on this before?”
If it suddenly seems like the best way to spend these precious weeks, what stopped you from getting aboard your chosen goal last month, or last year, or 3 years ago? What have the blocks been that seemed insurmountable, but somehow don't seem to be in the way now?
We all have 4 usual suspects when it comes to blocks to us getting stuff done.
The First Block we throw up is time - we don't have time, we haven't had time, there's just never enough time!
The Second Block is overwhelm or overload - there is just so much on our plate, so many things that only we can do, so much ‘busyness’, that we simply haven't been able to see the wood for the trees, prioritise effectively, and focus on our one thing.
The Third Block is the lack of a clear strategy - we've never known where to start, how to break our goal down into achievable steps and stages, how to know what ‘good ‘looks like.
And then of course there's the real biggie…
The Fourth Block and the main reason why we've probably never achieved this goal before...we haven't had a big enough Why!
Whatever this goal is that we've set ourselves for the lockdown period - it simply hasn't ever been important enough for us to set aside focused time to achieve it. There's not been a good enough reason to do it, we've not felt passionately enough about it to throw the necessary energy and focus at it, there have always been more important things to do.
Systemising your business is a good example of this. You may have decided to finally get your systems foundations in place, to crisis-proof your business, and achieve that consistency in your operation that removes you from it, day to day. That would be a great use of lockdown. It's something that you've known is important for some time, you absolutely get that it's important, but you've never quite given it the focus to get it done.
So here's the big question...what's changed?
In the current situation, time probably isn't an obstacle, and while we may occasionally feel overwhelmed and definitely upset by the whole crisis situation, we're probably not feeling overloaded with work. Given the time, we can clearly research who best to speak to or where to look, to develop our clear strategy. Which just leaves our why.
Do you feel passionately enough about your lockdown goal to see it through and get it done?
Are you focused and energised enough about it? Is it definitely, damn well going to happen?
If not, go back and choose something with a bigger why.
Choose something that you're really passionate about, that you'll see major benefits from now and for years to come, that gets you leaping out of bed in the morning to get to work on it, something transformational.
Decide what ‘it’ is - make a plan to achieve it - work your plan until it’s done!
Then when you look back on this lockdown in the future, you'll be happy and proud and grateful for how well you used this precious time.
I hope that you and those close to you are well and that you're staying safe!
Happy Easter and thanks for reading.
What do you want to achieve in the next few months? Have you set your self goals? Are you really focused on what you're going to get done, and how?
Something really struck me this week, and I feel the need to share it with you.
I want to talk about the importance of your personal management system right now, and for the need to protect yourself and your own time - even though it may seem like time is all you have plenty of right now.
One of the things I’ve noticed over the last week, particularly on social media and in the online groups that I’m part of, is the overwhelming amount of support, and offers of help, in posts, and Facebook lives and videos. There is SO much out there for us all to consume, and get our heads round and work out what it means for us and our businesses - how it can help us.
Of course we’re also all reciprocating by sharing our own offers of support and help, engaging with posts and watching videos - making sure that we won’t miss out on something that may help us through this unique situation we find ourselves in.
And as a result of all of this activity, there’s a very real chance that we will find ourselves at the end of this crisis, not having moved forward because we are so overwhelmed by the mountain of content, and like headless chickens, trying to keep up with everything that’s out there and trying to take too much of it in at once.
So I want you to pause, and to breathe, and to really think about what goals you want to set yourself for the next three months. What position do you want to be in at the end of the next three months, and what does that mean in terms of a concrete plan?
Is there one part of your business that you’ve always wanted to master? Something that you’ve dabbled in, but never really given it the focused effort it needs for you to really get to grips with it?
Maybe it’s your sales and marketing system - your CRM perhaps. Maybe it’s your accounting software. Maybe you’ve always wanted your own podcast, but never had time to get into it. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to achieve consistency in your business, but systems have always seemed like a dark art to you.
What is it that you want to achieve, personally? Is there a new skill that you want to master? Is there something that you want to do for your business that you’ve never had time for but you really want to grab this opportunity to get it done?
Get really clear about what that is. Take a break from social media, have a social media holiday, maybe even for a week, while you work out what it is that you want to achieve, and what help you need to achieve it.
Say you decided you want to set up a podcast and launch it with 7 interviews under your belt. When you come back onto social media, that’s what you then focus on - getting the help you need to achieve this goal. So you’ll listen to other people’s podcasts, you’ll offer to be a guest on a relevant podcast so you learn how other people set up their interviews, you’ll watch you tube videos showing how to set up your tech and where to post.
Focused, goal driven, time well spent.
Obviously I’m going to say that this time we have is perfect for working on the systems in your business - from your customer experience system to your team development system, from your rhythm building system to the personal management system we’re talking about right now - you’ll never have this sort of time again to work on your business rather than in it. And you know exactly where to get help for that! :)
We needs to look after ourselves right now, and this is very much part of that - protecting your own headspace. Remember that multi-tasking is a lie. You can only focus effectively on one thing at a time. So what are you going to focus on for the next week? Or maybe for the whole of April?
What is it that you’re going to achieve in April? Set yourself that as a goal, work out the tasks that will make sure that you achieve it, and then go ask for the help that you need to make it happen.
This is such a fantastic opportunity to work on yourself, to work on your business, to work on your skills. Don’t miss out by being unfocused. Take time to pause, to breathe, to decide what you're going to focus on, then switch off all the other noise, and focus on that one thing until it's done.
I took a bit of stick this week for writing a post suggesting that we all use the current situation as an opportunity to do something positive - to create something - to do something that you’ve been talking about doing, but have never quite got round to.
I suggested that one of these things might be to get started down the road to systemising your business, and offered help and support, with a link to an offer we have on at the minute for our online programme.
Some people felt I was being opportunistic. Even my own team were uncomfortable with my message, concerned that it would be seen as taking advantage of a bad situation.
But here’s the thing…
I know that a lot of businesses will suffer in the coming weeks and months because they don’t have systems in place, because they never saw them as important, because they didn’t see them as a good investment of time, money or energy.
Many will be regretting the fact that they didn’t work out the one right way to do every task in their business, that they didn’t record that one right way, and that they don’t have an effective training system that ensures their team follow it.
Many will be completely lost when the one person in their team who performs key activities has to self isolate, or becomes ill - the one person that they ‘simply can’t do without’ - because they never got them to record what they do in a way that others could pick up easily and run with.
Many will have recognised that certain tasks could be automated but not taken the actions necessary.
Systems are not a nice to have - they are business critical, and every business looking to come out of this current crisis stronger and fitter, needs to look to their foundations.
I’m sick of business owners working way too hard, simply because they haven’t trained their team effectively and operate with ‘chinese-whispers training’ instead.
I’m sick of seeing businesses being held to ransom by unscrupulous employees who’ve taken advantage of the fact that the business doesn’t have a performance management system. (A good friend of mine is going through hell right now because they didn’t act on my advice over a year ago!)
I’m sick of good people becoming disengaged and feeling unfulfilled because their business owner is a control freak and won’t give them the information they need to take ownership of their role.
So yes, I’m being opportunistic, if that means grabbing the chance to wake business owners up to the necessity of systems for scale and growth.
I make no apology for encouraging entrepreneurs to make purposeful use of this downturn in business.
And while I may attract criticism, I hope that the smart proactive businesses who are following the likes of Daniel Priestley’s advice to Reset and Reinvent, will take the opportunity to systemise their business, to make it leaner, stronger, healthier and more efficient, and come out of this crisis with a solid base for new and sustainable growth.
Good luck to all of you, and if you want my help, you know where I am.
When I start working with a new client I always spend some time talking to each of their team members individually to discover:
This information provides a great benchmark from which to start and judge ongoing progress. It often reveals a stark perception gap too between how the owner sees things and the team members’ view.
It’s a great exercise for a business to do. The thing I love most about it is that you get to talk to both the old-timers, people who have been around a few years and also the newbies – team members who’ve been around less than six months.
Quite often, you’ll hear people say,
‘Oh, you won’t get anything useful from new people, they’ve not been here long enough to know how things work’.
But that’s actually the point – you get their fresh view on what has become the wallpaper to everybody else. You know, when you walk into a new house sometimes and you’ve got a wall that you need to sort out because it looks hideous and then you find you’ve been living in the house two years and that wall still looks exactly as hideous but you’ve just stopped seeing it? New people spot things that the longer serving team members no longer see, or recognise as an issue. Naivety is sometimes a blessing.
So you can learn a lot about a business from talking to those who work there. But how often do we do it?
“Employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged.” - Gallup Research
As a business owner whether you employ 5 people or 50, you only have a certain amount of time to spend with your team.
So what better way to make the most of that time than by asking your team members,
'If there was just one thing you’d want from me as a manager, what would it be?'
And then of course back that up with action. It’s wonderful turning round at review time and asking your team member,
‘How am I doing in delivering what I said?’
It’s a simple but really effective form of 360 degree feedback and improves that two-way communication.
It can be tempting too to give our time to our superstars or working and working on turning round an underperfomer. But sometimes this can be at the expense of your loyal, solid workers. An analogy that’s stuck with me is that in general, teams are split as follows:
The Choir are the people in your team who are the real superstars, the people who you love having around you – your high flyers. The people that you give the big jobs to, to get them sorted.
The Crypt are the people who are under-performing. They are sometimes the rotten apples in your barrel, the people who are either constantly moaning or constantly asking the same questions over and over again, or simply very high-maintenance. (This isn’t always there fault.)
The Congregation then sit in between and are very often forgotten because they are steady, reliable and consistent. They don’t ask for anything, they are possibly never going to be your high flyers or you may just not notice their potential. But they are absolutely solid as a rock. You know that they will come in, they'll do a really good job and then they’ll go home. No trouble, just really consistent, dependable people.
So, what percentage of your time do you spend on your superstars, your under-performers and your steady reliable team members?
Perhaps your choir, your superstars don’t need too much of your attention because by definition they are self-starting, high-achievers. Your time is spent with them on public praise and in high energy gatherings, on setting new challenges and keeping them stretched and fulfilled. After all, you want to keep them! (But be careful that you don’t form a ‘club’ from which others feel excluded.)
What about the crypt? People in here may just need to be trained and nurtured to progress to the congregation or even the choir. But how much time do you spend on someone who you know is just not the right fit but you dread having that conversation with and so put it off? What about the person who does an okay job but who is incredibly needy of reassurance, of constant affirmation who picks on any little thing, who just sucks the life out of you on a daily basis? How much time do you spend and how long do you persevere?
And then how much time does that leave to spend on people who simply do their very best every day, the congregation? They may not be superstars in the recognised sense of the word, they may never achieve greater wealth or status than they have already, but they go about their work cheerfully every day, and they do it consistently well. They are the sort of people who you would want beside you in the trenches (do people still say that these days?); the sort of people who are calm and measured in a crisis; who have had their share of hard knocks, but who just keep bouncing back; the sort of people you can rely on to be…well, reliable!
And often it’s these people who we just take for granted. They are low maintenance, they don’t ask for anything so we often just leave them to it. And maybe we’re missing a trick here, for one we want to keep them and who knows, they could progress to the choir given a chance.
Do two things:
1. Organise some one-to-ones with your team. Find out what one thing you could do to make their job easier, and help them to serve your customers better. Let them talk, and listen to them.
And if you feel that you wouldn’t get straight answers then bring in an outsider, bring in a friend, (bring me in:) to talk to your team and get this information because what I’m picking up with my clients teams’ is absolute gold dust.
It’s the sort of stuff that doesn’t readily come out; feedback about where people see themselves; feedback about who’s sitting next to who and how that’s affecting their work; feedback about how poor communication is. Little stuff maybe, but it’s always the little stuff, isn’t it?
2. Think about the individuals in your team and how much time you spend with each; who is hogging your attention?
Thanks for reading
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)