Much as I love the words ‘please', ‘thankyou’ and ‘sorry’, there’s another word out there that can make a big difference.
It’s a principle of human behaviour that if you’re asking for a favour, you’ll be more successful if you give the reason why. If you’re asking people to do something they like to know why they should.
A psychologist Ellen Langer carried out a simple experiment on the power of ‘because’, back in the day. She asked if she could go ahead of a large queue of students waiting to use the xerox machine (before the digital age) to make 5 copies. When she offered no reason, 60% let her cut in. When she explained, “because I’m in a rush” people letting her cut in significantly increased to 94%
Now you could think that people had done her the favour since “being in a rush” was a valid reason but she tried a third time using ‘because’ but with a feeble reason: “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” Once again 93% complied.
The researchers surmised it was not the reason as a whole, but the word ‘because’ that made the difference. This was true even when the reason was not very compelling. They theorised that people go on automatic behaviour as a form of short-cut, and that hearing the word “because” followed by a reason, no matter how feeble, increased the likelihood of compliance.
They repeated the experiment for a request to copy 20 pages rather than 5. In that case, only the “because I’m in a rush” reason resulted in a heightened figure.
So they summarised: “When the stakes are low people will engage in automatic behaviour. If your request is small, follow your request with the word "because" and give a reason - any reason. If the stakes are high, then there could be more resistance, but still not too much.”
This has got application for management, sales, trying to get your kids off their phones or trying to queue jump when you’re in a rush. (I wonder if “Now wash your hands” followed with “because x y z..” would work!)
This is the reason why we advocate developing ‘how to’s’ which not only explain or demonstrate the ‘one right way’ to do the task but also explain the reasons behind that process. So useful too when you're training new people in that task that they understand the 'because'. People respond much better knowing the reasons and benefits rather than just being told what to do. (And of course being involved in establishing the ‘one right way’ increases buy in even more.)
Now the question is, "Is ‘because’ still as powerful today; after all, the research was from 1978?"
Do one thing: Try the power of ‘because’ and see if it works either in a ‘safe’ environment or, if you’re feeling brave, try it next time you’re in the queue at a coffee shop….
I would love to hear how you get on. I’m going to experiment too just not sure how brave I’ll be!
Thanks for reading.
As featured here in HRD Connect
2020 will be a big year for new beginnings. How can leaders ensure their best people stay put?
A new decade can be a catalyst to kick-start your own journey to accomplish your life goals.
Members of your team who dream to be somewhere else and start their own business, move to the seaside or whatever they aspire to may well be more likely to up sticks this year, however those that do were never fully invested in your business anyway.
So, my question to you is, is the culture of your business a nurturing and positive culture, or is it stagnant and negative?
Do your team have a clear career progression plan, or do they drift along in the day-to-day seemingly ‘stuck’ in their job for life or until they leave? If it’s the later then worrying about the high turnover of your workforce increasing dramatically this year may be valid. If you have a low staff turnover and a happy team, you’re probably on the right track in terms of your business culture.
The real question here is: How do you improve your business culture?
If you want a culture of ownership and accountability, a positive and engaged workforce and lower staff turnover, ask yourself:
Hiring the right people
The ‘right’ people are those who share your values; who get what you are trying to achieve with your business; who see your vision and are inspired by it.
It’s important to immerse every new team member in your culture from day one. Tell them stories that demonstrate how people take ownership in your business, and how you empower and encourage everyone to make decisions and be accountable.
Show what your culture is through your actions: arriving on time, everyone greeting the new starter warmly, explaining your ‘rules of the game’ to them, and demonstrating your personal values through everything you say and do.
Engaging your people
A strong business culture relies on the whole team buying into it. If you’ve taken your time in hiring the right people you will have no problem in engaging them in your vision and goals for the business, and in your culture.
You have the right people, so involve them in finding solutions to problems, planning for the future, setting their own targets. If your current team is far from engaged, call a meeting and share your vision, help them to understand what they’re a part of and why they’re each so important. This isn’t an overnight thing, so keep sharing wins and positivity. Say thank you.
Develop simple, logical and repeatable systems, and train your team to follow them.
Help them to understand why consistency is so important. Make sure that they understand not only what is expected of them, but the high standard you expect them to perform to. Give them all of the information they need to do the job on their own, and then get out of their way and let them get on with it!
Monitoring and measuring performance
Engaging with great people is easy. But on occasion, you will get your hiring all wrong, and you’ll take on someone who just doesn’t fit your culture, your values or the ethos of your business and they will have to go. It may be that 2020 will be the catalyst for this anyway.
It’s always good to give people a second chance, and I’m personally very big on forgiveness, but when a second chance has been wasted, make sure that you have the performance management system in place to manage them out of the business if needs be.
The negative impact of someone who doesn’t fit is simply too great and, in a growing business with a small team, you simply can’t afford the consequences for your customers, your team and ultimately lost revenue and profit.
Have quarterly performance reviews, but at your annual performance review, build the following questions in:
With the members of your team who are the right fit and who are invested in your business and who can see themselves progressing, their answers to these questions will be detailed and show a will to progress up the ladder. They will ask for things from you.
You will also have your loyal ‘steady stayers’ who love their role and don’t wish to progress. This is ok too of course, some people aren’t naturally ambitious. However, still try to work out some sort of target and reward system for these team members and make them feel part of the journey.
Communicate Communicate Communicate
While your business is still growing, you are your business, you are the leader, and people will want to contact you personally – both your customers and the individuals in your team.
How you handle this will say a great deal about you and your business culture.
Communication is vital in any relationship. Your business simply can’t do without open and honest communication through channels that are clear and easy to use. If you want to build a culture of ownership and accountability it’s absolutely essential.
I want to share an interesting conversation I had recently with a control freak. (I use that phrase because I used to be one too!)
Business Owners come to us for help to escape the day-to-day operation of their business, but the truth is that so many find it hard to let go of their role, even the small tasks.
Some believe that they are the only ones that can do a certain task to their exacting standards, and we come across this so often that a large part of our work is changing the mindset of the business owner to let them know that they can trust their team with the right systems in place. They can take a step back to work on growing their business, while it runs smoothly without them, or with only a little input from them.
A particular ‘control freak’ was telling me how he hates to delegate - doesn't trust his employees to do anything without some sort of supervision, because they cock things up, make mistakes, take longer to do the job than he would.
"I check EVERYTHING' he said, 'I don't want my customers to have anything but a perfect service’.
It's the perfect excuse for the control freak - “I’m not doing it for me, I'm doing it for my customers.”
Here's the thing, for those of you who recognise that you may be borderline, if not full-blown freaks, you’re keeping yourself stuck in a rut.
Just like the bindweed in your garden - you know the one with the pretty flower that pretends its trying to make your garden look lovely, while its tentacles set about destroying it? You too are strangling the growth of your people and your business.
You've forgotten that:
You've forgotten that all of the successful people you look up to have built their success on a bucketload of failures, and much bigger failures and mistakes than any of your people might make if you gave them their head.
You want to limit mistakes?
People want to learn and develop, they want to grow - it's much more of a motivator than money. Give them ownership of their job, help them to feel like they belong to something, that you're relying on them to help you build something that you can all be proud of.
I saw this quote on Facebook, and it is oh so true - 'A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust one another.'
Trust your people and build a high performing team, that runs your high performing business.
Get control of your freak. Pull out the bindweed that's stifling your business.
Do one thing: Want to see where you’re at right now? Complete our business effiency test:
Thanks for reading.
‘Recent research found that a huge 71% of businesses don’t train their new managers effectively, if at all…’
One of the biggest challenges you face as a successful small business owner is managing your growing team.
So, to make your life easier, what do you do? You pluck your very best person from the comfort of a job they excel at, and promote them to the lofty heights of management.
Fabulous! Reward for their great performance, and a signal to the rest of the team that there is potential for progression within your business.
But then what happens?
Reality sinks in, and without any training or coaching your highly-motivated new manager begins to flounder. The team begin to lose confidence and the mutterings start around the coffee jar. Your new manager goes from loving their job to dreading coming to work.
It’s a sad truth that managers are less likely to receive training than any other type of employee.
Recent research found that a huge 71% of businesses don’t train their new managers effectively, if at all; managers who have responsibility for developing team members, measuring performance, maybe controlling a budget and other resources to deliver results for the business. Scarily that means that a hefty percentage of businesses are being run by managers simply flying by the seat of their pants.
I’m sure the natural leaders and gifted organisers will thrive on the challenge, but what about the rest?
Those who are ‘consciously incompetent’ have a chance of improving – they’ll recognise their shortcomings and do what they need to, to develop the skills they lack.
The dangerous ones are the ‘unconsciously incompetent’ – those who think they know what they’re doing and plough on regardless: a downward spiral of the ignorant leading the ignorant. The damage they can do to your team, and your business is immeasurable.
Give your managers a chance to be the second line you need them to be. Focus on their training and continuous development, and they will do the same for your team.
(If you want help with this, check out our Manager’s Development Programme – created to develop the second line managers of people just like you).
One final word on management training. Some highly productive and talented people are not suited to management, or simply don’t want to be managers, so be prepared to build a development plan for them that isn’t a management ladder.
Training is an investment, and a big one at that, no question. But the return it delivers both to your bottom line and to your time freedom, makes it worth every penny and every minute it takes.
Do one thing: have a look at your training plan; how much of it involves management development?
Good luck and thanks for reading :)
I read a great quote by Clare Balding the other day about Pep Guardiola. She wrote, “He (Pep) is the manager not just of a team of players but also of backroom staff whom he always values, praises and thanks. He is a leader who makes them all believe the impossible is possible.”
It just got me thinking about how bosses and managers treat their ‘backroom’ team. One of my pet hates over the years is hearing a manager giving someone a task and apologise for it. How does that person then feel? How can they take pride in their job and feel any sort of fulfilment? I’ve seen it in managers who want to be liked or are worried about a possible reaction, “I’m really sorry to have to ask you to do this…’’
Now I’m not suggesting they do a Tarzan swing and ‘big-up’ a simple or repetitive job but rather to explain to people how their role fits in to the bigger picture. You may think cleaning toilets isn’t much of a job. Okay now imagine you work in an office and they’re not cleaned! I know many people who judge an eatery not just by its food and service but also by its toilets. Have you ever come back from the loo and raved about it or returned to your table vowing never to return to the restaurant?
We had a US vice president at McDonald’s who would always make the toilets his first port of call when checking out a restaurant. Not for a call of nature but to make sure they were so clean that he could eat his burger off the toilet floor. (I wonder if he ever did?)
People want to feel that they belong, that they’re valued, that they are part of the business and that they make a difference to its success. I heard a story recently where a school had called a meeting about its future but had just invited teachers to it. Not the facilities people or the grounds team, those people without whom the teaching couldn’t happen. How to quickly make people feel they don’t count!
On the other hand, I know someone who made a point of working late a few times a week to catch the cleaners coming in so she could learn their names, thank them in person and explain the difference they made to the working environment and the business’s success. Yes, these people were employed by an Agency, but she felt they were still part of the team. She would also insist on clear desks and work areas every night explaining that it made it easier for the cleaners and to get her team members to appreciate their work.
An old boss of mine used to love telling the tale of the man he used to pass regularly on his way to work pushing his dustcart round London streets. He was so impressed that this guy was always smiling, acknowledging people as he passed. His cart was decorated and the pride he took in his work oozed from his pores. Imagine if the person giving him that task had been apologetic rather than explaining that the first impression people get of a city is its clean streets.
So going back to Guardiola, I imagine that when he has a team meeting which is about the future, rather than next week’s tactics, he invites the whole team. And what is so great about it is that the extremes in that team would be hard to replicate in most SME’s; famous multi-millionaires and the person who cuts the grass being inspired by the boss about the future of the club.
Do one thing: make time to ask your team members individually how they think their role impacts the business. If they don’t know, then there’s your chance.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week.
Does your other half complain that they see too much of you?
Do your kids groan ‘cos you’re taking them out for the day, again?
Are you the number one invite on your friends’ social calendar?
Do you never take your laptop on holiday with you?
So you’re telling me you don’t have all the time in the world?!
Then let me ask you this: do you own your business, or does it own you?
We had a meeting with a new client recently, and we asked him how he felt about his business. He paused for such a long time I can remember thinking, ‘this is going to be a loooong day’, and then he said just one word:
“This ‘job’ - that’s what I call it now, totally owns me. It dictates my mood; my appetite, my energy levels. I think about it all the time. I lie awake fretting about it. It feels like my entire life is being sucked into a big black hole.
“I went out on my own to have more freedom - to spend more time with my wife and kids, and look at me now - working every hour God sends.
“Everyone told me I needed a team, but all that’s done is increase my workload - the tax, the paperwork, keeping on top of them. I’m sure right now they’ll be glued to their phones cos I’m not there. Arghhh….”
Of course he’s not unusual.
In fact he could be a poster boy for the small successful business owner! Maybe he’s just like you?
You started small, right? Built a really great business, had loads of fun doing it, started taking people on. It was all ok for you too at first, and then… the wheels came off. You lost your consistency, you lost your belief that people would perform for you, you began to work longer and longer hours to keep on top of everything.
But, and this may surprise you, even ‘the youth of today’ don’t come to work with the sole purpose of pissing you off. Nobody plans to have a bad day or do a bad job, especially not the people you hand-picked for your business.
The change you’re looking for doesn’t start with your people, it starts with you.
You want freedom, particularly time freedom? Then build strong foundations, that free your people first.
Strong foundations built around:
Your Plans - showing your team what the destination is, and how you’re going to reach it together - the route map for them to follow
Your Processes - having a set way of doing what you do - a system for everything
Your People - only hiring people who match your values, and fit your team, and then training them to follow your set way of doing things
Your Performance Management - taking every opportunity to give constructive feedback, to correct, to praise. Having regular performance reviews that reward excellence
Successful business is built on the consistent performance of high performing teams who know where they’re going and follow the business systems to take them there. Look to McDonald’s, to Virgin, to Apple if you doubt what I’m saying.
And you can have this too. Put your energy into building your foundations, and you will find your freedom.
Do one thing: take a look at your life and your business and decide if it’s time to change.
Thanks for reading :)
In my business I often come across managers with one thing in common; they are flying by the seat of their pants! People who are ‘accidental managers’. You know, the great team member who is plucked from their team and given a management role or the talented business owner who finds themselves managing people as their business grows. They have little or no training or development and rely on what they’ve learned along the way from managers around them, good or bad. And if you need a great management role model, we can learn some really crucial lessons from Ole at Man Utd.
Lesson 1 - Nurture your Culture
Many clients say to me, ‘I really want to improve the culture of my business. I want to get it right.’ So what can we learn from Ole? First of all, he had a really clear idea of what he wanted the culture of Man U to be. The thing with culture is that it starts with values; it starts with the values of the person at the top. Ole clearly is a man who has strong values, a really clear idea of how he wants to operate. And how quickly did he get those players to buy in. Despite the massive egos and the big superstar baggage everyone came on board.
It’s always easier to instil a culture from scratch than turn an existing one around. Yet that’s just what he did in a remarkably short space of time.
So great first lesson, nurture the culture you want to build. Think about your values; what do you stand for? Then act them every day.
Lesson 2 - Build Unity
Prior to Ole it seemed to be ‘the staff and the players’ or at least ‘the manager and the players’. You only had to look at the body language and eye contact, or lack of it. This was reinforced by the manager’s public criticism of his players and team selection. Then the rumour mill started about bust ups and personality clashes. Ole immediately started to build unity in his language and actions;
it’s always, ‘We, the team,’ ‘We, the squad,’ ‘We, the club’. I absolutely love that he’s brilliant at sharing praise, shouldering blame and reinforcing the positives. Just look at the individuals within that team and how well he brought them together and instilled ‘we are one team; we are united.’
So the second lesson is unity. Make your business one team.
Lesson 3 - Inspire and Motivate
One of the common questions I get asked by people on our Managers’ Development Programme is, ’What's the difference between a manager and leader?’
There'll be books written on how managers are the logistic experts, they keep things ticking along. A big part of a management role is making sure that the attention to detail is there, that mistakes aren’t made and if they are, that they're learned from and so on.
But these days in any business, you have to be a leader as well. You have to inspire and motivate the team, and modest as his media persona is, Ole is clearly a very inspiring and motivating guy. He didn't immediately crack the whip. I’ll bet when he first met with the squad, he took them into a room and shared his vision of what it was like to be a Man U player and how privileged they were to wear the shirt. That would be his style.
That is something I find that a lot of managers and business owners miss. They miss sharing their vision. ‘Where is this all headed? Where are we all going together as a team and why?’ He inspired and motivated them so well.
He clearly showed them how much he believed in them, and as a result, they believed in themselves. He’s also been great at supporting those who were having a hard time. Look at the difference in confidence in young Rashford who played with his eyes on the ground unable to hit a barn door and then look at the difference under Ole, confidence and self-belief is oozing from his pores. Yes, he recognised this was crucial for success but also just because this was in line with his values, that he would look after his people. He would keep each individual feeling confident and part of the team.
He also treated them like adults. Sometimes, particularly new/young managers feel their role is to be the boss, to talk at people, to tell them what to do. When you have adults or adult conversations with people in your team, when you give them the training and development and support that they need, when you really believe in them and remember that you have a responsibility to help them to fulfil their potential, that's when you get your team to take ownership. That's when people start to step up and go, ‘All right. I'm responsible for this. This is my job.’ And you can see that now at United, the team are taking ownership. They are taking responsibility, and they’re acting like adults.
Third lesson - look to inspire and motivate your team to build ownership and belief.
Lesson 4 - Have fun!
It’s become obvious over the last few months that Man U players are enjoying their football again. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off them and they’re playing with the swagger of teams of old. And Ole himself is chilled and smiling, setting the tone.
We are lucky with what we do, a lot of us, and why not have fun doing it? Why not encourage our teams to have fun? People are at work for so many hours of the day, it's part of our responsibility as managers to help people enjoy it, not dread coming into work and be managed by us.
Fourth lesson - create an enjoyable workplace. This goes back to culture and values as well.
Lesson 5 - Learn, learn, and then learn some more!
The final thing that I really wanted to bring up as a lesson from Ole is his desire to learn, his desire to be the best possible manager he can be. And one of the things that stops us learning is our ego. Not for Ole. Instead of Alex Ferguson being the ghost of Christmas past or the old guys in the balcony criticising their fellow Muppets, Ole’s got him in giving talks to the players. He’s brought back Mike Phelan, Utd through and through and gaining from his years of ‘been there, done that’. And you get the impression that Ole is like a sponge soaking up knowledge and experience so he can do the best for the club, the fans and the players.
That's really what I want for each of you. I want you to be the best possible people managers that you can be; the best leaders. So think about the lessons from Ole. Think about your values and your culture. Think about how you can create unity in your team. Think about the development and support that you're giving, not to the team as a whole, not just to the stars, but to every single individual, however minor their role is in the team.
Think about how much you're inspiring and motivating the team who work with you. Think about how you're going to become a better manager, a better leader; what you need to do and the skills you need to develop. Explore where you can learn the lessons you need to learn to keep improving, keep developing, and be the best manager that you can be.
Fifth lesson - keep on learning.
Do one thing: do your team members know how you started and where you’re heading? If not, start by sharing with them the story of your business.
And if you or a manager in your business could use some help then check out our MPL ‘Managers' Development Programme’. Our structured 6-month online programme is aimed at developing the mindset and the skill set of business owners and their managers.
Details and testimonials here:
Thanks for reading.
One of the questions I always ask my clients is ‘How many of your current team would you re-hire tomorrow if you were given the chance?’
So…how many would you re-hire?
If you say all of them, congratulations! I’m delighted for you, because I know from experience how rare that is. In fact it’s only happened to me once since I started asking the question.
Most people have at least one person in their business who was never right; they may be the rotten apple in the barrel or just a round peg in a square hole. Someone who you’ve trained, developed, probed, and coached to no avail. You've put up with them for years rather than removing them from the team; knowing they should never have been hired in the first place - they were never a good fit for you, your team or the business. And on the other hand you’re probably not a good fit for them and perhaps they could blossom elsewhere. But both parties are just playing safe avoiding the pain of parting.
So how does hiring the right person for you, first time, every time sound?
By the time you’ve read this blog, I want to have convinced you that it’s possible. Not only possible but pleasurable; that it’s an exciting opportunity to build your high-performing team and grow your business.
I’ll go through the three steps to a great job advert and there’s a template too which you can download. I’m going to share with you my 2 Golden Rules for hiring and show how, if you embrace these, you will be well on the path to hiring a ‘keeper’.
So how to get it right first time?
Golden Rule No. 1
Never, hire in a hurry.
Why? Because anything you do in a hurry tends to be botched. You’re rushing to plug a gap; hiring somebody to make up the numbers. They may not be a great fit but you settle for the best of the bunch.
You hire in a hurry, you make mistakes.
Golden Rule No. 2
Always hire to your values.
Think about why you’re hiring. You're not just hiring a body. You're not looking for someone who's going to clock on, park their brain at the door, and then clock off at the end of the day. You want somebody who is engaged. You want somebody who cares about what you care about - who buys into that goose bump-giving inspiring vision of yours; who has the same values as you.
You’re hiring a mind and a heart, not just a body.
Things go wrong when you ignore the golden rules and only look at skills and experience; when you hire in a hurry cos it’s all just too much hassle; when you abdicate responsibility to a third party.
Change your mindset around hiring
Create Inspiring Job ads
So many people put out the job description as a job ad. ‘You will be responsible for, you will have so and so reporting to you, you must be able to do this, that and the other.’
Who's inspired by that sort of job ad?
No-one. So when it comes to your job ad I want you to lead with three things.
Think about the person you're looking for, the sort of role that you've got for them, and write your pen portrait as if you are them and this is their ideal.
You want them to be reading going, ‘That's me, that’s me, that’s so me!’
If you want to know what this looks like click here to get your hands on a template which explains what you need in each section and gives you an example of what the ad might look like.
So let’s recap.
Of course, there’s more to it than just that and I’ll be exploring the next stage in a future blog!
Do one thing: Download the job ad template here (or below) and use it for your next hire.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week.
I’ve seen a number of posts recently about parents proudly and perhaps anxiously getting their kids to school for their first day. It’s that time again; new beginnings. For some their first day at a new school or college. For others their first day in a new role or a new job; maybe their first ever job?
Can you remember back to one of your first days? We’ve all had at least one.
So what was it like?
Were you over-awed, bored or just completely bewildered?
Did you take in every word that was said, or did you go home on a caffeine-high with a numb bum?
I’d love to think you had a great day and came away buzzing with drive and energy dying to tell your other half, mum or dad what a great day you had and how excited you were about the future.
That’s what you want for the individuals joining YOUR team, but is that what happens?
A new recruit’s First Day is your opportunity to make a great first impression. It’s your chance to get a new team member excited about their future with you, to understand what’s expected of them, and get a feel for what’s possible.
First impressions count, and that applies to your team members too. Usually the focus is on giving lots of information; we’ve all been there suffering the slow death by power-point. When what’s really important is to give heaps of inspiration.
Yes, there are some very basic things you have to get across to them - where the toilets are, the fire procedure, where everyone goes for lunch maybe, but keep these as brief and to the point as possible.
The things that are going to inspire them are:
Think about splitting your day into 3 short sections:
If you look at your content and think it’s way too much to take in, then cut it. You want to avoid overload and get most value from their time, and your own, and besides, you don’t have to tell them everything about your business on day one.
Your aim should be for that first day to reflect what you and your business are all about. I’m not talking a song and dance routine, but you want it to be full of high energy, passion and creativity, and as interactive as you can make it.
We’ve got a great little worksheet to help structure your new recruit’s first day, and to make it memorable for all the right reasons.
Do one thing: Download our free worksheet below
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!
It’s that time of year again, my car is due its MOT. I sit there waiting for the phone to ring. All those moving parts, they can’t all be in perfect working order, can they? So it’s always great when I get the ‘all clear’. Not that it’s always that straightforward, because you’re then faced with the dreaded traffic light system: green for fine, amber for ‘will need attention soon’ and red obviously, for a fail. I hate getting an amber on a tyre. Is it a green-amber, or an amber-red? What if something happens on the motorway and I haven’t changed it? So I invariably get a new one.
I can understand why MOTs are mandatory, the roads are bad enough without a load of faulty cars on them. It does make you think though, how many other areas of our lives would benefit from a top to toe, annual health check? It would certainly be great for a business, and for a business owner – but where do you go to find a leadership MOT, to have the traffic light system run over your behaviours, to tell you what you’re doing well, what needs attention and what has to stop!
Where do you start?
Well I start with an overview of how well the business is doing because all the leadership that you’re giving is ultimately to that end. Your business dashboard will keep you on track with the headline business figures your leadership is ultimately achieving. How your key performance indicators are doing, things like sales, turnover, profit, customers, speed of service, etc those things by which you’ll judge success.
Then there are other facts that can inform you, for example, how many people resigned, did you let go, failed probation this year? How many people have you promoted? How many are borderline needing help?
A bit of self analysis doesn’t hurt either – getting off the hamster wheel once a month or once a quarter, taking the time to re-visit your vision and values, using the traffic light system and a healthy dose of honesty, to assess how you’re measuring up.
But a great way of checking out your effectiveness but also finding out what people need/want from you as a leader is to ask them. A simple 360 degree feedback system can be really effective. I’m not talking about bells and whistles and expense but a simple question. When you conduct performance reviews ask: ’What’s the most important thing you want from me as a leader?’
Make a note of the answer and at the next review ask how you did. It can be that simple. If you are that busy business owner or manager how great would it be to know the main thing that each of your team want from you and how much easier to focus on delivering it.
You can step that up to a second question: ‘What can I do to make your job better/easier?’
Add caveats if needs be, so if a pay rise is not on the cards let them know so they don’t waste their question. Then follow up at their next performance review - ‘How did I do?’
And then if you’re brave and you can encourage a climate of trust introduce a third question: ‘What do I do that stops you doing a better job or perhaps from enjoying your job more?’
And then follow up again at their performance review.
I have found this so useful over the years and some great ideas have come from it. It’s often little things as well that can be put right but which make a big difference to the individual. You know how sometimes a small niggly thing gets in your head and you can’t think straight?
It’s also great if you have team members who aren’t as vocal in team meetings; by getting them to voice their opinions one to one it starts to build their confidence to speak up in groups.
And as a leader, the follow up at review time really concentrates your mind to make time to do what you said!
The upshot is that people feel they’re being proactively listened to and their ideas acted on which is great for two-way communication, your relationships, team morale and ultimately productivity.
You may want to ask your customers too, ‘What are we doing well?’ and ‘What could we do better?’
I know this works if you stick with it and build trust. It may take time for people to realise that you’re not just ticking a box but that you’re serious about learning and improving. You need to also rein in your reactions and not go on the defensive which I know can sometimes be easier said than done.
You above all need to take action and then follow up at review time just as you would with tasks you’ve set your team members.
In my experience it’s definitely worth it.
Another way to get a really good feel for what your team are thinking and feeling about working with you is to get someone independent in to talk to them confidentially & one to one. We have done this a number of times for clients, and it’s amazing the really honest feedback and ideas for improvement you get from team members who open up to an outsider in a way that they might not feel comfortable doing with you. You get a real feel for what’s having an impact on them personally, or on the performance of the team, whether it’s a small niggle or a massive block. We then feedback the key themes & ideas anonymously to you as the business owner and help you to develop a plan for action.
Do one thing: Give yourself a leadership MOT, and build what you find into your personal improvement plan. Find out more about what we do here
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 :-)