Help Your Team Find Some Solid Ground

Many businesses are going through a period of great change where the solid ground is frankly now a bit wobbly:

  • some are thriving
  • many are having to adapt business models to provide very different services
  • and some are doing the same thing but in quite different ways

What is true for all of these scenarios is that bringing your staff along with you is vital, whether you are busy or having to start again from scratch. Good supervision of your staff is always important but particularly so during periods of uncertainty; staff need to know what you expect of them in order to feel confident. They need to know what it means to do good work and to do it well. They also need to know that you will support them and the limits within which they can work.

Standing on solid ground
In difficult times we need to stand on something solid.

Helping Staff Stand On Solid Ground

1 – Purpose. Make sure that they understand what the purpose of their job is and how vital they are to your business. Unless they truly know why they are doing what you are asking them to do, they are working blindfolded.

2 – Outcome Focused. Be specific about what the outcome is rather than focusing on the methodology or a list of tasks. Give deadlines and explain why these deadlines matter.

3 – Flexibility. Having explained what you want and by when, give staff as much flexibility as possible to do things their own way. Let them know what the boundaries are, e.g.

  • budget limits
  • house style and values
  • competitive practices
  • policies on customer service, health and safety, IT guidelines etc.

…then get out of their way!

 

4 – Give them credit. Give constructive feedback on what they are doing well. Be specific. “You are doing fine” is not helpful; no-one knows what you mean by that and therefore cannot reproduce it.

5 – Stand in their shoes. Your staff are likely to be feeling a bit distracted: juggling home life and work, worrying about family and friends, concerns about their own health, uncertainty about the future. Check how they are really doing and cut them a bit of slack. In the long run, your empathy will breed loyalty.

6 – Prepare for mistakes. Help them to learn from mistakes rather than make them fearful of ever making a mistake again. Fear shuts down effective working practice like a nasty virus! Matthew Syed’s research on learning from mistakes shows that organsiations that embrace mistakes and learn effectively from them have a super power over their competitors.

There is other help for you and your team here.

Do Your Managers Have The Skills …

…To Ensure That Your Workforce Have The Skills?

I was recently asked to give a presentation on the following topic;

“Appraisals – still necessary or no longer needed, and if the latter how do you replace the role they traditionally play?”

An appraisal form is acting like a coaster.
Do we really need an annual appraisal?

It’s a question that has been around for a while, indeed I first wrote about this on LinkedIn in 2015.

My current thoughts, and therefore the basis of my presentation, are as follows:

Forgive me, but this is the wrong question.

An organisation needs a workforce that is competent and confident enough to do a good job, executed well.  The question is how does an organisation achieve this? And to answer that, there are a number of other questions to ask.

 

 

What are the right questions?

  1. What does great management look like in this organisation?
  2. How competent and confident are the current managers, at all levels, at delivering great management?
  3. What would let the “boss” know that they are?
  4. How do the employees know what a good job looks like and how do we measure how effective they are at delivering it?

It seems to me that:

  • staff need to know what is expected of them and to what standard
  • they need regular feedback and opportunities to discuss what is impacting on their role
  • this regular feedback and discussion needs to be of good quality, good enough that both parties value it
  • and this starts at the top – what objectives do the senior team have for leading, developing and motivating their team? And how good are they at doing that?

For instance, how good are your managers at nurturing creativity in their teams? You can read more about my views on that here . See also what the World Economic Forum saw as the skills demand over the next few years on page 12 or their The Future of Jobs Report 2018.

Does an annual appraisal deliver this?

On its own? No; appraisal as an annual event in isolation will not deliver this but continuous, quality, two-way discussion will, as long as managers have the skills.

And it may well feed into an annual process of reflection.

So the question is, do your managers have the skills?

Getting the Best from Your Staff – a quick start guide

 

It’s an age old story; you’re good at making widgets so you get promoted which means now you have to manage staff. Or, you start a business selling gizmos, which does so well you have to employ and manage staff. Dealing with staff is not the same as making widgets or selling gizmos, yet your success at making or selling relies on your team and how well you manage them.

Great staff work for great managers; so what is it that great managers do to get the best from their staff?

Hire Top Staff

Putting the effort into finding great people is always worth the time investment. Ensure you know what attitudes, skills, experience and qualifications they must have; this is not a wish list. Be really clear about this before you start.  By all means think about what would be desirable but be rigorous in what is absolutely essential. Many skills, experience and qualifications can be acquired reasonably easily. So hire for attitude and aptitude and be flexible about those desirable qualities.

Then Get Out Of The Way

There is a difference between supporting a new employee to do well and micro-managing their every move. You hired them so you could stop doing their work, not so you could carry on. Give them well defined boundaries and then let them get on with it.

Let Staff Solve Their Own Problems

If an employee comes to you with a problem, help them solve it. Don’t take the problem away unless it really is your responsibility to do so. Let staff make mistakes and help them out by coaching, not directing.

Have Quality Conversations

Regular dialogue about what employees need in order to perform well is essential for them and for you. Support them; this support needs to be bespoke for each person. But also ensure that they feel some level of challenge; work that is too easy is boring. The degree of support and challenge needs to be balanced and also to match the individual. You’ll get that balance right by giving them your proper attention.

Give Effective Feedback

This should be objective and delivered in a timely manner. It should also be about the positive as well as the negative. Let staff know what they need to do, what they need to stop and what they need to carry on doing. Also, avoiding difficult conversations won’t make a problem go away or get better. It really won’t.

Show Respect

Your employees are fully functioning human beings. They’ve nearly always had to deal with terrible events at some point in their lives, probably negotiated the buying and selling of their homes, managed to organise their households to be legal, healthy and productive and have absorbing interests outside of work. They can bring all of that skill and experience with them or they can leave it at home. The difference is how well they are respected at work for being unique people rather than just a cost.

Make Work Fun

Research shows that having fun is essential to being productive. What culture do you have in your team? Is it conducive to people enjoying their work? If your team had a personality what would it be? Would it be yours and do you have fun?

Attend To High Flyers – Or They’ll Fly Away.

Most managers spend more time with their poor performers than their top performers. Though this is understandable, it is not effective. Be disciplined in making time for your rising stars. Find out what they need, what their aspirations are, what ideas for improvement they have. And when top performers leave, let them leave singing your praises.