Article: People Power  (December 2012) 

We focus so much on developing products, services, systems and policies that we can often forget about developing our employees and meeting the basics of their needs and wants. Some valuable information has been collated for you on how your employees can be the people power that you require to continue your business's success.

Understanding Your Employees

It has been found that employees will take more interest in their work when they are encouraged and are able to share their ideas and contributions and can see them implemented. Ideally your employees just want and need:

1. to be rewarded for a job well done
2. feel involved with the business
3. feel that their contribution is valued
4. work on tasks that compliment their intelligence and fulfil their potential

Peak Performers

Give your employees encouragement and direction whenever it is needed but allow them to have control and carry out their work as they see fit. You employed them for a reason and it is usually due to their capabilities, so let them do what they need to do. Ensure you have clear and established goals and objectives that your employees understand and you will be able to ensure your employee will work to their potential.

Top Tips

Below are the 15 top tips that will help you to build your employees' morale, meet employees' wants and needs and improve their perception of the workforce.

1. Always relate to your employees as people and not just hired staff
2. Make sure employees see the results of their labours
3. Adjust your management style to suit individuals
4. Keep employees informed of changes at all times
5. Be clear in communicating expectations, priorities and limitations
6. Make reasonable efforts to keep jobs interesting and challenging
7. Encourage promotion from within
8. Make sure your employees are willing and able to perform what you are expecting of them, especially if there is a strict deadline or there are busy periods
9. Conduct employee performance reviews
10. Always give your employees feedback
11. Tell employees how they can get more money in their pocket
12. State clearly to your employees your management style so they understand your approach
13. Set up well understood communication lines such as meetings, etc
14. Trust your employees. If you have delegated it to them, let it go and let them do it. If they aren't capable they shouldn't be given the task to begin with.
15. Welcome your employees' ideas
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Article: Attitude = Altitude  (April 2012) 

Have you ever worked with someone who is skilled, knowledgeable and experienced, yet just never seems to get ahead? Most of us have at some time or another. Alternatively, have you come across someone not quite as talented, but seems to always be moving upwards? The difference between these two types is not their level of skill or knowledge or experience. It comes down to one single thing - attitude.

Whether you are a Client Manager, Team Leader or Support Staff Member, the level of success you will have is dependent up one on thing - your attitude. Your attitude - your approach, point of view or opinion (whichever you prefer) influences the way you look at everything around you - your role, your tasks, your goals, your colleagues, your current situation and your future path. Simply put your attitude is an amalgamation of your behaviours, beliefs and feelings - your experiences, education and personality shape your attitude. Knowing this, it becomes relatively easy to see why some people are successful and others (who you might think should be) are not. It has to do with their attitude.

Think of what defines a "positive" attitude in your business:

  • A general "can do" view of the role, challenges and new tasks
  • Preparedness to go the extra mile to help a client or solve a problem
  • Tenacity in dealing with complex issues
  • Viewing problems as a new and exciting challenge
  • Giving praise where it is due, acknowledging the efforts of colleagues and thanking them publicly
  • Looking for solutions, not problems
  • Ignoring the blame game and just getting down to sorting out the problem
  • Acknowledging and embracing different points of view
  • Recognising that being right at all costs is not the path to co-operation
  • Being even tempered, considered and proactive in the approach to issues

While this is just some of the many characteristics of a positive attitude, you might begin to realise that a colleague who demonstrates these behaviours is an incredibly valuable asset a business. If you have a positive attitude, you are likely to:

  • Be resilient and quickly recover from unpleasant or difficult situations. You will look for lessons in the experience rather than continually looking back on how horrible it was
  • Be optimistic about the future. This optimism will help influence those around you
  • Be confident in your skills and ability. You will recognise areas of development and happily embrace learning
  • Help you manage your emotions and express them in constructive ways
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Think outside the square and consider all options, even those that appear unlikely

Basically, your attitude will determine your altitude in business and in life. A positive attitude towards your job and your goals can be the determinant of your success. That is, an optimistic outlook, can do approach and view that anything is possible, will often provide you with the energy and enthusiasm to succeed.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

 Article: Recruitment - Top Tips by Lisa Gibson from Triple Three Solutions (February 2012) 

So you need to recruit someone into the business? It seems a rationale decision, you are expanding the business, you have noticed that you are working longer hours, getting home later, more customers/clients to see, those few people you do employ don’t seem to be able to take on any of the additional work you are currently doing. Those staff you recruited at the time you set the business up did a good job, but now that you are expanding and developing new markets, those staff, although still doing a good job, they don’t have the skills you need for continuing growth (or that’s what you think).

As business leaders we are faced with all sort of day to day decisions, but how to attract the right people with the right skills at the right time is probably one of the critical decisions that we make without very much thought. All we know is that there is more work needed to be done, bigger targets to achieve, less time in the day to do all the things we need to do to clear the ‘to do list’. ‘Hey Presto’ we need to get somebody – anybody - to fill the gap. I am not suggesting that as business leaders we deliberately set out to recruit poor employees who are not motivated or committed, but we do and can make hasty decisions that may mean we have mediocre performers that may not be capable of developing further than their current level of capability. How often do we hear that a member of the team who was such a good sales person or technical expert, is now failing because they have been promoted to do a bigger job that entails managing people – we promote on the basis of the ‘Peter principle’, that is to the level of the person’s incompetence. It’s important that when you recruit either internally or externally that you know what will be expected within the role and then apply an assessment process to ensure that you have the right person doing the right job.

According to Jim Collins in his ‘Good to Great’ book, one of the principles of a ‘great’ company is  First Who… Then What Collins says, “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” He uses the analogy of a bus driver to while describing how to create a winning team within your organization. He recommends that you first get the right people on the bus, and then you get the wrong people off the bus, then the right people in the right seats, and then figure out where you want to drive that bus. Hire people with characteristics you cannot easily instill. Focus on who you are paying, not how. He also recommends analyzing someone’s character, work ethic, intelligence, and dedication to their values before deeply analyzing credentials and practical skills

Let’s consider how some decisions to recruit are made. You have given some thought to the structure of the organisation and the people who are already in your employ. You have identified specific skills that are now needed within your business and so you write down what is needed in the form of a job description and the skills that are required of the person needed to do the job. Are we always that clear of the skills required to let someone new ‘onto the bus’? When did you last properly assess the skills of the staff who already work for you – are they the ‘right people but in the wrong seat’? Could this be an opportunity to let someone in your organisation use untapped strengths that you have not already identified. If you don’t currently review your staff and any potential job opportunities in this systematic way, you may miss out and lose good people in the future. Consider how this type of planning might help in the future growth of your business and team. Giving some thought to this early on in the process will help you to get (and keep) the right people in your business.

So what happened next? Consider the next two scenarios and determine what is likely to work best for your business. You have decided that you need to look externally so…….

a. You have met someone at a networking event or you have been told by a friend that they know someone who might fit the bill, they seem OK, they are not working, they can start straight away – BINGO – problem solved. You know what you’re looking for – you have always been a good judge of character. You arrange a drink after work to ‘talk a few things through’ and the deal is done – sorted in less than a week.


b. You either advertise the job yourself or use a third party to recruit on your behalf, using the job specification to write a compelling job advertisement or a job brief for your recruitment partner. You then interview a number of shortlisted candidates against the criteria agreed, make your decision based on criteria and evidence gained during that process. You may introduce other selection criteria at this juncture – assessment centres, psychometric profiling, presentations to name but a few. The process is allowing you to determine that the individual is:

  • capable of doing the work to be done
  • inclined to work the way the organisation would wish them to work
  • mutual obligations and  expectations which are clearly defined from the beginning of the employment contract

Having considered the two scenarios described which method is likely to have the greatest effect on your business? Remember that from the moment you begin this activity you commence the employee engagement process – this sets the tone of the employee/employer relationship from the first exchange. It is important that whoever undertakes the selection process represents your business as you would expect to represent it yourself. Are you, or the person you have appointed, experienced in recruitment and selection processes?

Based on our experience there are some golden rules to consider, we have picked just 10. I am sure as you read them there will be others that you would expect to consider. Let us know, your comments are important to us.

10 Top tips on getting recruitment right:

  1. Make sure you know what skills you need to recruit, don’t leave it up to ‘I know what I want when I see it.’
  2. Have a clear job specification or role profile – for all parties involved in the process.
  3. If you have an external brand, incorporating mission and values, ensure this is used within your attraction campaign.
  4. Make sure the attraction strategy matches the needs of the business. Do you have time and inclination to advertise the role yourself, handle the response, deal with all candidates yourself, arrange interviews or do you use a third party to  handle on your behalf. If you don’t have the time, or the skills,  get someone else to do it for you – there  is nothing worse than trying to handle a response of 200 plus applicants in a poor way – it damages your company’s reputation from the outset.
  5. When it comes to interviewing the candidates yourself, ensure you have a consistent set of questions which demonstrates that you treat all candidates fairly, it’s good practice for 2 people to conduct the interview, making notes to assist with the  decision making process.
  6. Make sure that any other assessment tools used are relevant for the job being recruited. Why give someone a verbal reasoning and numerical test – if the job they are going to be employed to do doesn’t require those skills. Don’t test just for the sake of it – it has to be relevant.
  7. Have an agreed  set of criteria for selection purposes, so that you can determine the best person for the job based on their technical skills as well as broader  competencies required for the job. Remember Jim Collins’ recommendation – Hire people with characteristics you cannot easily instill. Focus on who you are paying, not how. He also recommends analyzing someone’s character, work ethic, intelligence, and dedication to their values before deeply analyzing credentials and practical skills.
  8. If no one meets the criteria – just don’t hire someone just for the sake of it. Start again. Wrong decisions may end up being costly, particularly if you need then to embark  on a performance management route, or ‘let someone go’ before the end of  their probationary period.
  9. You make a selection decision,  so make sure you take up references – use third parties to undertake this  activity if you don’t have the resources . Agree what references you want  to take that are likely to be a requirement for your business. Do you need credit checks, Criminal Records Bureau, Qualifications as well as employment  references.
  10. Agree the offer and ensure that  the appropriate paperwork is despatched and begin the preparation of inducting the new team member into the team.

 Finally, if this is the first time you are embarking upon recruiting someone into your business, you need to make sure you have relevant documentation; contracts, terms and conditions of employment and a staff handbook, which describes what is expected or someone in your employ and what they can expect from you.

If in the past you have made recruitment decisions that have not been as successful as you would have hoped, or you are just thinking about recruiting someone for the first time and you need to know the implications, then call me on 07771 944676 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it to have a no obligation discussion as to how ‘getting the right people on the bus’ forms part of your on-going recruitment strategy.

Getting people ‘off the bus’…. now that’s a completely different blog and conversation!!

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Article: 10 Top Tips To Consider When Arranging and End Of Year Party by Lisa Gibson from Triple Three Solutions (November 2011) 

1. The invite

Remember that Christmas is a Christian holiday, so do not insist that all staff attend the Christmas party.  An ‘end of year party’ may be more appropriate, but do not pressure someone to attend if they don’t want to on the grounds of religion. If the event is out of hours, also remember that some people have family responsibilities that may prevent attendance.

Secret Santa gifts, although a fun way of exchanging gifts, if inappropriate (notably underwear and sexy toys) may cause offence. These types of gifts  have sparked complaints in the past. As a precaution ask staff to ensure that all gifts are inoffensive.

2. Decorating the office

Use a stepladder to put up decorations – no skateboarding on a swivel chair across the office please.  Don’t hang the tinsel on computers or other sources of heat; and don’t decorate emergency exit signs.

The TUC and Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) warn that your insurance may not cover damage caused by untested electrical equipment – so despite the fact that they brighten up the office on cold, miserable winter days, do remember to switch off those tree lights before going home.

Other festive hazards, and yes it’s hard to believe, include; party balloons, they can kill around 3.6 million people in Britain who suffer from some degree of latex allergy. Over 1,000 people were injured by Christmas trees in 2002, so make sure they are
secure and won’t be knocked over by people passing by or pulling cables.

Fresh party food should be kept in a fridge before the party; use paper cups, not glasses; move computers out of range of spillages; and avoid indoor fireworks, flaming puddings, candles and smoking. You would be amazed what some people will do to light up the party – make sure they don’t ‘light up the building’.

3. Free booze

Employers providing free drink or putting a credit card behind a bar should be careful. In one case, three employees of the Whitbread Beer Company got drunk and had a fight after a seminar on improving behavioural skills. They successfully argued that their resulting dismissals were unfair. A relevant factor was that the employer had provided a free bar – and thus condoned their behaviour. Also remember that not everyone drinks alcohol, ensure that there are drinks to suit everyone’s preferences.

4. Age limits

Keep an eye out for the apprentice or junior in your office. Employers and managers alike cannot allow under-18s to drink. In an extreme example, an employer was found responsible for the death of a girl at the office party due to alcohol poisoning.

5. Tables and photocopiers

Now those of you who traditionally like to dance on desks, beware that this activity is likely to cause damage to property and people.  It amounts to misuse of company property, additionally you can fall off the table and severely hurt yourself, you don’t want to wind up in hospital for Christmas. Photocopying of body parts and other leisure activities on such surfaces may result in misuse of company property. Make it clear that such activities will not be tolerated or that certain parts of the office are out of bounds on the night of the party.

6. Don’t ignore drugs in the loos or anywhere else for that matter.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971, it is an offence for an employer to knowingly permit or even to ignore the use, production or supply of any controlled drugs, from cannabis to cocaine, taking place on their premises. There is also the possibility you will be in breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

7. Misguided by mistletoe

Your staff policies on bullying and harassment and discrimination still apply at the office party. Just make sure everyone knows this and knows what they are. This is one reason why mistletoe is dangerous. A survey reported by ContractorUK found that, while 80% of women would laugh off a pass made by a male co-worker, boss or client, 13% would lodge a complaint. One person’s perception of a ‘bit of fun’ is another’s perception of ‘harassment’.

An extreme example of such misbehavior involved a man telling a female colleague that she “needed a good man,” adding that he would like to try her out in bed. At the Christmas party, the man pulled her dress down and made disparaging comments. A claim of sexual harassment succeeded and an award of £10,000 was made for injury to feelings.

The laws on discrimination apply at the office party regardless of location. So when one man told a female colleague, “f****** hell, you look worth one” at an after-work leaving event taking place in a local pub, the tribunal had little difficulty in ruling that it was in the course of employment and therefore discriminatory.

Employers can find that they end up paying for unwanted advances between co-workers if tribunals characterise the behavior as evidence of a culture of vicimisation or harassment.

Sometimes misconduct will be clear. In one case, a senior manager drank heavily at the Christmas party, assaulted some colleagues and told the director to “stick his f****** job up his arse.” He was thrown out and broke the window of a pensioner’s house.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, his claim for unfair dismissal failed. But don’t overlook the behaviour of others. For example, if your party budget extends to an after-dinner speaker, choose carefully. A comedian performed for one company, the host hotel was deemed liable for the offence caused to Afro-Caribbean waitresses by the comedian’s racist jokes.

8. Manage expectations

Alcohol can cause some people to do and say ‘daft’ things, ensure that your staff don’t underake ‘performance reviews’ during the office party. In one case, an employee claimed his boss had promised him a higher salary “in due course” during a chat at the Christmas party. His pay remained static so he quit and claimed constructive dismissal. The employer won the case but only because the nature of the promise was vague. It was a lucky escape as a promise made at a Christmas party is still a promise.

A similar issue is the Christmas bonus. If you have paid a discretionary Christmas bonus for several years, staff can argue that it has become contractual through custom and practice. So if times have been tough and you can’t afford to pay a bonus this year, tell staff why you feel unable to pay it and try to agree a solution. ACAS suggests that you could offer to pay a proportion of the bonus or stagger payments in the next few months; or you could offer to pay the drinks bill at the Christmas party (but be mindful of Top Tip 3 & 4).

9. Getting home

If a member of staff has clearly drunk too much at the office Christmas party and plans to drive home, don’t let them, the employer needs to take responsibility. ACAS points out that he has a duty of care to his employees – and because it’s the company’s party, he must think about travel arrangements. Consider ending the party before public transport stops running; or provide the phone numbers for local cab companies and encourage staff to use them. This doesn’t mean you have to pay for the cabs, just make sure that there are cabs available.

10. The morning after

If the party is mid-week and people are expected in work the next day, ACAS recommends that you provide plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and food. Before the party, ensure that all staff know that disciplinary action could be taken if they fail to turn up for work because of over-indulging. The alternative is to arrange for an evening when there is no work the next day.

Liquid lunches are another risk. If there is urgent work to be done, disciplinary action may be appropriate if staff are late back to the office or intoxicated. But bosses must be careful: a history of festive tolerance could be used as evidence that disciplinary action against an individual is unfair.

Also ensure that proper procedures are followed. At an Ardyne Scaffolding Christmas lunch in the early 1990s, a worker returned a few hours late to work after drinking too much. It was the day before the Christmas holiday was due to begin. Ardyne Scaffolding saw this as gross misconduct but decided to tell the employee after he had sobered up – which meant waiting until after the Christmas holiday. The worker learned of the dismissal through gossip during the holiday and claimed unfair dismissal. He won. The Employment Appeals Tribunal decided that, while it was reasonable to wait for Mr Rennie to sober up before being told that he would be dismissed, and while the holiday had complicated matters, this did not justify a failure to follow a clear procedure.

When all is said and done, it is about taking a sensible approach to dealing with events surrounding this holiday period and any event arranged by the Comapny. So instead of ‘Bah Humbug’ let me wish all of my readers a very HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON and enjoy ‘the do’.

If you don’t recognise any of the policies I refer to in this blog (TripleThreeBlog), contact me and I can help you ensure that you have the appropriate policies in place and help to minimise the risks associated with these events. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Statistics and legal references obtained via

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Article: The Business Case for Going Green (October 2011) 

Reasons For Going Green

Potential costs savings, meeting business supply contracts, brand advantages, reaching green consumers and increasing sales revenue by introducing environmentally friendly products. In this article I cover he human resource aspects in attracting and retaining good employees. The green consumer phenomenon is here to stay and you need to be sure that your personal view does not hinder growth opportunities for your organization that could see it lose market share to competitors who are quick to capitalize on the benefits of adopting sustainable practices.

Attracting Potential Employees

One of the major advantages in adopting sustainable or green practices is the message that it portrays to the general public, customers and potential customers. However this message also reaches those who are seeking employment and in industries experiencing severe skills shortages, it could be a major factor in attracting good employees to your organization. University and college graduates are particularly influenced by an organization’s stance on the environment and are more likely to be drawn to a business that has an established and well documented view on combating climate change and other social issues. This is backed up by the results of the 2007 survey by Monster TRAK that found that:

  • 92% of graduating students indicated they would be more interested in working for an organization that is environmentally friendly
  • 80% of students are currently looking to work in an organization that makes a positive impact on the environment
  • 32% of students are currently looking for a job in an environmentally friendly role

These survey results are of no surprise given that members of the younger generation are more educated on the impacts of climate change and will bear the brunt of further severe weather conditions as the planet continues to warm.

Retaining Existing Employees

Existing employees can also be influenced by your environmental or corporate social responsibility programs. There are many case studies of high staff satisfaction levels from staff surveys of organizations that are known for their sustainability approach. Employees are more likely to be proud of working for an organization that regularly receives accolades for putting back to the community or assisting in the fight against climate change. This in turn leads to an improved level of engagement by employees and closer working relationship between employees and employer. Once again in tight labour markets, this could become a major factor in retaining valued employees and mitigates the risk of rival competitors poaching key employees. It is well documented that replacing staff members is a costly exercise when training costs and learning curves are taken into account.


In circumstances when your competitors are offering identical pay and working conditions, your environmental strategies may be a key factor in attracting and retaining valued employees. As a result your environmental strategies should be widely communicated both externally and internally in order to improve your corporate brand as well as your employee brand.

Next Steps

In the next series of articles I will go through the six P’s of going green for business, covering the areas of Power, Petrol, Paper, Products, People and Partnerships.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Article: The Importance Of Succession Planning Of Your Staff (October 2009) 

Running your own business is a bit like riding a roller coaster, except you thought you were signing up for a ride in a chauffeur driven car. Every day brings a new surprise, some good and some bad, but perhaps the worst shock is when your best employee announces that they are off for another job, back to full-time study or going to Tibet to meditate. All this just when you had decided to promote them to a management position. There goes another good day!

Actually, we shouldn't be surprised when people move on, it is the nature of a life journey. But it certainly can take the fun out of the business day. Given that it happens all the time, we wonder how many of us actually build a succession plan to mitigate the damage. We are expected to plan for risks in the business and this is surely just another risk.

Some level of succession planning happens in the ordinary course of business. We expect people to get ill occasionally and we know they are going to take vacations, so we do arrange cover for them during those periods. It is just that we anticipate they will come back, so our arrangements are only temporary. However, we can extend that horizon with some cross-skilling, regular reassignment to allow people to learn new functions and understand the business better or giving them new challenges to stretch their capabilities. However, in the end there is no real substitute for a full succession plan.

If you need an additional justification, don't just think of succession as a plan for a termination, think of it as cover to build flexibility into the business. Unless you can free up some of your best resources for an extended period of time, you can't really take on large restructuring projects such as an acquisition, raising finance or selling part or all of the business.

There are a number of strategic projects which require a dedicated level of effort for a concentrated period of them. Unless the key people can be freed up of their everyday activities, you can't really pursue these projects. Furthermore, you can't always plan when they may occur. An acquisition opportunity may simple drop into your lap. Senior managers need to be able to stop what they are doing and concentrate on evaluating, negotiating and managing the new acquisition.

Sometimes you can obtain resources from outside the firm to step in to take over a role, but it is hard to do that at the last minute. These things need to be carefully planned and arrangements prepared.

For the bulk of staff, you need to have a plan for what you would do if they became chronically ill or resigned. This is one of those situations where ‘Sorry!' really doesn't cut it. These situations can be anticipated and therefore basic risk management and good governance would dictate that you should have at least considered the situation and decided what you would do if the occasion arises. You cannot effectively drive a growth agenda if you can so easily be disrupted.

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Article: Staff Management (June 2008)

We often say that it is the last 20% of the job that provides 80% of the result. This is particularly true when we speak of managing our staff.

Staff management is a challenging, often rewarding and sometimes discouraging element of management. It requires a manager to bring together a vast array of skills and experience in order to create the environment for staff to perform at their optimal level. Done well, staff management can be a fascinating and rewarding component of being a manager. Done poorly and staff management can become a burden that consumes too much time and energy.

It is common for 'Managers' to view the job of staff management as a supervisory duty that takes too much time. We believe that staff are one of your businesses greatest assets, an asset worthy of the investment in time and money. We believe you should try to nurture, guide and encourage your people to be the best they can be, both from a technical point of view and on a personal level.

We suggest you use various methods to provide positive feedback to your team members. You may recall a recent article we wrote detailing the yearly performance review system you can use in your business.

Another successful method we have found used in businesses is the 'Star Award' system.

A third successful method is our 'Team Member of the Year' award.

The Team Member of the Year award is highly prized by employees, as it has a similar philosophy to the 'Players' Player' award within a sporting team. The Team Member of the Year is selected by all of the Team Members and not just by the business owners. We suggest you have an award ceremony where you present trophies and gift vouchers to the Winner, Runner Up and Third Place getter.

The secret of this system is its simplicity. We suggest you distribute a procedure and form to all Team Members in June each year (this can be implemented any month you choose) and ask that they rate their peers in various areas. The rating is done using a simple 'Excellent'', 'Good' or 'Poor' scale. The points are collated, and the winner is the person who has polled the most points.

Remember, recognition is a key element in keeping good staff. It could be this 20% that makes all the difference to morale and productivity within your office.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Article: How To Deliver Powerful Feedback (May 2008)

One of the secrets to getting awesome results from your team is to learn the art of giving powerful feedback.

There are three types of feedback I have observed: "the Great, the Not Good and the Too Late"!

And then there are three main problems that I notice with feedback. They are that Great feedback is often not given, Not Good feedback can often be hard to give and Too Late feedback is often given at the wrong time or for inappropriate reasons.

To be effective, feedback (whether it is positive or negative) needs to be timely and it should always relate to an action or behavior rather than the person. Feedback about behaviors or actions is effective and powerful because it reinforces the desired behaviors so they can be repeated in future,

Powerful feedback places the action or behavior in the context of a specific situation or task and links it to a result. If the feedback aims to correct, it specifies an alternative action or behavior that would produce an alternative preferred result.

A simple example of Great feedback:

"James - Yesterday when you were walking through the lobby I saw you clear away some rubbish that had been left there by someone else.

Thank you. A clean entrance makes a far better impression on our guests and clients than a messy one."

An example of effective corrective feedback might be:

"Karen - Yesterday after you finished your lunch you were distracted by a phone call and you left your lunch wrappers in the lobby, which creates a poor impression for our guests when they arrive. Please take care to put your rubbish in the bin in future.

That will keep the entry clean so we make a good impression for our guests and clients."

Feedback like this needs to be given to Karen promptly. If it is delayed for so long the situation or incident has been forgotten, it will be less effective. The feedback would be inappropriate if it was expressed as a criticism of Karen personally, for example, "You are a messy person" rather than as a criticism of an action or behavior.

Inappropriate (Too Late) feedback such as "you are messy" is unmovitating and frustrating.

It destroys morale and erodes results as well as being ineffective.

Feedback about our actions or behaviors is effective, empowering and helpful, because we can change our actions if necessary, or repeat them if appropriate.

Positive (Great) feedback should be shared generously. It is a powerful motivation, reinforcing the types of behavior you are keen to see repeated.

Corrective (Not Good) feedback should be given promptly and sensitively.

Ensure you give it in private and in a supportive, direct and open manner. Focus on the action or behavior that that needs modifying or correcting and describe exactly what actions and results you expect in the future.

Given appropriately and regularly, corrective feedback is a valuable learning tool and without it none of us can get better at what we do.

A good leader taps the power of effective feedback to motivate and coach people to great results. If you are generous with positive feedback while you are clear and consistent with corrective feedback you will be delighted with the value effective feedback delivers.

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Article: The Role of 'Change Champion' (April 2008)

Whether it is taking on the role of Change Champion or just helping out on a day to day basis, getting involved in transformation is a valuable exercise. For some team members, it offers the opportunity to gain experience in all aspects of the business while others see the benefits in helping a business through such significant change.

Regardless of what is driving you to help out, taking an active role in transformation delivers benefits to you and to the business. The one question we are often asked is "I know I should help, but I just don't know how to. What do I do?"

In previous newsletters, we have discussed the dangers of complacency and how it can eventually lead to the destruction of the business. One of the greatest areas of complacency is staff who say "I don't need to get involved. Someone else will do it".

Does this sound familiar? Complacency can be just as destructive as any other pre transformation activity a business can engage in. It implies the lack of action regardless of the situation or danger the business may be in and a culture of "it's somebody else's problem."

Transformation is not just an issue that sits with the Owners, Managers or Change Champion - it is an issue that needs the entire business to get behind in order to be truly successful. One or two people driving transformation or making an effort is incredibly hard work that may eventually fail; but get everyone involved and participating and transformation can suddenly be a much easier task to contemplate.

Getting involved in transformation implies you need to take action. This can be:

  • Directly involved with the transformation efforts
  • As part of a team delivering one or more of the transformation plan steps
  • As a supporter providing suggestions and solutions
  • As a helper supporting those who are doing the work

The only way to not help with the transformation of your business into a “Super” business is by sitting there and continuing to do the same job you have always done. Yes, change can be frightening, confronting and challenging, so why not get involved right at the beginning and have a say in the way the business is changing.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Article: So, Tell Me What I Want To Hear (March 2008)

The job interview is generally considered to be the moment of truth, for both applicant and employer. In reality, it's often the least honest, realistic, or revealing conversation you'll ever had at work.

A Dan Piraro cartoon title 'New Job' depicts a pair of men reaching over a desk, preparing to shake hands. They are both wearing suits and smiling broadly. The older gentleman is saying "Congratulations, young man! We've decided to let you waste the greater portion of each day here with us in utter misery." To which the younger man, portfolio tucked smartly under his left arm, responds "Thank you, sir! I'll do my very best to pretend I don't hate you".

Of all the ritual acts, none is more bizarre than the job interview. We all know the rules.

From the interviewer's perspective, there are four types of job candidates:

  1. No-talent psychos
  2. Talented psychos
  3. No-talent nice guys
  4. Talented nice guys

From the applicant's perspective, there are four types of employment situations:

  1. Messed up and unrewarding
  2. Messed up but rewarding
  3. Tolerable but unrewarding
  4. Tolerable and rewarding 

Sussing out wierdos and organisational dysfunction isn't always easy.

In theory, the point of the job interview is simple - now that we are face to face, can we imagine working together?

If you're the applicant here are 5 tips to help you figure out if this is match made in heaven or one that's headed straight to hell: 

  • Your success in the interview depends on your level of preperation.
  • Research the person who will be conducting the interview.
  • Make sure everthing on your CV is true.
  • Go in armed with a ton of good questions.
  • If, after an interview or two or three, you should find yourself growing increasingly excited about the opportunity, don't forget the final step: Ask for the job.

On the flip side, when it comes to assessing the character and quality of a prospecting employee, repeat after me: There is no rush. Here are  4 things for the employer to keep in mind:

  • Talk to the candidate's reference, then ask for even more.
  • Work the candidate - give him assisgnments and tests.
  • Schedule interviews with colleagues up and down the chain of command.
  • Ask the candidate why he wants this position atthis company.

Regardless of how extensive your due diligence, the final decision winds up being a leap of faith, so you'd better make sure you're leaping from a solid edge. 

Article taken from February 2008 GQ magazine (USA).

Article: Job Descriptions and Specifications (March 2008)

A document defining the job title and responsibilities of a specific job. It may include information on the specific tasks or activities to be performed and measures by which successful performance will be judged. For instance, purpose, duties, equipment used, qualifications, training, physical and mental demands, working conditions, etc. It may also include salary and bonus information.

Well organised businesses create job descriptions and then hire people to do what is described by the job description and therefore becomes a contract to which both the business and employee agree to.

It maybe necessary that more than one specific employee needs to be hired to undertake the same job. You might have a description of a sales position and hire several people to function in that position.

A job description should include the following to ensure that it is fully understood, comprehended and acknowledge by both the business and the employee:

  • Provide a clear and concise description of the whole job so that the purpose and content can be fully understood.
  • Describe each key performance indicator and main activities of the job separately and describe each task in a logical sequence.
  • Consider the what, why and how components that make up the activity/s . For example what is the task, how is it done and what is the end result to be.
  • If appropriate record the percentage of time required to be spent on each major task. For instance research 50%, testing 30%, documenting 20%.
  • Indicate how much direction and supervision is both given and received.
  • Indicate what resources are available internally and externally from the business to assist in the resolution of problems.
  • Supply sufficient information in a job description to facilitate reasoned judgement about the job design
  • Focus on the job incumbent
  • Reflect the essential elements and activities of the job rather than prescribing them.
  • Adopt simplicity in writing so it can be understood. Start statements with action words such as direct, liaise, coordinate, collect, etc to make it more powerful and structured.
Designing a job description the following details should be included. Job title, department/function, location, position & level, positions supervised, the purposes of the job, major duties, qualifications requirted, experience required, special skills, accountabilities, special aspects, date written, written by and approved by.
For a sample 'Accountant' job description please click on the PDF logo below.  

Article: Ways to identify and deal with potential poison pills (February 2008)

In our travels we occasionally come across business owners who are struggling to transform their business. There are many reasons for this but one which causes the most disruption is the "poison pill". While this term is often associated with takeover bids, it is also a great description of the sort of person in your business who actively seeks to undermine any efforts to change or transform.

A "poison pill" in this context is someone who, through their actions, causes damage to your transformation efforts, your business and the effectiveness of your team.

Some businesses are lucky enough to have a team of people who want to improve the way they work. From time to time, we come across businesses that are home to a "poison pill". These people, who can be a staff member or partner:

  • Actively and loudly criticise any and all efforts to transform
  • Openly undermine the authority of the partners who want to change
  • Seek to promote the status quo
  • Are hostile towards other staff members, especially those who want change
  • Can be rude and offensive towards clients; sometimes deliberately giving misleading advice
  • Deliberately ignore new procedures and systems or criticise every aspect of a new process
  • Occasionally, will deliberately sabotage a new procedure to prove it doesn't work
  • Are very often subject matter, process or client experts

"Poison pills" make no positive contribution toward change; everyone and everything which promotes change in the business (including advisors and clients) will be criticised. "Poison pills" will not be reasoned with and are not open to negotiation - it's their way or else! They are not beyond using the threat of resignation or unfair dismissal to get their own way and because there is often no opportunity or willingness to listen to an alternative point of view, it makes them particularly dangerous for your business.

Dealing with a "poison pill" in your business is a challenge because you need to weigh up the loss of knowledge and income against unknown benefits. You may decide to just put up with the negativity or try and get the person to change. In our experience, endeavouring to convert your "poison pill" into an advocate of change is often a waste of time - the amount of time and energy needed is enormous. We have seen business owners who have tried only to have their efforts met with ridicule and criticism and get nowhere. Other staff may start leaving the business during this time believing "nothing is being done" and the problem just gets worse.

You can avoid "poison pills" in your business by using a rigorous recruitment process that uncovers a candidate's attitude toward change and requires thorough referencing checking. While this is not always foolproof - many "poison pills" will say and do all the right things during recruitment and probation - the more effort you put into your recruitment process will reduce the likelihood of you recruiting one into your business.

However, if you do happen to recruit a "poison pill", addressing the issue immediately will help you avoid the spread of poison in your business.

Poison pills see change as a negative outcome and it is rare that they will alter their perception. This is not resistance to change but an inherent belief that they are right. Dealing with the problem immediately before it impacts on your whole business will ensure you get your transformation back on track as quickly as possible.

Article: Motivating and Retaining Employees Requires More Than Competetive Salaries (February 2008)

What costs nothing to develop and deliver but works better than tangible rewards? Some companies believe they have solved the riddle - Recognition.

Key principles of smarter rewards

  • Promote the value of reward. Communicating all aspects of an individual's reward package is essential to increasing appreciation of the value it represents.
  • Be innovative in providing benefits. It is not always the most costly perks that employees appreciate most.
  • Give employees control. Web-based flexible based benefit "menus" and self-service kep costs down and enable staff to manage their package.
  • Enable line managers. Let them use IT systems to anlalyse and devise pay policies that improve local performance.
  • Introduce health and well-being programmes. As well as engendering the feel-good factor, provision of gyms, heath checks, on-site medical and dental services, health advice and health-education sessions can cut absenteeism and raise performance, contributing significantly to the botom line.
  • Improve loyalty through engagement strategies. These should be relevant to your business goals. Examples are entitling staff to work on their own projects or to qualify for superior perks.
  • Run financials education programmes. Help employees make more informed choices, while communicating the reward's value.
  • Introduce recognition schemes. These underpin a performance culture.
  • Consult employees. Find out which rewards they value most.

Objectives for reward policies

Is your reward policy intented to help you achieve any of the following objectives?

  • 86% Staff motivation and engagement                                                       
  • 78% Promotion to staff loyalty                                                                   
  • 68% Achievement of specific business goals                                                
  • 64% Teamwork and collaboration                                                               
  • 64% Positive workplace behaviours                                                             
  • 59% Support for market and business strategy                                            
  • 50% Marketplace competiveness in reward packages                                    
  • 34% Employer of choice                                                                            

Staff Retention

HR practioners presume that staff leave because of'lack of promotion opportunities', 'inadequate pay' and a 'poor relationship with manager', says The Employee Retention Survey 2008, published by TalentDrain. But its exit data from 5,000 leavers shows 'uninteresting work and boredom', 'lack of training and development opportunities' and 'lack of teamwork and cooperation' are real culprits.  

Article: Like Marketing, Test and Measure Your Recruits (January 2008)

What happens when you have a dud marketing campaign? I bet that you would evaluate the results, and decide not to go down that path again and try a different strategy. It amazes me when I work with clients that they live and die by the results of their marketing campaigns, yet turn a blind eye to the staff member who either refuses to sell or finds it hard to close the sale.

If this sounds like you, may I suggest that you stop advertising and give that money to charity, or start to look at the individual performance of your employees. Test and measuring does not stop at marketing campaigns and monthly reviews of your profit and loss statement, it has to also be included in reviewing the individual sales performance of your team members.

One of our clients had been spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on various marketing campaigns and still returning compounding losses. When we saw that they were converting the number of leads into customers at only 8%, we knew that they were wasting their money on marketing as the sales team was not converting these leads into sales. So we started to measure the individual performance of each of the stores in conversion rate and gave them a benchmark to achieve. We then started to review the sales results of individual sales members and communicated the results of everyone across the company.

The result? The conversion rate moved from 8% to 14% in 4 weeks, with extra profits flowing to the bottom line. We are not there yet, but from simple test and measuring tools we are getting closer, and making an immediate impact.

Marketing Principles applied to recruitment 

So a simple change in mindset can be all the difference between a successful business and an ordinary one. Be vigilant in your recruitment of employees and do what ever is necessary in getting the right team, and ensure that they all paying their way, just like your marketing campaigns.

Article: A Good Team (December 2008)

A good team is more than just a group of people working well together. Just because individuals work well together doesn't necessarily make them a team - in fact, there are examples of groups of highly intelligent individuals performing more poorly as a team than as individuals!

A team is a group of people who share responsibility for achieving a common goal. Everyone has a role to play and that role contributes to the overall achievement of the group. If an individual fails to perform, the common goal can be in jeopardy. Even if each individual performs, unless each works in harmony with other members of the group, it is unlikely they can achieve their true potential.

The important element in team building is to establish a common, shared goal. This gives each team member focus for their efforts, ensures each person is accountable for their own performance and encourages team members to take responsibility for ensuring their team members perform at the required level.

In order to be effective, team building must become a way of life within your business. It is not sufficient to conduct one or two "team building" events during the year. Rather, team building must be a continuous process that aligns actions with goals and is focused on a clear and consistent set of goals.

As each team start performing, team members were able to appreciate how much they could begin to achieve as a group and team work became enjoyable rather than a chore.

We suggest using a 5 step process for your business when team building:

  • Step 1 - create and communicate the vision. Establish a strong vision and S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound) goals
  • Step 2 - seek commitment from individuals. In order to be meaningful, individuals had to commit to the vision. This means talking and answering questions to help team members remove any doubts
  • Step 3 - build trust. It was important that everyone in the team, from the “Leaders” down, trust each other. Start building trust by "walking the talk" and showing team members that the “Leaders” were prepared to lead the way
  • Step 4 - including everyone. Team building needs everyone involved so by using active listening skills and OPEN question techniques, you can ensure everyone had the opportunity to be involved
  • Step 5 - promote support and sharing. Since every team member brings different skills and experience to the team, some team members would need help. By encouraging those with more experience to mentor less experienced members, all team members co-operated and actively supported each other.

Try this process in your business. Team building is a continual process that pays handsome dividends. Not only will team members benefit from working in a co-operative and harmonious environment, but your business will benefit through the achievement of goals.

Article: CHRISTMAS........ A perfect time to reward your team members (December 2008)

Christmas time is important for most of your staff. It is a time that they can enjoy their loved ones, relax and recoup from the year passed and spend some quality moments doing what they want to do.

To say thank you to your employees and send them off with some Christmas cheer why don't you give a corporate gift for all their efforts and hard work throughout the year.

A corporate gift can be a small token of appreciation or a special and unique Christmas gift. Your employees will enjoy receiving a corporate gift at Christmas because it shows that you are acknowledging and appreciating their efforts.

Below are some corporate gift ideas for your employees:

  • Christmas Hampers. These can be simply made with baskets or gift boxes. Include inside a variety of items that can be used on Christmas Day. For instance, it may include biscuits, chocolates, coffee, tea, wine, etc.
  • Individualised Gifts. Depending on the size of your work team you may decide that individual gifts should be given. This will take some time and will require a budget for each person.
  • Christmas Gift Vouchers or Tokens. Most department stores give gift vouchers or money tokens. This idea is suitable to those who have a small work force or are willing to give a reasonable donation allowing the employee to appropriately purchase an item of choice. Homeware, giftware and large department stores are ideal places to obtain vouchers from.
  • Wine Pack. Wine is always a nice gift idea. You can go with a well known wine or with your own label. Choosing a nice complimenting cheese, carry bag or other item will make this a great corporate idea, not only for employees but business associates and clients.
  • Financial Reward. If you find it is far too expensive or difficult to purchase for your staff, a generous financial reward or bonus would be appreciated by your employees. You can give everyone the same financial reward or adjust it to the individual position or input of the employee.
  • Company Branded Promotional Gifts. If you decide to use all the same gifts for everyone, e.g. company branded personal organisers, ensure that you take the time to personally recognise and thank your employees by way of written or verbal communication. A small gift voucher, movie tickets or similar will make your gift a little more special.

Corporate gift ideas can be simple and inexpensive. Consider what your employees are like and determine how you are going to say thank you in your own special way.