If you are the owner or manager of a business, you spend a lot of time in that business. You probably have systems in place to ensure that things are done the way you’d like for them to be done. In a perfect world, you would instruct your staff on how you would like things done. Then, they would go off and do them exactly that way and smile while they did it. I literally laughed as I typed that last sentence because that scenario seldom plays out, at least not in the beginning. Not because you lack good people. In fact, you can have the best people working for you and still have difficulty getting them to perform at a high level.
I have managed several different businesses in several different industries. In each business I encountered the same thing. There were always employees who would do things a certain way regardless of how many times I instructed them otherwise. Early in my career I tried several approaches. Training, rewards and even disciplinary action. None of it worked. There were times I doubted myself, but I knew there had to be a way to create positive change. I knew there must be a way to steer people away from bad habits. But how?
One of the first things you must do is explain why. Let your people know the reason behind the change. Most times, people will go long with change when they know and understand the reason behind it. Let’s say, for the purposes of this article, that you have explained the reason and are still having trouble getting everyone to adapt. Now what?
It would be great if all you had to do was say, “Okay guys, we’re not going to do this anymore, instead we are going to do that.” That almost never works, and there’s a reason why it doesn’t work. We humans are wired in such a way that makes it extremely difficult to simply stop a bad habit. Instead, we must replace the bad habit with another habit. (If you’d like to read a great book on this very topic, I highly recommend you pick up The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. There are many books out there on forming new habits, but this book is definitely one of the best. I cannot recommend it enough.)
The key to replacing a bad habit with a good one is to understand the Golden Rule of habit change, which is to simply introduce a new routine. Here’s what I mean. If you read the book I recommended above, you will be introduced to habit loops. A habit loop has three parts:
1) The cue.
2) The routine
3) The reward.
The cue is what begins the habit loop, which is then followed by the routine, and finally the reward. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you have an employee that consistently fails at handling customer complaints. Every time an upset customer calls the business, and this employee answers the call, it never ends well. The employee becomes nervous and anxiety takes over. The employee gets defensive, which irritates the customer even more, and the whole thing escalates and management gets involved. In this scenario, the phone call from an upset customer is the cue that starts the whole thing off. The employee becoming nervous and riddled by anxiety is the routine. The reward is when the employee no longer as to deal with the situation, because management is involved.
Let’s break it down:
Cue: Phone call from upset customer.
Routine: Nervousness, defensiveness, and anxiety.
Reward: No longer has to deal with the situation.
There is the habit loop. Remember, you can’t just ask the employee to stop doing this habit loop. Humans are not wired that way. A habit cannot be eradicated, it must be replaced. Keep in mind that humans also resist change, especially in large quantities. This is why you don’t ask them to stop this habit loop. All you have to do is introduce a new routine. The cue and the reward remains the same. Instead of the employee executing their routine of nervousness and anxiety, you give them a replacement routine to use instead. You meet with the employee and let them know that they are empowered to make any appropriate decision to ensure a dissatisfied customer is happy. Let them know that they do not have to call in management because you trust in their abilities and will stand behind any decision they make in order to keep a customer. Then role play and practice new verbiage they can use the next time they receive such a call. You just created a new routine. Notice that the Cue, and the Reward does not change.
Cue: Phone call from upset customer.
New Routine: Empathize with the customer. Tell them you understand and would feel the same way. Assure them that no matter what, you will resolve their concern. Make an appropriate decision.
Reward: No longer has to deal with the situation (because they resolved the issue.)
Naturally, there are variables in the example I used, but you get the point. I used this example because I witnessed it firsthand while managing a massage studio. Th result was the employee learned a new way of dealing with the same cue, and the anxiety started diminishing immediately, and eventually was gone altogether. The key is to role play and practice the new routine until it becomes automatic. This works regardless of what the habit loop is about. If you can identify the cue and the reward, you can usually change the routine and began a new habit. However, there is one other thing that is crucial and that is belief. The individual who is trying to create a new habit must believe that they can do it. While you cannot make a person believe, you can create an environment that fosters such a belief. Humans gain assurance and confidence in groups, and if the rest of your team has adapted by creating a new habit, then any individual who may otherwise struggle with belief in themselves will more easily adapt. Yet another reason why the culture of a business is the foundation of its success.
In summary, you don’t have to worry about eradicating bad habits. All you have to do is replace them with good habits. To do that you only have to identify the cue, the routine, and the reward. After that, replace the routine with a new one. Practice it until it becomes automatic and voila! A new habit is born!
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What does it take to be an effective leader? What characteristics must one possess in order to positively influence, inspire, and guide others? Volumes have been written about this topic, but here are seven qualities that form the foundation of all great leaders.
1. Humility Regardless of education and experience, no one person will have all the answers. A leader who practices humility creates an environment where others feel included and can contribute their ideas without fear of ridicule. A humble leaders knows the key is to be a problem-solver, and will work with others to create solutions. A genuine leader will then share the credit with everyone involved.
2. Self-aware An effective leader will be cognizant of their abilities, as well as their limitations. They will be keenly aware of their skills and areas where they need growth. This quality is crucial for the leader who must hire a team to help them accomplish a specific goal. By having clarity about their own skills and traits, they will know exactly what to look for when hiring new team members.
3. Vision Great leaders have a crystal clear idea of the direction they are headed and what they want to accomplish. They are passionate and relentless in their pursuit of their goal, yet understand they will require the help of others. Additionally, they are able to articulate their vision to others and inspire them to embrace it.
4. Decisive An effective leader knows they will have to make tough decisions and will not shrink from doing so. They understand that decisions made without hesitation, and made at the right time, are necessary in order to accomplish anything. A wise leader will also know to be open to the counsel of others. They will still be the one to make the decision, but after having acquired as much information as possible.
5. Empathy The best leaders are able to understand the feelings of others. They know that the decisions they make have an impact on other people. That does not mean they will hesitate to take action when needed, but they will do everything possible to ensure the impact is as positive as possible for all concerned. An empathetic leader will always praise in public, correct in private, and seek to find solutions rather than placing blame.
6. Optimism The most influential leaders are a consistent source of positive energy. They exude hope and confidence about the future and do so openly and often. They communicate well with others, and do not allow negativity to gain a foothold.
7. Laser Focus The ability to stay on task and not allow distractions to hinder progress is something the effective leaders understands well. They will recognize when their team is beginning to take their eyes off the prize and will remind them (in a positive fashion) to stay the course. The focused leader knows they plan ahead, be organized, and lead by example.
This is not an exhaustive list and there are many qualities that make up a truly great leader. However, these seven qualities are a solid foundation that all leaders can build upon so that they can lead themselves, and others, to greatness.
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by Keith E. Smith
I want to share something with you about a mindset that is close to my heart and has affected my life in a multitude of ways - all positive. It is a mindset that will lead you to success, and not just in your current job, but in any job you may have in the future. The mindset I am speaking of is that of an Intrepreneur. An Intrepreneur is much like an Entrepreneur, only instead of creating and running a business from scratch, an Intrepreneur works within an existing business, yet behaves as if it is their own. An Intrepreneur exercises the same courage and boldness as someone who is an Entrepreneur and will always be found looking for, or creating, solutions that lead to success.
If you are currently employed and want to advance your career, this is how you do it. Whatever your role is, if you start doing and giving more value than what you are being paid for, it will be noticed and you will move upward. If you have the misfortune of working for a company that does not acknowledge and reward such behavior, then you will still move forward because you will know to leave that company and find one that does. Either way, you win.
You see, this isn’t about a job. This is about you and what you want for your life. This is about you building habits within yourself that will carry you to excellence, not only in your current job, but wherever you may go in the future. You will always have a choice. You can settle, take it easy and only do just enough to get by, or you can push yourself and give your very best in everything you do.
By now, you are aware that the old model of “go to school, get a job, work for twenty years and retire with a pension” is dead. It’s been dead for a long time, though some refuse to accept it. These days you must stand out from the crowd. I am convinced that there are two ways to make it in the 21st century. You must be an Entrepreneur or an Intrepreneur. You can be either one, but you must be one or the other. Otherwise you may find that life will stagnate and you end up hitting a wall. Not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship and the risks involved with starting a business. That’s okay, and never let anyone convince you that to be anything else is somehow inferior. You can be fulfilled and make great money working for an existing company.
You should treat your current job as if it is your business, because in the end it is. It’s the business of feeding yourself and your family. It’s the business of you being fulfilled. It’s the business that provides the fuel (funds) for whatever dream you may be chasing. Take ownership of your role. Ask yourself questions such as “How can I make this better?” and “What if we did it this way?” Invest your energy and passion into it and refuse to settle for “good enough”.
Understand that it is your thoughts and actions that make or break you. If you adopt an Intrepreneur mindset, I promise you that you will reap the benefits. Do this and I promise you that life will be exciting again and you will reach heights that you never thought were possible. Believe it. Don’t do this and you may find yourself dissatisfied, unfulfilled and dreading to go to work.
Why am I sharing this? I share it because I care about you and your family. I care about your dreams and your goals for your life. Personal and professional. I care about you experiencing a life of fulfillment and satisfaction. I share it because I want you to see the incredible potential you possess. You have come far, but you can go much further.
Remember, it’s not about a job, or starting a business. It’s about you building the habits and discipline that will deliver to you the very best of life. It’s about you having a mindset to win.
Believe that you deserve the very best and that you’re worth it.
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Today’s workplace is markedly different than it was a decade or so ago. Since people are living and working longer than ever before, the modern workplace can have as many as five generations all working under the same roof. Each generation grew up in a different world, with a different viewpoint, and the impact of this on how businesses operate has been significant. Nowhere are the generational differences more evident than in the styles of communication.
In order to ensure that your business is operating as smooth and efficient as possible, you need to be able to effectively communicate with all of your staff. To do this you will need to get to know your people and be flexible in how you deliver information to them. Like the individuals on your team, you will have your favorite way to communicate, but as a leader, you know it isn’t about you. It’s about building up your people and forming a team that can get things done.
Let’s take a look at the five different generations and how you, as a leader, can best communicate with them:
The Traditionalist generation was born before 1946 and are true to their name. They typically prefer face-to-face conversations. Be sure to give them your undivided attention and make eye contact with them.
· Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and have witnessed many changes throughout their careers. Like the Traditionalist, the Baby Boomer prefers face to face interactions but tend to be more flexible. They have adapted to using email, texting and even social media, but still prefer personal interaction.
· Generation X
Gen X was born between 1965 and 1976 and are usually more comfortable with technology than the previous generations. Email made its appearance in the early 70’s, so by the time the Gen X’er was an adult, email was becoming mainstream. The Gen X generation likes personal interaction as well, but is very comfortable with emailing as a primary form of communication. They have also adapted to using text and social media as forms of communication.
· Generation Y
Generation Y, commonly referred to as Millennials, were born between 1977 and 1995. They were the first generation that grew up with computers. While they still look for one-on-one feedback on their work performance, they usually prefer informal styles of communicating like email and texting.
· Generation Z
Generation Z were born after 1996 and later and practically grew up with a smart phone in their hand. They understand the value and importance of a face-to-face conversation. However, being proficient at social media and up-to-date in the latest technology, they prefer texting over email and conversations.
As you can see, preferred methods of communication can differ significantly from one generation to another. It is important to understand that none of them are wrong, or superior to another. The point is to communicate; the way in which you do it is secondary. The key is to intentionally design a workplace culture that encourages open communication between everyone, regardless of age or position. As leader, you must take initiative and talk openly with every single person on your team. Acknowledge the differences, but emphasize what they all have in common. Encourage your team members to talk to one another, and learn from one another.
Once you have openly acknowledged to your team that everyone has their preferred way of communicating, relay to them the necessity of creating a communication system that everyone will use to communicate with each other. This is crucial, and should be documented in writing. There is nothing wrong with people having a favorite style of communication, but without a single agreed upon system through which all of your team members will communicate with each other, you will have chaos. Perhaps you will create a system that uses email for general topics, group texting for quick release of info or encouragement, and phone calls for more pressing issues like call-offs and emergencies. It really does not matter how you set it up, as long as you set it up.
It seems that many view a multigenerational workforce as a problem to be solved, but we have found it to be a wonderful opportunity for learning and growth.
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by Keith E. Smith
So, you own or manage a business. The business must sell its product in order to survive and thrive. Your business has a steady stream of customers, and you have plenty of people on staff. There’s only one problem; the people you’ve hired have little to no sales experience. This is a scenario I have often witnessed, especially in small to mid-sized wellness businesses such as massage, yoga, and fitness franchises.
What do you do? You could fire everyone and start over, but that is both time consuming and expensive. Besides, you have good people and they are great at customer service. They just do not know how, or do not want, to sell.
Sales and salespeople have long endured negative stereotypes. Despite the fact that every product ever created had to be sold, most people still have a negative view of the world of sales. Some of the reasons for this are legit and some are not, but delving into that is not the purpose of this article. The point is that, whenever you set out to sell anything, you must have a strategy for overcoming this preconceived viewpoint.
When you have employees who view salespeople in a negative way, they will never be successful in selling. How can they succeed when it means they must become the very thing they despise? The question that business owners and managers must answer is, “Other than firing everyone, how can I fix this?”
The good news is that this is not an insurmountable obstacle. If you have hired good people who are open to learning and being coached, then you can definitely break through that barrier and build a highly successful sales team. I know because I, along with my business partner Mandy R. Clark, did exactly that when we were co-managing a massage studio.
How did we do it? We did it by jettisoning typical sales jargon such as scripts, quotas, closing ratios, objections, prospects, and the dreaded role-playing. Understand that we did not stop using these things, we simply reframed them by using different words and techniques.
·Instead of saying, “Learn these scripts,” we would say, “Here’s some words to help keep you on track until you come up with your own words.”
·Instead of saying, “We are going to role-play,” We would say, “Let’s practice with each other so we aren’t caught off guard by a customer.”
·We did not refer to people as prospects, they were customers or clients.
·Instead of “pitching” to clients, our team had conversations with clients.
·We did not give our team quotas, we gave them bonus levels.
Besides using different terminology, we coached our team to become consultants. Instead of trying to sell a customer a product (in our case we were selling monthly membership programs), we trained our people to identify the needs of a customer, then help them solve the need by offering the customer different options. Instead of selling, they were educating and offering solutions. If you are experienced in sales then you probably know this is called consultative selling.
It’s easy to assume that these simple changes could not possibly make much of an impact. However, not only was the impact significant, it produced record-breaking results. Within three months, closing ratios went from 11% to 30%. In fact, so many memberships were being sold that we began to wonder how we were going to accommodate so many members. The nine year old record of total memberships was blown completely out of the water. Attrition was very low and more than two-hundred members were added in less than a year.
Another wonderful side-effect of this was employee turnover was almost zero. The team was making money, and the business was making money. The atmosphere was positively charged and people looked forward to coming to work. The best part of all was seeing how the lives of our people were being transformed. They accomplished things they had not thought possible. One of those people wrote the forward to our book, THE TOP TEN: LESSONS FOR SUCCESFUL BUSINESS LEADERS AND MANAGERS.
Here is an excerpt of what she had to say:
“I first met Mandy and Keith…when they were co-managing a massage studio. I had quit my job as a barista and was looking for something that offered more opportunities for growth. I found out that a massage studio in my area was looking for front desk sales staff. I was interested, but a little hesitant since I knew next to nothing about the health and wellness industry, not to mention sales. I knew I had phone skills, but I had never received any sales training whatsoever. In fact, I detested sales and salespeople in general. I realized sales was a necessary part of any business, but I had no interest of ever becoming one of “them”. I took a chance, interviewed for the job, and was hired! I was excited, but nothing could have prepared me for the transformation I was about to undergo….Keith was the first person to shift my mindset and focus. He helped me to see that I wasn't just trying to sell something (in this case it was a monthly wellness program), I was simply educating the client about the best way to improve their overall well-being. Remember, I did not have the best opinion about sales, and they had to practically drag me kicking and screaming into it. And you know what? I am so grateful they did. I am grateful to them for teaching me to not be afraid of sales, to embrace it, and succeed at it!”
Within these words, so beautifully and honestly expressed, is the key to how this was all possible.
“… to shift my mindset and focus”
By ditching the old sales lingo, whi
ch served only to trigger negative emotions, and teaching our team to consult with customers instead of selling them, we were able to shift the focus and mindset of the entire team. For the record, the only time there was “kicking and screaming” was before we implemented these changes.
If you have hired good people who are open to learning, you can build them into a sales machine, even if they have never sold anything in their lives. You just have to meet people where they are before you can guide them to where they need to be.
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There have been some disturbing news stories recently regarding sexual misconduct, and even assault, at various massage studios across the country. Nearly two-hundred women, so far, have stepped forward to share their experiences and desire to bring about whatever changes are necessary to ensure this never happens again.
Besides the horrific accounts of what they endured, these women have shined a light on another important matter; the fact that massage studio managers and front desk staff lack training on how to handle situations regarding sexual misconduct. In fact, there appears to be little, if any, training available. Many of the women who have spoken out said that they felt the studio managers mishandled the situation, or recited an obviously scripted response. The result was that those reporting felt as though they were not being taken seriously and that the business cared only about its reputation. It would be bad enough if there had been one incident, but it appears to be a widespread issue which means the need for training is both crucial and immediate. The training needs to begin at the corporate level, but it is also the responsibility of each individual franchise to ensure their staff is prepared to properly handle any situation.
Over the past decade I have worked in three different industries. Automotive, sales, and massage franchise management. Though it may seem as though these three industries have nothing in common, they do share at least one thing. Each industry has a pre-existing stigma attached to it that must be overcome in order for them to succeed. Those people who work within the massage industry have worked hard to ensure that the art of massage is viewed as an important part of one’s overall health and well-being, which it is. Therefore, it is imperative that all massage franchisors and franchisees create training on how to handle situations of sexual misconduct.
I realize that questioning victims of sexual assault requires very specific training and expertise, and it may be unreasonable to expect every staff member of every massage studio to obtain this expertise. Still, it is obvious that some action must be taken.
So, what can be done? I certainly do not have all of the answers, but while my business partner (Mandy R. Clark) and I were co-managing a massage studio we designed some training and policies around this topic. I hope that, by sharing these five tips, you may be inspired to implement changes where you are. Together, we can make a difference.
1) Clarify Your Sexual Misconduct Policy
You must be crystal clear and specific on this when training your staff. Outline exactly what is and is not acceptable behavior. After you have done that, you must also outline with extreme clarity what action a staff member should take when encountering a sexual misconduct situation. Though your staff may not have the expertise to properly question a victim of sexual assault, they can be an expert on how to handle the situation. For example: If a client expresses to one of your staff members that they have been sexually assaulted by another member of your staff, the staff member receiving the report must act immediately.
Regardless of the laws in your state, we recommend you train your staff to contact the police (just like in any other case of sexual assault). If the accused staff member is a therapist and they have already begun their next session, that session should be interrupted. You can be discrete about this, and I know how awkward it feels, but the action must be taken.
Many massage studios train their therapists on how to handle a client who is displaying unacceptable behavior, but far fewer train on how to deal with an offending staff member.
2) Hiring Process
So much of what happens within a business begins with the hiring and onboarding process. This is where you set the parameters of employment, express expectations, policies, and so on. The hiring process is the perfect time to make clear your policy on sexual misconduct. Let your new hire know in no uncertain terms, that in the case of a staff member behaving inappropriately, the first step will be to contact the police. Making this clear at the beginning can serve as a deterrent, and may even help weed out a bad apple before they even start.
3) Not Just Your Managers
There is no reason to only train your managers on how to handle these situations. Your manager may have the responsibility to ensure action is swiftly taken, but all members of your team should be equally trained. By doing this, you are intentionally designing the culture of your business to be proactive and intolerant of sexual misconduct.
4) Revisit Frequently
If you thoroughly train your staff as you hire them, you do not have to remind them of your sexual misconduct policy every day, but you should definitely revisit it often. Maybe you do so at monthly and quarterly staff meetings, in a company newsletter, email, or all of the above. It is important to not take for granted that your staff will remember every detail of their previous training. By periodically going over your policy, the information will stay fresh in their minds. You do this for other areas of training, so why would you neglect this important topic?
5) Two Guiding Principles
In the massage studio I co-managed, there were two guiding principles that we taught to everyone. They were even painted on the wall in the breakroom.
1) Do whatever is in the best interest of the client
2) Do whatever is in the best interest of your coworker.
If you effectively train your staff, and get them to embrace these two principles, you will find that they will almost always do the right thing regardless of the situation.
Here at Winning Mindset Consulting, we believe that training the employees of all massage studios on properly handling sexual misconduct should begin at the corporate level. It should be included at each franchisor’s “franchise university”, national conferences, as well as taught by their regional trainers. We also believe that each individual franchise owner should take responsibility for training their own people, no matter what training may or may not be available from their franchisor.
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by Keith E. Smith
Have you ever been in a training class, or conference, where you were presented with so much content that your eyes glazed over and you became mentally numb? The content may have been top notch, but there was so much thrown at you at once that it was like drinking from a firehose.
Many of you have been in that situation, and probably several times. If you happen to be the owner of a franchise then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Most all franchisors offer in-depth training to their franchisees, and much of that training is very good. The trouble is that most of that training is given at the beginning of the franchisee’s journey, and there is simply too much information for them to retain, much less take back to their business and implement.
So what can you do, as a franchise owner, to ensure that your business will succeed? You must seek out and invest in ongoing training. Whether that training comes from the franchisor, an outside source, or both, you should design and implement your own ongoing training program for yourself and for your staff.
Here are three reasons why:
1) You Can’t Remember Everything. When you open a franchise, you begin the process by attending the franchisor’s training program. They teach you everything from real estate selection, standards and procedures, marketing, branding, product information, operation manuals, human resources, financial management, pricing, staffing, software, and the list goes on. That is a lot of information to remember, and it’s all too easy to forget something that will cause you stress and cost you money. Training that is continual and ongoing will keep things fresh in your mind and your business on track.
2) Your Managers Need It. There is a good chance that you have at least one manager who will be tasked with making sure all aspects of your business run smoothly. There is also a good chance that your manager did not attend the franchisor’s intense training program. You may not have hired them yet, or they simply could not go for whatever reason. Even if they were able to attend the training, they will still have suffered from information overload just like you. Being an effective manager is challenge enough, so help your manager succeed by providing them with ongoing training on things like leadership, problem solving, hiring, firing, effective coaching and training techniques.
Remember, your manager will be involved with training other staff members so the better equipped your manager is, the better equipped your staff will be. This will directly impact the culture of your business.
3) A Different Messenger Can Have More Impact. As the owner of the business, your staff expects you to be, do, and say certain things. You are the leader and your staff knows you will be instructing, training, and correcting. There’s nothing wrong with this and it is completely normal. A business owner cannot help but bring with them the “aura of authority” just by walking through the door. In no way does this mean you cannot effectively lead and train your people, but there will be times when bringing in another voice will be a wise move.
It is human nature to get used to people you are around frequently, and to form preconceived ideas about them. This is not in itself a bad thing and is even how reputations are formed. What it does mean is that, after a while, your team will become accustomed to your methods and expectations. In order to keep them engaged you will need to switch things up a bit from time to time. A great way to do that is to hire outside people to come in and train your staff. Of course, it is important to hire people who are a good fit for your business and vision, but using different voices to drive home your message will have a significant impact on your staff. It will keep things fresh and will solidify the training within your team.
Ongoing training is one aspect of owning a franchise that is often overlooked. The reality is that it’s one of the most important keys to the success and growth of your business. There’s a reason why elite warriors, athletes, and business people are always training; it helps them rise above the rest, and succeed where others fail. If you commit to training yourself and your people on a continual basis, you too will succeed where others have failed.
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Trust and credibility are two of the most important things a leader must cultivate from their team. While there are several ways you can go about obtaining their trust, one of the best ways is by following through on what you said you would do. Without follow through, your team will doubt your ability to lead, and will have little confidence is what you say.
As a leader, if you there was a person in your business that habitually did not complete tasks, despite promising you they would, you would lose all confidence in that individual. It is important to understand that this works both ways. If you do not follow through on the things you promised you would do, your team will lose all confidence in you. This will result in a serious lack of engagement from your people, and it is a certainty that no one will do more than the bare minimum required to keep their job. The end result is a culture that is toxic result, new hires learn bad habits, and the cycle perpetuates itself. All of this from simply not following through.
So, whose responsibility is it? The short answer is, it is everyone’s responsibility. The longer answer is that the example should be, first and foremost, set by the leadership. If you are a manager, or the owner of a business, then this means you. After all, you cannot ask from your team that which you are unwilling to do yourself, right? The atmosphere and culture of a business will take on the personality of those who I lead it. So if you, as a leader, are in the habit of not following through on tasks, the people you lead will follow your example. However, if you are in the habit of following through then your team will do the same, and when new people are hired they will adapt to that culture.
Owners of businesses, or their managers, often have great ideas on how to improve their business, but those ideas are useless if they are not executed. In fact, expressing such ideas, and then not following through on them, will do more damage to your business than if you had never mentioned them in the first place.
Here’s the bottom line: If you want your staff to be engaged and take initiative, then you must do the same. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you are unable to do it, inform your staff of the reason why immediately. There is little that will earn you the respect of your team quicker than transparency. If you make a mistake, own it and then fix it. If you make a promise, keep it.
By following through, you will build a foundation of trust and on that foundation you can build a team that is engaged, energized, takes initiative, and will grow the business.
When there is follow through, everyone wins.
by Mandy Clark
If you have never experienced a team building event gone wrong, then you probably know someone who has. One of my all-time favorite TV shows is The Office from NBC. It is packed full of team building ideas gone awry. While it may be funny (hilarious) to watch such debacles on a TV show, experiencing it firsthand is no laughing matter.
If you want to increase the performance of your team, boosting their morale is a great place to start. As you know, happy people perform at a much higher level than unhappy people.
So how do you decide on a fun idea that will work well with your team? This is where knowing your team is so important. When you get to know the individuals on your team, their likes and dislikes, it will help you coach, train, and create fun team building events. In the book I coauthored with Keith E. Smith, we dedicated a chapter to Getting To Know Your Team.
There are hundreds of things you can do, depending on the kind of things your team enjoys doing. I will give you an example from my own experience, and since everyone loves to eat, it may work with your team too! The key is to come up with an idea that everyone will want to participate in. This is usually one of the most challenging things to do when it comes to group activities, and is another reason why activities around food work so well.
Back when I was the operations manager of a small business (approximately 28 employees) I learned that most of my staff loved Mexican food. Every Tuesday saw multiple people going out for Taco Tuesday. One Tuesday night in particular, a few of my coworkers began bragging about who made the best homemade guacamole. Listening to their good-natured banter sparked an idea. I suggested to them that we should have a contest, and through a blind taste test, choose the best guacamole in the land. Their faces lit up in delight and the Guac Off was born!
The rules were simple. We decided on a date, time and location for the guacamole showdown. Anyone who wanted to submit guacamole for the competition was encouraged to do so. As a fun addition, the contest participants were encouraged to come up with a fun name for their entry. Since I was the organizer for the event, I chose not to submit an entry. In order to ensure it was indeed a blind taste test, I arranged to have identical bowls, with an assigned number, for each entry. On the bottom of each bowl, I placed a post-it note with the creator’s name. I took the bowls and guacamole into a separate room. I filled the bowls appropriately, and then took them back into the main room where everyone was waiting. All those who were in attendance, including the competitors, were invited to taste each entry and cast their vote. They would vote by writing the bowl number of their favorite guacamole on a small slip of paper and then place the paper into a container.
A week before the epic Gauc Off party, I tasked one of my thrifty employees with purchasing three “trophies” (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place) for the contest. I asked her to make them fun, and gave her twenty dollars. She went to a local thrift shop, explored it for about thirty minutes, and the perfect items to make into trophies, and she only spent ten dollars! She kept the specifics of the trophies secret until the night of the contest, teasing everyone in the meantime and building up the excitement.
The Guac Off was a huge hit. Everyone had fun, laughed, and joked with one another. That night was talked about for weeks afterwards.
As I said, food works great when it comes to creating a fun, team building event that most everyone will participate in, but food isn’t the only thing you can do. There are lots of other options, and I will share one more example from my own experience.
Recently, at a healthcare business that I have been working with, one of the managers was telling me how their office dressed up for Halloween last year. The theme was Alice in Wonderland, and they even got the doctors in the office to participate. As it turns out, this business has three other locations in the same state, and once again I had an idea. I suggested that they have a contest! I shared the idea with the VP of Operations, and she loved the idea. We quickly came up with some simple rules for the contest. Each office will choose a prime time TV show as their theme, and get as many of their coworkers to participate as possible. The best dressed office will win a prize (which we are still thinking about). This is another idea that is simple, and easy to implement (Note: keeping things simple will increase participation). This particular idea has a twofold purpose: First, it will help create a team environment within each individual office. Secondly, it will create camaraderie among the different locations, as well as some friendly competition.
There are so many things you can do to have fun and build up your team at the same time. You could do a paint and wine event. There are many of those places around, and some of them will even come to you. If possible, have someone outside of your business facilitate the fun so you can participate along with your staff.
You can do events in the office, or have outings tailored to your group. You can do historic walking tours, or a night of karaoke. If your group is more adventurous go zip lining, or indoor rock climbing. There are so many possibilities and they do not have to be expensive. Remember, the key getting to know your team and discovering what they like. Once you do that, let the fun begin!
By Mandy Clark
If you’ve read our book, The Top Ten Lessons for Successful Business Leaders and Managers, you know that one of the lessons we shared was the importance of having fun. Let’s face it, if your people are not having fun at work, they will not perform at their full potential. In fact, they will probably not hang around for long.
Employee engagement is always a hot topic among business leaders, and that is not likely to change. There are many things you can do to create an environment which encourages your people to be more involved. I found, through much trail and error, that bringing fun to the workplace has a significant impact, not only on morale, but also on individual performance. Here’s some good news: It’s not hard to do, and I am going to share three simple game ideas that you can adapt to your place of business. These ideas are simple and easy to implement, but do not underestimate their effectiveness. Also, the ideas I am sharing here can be modified however you see fit, and made to fit whatever business you’re in.
Game Idea # 1: If you have a break room in your business, you may have noticed that it can quickly become a place where people go to gossip or complain about almost anything, but especially about work. This creates a negative environment which will creep into every area of your business.
This game idea will help reduce the amount of complaining by simply giving everyone something else to focus on. All you need is a dry erase board and some markers. Then, write a question on the board that will shift people’s focus to something fun, nostalgic, or make them dream about possibilities.
You can come up with your own questions, or you can use the Internet if you get stumped. Just open your browser and search for “ice-breaker questions”, or “would you rather” questions. The results you get from either of these searches will help you come up with some good questions. It won’t take long to figure out what kinds of questions work best with your team. Here are some example questions that got the best responses from my staff.
You can leave the question up on the board for about a week, or however long it takes for everyone to have an opportunity to write their response.
Fun Tip: Encourage your staff to write their responses to the question, but not put their name next to it. This adds another level of fun because the rest of the staff will try to guess who wrote each answer.
Game Idea #2: If you have a large enough staff, and can obtain enough participants, start a “Secret Buddy" game. What is a secret buddy? It is similar to a secret Santa, but usually for a longer period of time, which you can designate. Decide the maximum dollar amount for each gift (we know of companies who use amounts as low as $5), and then have participating staff members draw names from a hat. Here is the key to this game: The secret buddy who is purchasing the gifts will have to subtly, without giving themselves away, get to know the person they are buying for. That way they can be sure their buddy enjoys the surprise.
How do you play?
Let’s say we decided the Secret Buddy game will last three months, and that my business partner, Keith, is my secret buddy. We determined that on the 20th day of each month, I will (covertly) leave my secret buddy his surprise gift. Over the course of the month I would get to know Keith and find out what he likes and dislikes. Any one who knows Keith will know that he LOVES coffee. So I may decide to buy him some Iced Espresso Shots from the grocery store.
This game encourages your staff to get to know each other, especially in ways that are not work related.
Game Idea #3: Take one of your favorite board games and re-purpose it! Any game can be re-purposed for your staff. I re-purposed both Monopoly and Bingo for my staff and they loved it. I will give you examples of how I re-purposed these games to fit the business I was managing, and you can do something similar for your business.
Monopoly: You can go online and find a game board template with blank squares (where the properties would normally be). You can also open up Excel, Google Sheets, or something similar and create your own. You can fill in the blank squares with whatever prizes you want. When I did this I used gift cards of varying amounts from several different stores. In the square where the jail would usually be, I put a photo of the owner of the business, along with the rules for the jail, which were the same as the original game.
Next, have the staff choose their game pieces. Who gets to be the car, top hat or thimble? Get creative! I had our staff create their own game pieces, and then we glued magnets to the back of them, and the game board, so we could stick the game up on our dry erase board, or the fridge.
How do you play? The business I managed at that time was a membership based company, so every time a membership was sold the employees involved in the sale of the new membership would get to role the dice. Then they got to move their game piece and wherever they landed they would win the gift card associated with that space. You can tailor this to your company and what bench marks you have already set for your staff. Then let the fun begin.
Bingo: Go online and print off a series of free bingo cards and numbers. Next, allow your staff members to choose their own Bingo cards.
How do you play? Once again, I was managing a membership based company at the time, so our version of Bingo involved the selling of memberships. Each time time a membership was sold a bingo number was drawn out of a bag. The individuals who were directly involved in the sale would mark the number on their card. Once a staff member hit BINGO they would win a $20 gift card. We would usually play this game long enough so that at least two or three people had won.
Like I said, most any board game can be turned into an incentive based or team engagement game with some minor tweaking. If you aren't sure what would work best, or how to make the game fit your particular business environment ask your staff. They will appreciate being involved, and you will ensure you have chosen a game they will enjoy playing.
Remember, the key is to create an environment, or culture, where people can have fun. When your team members are having fun, they will be happier. When your team is happy they will perform better, and they will make your customers happy.