Thursday, 12 June 2014

Staff Engagement

The Importance of Employee Engagement

You will read in many business leaders autobiographies about the importance of your employees to the success of your business.  Richard Branson put it best when he said:

No business will fully achieve their pinnacle without the input and the growth of their employees.  No matter how energetic, clever and hard working the manager is, without an engaged and effective team the true potential can never truly be reached.

We live in a world where everything is measured and the end result is what counts most.  I agree with the sentiment to a point but I must stress at this point that success is not always measured by reviewing the balance sheet.  For example, many clubs saw a down turn in their business during the height of the recent recession.  This down turn was not caused by a sudden change in staff morale, effort or skills but by something far more powerful.  Believe it or not but managers were still dismissing staff for missing targets and budgets based purely on paper based performance criteria. I my mind this was utterly ludicrous!

Many outside influences can impact the success of the business and it is the manager’s responsibility not his/her teams to control these the best they can.  A manager should take responsibility for the success and failure of the business.  Those club and managers who take a realistic approach to business and manage their teams based on effort, idea generation, retention and service standards as well as the bottom line are far more likely to have long term success than those who don't.

So what is that you are looking for?

1) Train your team: Whatever their role they should be trained to the highest standard.  This does not mean spending huge sums of money but does require investment in time.  Not just time to deliver but time to plan.  If you want the training to be effective and meaningful then it needs to relate to your business and the context in which you want the new skills to be delivered.

For example, there is a wide range of sales based skills that can be trained.  Leisure sales are specific skills and so should be trained as such.  Break down what is expected and how you want it to be done. 

By breaking down your expectations on how you want the process delivered you can then manage effectively against this.

2) Set your expectations but make them realistic: You should set out the individual and teams goals at the start of the year so everyone is aware of what needs to be achieved and what is being expected.  However, remember that your goals are not always your team’s goals.  You cannot simple pass down all your managers’ expectations of you to your team.  Often only you can influence those goals and so it will only de-motivate your team.
Also don't make stretch goals where you feel the targets are already a challenge.  Over cooked expectations will have a de-motivating impact right from the start and can have devastating impacts on performance.

3) Get buy In - You should involve your team in the developments of the annual business plan.  Whilst you are there to guide the process and ensure the key elements are included you should allow your team to develop the overall plan and have a massive input in how you plan to achieve your goals.  Letting go and allowing input is not a weakness but in fact the opposite.  It shows you value your team’s idea and allows them to feel they are part of the team’s success and not yours.
There is nothing worse than working hard all year for the manager to take all the credit

4) You need to make it fun.  We spend a significant amount of our adult life at work. If it is not fun then what are we doing. We work in one of the best industries in the world for encouraging fun and enjoyment, clients count on us to make their leisure time fun so why is it that we don't encourage our staff to play at work.  (To learn more read the FISH book)
You do not have to compromise standards to create an environment where your team feel they are able to be themselves and have fun with members.  You want to encourage interactions with members, any interaction will encourage retention and those ones that build friendships are like gold dust and should be cherished.
Only you will know your team, but you should look for opportunities that will build on this premise.

5) Show your team loyalty.  You are responsible for the business performance not your team.  You should push your challenges on too them.  You are there to protect your team from senior managers and ensure you create a bonded team ready to fight for success. 

6) Manage performance: you should manage performance fairly and with understanding.  Harsh & intimidating meetings to discuss a previous month with only make the employee nervous and overly concerned about the end action.  You want this person to perform and achieve, you will only do this by offering support and guidance.  It won’t work with everyone, but if you hired a person for a reason then quite often that gut feeling was true.  Work with them and in time you will find that star quality.

7) Celebrate success: Don't under estimate how impact celebrating success is.  It may be a small milestone for you but it is often a big one for the team or individual.  Get superiors to congratulate the team or employee, it can work wonders for them to feel they are being recognised by senior members of staff.
Enter awards, compare your team against other clubs in your business and pick out what you do best.  You can always find things you are best at.  If not then that's where to start with your goals.  

8) Create competition; we are in business to be successful are we not.  To quantify success we are all compared to others.  Whether than be other clubs within your business or against industry statistics it’s important you compare.  This also allows you to create competition, a them versus us attitude with a drive to be the best can have profound impacts on success.  Getting those last few sales at month end to beat your fellow club can be just the incentive you need.
Enter industry competitions, when we won the Flame awards the whole team bought into the process and the need to win.  That period was probably the most enjoyable 12 months in business as everyone was sold on the idea and the need to win and achieved it.  A brilliant feeling

9) Don't be afraid to hire people more qualified than you:  I hear all the time "they are over qualified".  How can this be the case?  Until you interview someone you can never understand their motive for wanting to work for you.  They may want less stress, less responsibility, be coming back from time off with kids.
Ultimately, you have the potential to employ someone with great skills on paper and who could offer a key to future success.  Don't miss an opportunity because of your perceptions of threats to you and your position.
Be brave!

We all want success; bullying and old school management is not the way to do it.  It can be easier to discipline and try and force performance.  In the long run you will end up with far more stress and anxiety, an unhappy team often with the same challenges as you started with.

Change your attitude, look and plan for success and let your team take you there.  Your job should be to assemble, guide and encourage.  Hire experts to do a job and let them do it.  Your life will be far more enjoyable and the success with be far more satisfying.

Project Body UK Consulting

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