Effective Team Management in Under Ten Easy Steps

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 - 19:00
Effective Team Management in Under Ten Easy Steps

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an owner or manager in possession of a business, must be in want of a productive, motivated, and happy team.

So just how does one go about inspiring employees to take pride in their work?

Share your vision

One of the most important factors in creating a productive workforce is providing your employees with a clear goal and raison d'être, something they can believe in so as to work collaboratively. If you don't know why you're doing something, why do it? In the Towers Watson 2014 Global Workplace Study, their findings show that 'only slightly more than half (55%) of employees say their leaders inspire them'.[1] Make sure you aren't in the remaining 45%: you don't necessarily need a Jerry Maguire-esque 'mission statement', but you certainly need to enthuse your workers with the thought of making a positive difference with their work. Perhaps have a refresher seminar on the goals of your business, or send round a quick directive via email as an update, and ensure you clearly integrate your ethos into new employee training. This should help ensure your whole team is aiming towards a common purpose, thereby boosting productivity.

Staff incentives

This should be obvious, but often rewards and incentives for staff get lost amongst the deluge of emails and other day-to-day admin, not to mention your actual workload. Make your staff feel valued for their hard work by keeping up to date with their achievements. This could be weekly, monthly or quarterly, and it doesn't have to cost a great deal monetarily; a simple act of recognition in staff meetings or on the display board can go a long way. However, with 38% of employees reporting that they feel under 'excessive pressure every day or once or twice a week'[2] as well as a sense that they 'are working harder than ever, even though average working hours have been on a downwards trend for the last fifteen years'[3], it's clear that creating a working atmosphere of praise and positivity is imperative. Track your top seller of a certain item; encourage healthy competition amongst your staff; reward someone for effort and dedication; if you foster a spirit of teamwork and camaraderie, you will reap the dividends.

Promote a happy, healthy work place

The team that plays together, stays together. Staff mixers, bright and cosy lunch areas, positive, fair and quick resolution of issues, and clear and effective leadership can boost the efficiency of your workforce no end. The majority of people want to work in 'an organisation with a family feel, held together by loyalty and tradition'.[4] We are, on the whole, a social species, and often the support from our colleagues is what makes us more productive in our work. How about a casual monthly drink in the office or at the local round the corner on a Friday after work? Staff Christmas parties come but once a year, and getting to know colleagues in a more social capacity can minimise tension in the workspace, build team morale, foster healthy working relationships and give people a chance to chat about work away from the urgent anti-social nature of quick-fire emails. If you're in the hospitality or retail industry, staffing shifts with tactical focus is an easy way of choosing a team whose players complement one another skills and character-wise, thereby ensuring a productive output.

Mind your Ps and Qs

Your leadership is what should drive the team to success, and your granny's favourite adage 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' is not only an oldie, but a goodie too. Be firm but fair, respectful and supportive, and give your staff the opportunity to use their initiative. Rather than tell your staff what to do, ask them. If there's the option of choice, let them decide which task to take on. For example, on a bar shift, ask employees whether they'd rather do table service, pull pints or do the washing up. If two people are vying for the same task, split it across the shift, or let them take turns for the next shift. Everyone has their strengths and preferences, and if your team is given the choice democratically, it empowers them and they will work more productively. Don't reprimand your staff for anything that you yourself are also guilty of on a regular basis: no one likes a hypocrite. Don't kid yourself with the blind excuse that 'I can do what I want, I'm the boss', as that will only harbour resentment and discord in your team; you need to lead by example. Recent CIPD findings state that 'over a third of employees (32%) feel that the most important behaviour line managers should display is fairness in how they treat them; the second most important behaviour is to be open and honest (29%)'.[5] Politeness costs nothing, and it can be the making of a strong working relationship between you and your employees.

Don't patronise

Approach employees with the knowledge that, nine times out of ten, they know what they are doing. They may have been in their role longer than you have been in yours; they may have had specialist training; they may have a strong sense of initiative and responsibility. If they're not doing something the way you want them to, try to have a normal conversation with them about it, and ask them their reasoning behind their method. It may be perfectly logical. It may be more productive for them to do it their way in the end. However, if that's not the case, or it's circumventing company policy, bring it back to the guidelines, and, as mentioned earlier, ask, rather than tell them, to change their method, with a clear explanation as to why. It will seem much more reasonable a request than if you had bulldozed ahead without taking the time to assume they have a perfectly competent brain of their own. Equally, with staff rewards and recognition, be sincere. Disingenuous praise is often as transparent as a window, and the impact of a reward is drastically undermined when it is done without commitment. Find the good in small acts, but don't clutch at straws.

Communicate clear objectives

Staff need to have an open channel of communication, with a firm grasp on what it is they need to do to achieve. Effective performance management is key in any size of organisation; thus, regular formal and informal communication on whether or not an employee is meeting their targets is imperative to their well-being, progression and productivity. Alarmingly, in CIPD's 2015 survey, the large majority of employees did not have set objectives to work towards:

 'Only 56% of respondents said they have objectives set as part of their performance management, leaving 40% of respondents who said they do not have any objectives to work towards. Smaller organisations are less likely to set objectives; in micro organisations, 74% of respondents said they do not have objectives, while 56% in small organisations and 50% in medium-sized organisations do not have objectives. However, a third of respondents in large organisations also said they do not have any objectives set as part of their performance process.'[6] 

When you're at school, you have a target grade and termly progress reports. If you go to university, you have exam results and meetings with your course supervisor. When you train for a role, you receive regular feedback from your line manager in order to meet your pass criteria. Once employed, this same approach of targets and guidance should be no different. Without it, you again run the risk of your workforce not feeling valued, becoming disengaged and thereby performing poorly. Set up an annual, or bi-annual, review for each employee, and use it to discuss how they feel they are doing. It is important to give them positive praise first, and constructive criticism second, so as to set the tone for the conversation. Try to instil a calm atmosphere where your employee will feel at ease and able to be open. Agree mutually beneficial goals; ask your staff to suggest personal goals of their own before giving them the objectives you feel necessary. Create opportunities for career development and training, so that your workforce is always looking to better its subject knowledge. Perhaps arrange a wine or gin tasting session for your bar staff or invite key speakers from other branches into your office to inspire your team. Support and encourage your staff, and discuss their performance formally and informally on a regular basis, and you will have a thriving, driven and goal-orientated team taking pride in their work.

Simplify your technology

Pretty much everybody and their dog can work modern technology like the iPad effectively these days. So why not translate that skill set into your business and make your sales process more streamlined? Using an easily accessible point-of-sale system, such as intelligentpos, means that you can manage your business and your workforce more effectively than ever. Requiring little-to-no training, your employees can hit the ground running using innovative technology they are almost instantaneously familiar with. Staff incentives could not be more straightforward: tracking how much someone has sold of a certain item? No problem. Applying staff discounts to specific products? Easy. Staff can print separate tickets to the kitchen and the bar before even leaving the table, making them twice as productive in their roles. If the internet goes down, it doesn't matter – your staff won't feel the stress and it won't affect sales, as the POS app queues data until the internet is available then syncs it fully. You can take PayPal business payments, and chip and pin payments are quicker than ever with the Point Of Sale system inputting the transaction amount straight into the reader, eliminating user discrepancies and speeding up your staff's productivity no end. Staff objectives and feedback can be evidenced easily by using the system, and the removal of wasted time gives your employees a much less stressful working environment, making it a happy, driven and productive business. Et voila! Effective team management in under ten easy steps! To find out more about intelligentpos and all that it can do for your business, whether you are in retail, hospitality or other sales, have a look at our 'Your Business' pages.

Sources:

[1]    'Global Workforce Study: 2014', Towers Watson, p. 4; the study covers more than 32,000 employees selected from research panels that represent the populations of full-time employees working in large and mid-size organizations across a range of industries in 26 markets around the world. It was fielded online during April and May 2014.

[2]    'Employee Outlook: Employee views on working life, Spring 2015', CIPD (May 2015), p. 15; the survey is based upon 2,226 employee responses from a cross-section of organisations and industries.

[3]    'Workplace Trends of 2015: what they mean for you', Acas, CIPD & HRZone, p. 9.

[4]    'Employee Outlook: Employee views on working life, Spring 2015', CIPD (May 2015), p. 16.

[5]    'Employee Outlook: Employee views on working life,  Spring 2015', CIPD (May 2015) p. 13

[6]    'Employee Outlook: Employee views on working life,  Spring 2015', CIPD (May 2015) p.18

Katharine Coulton