How to Get the Best Out of Your Most Important Asset
If an asset is to keep producing we have to look after it or its usefulness will reduce over time. And I guess that our most important asset has to be looked after really well; better than all the others. An outsider wouldn’t need to ask us what was our most important asset was, they could tell just by observing our behaviours and actions.
We often say that our people are our most important asset. Periodically it’s good to step back and ask if we really believe that. If it’s a yes, then it’s also good to ask if we’re investing sufficiently not just to maintain their productivity, but also to increase their ability to contribute over time.
(If you’re reading this thinking that some of your people are liabilities rather than assets, let’s remember that these are the people that you recruited, trained and currently manage! If that’s you, you’re welcome to get in touch and discuss how we address that situation.)
Empirical evidence shows that we have the biggest impact on our direct reports’ work life, far more than salary, colleagues, culture, work environment, car, etc. So, we have the power and opportunity to truly enhance the contribution of our direct reports.
There are a handful of key aspects to helping people give their best and grow in their role. I’d like to share two, simple little behaviours.
We all like feedback, particularly positive feedback for doing something good. Start noticing the little things that your people do well and say something. Your feedback needs to be sincere, proportional, specific and as soon after the event as possible. For example, if you hear one of your team handle a difficult call well, recognise what they did immediately. “Hey, good call Lorna! I particularly liked how you kept using their name throughout the call.” If someone does 9 wrong things (but not life threatening!) and 1 right thing, remain silent about the 9 (very hard!) and praise the 1 good thing. Over time 1 will become 2 will become 3 and 9 will become 8 will become 7… We get more of what we focus on, so focus on what’s going well.
The second thing is scheduling some formal monthly 121s with each of your direct reports. If they truly are important to you and your future success, you’ll prioritise this. Schedule them in your diaries for the next 6 months – and don’t move them! We’re 3 times more likely to follow-through if we’ve scheduled the meetings in our diary. If you were going to a wedding or taking your partner for an important hospital appointment you wouldn’t cancel because a customer wanted to see you or you had an urgent proposal to write. You’d get those things done without missing the wedding or hospital appointment. So don’t cancel your one-to-ones. There’s nothing that better communicates unimportance than to keep postponing someone’s one-to-one.
Many of the people I work with have relatively small teams and everyone works close together, sometimes in the same office. You might think that there’s therefore no need to sit down with your team one-to-one. Nothing could be further from the truth.
And you don’t have to sit down for these meetings. This may sound a little radical but I’ve found that meetings can often be far more productive if there carried out on the move! Literally. Put your coats on and go for a walk. Sitting opposite each other in a room can sometimes be awkward and uncomfortable, especially at first. Getting out in the fresh air and walking shoulder to shoulder can be quite liberating. It seems to get people talking more openly and insights and ideas seem to flow more readily. You’re also not distracted by phones, clocks on walls, interruptions, etc.
Whether it’s in a meeting room or walking round the block, you should talk 20% of the time and listen for 80% of the time. And your 20% should be dominated by questions (Remind me of what you wanted to work on last month? So what went particularly well? What did you enjoy? What did you learn? What did you learn about yourself? What can I do to help with that? etc.). If you’re walking round the block, you can always end up in a coffee shop so your team member can scribble down key thoughts, ideas, actions on the back of a napkin! (They always do the writing, not you.)
There’s too many dark, damp days at this time of year. So, if it is dry, get out there!
We have 9 places left for our January Planning Workshop – and the early bird is available until the end of November. January is always our most popular planning workshop and we’re limited on space at Altrincham Town Hall so there really is a limit on places!!
WHAT: ‘Develop Your Business’ Planning Workshop
WHO: Directors, Executives & Business Owners
WHY: Planning Delivers Better Results
WHEN: Friday 12th January 2018 8:30am – 4:00pm
WHERE: Altrincham Town Hall
INVESTMENT: £225 & £75 for a colleague (Early Bird £145) all +vat
HOW: Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org