4 ways to encourage better teamwork in your business

In a teamwork culture, team members work collaboratively to further their team’s objectives, perhaps even placing these objectives ahead of their own individual goals. Organisations where employees work alone or in silos will arguably become less productive over time compared to organisations that encourage teamwork.

The message should come from the top, with your Senior leadership team communicating the clear expectation that teamwork and collaboration are expected. However, there are some key issues which should be dealt with as a team leader or line manager, in order to maintain a positive teamwork culture. We’ve highlighted 4 ways that you can encourage better teamwork, based on both our experience of working with organisations on their employee engagement and leadership development strategies and by looking at trends within the employee surveys that we’ve conducted for our clients.

Leaders are only as good as their teams (and vice versa!)

As a leader or manager, you are setting the tone for the rest of the employees in the workplace and your positive attitude and energy will help to motivate and inspire your team. There is lots of good advice out there on how to be a good team leader but I’ll highlight a couple of issues that often come up in our clients’ survey results.

  1. Try to adopt a coaching approach rather than a ‘do as I do’ attitude, allowing team members to demonstrate what they can do without constant interference. Giving clear instruction without micro-managing will prove to your team members that you believe in their abilities and efforts.
  2. Consistency is key when it comes to managing your team. It’s impossible to build trust amongst your team is there’s perceived favouritism. Make sure team members feel they are treated fairly and equally, and take care not to exclude anyone from group decisions or activities. It seems obvious, but conduct team meetings on a regular basis and allow your team members the opportunity to volunteer or get involved with special projects or tasks.

Encourage open communication

Encouraging a culture of open communication will help develop great teamwork and will undoubtedly have a positive on your team’s overall performance. Communication is often an area which scores poorly in the Employee Surveys we conduct. In our experience, many employees often feel that they aren’t being listened to, whether it’s by their immediate managers or the senior leadership team. Your team should be confident in sharing their ideas, points of view, and feelings and not be afraid of doing so.

Let employees know their contribution is valued by introducing rewards for feedback and suggestions. Encouraging contributions from teams rather than individuals will help get team members working together more closely so make sure you offer rewards for collaborative efforts as much as recognising individual contributions and achievements.

Define and share responsibilities

The more clearly you define your team members’ roles and responsibilities, the more effectively they can meet expectations. The team as a whole, as well as individual team members, must have clearly defined responsibilities and objectives in order to focus their efforts. Your team should be encouraged to recognise each other’s role on the team, helping one another when needed. No one completely owns a work area or process all by themselves. As a manager, make sure your team members have opportunities to cross-train others in the team so that the team’s contribution to the business and service to customers is reliable and consistent. This inspirational quote sums up the point perfectly: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” (Phil Jackson)

Resolve Conflicts

You spend many hours of your life at work, so getting along with your colleagues is very important. Conflict and ‘politics’ amongst team members is a major cause of stress at work. For example, our clients surveys have revealed instances such as team members arguing in public, others giving each other the silent treatment and where one person was left to do all the work while their team members allegedly ‘slacked off’. As a manager or team leader you’ll need to make sure that any tension is resolved as quickly as possible to prevent long-term damage to your team dynamic. Put in place a clear process for employees to raise and resolve issues, so they know they are being listened to, taken seriously and that issues will be dealt with fairly. Teams which include people that do not get along with one another will quickly collapse, become inefficient and unproductive.

 

Team up with INSPIRING…

At INSPIRING, we’ve helped thousands of organisations with Employee Engagement issues over the last 15 years and we’d be happy to share our experience with you. We are also an approved CMI centre providing leadership and management training at different levels with the option of CMI qualifications.

Call us on 0800 612 3098 to find out more or email info@inspiring.uk.com or get in touch using the form.

Could 360 degree feedback help rejuvenate your workforce?

If you’re thinking about running a 360 degree feedback exercise, you may find our objective look at the pitfalls and advantages of 360 degree feedback useful in deciding if it could help rejuvenate your workforce.

Three Common Pitfalls of 360 Degree Feedback

1. 360 degree feedback is a very sensitive activity that touches people to the very core of their personality and it should be completed sensitively and empathically. If the purpose, methodology or understanding of multi-source assessment is misunderstood, it can result in a destructive situation from which it can take years to recover.

2. 360 degree feedback should never be linked to merit, pay or reward. Under ideal circumstances multi-source feedback is used as an assessment for personal development rather than evaluation. Certainly, the results should never be used as a way to punish the individual in any way.

3. Some would agree that 360 degree feedback can take people outside of their comfort zones and result in some difficult conversations. People may be afraid to give honest answers, perhaps in fear of lack of anonymity or they’ve been encouraged to collude with others respondents to give false opinions.

 

Three Advantages of 360 Degree Feedback 

1. In some cases, 360 degree feedback can be used to reduce tension, for example, if an employee is having difficulties with their manager or there is a perceived ‘personality clash’, the end results averaged and weighted by feedback from others could offset or diminish potential personal misjudgements.

2. The 360 degree feedback process is a good way of improving communication within your organisation and can be a useful tool in the run up to a company restructure and to help implement change. The process can help break down barriers between areas in the company and create a culture of openness and trust.

3. Different people often have vastly different views of who we are. To know what we look like in another’s eyes provides a strong enabler for personal development and growth. Being able to gather and analyse the perceptions of colleagues, not just those we report to, can be extremely powerful in helping us understand how our actions play out from many points of view, other than our own.

 

Tips for success

  • Have a clear communication strategy for disseminating the purpose aims and intentions of the assessment
  • Develop an unambiguous questionnaire which includes open ended comments
  • Have a properly constructed competency framework and link this to your organisational goals and values
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • View criticism positively and as an opportunity of personal development
  • Have a plan of support and development in place for candidates following the assessment.
  • Provide clear, consistent and easily understood results reports.

 

If you would like to speak to one of the team at Inspiring about 360 degree feedback, call us on 0800 612 3098 or email info@inspiring.uk.com or get in touch using the form. You can also visit our 360 Degree page for more information.

The Happy Employee: Transparency

When it comes to the workplace environment it can be difficult to ensure total transparency. The phrase ‘you are the face of the company’ is something that employees often hear, and whilst this is designed to encourage employees to represent the company as best as they can, it is also true.

As an employee, you are responsible for various company procedures, as well as client interactions – acting as a major part of the company. Which is why transparency in business is important; how can you represent your company without total understanding of how the business runs? By implementing transparency in the workplace, you can effectively increase overall employee productivity.

Information

Some companies limit the information that they provide to employees; both client related and internal. By including employees in communication about the company’s profits and achievements, a positive connection is forged – as employees can understand how their hard work contributes to the company’s success. The same can also be applied to losses and any setbacks, as employees will feel invested and increase their efforts to ensure the company gets back on track.

Authority

By providing authority to employees, you can motivate them to become empowered. Employees who are given authority become more inspired to be decisive and take responsibility for their actions, both of which are strong elements in great employee performance. This also reduces time wasted on waiting for approval from a higher authority, and allows employees to continue with the work that they are given at their own pace.

Communication

Giving your employees an opportunity to discuss ways for the company to move forward, improve operations or point out areas that require development, allows you to establish a connection with your team. Show them that management appreciates and values employee thoughts and suggestions. Consider implementing the changes and requests your employees offer, where applicable, as this further cements your relationship with your employees and demonstrates that they are an important part of the business.

Deliver on your promises

As management, it can be easy to offer incentives to your employees to encourage them to work harder and more productively. Whilst these incentives can be an effective tool, often we can forget what we have promised – or put it to the side so we can focus on more important things. However, by not delivering on your promises to your employees, they can become unhappy, resulting in a lower standard of employee performance. By ensuring incentives are given to employees, big or small, and providing everyone with the chance to receive these bonuses, you are ultimately encouraging employees to work harder to receive these benefits.

 

Ultimately, transparency provides your employees with a clear and happy path to success, allowing them to feel valued, supported and involved, whilst ensuring any grievances can be swiftly and effectively handled.

How to Improve Business Performance and Productivity with the Deming Cycle

One of the most straight forward ways of being able to accurately plan for continual improvement would be with the Deming Cycle.

In every organisation, the need for improving business performance should be the driving force behind the action that most leaders take. Within the business world, if you are not consistently improving performance within your organisation you are stagnating. Stagnation results in other organisations bypassing you and increasing their market share. Therefore, the ability to continually improve performance should be a never-ending goal.  The Deming Cycle is one of the most straight forward ways of being able to accurately plan for continual improvement. The Deming Cycle can also help increase productivity as well as improve performance in general. This is because, when organisations focus on goals that they wish to achieve, they usually begin the process by looking for possible operational improvements, thus increasing productivity as well as improving organisational performance.

The Deming Cycle was developed by W. Edwards Deming (1986) and within it he created a simple premise for predicting the results of effort to implement improvements. He put forward four logical steps that loop continually to help drive better performance.

Deming CyclePlan

In the planning stage, the organisation must establish what objectives are needed to be met to create the desired goals. It is in this stage where the organisation must analyse their current position accurately to be able to correctly measure where they are, compared to where they want to be.

Do

This stage of the cycle requires the organisation begin to implement their plan and start the processes of behaviour changes. At this point, the implementation of the plan should only be carried out within a small section of the overall business. The organisation should also be collecting data to help them evaluate the process in the next steps.

Check

The ‘Check’ stage is when the data collected from the ‘Do’ stage is measured and compared against the expected goals within the ‘Plan’ stage. It is at this stage when you should be looking for any differences between what has happened and what the original goals were within the ‘Plan’ section. You should also be able to identify if there were any deviations from your plan and what was implemented, as this could account for lack of success in the ‘Do’ stage. This should lead to the understanding of whether or not the goals set in the ‘Plan’ section are attainable. If they cannot be reached, the process may need to end here and started again.

Act

Within this stage the organisation first needs to identify that all the other stages were carried out correctly, i.e. the ‘Check’ stage identified that the ‘Plan’ stage was correctly implemented within the ‘Do’ stage. Secondly, it needs to be confirmed that the outcomes have resulted in improvements on what had come before. If so, the process can then implemented throughout the whole organisation. This new and improved process would then become the required standard that the organisation must meet.

 

The Deming Cycle can be used and reused for almost any activity within an organisation, meaning the organisation is constantly reviewing its practices and processes and therefore continuously improving performance and productivity.

Employee Engagement Surveys: using benchmarking to compare your results with other organisations

We’re often asked by our clients how their scores compare to other organisations that we have provided employee surveys for. We’ve been using our own ‘engagement index’ for 13 years now, so we’re sharing some of this insight and looking at some other benchmarking resources that might help you determine how you match up to other organisations.

Providing benchmark scores

As all of the surveys that we conduct for our clients are designed specifically for their own organisation, it would be impossible (and unethical!) to compare scores between surveys to determine if one organisation is ‘better’ than another. However, many organisations do want the ability to be able to rate themselves against similar organisations.  External benchmarking resources can be particularly useful when referring to results which indicate levels of employee engagement, as this has been proven to have a significant impact on employee, and in turn, organisational performance. Back in 2003, Towers Perrin (now WillisTowersWatson) identified the items that define employee engagement:

  • Emotional Items – to determine an employee’s personal satisfaction and the sense of inspiration and affirmation they get from their work and being part of an organisation
  • Rational Items – relating to the relationship between the employee and the broader organisation.

A set of questions were included in the Towers Perrin 2003 Talent Report and subsequently in their 2005 Global Workforce Study to determine employee engagement levels in line with the above items. Inspiring have drawn on this set of questions to create our own ‘engagement index’ and have used these when designing employee engagement surveys for many of our clients, ever since we began providing employee surveys 13 years ago.

Of course, the headings and questions have changed somewhat in more recent Global Workforce Studies (find out more about the 2016 study on the WillisTowersWatson website), however for Inspiring, using our original set of questions as a constant has allowed us to monitor ‘engagement index’ scores over the past 13 years and provide a benchmark for our clients to measure their own results against.

In the majority of our surveys, we use uniform distribution to calculate a percentage figure that reflects the positivity score of each question. From within our engagement index, here are the questions that have resulted in the highest and lowest average scores (as of 30th June 2017) for surveys undertaken since January 2014:

  • I care about the future of XYZ: 84%
  • I would recommend XYZ as a great place to work: 71%

These scores, along with those from our other engagement index questions, provide a useful reference to help organisations put their own results into context, as well as give an indication of what can be achieved by having an effective employee engagement strategy. For those organisations who have undertaken repeat surveys with us, it’s usual for their scores to improve year on year across the engagement index, especially when they have developed and implemented an action plan following their survey feedback. Our engagement index average scores are of course changing all the time as we conduct more surveys in which these questions are included – in fact, over the past 12 months the average overall engagement index score has increased by 0.5%.

Identifying the reasons for high or low survey scores

Having conducted hundreds of surveys over the years, we’ve had the benefit of gaining insight into the trends which affect employee engagement levels within organisations. Here are some of the factors that we’ve found to have had the greatest effect on employee engagement scores:

Higher levels of employee engagement

  • Being people-focused
  • Good communications
  • Opportunities for training, learning and personal development
  • Strong leadership
  • Culture of trust and empowerment.
  • Good work-life balance

Lower levels of employee engagement

  • Lack of communication
  • Organisational Change
  • Workload / staff shortages
  • Poor leadership and direction
  • Lack of respect or concern for non-managerial staff

The effect of pay on employee engagement

Although pay and benefits do not feature in our engagement index questions, perhaps unsurprisingly, research conducted by other organisations suggests that this is a major factor in employee engagement. In the XpertHR Employee Engagement Survey 2015, Pay ranked highest as the most substantial influence on employee engagement, cited by 37.1% of respondents. In addition, an HBR study, published in Human Resource Management Journal earlier this year, showed that performance-related pay was positively associated with job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and trust in management.

Useful Resources

Benchmarking is often confusing, as there are so many surveys and reports out there to consider. If you’re looking for some free resources to help benchmark your organisation externally here are three places which might provide some useful statistics:

The CIPD’s Spring Outlook provides findings from their latest survey and it’s free to download.

The Global Workforce Study conducted by WillisTowersWatson mentioned earlier in our blog is also an interesting read for anyone concerned with employee engagement.

XpertHR offers a free HR benchmark tool to help you find out how your organisation compares on key HR and employment benchmarks.

Team up with Inspiring…

Find out more about our employee surveys on our website. If you are considering undertaking an employee engagement survey and would like more information about our services or would like to chat to one of our team about benchmarking, get in touch on 0800 612 3098 or email us at info@inspiring.uk.com.

Things to consider when restructuring your business

Expanding or restructuring your business could mean that you find yourself having to manage some difficult changes. We've put together some of the key points to consider when you’re planning and implementing a restructure from a people aspect.

Restructuring your business inevitably results in having to implement changes within your organisation, which will in turn test the skills of your leaders and managers.

As a leader, you have a responsibility to stay positive, upbeat and focused on the future. You will need to utilise all those coaching and interpersonal skills you’ve learnt along the way to allay any concerns people may have whilst maintaining a grip on the day to day business. In addition, having a management team who possess good people skills and display positive behaviour is crucial to managing change effectively.

John Telfer, Managing Director of Inspiring says “In my experience of working with businesses undergoing change, the thing they often have in common is the problem of Accidental Managers. They are the people that get promoted to management positions because they have the technical skills to do their job brilliantly, but they don’t have the people skills to manage a team effectively.”

Here are some other key points to consider when you’re planning and implementing a restructure from a people aspect:

1. Why is a re-structure being planned? Being clear on the purpose of the exercise is vital as this will be the starting point for of all other planning and implementation activities.

2. Enable clear communications to all those involved and use the purpose to describe what the end result will look like and how associated benefits will help the organisation.

3. Essential to success when re-structuring is to identify any areas of resistance. People get attached to structures just like all other familiar aspects of their organisation – some people may be reluctant to give these up unless the reasons make sense.

4. Inviting people to ask questions and get involved are important elements which if ignored may result in bad compromises and ineffective arrangements as the restructuring unfolds.

5. Ask line managers to keep an eye on their team to spot early signs as to how people are reacting to the changes and whether this is having an impact on their performance.

 

Do your leaders and managers have the right the skills and behaviours and are they working effectively together as a team?

INSPIRING helps develop Inspiring leaders and managers. Our 3-phase approach diagnoses development needs, designs and delivers appropriate training and evaluates the outcomes, allowing you to measure the impact on your business. Our Leadership Development Programmes include an option to work towards a formal management qualification accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

5 New Years Resolutions that will have a positive impact on your business

Most of us will have been thinking about personal new year resolutions in the last week or two, but now we’re all back at work and making plans for 2016, we’ve suggested five new years resolutions for employers that if kept, will have a positive impact on your business this year.

Limit out of hours communications

Just about everyone is contactable all of the time these days. Often it’s hard to ignore those emails and messages when they come in, even if it can wait until Monday morning. As an employer or manager, think about how sending emails out of hours might affect the recipient. If you don’t require an immediate response but just want to tick it off your ‘things to do’ list, consider setting up a time delay or create a draft to send early the next working day instead. Employers who make a point of limiting intrusions into employees’ personal time will have a greater chance of attracting and retaining good employees who want to be able to leave their jobs at the office.

Encourage your people to take time off

Many employees don’t use up all their annual leave entitlement. This may be because a heavy workload makes it difficult for them to take time off, or because their manager or workplace culture implies that taking leave is a problem. Having a positive culture of work-life balance together with happy, refreshed employees is more productive and will prevent stress, so you’ll be more likely to have a stronger, motivated staff in the long run.

Increase your training and development budget

When budgets are cut, it’s often training and development that takes a hit. If this applies to your organisation, it will inevitably impact on the ability of your employees to produce results and stay up to date with industry and business progress if they’re not getting the training and professional development they need. Make 2016 a year in which you invest in your employees and you will receive return on that investment in the long-term.

Look at your reward and recognition policies

If your reward and recognition policy is not perceived to be transparent and/or fair, it won’t attract, retain and engage employees. In particular, research shows that bonus and salary rewards are strongly related to employee attitudes including job satisfaction and intention to move jobs as well as impacting on behaviour such as absenteeism and individual performance. Make a point of examining how perks and benefits are distributed and consider separating pay and performance rewards in peoples’ minds by communicating to your team throughout the year for their good performance and recognising and rewarding them appropriately in the moment.

Tackle performance issues effectively

Leaders and Managers are often tempted to take credit for what their top performers achieve, but the real measure is how they handle people who aren’t performing so well. As a manager, you should measure your own performance by the lowest performer on your team. Many managers are scared of having tough conversations with their team, often through lack of proper management training. Developing people through coaching and creating accountability within your team is crucial to managing a high-performing team.

TEAM UP WITH INSPIRING…

INSPIRING Business Performance provides practical advice, business information tools and training programmes for organisations who want to improve employee engagement, develop their leaders and managers or look at organisational development. For more information or to arrange a free consultation, call us on 0800 612 3098 or get in touch using the enquiry form on the left.