Posted in Bite size learning, coaching, Leadership, Management, Relationships

Do you have a User Manual…?

When you pick up your shiny new car, it has a user manual, you know where the gears and levers are. Every warning light is understood as the user manual gives helpful pictures. As team members do we provide a user manual to our line managers.

As an individual you want to give your best to the organisation, however you also want to ensure that they understand what you want and what you offer. These are the elements of the psychological contract you have entered with the company. They gave you a contract with the tangible items they wanted and offered, however what about everything that was unsaid by both parties. Did you really want fun at the office and what did that look like?

A user manual could be a tool that could tease out the information.

People have different responses to feedback, some love it and want bucketfuls others just want a thimble very seldom. Working environments can be really conducive to some if they are quiet and others crave a buzz of peripheral noise and activity.

This is a great time to work with your team members to understand their user manual. We have all been working remotely for so long have we created a working day that now works for us, which means we have not worked a traditional 9 to 5.

There is always the unknown gifts that we have not shared with our leaders, you may well have discovered new hidden talents during this lockdown. Unless we use a tool like the “User manual” will we ever uncover the stars.

Back to the car analogy, this is a really good time to assess where you are, consider this your MOT. Please do get in touch if you would like one to one coaching bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

Posted in Bite size learning, Change management, Leadership, Management, Stress management

Thinking about your Welcome…

Last week with the children returning to school it was interesting to see the contrasts of how they welcomed them back.

My daughter was thrust straight back into academia with an A’level mock the first day back, and yet my son also in 6th Form had a day of focusing on their well being culminating with a beer round a fire pit. I know which Welcome I would have preferred!!

Also in the press I saw one school put up balloons festooning the entrance and the classrooms, albeit a primary school, however who does not want to feel special.

How will you welcome your team back?

Welcome in itself is written as a smile, having the word as prominently on show as you can will be a nice touch.

We can also start to send welcome letters now or even welcome packs, any form of teaser campaign and above all an acknowledgement of how excited you are to see them face to face.

Top Tips to consider with your Welcome:-

  • Be understanding, there will be anxiety of what to expect which is why it is good to start talking now
  • Have some well being workshops talks in place to manage any uncertainties
  • Keep everyone informed of which Government guidelines have been implemented and what the office might look like on their return
  • Set up rotas if your space is too small and you can’t all be in the office at the same time
  • Engage now – the next few months have the conversation before employees return
  • Be flexible with how it will work and give people choice
  • Reflect and review as it will keep changing

For more ideas on the easing out of lockdown please do get in touch bev@nuggetsofleanring.co.uk

Posted in Bite size learning, coaching, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Management, motivation, Problem solving, Relationships

Having a Zoom one to one …

Working with Clients at the moment I get asked how to make one to ones as effective as possible now they are over Zoom.

  • Do I need to have them more often?
  • Can I do them over the phone instead of Zoom?
  • Do I prepare the agenda?
  • Do I need to give a summary?

With most people working from home, one to ones need to be more often. You possibly followed a best practice guideline of one hour once a month, however in this climate, fortnightly will be better with a timing of 30 minutes.

Zoom is a great tool for one to ones as the intensity of just two faces does give you a clear insight as to how the person is feeling. They might well convey some leakage in their body language which you would not spot on the phone. However with Zoom fatigue being the current buzz phrase it is perfectly understandable that many may have had enough of the video conferencing. As a leader suggest a combination of one by phone and one by Zoom.

The one to one session should always belong to your team member so therefore it is their agenda. However it is good to provide a template that gives them an idea of what to prepare. Currently we will have items in there that would not normally have been in there before, such as well being of working from home. The template can be really simple with some headings as below:-

  • Current workload
  • Up and coming projects
  • Well being of working from home
  • Achievements and wins

It can even be as simple as Past/Present/Future, the most important thing is that they steer the meeting and that they come prepared.

Your job is to summarise what was covered, in simple bullet points, so that you can track their performance. You also have shown that you have listened and demonstrated support.

As a leader don’t committ any of the following common mistakes:-

  • Cancelling the one to one
  • Allowing interruptions
  • Setting the agenda and owning the one to one
  • Doing most of the talking
  • Taking the problem away from some-one
  • Not inquiring about feelings
  • Delivering unclear messages, unclear coaching and unclear instructions
  • Running out of time
  • Assuming your one to ones are effective

Embrace getting to know your team better and Zoom is a great for intensity, intimacy and confidentiality. During this time you can get to know your team really well.

Please do get in touch if you would like one to one coaching with nuggets bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

Posted in Bite size learning, Leadership, Management, mindfulness, motivation, Stress management

The “New” Normal…

The “new” normal for me is now normal and will be for a very long time. My challenge now is how to make it work for me.

Looking at how my home office, do I need to invest in some new equipment.

In order to help me work my “normal” I researched some statistics on how a group in the UK have been adapting.

The statistics are UK findings based on 1,016 respondents working full-time remotely.

• 59% of UK employees working different hours than they used to

This statistic came as no surprise as you are working around your home life and you have no commuting. The positive that can be taken from this figure is that you can work when it is your prime time, when you can work to your optimum and get the best out of yourself.

The negative to this figure, we are all available and at home so we have been contacted at odd times of the day. If you are going to continue to work from home, then set some boundaries as a team as to when to communicate and when not to communicate. Having consensus on some core hours will not single out any individuals and also won’t lead to competitive behaviour.

• 62% rely on workplace tech to stay connected

This might be an investment area for many. How good is your Broadband is it time to source a new provider. Is it worth investing in Zoom so that meetings can be longer than 40 minutes or as a team is it better to be with Microsoft Teams.

• 36% are having fewer meetings

Although this seems like a statistic we should be applauding we need to ensure that this is not a breakdown of communications. Ensure that all your team members feel as connected as possible. Although we are all suffering from several video conferencing meetings, check whether a simple phone call works. Going forward as your normal make sure your meetings are no longer than an hour and you have an agenda or purpose for all the ones you attend.

• 30% say they are starting their working day earlier

• 27% are working later in the evening

For me going forward I am more than happy to start the day earlier, as my brain and energy are so much better in the morning and I don’t have a commute currently or a school run. The second percentage I am only going to let happen occasionally with a specific deadline, it will not become a habit.

• 31% say they are working from a desk 

• 35% from a dining/kitchen table

• 20% from their sofa 

• 5% work from their bed

The environment and set up you work in, can have a direct correlation to how effective you are. Your office set up needs to work for you and also needs to inspire you. Simple top tips, put your desk in the window or sit somewhere with a view.

Most importantly have a good desk/table and chair. One Client I work with has had to visit a chiropractor due to bad posture, incurred from more sitting down in their career than ever before.

My action is to paint my office – freshen it up (will work wonders for me psychologically). I can’t get out to Clients so make my space work for me.

• 45% challenges from enforced remote working are self-discipline 

Set deadlines for yourself and book appointments for certain tasks. Committ to yourself and follow a realistic daily to-do list.

•23% “feeling like I can’t switch off” 

When it is your own business it is hard to walk away, mentally and physically. The only way with my “normal” is to book time off. Companies will be encouraging everyone to take holiday now. When you have your time off do something completely different to your day job.

I am signing off now to book my holiday and paint the office.

Please do get in touch to book a workshop – bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

The “new” Normal – one hour over Zoom for £100

Posted in Bite size learning, Management, mindfulness, motivation, Stress management

Zoom fatigue, how to combat it…?

Zoom fatigue is a new saying in our new world of working. For the first time we are forced to focus more intently on each other. In a conference room we can whisper to a colleague, day dream and look out the window. On Zoom we are there on the screen absorbing information and looking out front. This constant gaze does not allow or accommodate peripheral vision.

We have all see the Zoomers who can’t do it, they fidget whilst on the call, their eyes are drifting to their phones or they are checking their emails. Everyone can see their straying eye contact and their lack of focus and can be as exhausting to watch as you demonstrate exemplary focus.

The secret is to relax and enjoy the conversation, make eye contact with the person speaking and forget you are on video. The more consciously you are aware of the video and focus on yourself the more you will lose the flow of the chat.

Make notes, this is not rude it shows you are engaged and genuinely interested in what the person is saying and it helps with your concentration levels. Paper and pen is better so that there is no clicking or other screen involved.

Everyone has had a play with the fun backgrounds, however this is extra visual stimuli. The plainer your background the more concentration you will get from your Zoomers.

Be comfortable with each other, make a consensus all screens/no screens so that everyone is in the same boat. We are in it together.

Social events on Zoom can be exhausting if they are a mass free for all. By having a facilitator or some fun exercises does give the call a little more structure. We all might be quizzed out, however they are more successful than a free for all.

Overall if you are totally Zoomed out, why not go back to using the phone for the odd piece of communication, it might be just as effective.

Top tips for Zooming

  • Don’t multi task
  • Put your phone out of sight
  • Turn off the tabs on your computer so the only screen visible is Zoom
  • Have a clear desk – your eyes will drift
  • Make all Zoom calls one hour maximum
  • Agree as a group to have screens on or off – consensus
  • Encourage simple backgrounds or all go for the same one
  • Decide whether the call needs Zoom
  • Ensure that socials have some form of structure
  • Make notes
  • Relax and enjoy
  • Make eye contact with person speaking
  • Forget about the video

Please do get in touch for workshops with your team or coaching for yourself bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

Posted in Bite size learning, Change management, Emotional Intelligence, Management, mindfulness, motivation

Sharing your office at home…

Running your own business and being based at home means we are ready for this phase of home working, but will it be the same?

At the moment I have a lovely office all to myself, I fear the invasion will begin with husband and children wanting to be in that space.  There will be no more lighting candles and having the radio on while I work.

My husband’s phone calls are so loud, the High Street will know the deal he is working on.  The 15 year old cannot work without food constantly being consumed.  The 17 year old is quite messy (she will hate me for saying that).  The clear desk policy will be hard to implement.

My ideas for making it work will be rota or finding new areas to work where we can all be happy with our own rituals.

Everyone in these crazy times has to be resourceful and as family we will work the desk and office space.

Top tips for working from home:-

  • Start the day by writing down what you want to achieve
  • Work out your best time for working
  • Clear the office of any distractions
  • Create the environment you want to work in – make it comfortable
  • Work in blocks – use the pommodoro technique
  • Reward yourself at the breaks with coffee…
  • Socialise with who is in the house at the same time – water cooler moments
  • Take a lunch hour – go outside (you would at the office)
  • Be disciplined about when you stop work (without a commute you might be inclined to work longer)
  • Keep work in a separate area to where you relax (no laptop on your lap while watching TV)

Please do get in touch if you would like any help or advice on home working bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

Posted in Bite size learning, Decision Making, Leadership, Management, motivation, Relationships

Reflect your culture…?

Being a visitor too many different offices you can very easily see from the working environment what sort of culture the organisation has.

Some are very obvious, projecting their product and services with a bit of fun around the team.  The harder to identify are the big corporates, which may well have their values on display, however they don’t give much away as to what is like to work there.

Waiting for meetings in a reception area or if you are lucky a social area you can see team members come and go.  Watching the interaction of colleagues and the general vibe  as to whether they make you feel welcome says a lot about the company.

Waiting in a fun social area with a pool table and darts board with fruit and every drink imaginable you feel relaxed.  Team members come and go taking breaks and a screen flashes up photos of their people with quirky facts about them.  I got to see the face of several people I was about to meet before I met them in the flesh.

In contrast waiting in a very beige waiting area with an empty perspex magazine holder and no pictures, reflects a culture that has given up on its people.

Another example is the slick reception desk with a vast atrium and the team all in identical outfits does not show what lies beyond.

Think about your welcome area being the gateway to your business and your team.  What do you want to share?

Top Tips to reflect your culture:-

  • Welcome sign
  • Company name
  • Photos of the team (fun facts)
  • Colourful and well lit area
  • Papers/Magazines that are current or relevant to your business
  • Drinks/fruit available
  • Ensure that every member of the team who passes a visitor acknowledges them

First impressions of people happen in 7 seconds so exactly the same assessment is being about your company and your people.  Take time to get it right and work for you and your people.

Please do get in touch for a workshop on culture bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

Posted in Bite size learning, Decision Making, Leadership, Management, personal impact

Unconscious bias…

The definition of unconscious bias is unsupported judgements.

We have the conscious mind where we apply logic and make rational decisions.  The unconscious mind has a vaster volume of information and we tend to use it to make snap decisions, which are not often right.

The information in the unconscious mind is made up of shortcuts, personal experiences, our own background and cultural background.  We create filters with this information and they often formulate from visual cues.

The cues can be gender, height, similarity or even their name.   I once met some-one who said they had never met a Bev they had liked before (an outspoken open bias).  More often as the bias is unconscious nothing will be said and you may not even be aware that you are making a judgement.

This instinctive use of our mind is not based on any analysis and therefore creates many categories of bias.  We often favour our own groups, this is known as affinity bias.  We have an affinity with a team member and we may support them with positive micro behaviours.  Praise after a meeting and the occasional coffee as you enjoy their company.  If we don’t have an affinity we may use negative micro behaviours, picking up on every detail within an email and not supporting them within meetings.

We cannot stop unconscious bias however we can become aware of it and begin to challenge it and address it.

  • Slow decision making down
  • Reconsider the reasons of your first initial reaction or response
  • Question any cultural stereotypes
  • Monitor each other and call it out, if you think there is a bias

We can address unconscious bias by greater self awareness.  Please do get in touch for a workshop on the topic bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk 

Posted in Bite size learning, Decision Making, Goals, Leadership, Management, motivation, Relationships

Gold clients…

Business development is relentless and often it can be hard to think of a new approach.  Most of your new business will come from existing clients so we need to focus on which ones have the most potential to grow your business, and also be enjoyable to work with.

The first step is to create three categories:-

  1. Existing clients
  2. Prospective clients (warm leads not yet converted)
  3. Wish

We can then divide the existing clients into a further three areas:-

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Bronze

Really analyse your clients and decide which ones are Gold.  You may need to take some time to think about the criteria for being Gold.  We often make the mistake of focusing our time on clients who pay a high premium fee, however they demand double the time. Other clients pay a constant fee which gives you guaranteed income and need very little time.

Therefore ask some questions to create the Gold criteria:-

  • What is the current fee structure?
  • How much time do you spend on the Client account?
  • Do you enjoy working with them?
  • How much resource is required to service that account?
  • How long have they been a Client?
  • Have they given you more work?
  • Have they recommended you to other Clients?

Make the exercise visual by having your Gold clients on display in your office.

“What you focus on becomes reality”. 

Prospective Clients will need to be touched regularly as now to get to a point of sale you will need at least eight touch points if not more.  Keep a tracker and make sure it is on display to all the team.

Wish seems a bit far reaching, however again the genius of audacity you just never know.  It is a great exercise to focus on who your dream client would be as it helps with the categorisation of the Gold existing clients.

Please do get in touch if you would like nuggets to facilitate a management meeting bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk 

Posted in Bite size learning, Leadership, Management, motivation, training

Do and Don’ts for interviews

The New Year is the time when you start to think about new team members. The interview is the first view of your company and should be a memorable occasion.

Working with a company a few years ago we decided to turn the recruitment and selection process into more of an assessment day with the emphasis on “fun”.

The day started at 7.30am with breakfast in the kitchen area.  The candidates had a fun icebreaker relevant to the company.  We then had three exercises so we split the group accordingly.  The activities were as follows:-

  • Speed interviewing – Just 3 questions asked in rotation by 3 people
  • Sending an email – testing their communication skills
  • Spelling and Grammar test

We then brought the group back together for Q & A on the company and to enjoy the leftovers of the croissants.  We received really good feedback how it was so much more refreshing than a normal interview.

However if you are going down the more traditional route have a look at some Dos and Don’ts I have compiled:-

Dos

Don’ts

Offer refreshments No comfort or welcome
Explain Agenda and timings No time scale
Job spec – clear outline of position No job spec
Brief overview of Company (must be brief) 80:20 rule No company info
Behavioural interview questions

Skills questions that are relevant to the job

Hypothetical questions

Questions about CV

Outside interests

Template to write answers to questions – for each candidate No notes
The same format and interview for every candidate No structure or format – different with every candidate
Appitude test eg.

Send an email

Spot spelling and grammar errors

No basic testing
Introduce candidate to the team No introductions
Another member of the team to take to the exit – “Ask how they managed interview today?” Meet the same person throughout interview
Follow up No follow up

Please do get in touch if you would like nuggets to provide Behavioural interview training or just simply to design something fun for your recruitment process.

bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk