I was in a coaching session recently with an experienced manager, who had come to me because he felt like his team had “gone off the boil”. They were still delivering results, but things had flattened out. Sales growth had slowed and there was a sense of things being a bit stuck.
A couple of diagnosis questions later and it became clear that the underlying issue fell under one of my Business Reinvention Principles (BRPs) – the power of REPETITION.
Here are two of the elements that we discussed:
1. Maintain the repetition of things that work! The manager identified that there were several activities/routines that had been part of the early success of the team that had fallen off the agenda as they all got busier. As an example, in the past he had taken the time to check in with his team, on an informal basis, to connect with them individually. As things got busier, this had morphed into a group check-in at weekly meetings.
While team meetings are a critically important activity for creating ongoing results, relying on them for all communications and development conversations is a mistake. Not everyone responds to group messages and feedback the same way – some people thrive on public recognition/some find it embarrassing; some people can handle group criticism or adjustment; others find it excruciating. By allowing the “too busy” bug to get into the system, this manager was missing out on the opportunity to both reward & adjust his team members’ behaviours, activities and results in customised ways.
2. Adjust or delete the repetition of things that don’t work any more (or never really did)! Some of your staff may have many years of experience. Two questions to ask are “are they still growing, learning and developing or are they just having the same year over and over again?” and “are there processes or systems that are getting in the way of my people doing their best work?”
Repetition of ineffective practices will never deliver better results, but sometimes they can slip into the background of a busy day/week/month and before we know it, they have become “the way we do things around here”, despite the lack of outcome. If you realise that some of your team have fallen into poor habits, of activity, behaviour or process, the tough first step is to realise that part of it might be your fault, for not having addressed it earlier (remember the “too busy” bug?). Regardless, once you have noticed the issue, it’s vital to take remedial action quickly, without knee-capping the team member.
Remember that most* people come to work to do their best, then things get in the way. As business owners and managers, it’s our job to create an environment which rewards the behaviours & activities that drive results and provides a disincentive for the ongoing repetition of things that don’t!
(* …and some don’t, but that’s a topic for another article!)