Getting the Best from Your Staff – Some Ideas from our Latest Workshop

At the end of November 2012 we ran another of our very popular workshops, where we focused on how to get the best from your staff. After a short talk on issues to be considered, we opened up the floor to the delegates, to give them a chance to ask specific questions about their businesses and their staff.

Here are some of the topics that came up in the discussions, along with some of the solutions that were proposed.

Top tips for getting the best from your staff:

  • Appraisals are very effective for learning where your members of staff are at with their jobs. It gives you both a chance to talk about what’s expected and how people are performing against those expectations. Not carrying out regular appraisals can allow small issues to grow into major problems, if they’re not dealt with promptly.
  • Job Chats are a more informal way of talking to members of staff about how things are going. You might have a job chat over a cup of coffee rather than in a meeting or with agenda. You can do them more frequently than appraisals and they are a great way of picking up small issues that need to be discussed.
  • There are many ways of rewarding your staff that don’t involve money. Reward them by making them feel part of your business; if they can see how they have an influence on the growth of the business, they will get a great sense of achievement and feel important and needed.

And here are some of the topics we discussed:

Question: “One of my staff members works hard during office hours and takes work home, so we don’t mind if he’s a bit late in the morning. Another member of staff doesn’t seem to work as hard and is checked when he’s late. He’s complained about this. What can I do to keep both of them happy and working hard?”

Answer: “Talk to the second staff member to explain why you’re more flexible with his colleague. He may not be aware how hard his colleague is working or that he takes work home with him.”


An idea: “We introduced an efficiency percentage report for our staff, based on the speed of finishing a project, completing it properly and the size of the project. The report is great for showing who is doing what within the business. Some staff didn’t like the idea when we introduced it, until we realised that they’re the ones who aren’t very busy. They’re finishing a project and not letting me know that they need more work to be getting on with! Now we know who is working efficiently, we can work on improving that across the whole business.”


An issue: “A couple of members of staff asked me if they could work late and do some overtime and I agreed. I’m not often in the office and at the end of the first week, my general manager asked why they were working late. When I explained, he told me that these two members of staff were always late in the morning! Did they ask me instead of their manager because they knew what I’d say?”

A solution: Make sure you’re clear about what you agree with your staff and find out why they want to change their hours. Consider all the angles and speak to their managers before making a decision.

We’ll be running another workshop in the spring which you can attend if you have any issues to discuss. If you have anything you need help with now, please do get in touch by calling 0118 940 3032 or emailing

Don?t Make a Pantomime Out of HR

Here’s a little festive tale of HR for you, called the Cinderella School of HR.

Cinderella doesn’t like having to work long hours in the run up to Christmas, and drop everything every time her step mother wants something. She prefers being able to work flexible hours, as she knows what she needs to get done. Helping her identify ways of improving her work/life balance makes her much more engaged with her work.

The Ugly Sisters spend a lot of time telling poor Cinders what to do. They find fault with everything that she does and yet they never lift a finger to help. Why do they pick on their step-sister in this way? Because they’ve both realised that they’re not reaching the objectives that were set at their last appraisals – they’re both underperforming! Making Cinderella look bad means that their mother won’t notice how useless they are. Perhaps they need the Fairy Godmother to carry out their next appraisals and see what needs to be done?

Prince Charming used to be far from charming. He was always doing his own thing, despite having been told what to do on numerous occasions. He turned up late for princely duties; he didn’t send his reports back to the office promptly, so Buttons couldn’t get the invoices out on time. The Fairy Godmother was called in to see if young Charming could be sacked. Instead she suggested a capability meeting, where she explained the concerns and set some goals for Charming to achieve in time for another meeting in two weeks. The King called back just a week later to say that Charming had suddenly become utterly charming and was in fact now the best Prince that the King had ever known. All that from one meeting!

So if Cinderella doesn’t seem pleased to be at work, ask her what you can do to improve her work/life balance.

If you’ve got Ugly Sisters not meeting their targets, or Princes not being charming, instead of trying to get rid of them, talk to them about how you can improve their performance and wave your magic wand! You could be surprised by the results. Oh yes you could!

What can you do to make sure you don’t make a pantomime out of HR in your business?

What’s the Best Way to Deal with Underperforming Staff?

In a recent blog post I introduced you to Heather, who was receiving poor performance feedback. Click here to read about Heather . Did you have any solutions for her?

Here are our suggestions.

While Heather has a lot of experience developing training courses, she’s not getting good feedback from delivering them. The cause of this could be that she:

  • Only likes writing courses and not the delivery
  • Has been given the delivery, when it wasn’t originally part of her job
  • She doesn’t have the confidence in delivery of the information when asked questioned
  • She thinks she’s being challenged when someone asks her a question.

How can we help Heather?

First it is important to acknowledge Heather’s strengths – her knowledge and ability to write training courses. Then we need to find out what she thinks about the feedback she’s getting and how she feels about the delivery of the courses. Does she enjoy that part of the job? If so, we can help her build up her confidence. Has she had any training in presentation skills? If not and she wants to continue with the delivery, we can look at the right training to help her.

In situations like this, it’s important to hear all the sides of the story, before rushing to any conclusions or imposing a solution. Work with your members of staff to find the best outcome for both of you.

How do you deal with issues of under performance in your business? Leave a comment here to share your views and ideas.

Preventative HR – Keep Your Staff Happy Through Feedback

One of the best ways you can keep your staff happy and working productively is by giving them regular feedback. Tell them how they’re doing against the standards you’ve set for them and your business.

We all like receiving praise, so make sure that you regularly praise your employees for a job well done. Depending on the size of your team, you can write down one positive comment for each of your team, every day or every week – and share this with them on a regular basis. When you see someone doing something well, praise them for it – you don’t need to wait for a formal meeting to deliver praise. In fact, praising someone as soon as you see them doing something well will have a far greater impact.

If you have members of staff who are doing really well, you can move them on in your business. If you have staff that are not doing so well, you need to tell them about it. And you need to do this promptly. Don’t leave it too long if there’s a performance issue, because it could get worse. Address it promptly rather than waiting for an annual appraisal. When someone is underperforming, they need you to tell them about it. You can’t make improvements if your boss doesn’t tell you that you’re not meeting their standards, or doing something the way they want it done.

Feedback can be delivered on an ad hoc basis, in team meetings and at appraisals, which should be done at least once a year ? more frequently with new members of staff. Use feedback and reviews to look at how you can help your employees improve their performance and you’ll be able to keep them happy and work hard for your business for longer.

To find out more about giving feedback, take a look at the short video on my website ? click here to watch it.