Richard Maun – How To Get The Best From Your Staff

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How To Get The Best From Your Staff

6 May 2013

Networking is an essential ingredient of business success and this week I was the speaker at the Mill Breakfast networking group in Norfolk. (On Twitter follow @MillBreakfast). Good people, scrummy food and me! What a winning combination.

Instead of handing out paper notes I said I’d blog them this week, which of course means I get to share them with everyone else too! A business win and an eco-win! Here we go:

To get the best out of our staff we need to remember that:

Good people + good process = Great business.

Most people come to work to do a good job and are thwarted by having to labour under time consuming, arbitrary and wasteful processes. By removing wastes of time and resources we can free up people to perform better for us.

A useful motto is ‘be generous with people and ruthless with waste’. Three ways to improve processes are:

1) Gemba. This means to stand still and observe. Draw a small circle on the floor and stand in it for 20mins. Look around you. What do you notice? What are people waiting for? What is causing them to walk about repeatedly? (Having one central printer can introduce a lot of wasted time). Add up the waste to find out how much is lost each year: 10 minutes a day can cost you 40 hours a year!!

2) Frustrations. People know what irritates them, so ‘mine their frustrations’. Ask them to share with you and make sure you listen carefully. Do not explain away their concerns – instead take the information and use it to redesign the process.

3) Frank Williams. He’s the owner of the F1 racing team and someone who knows all about removing waste. When a colleague brings him a new idea or product to try he says: ‘Does it make the car go faster?’ …if it doesn’t they don’t use it.

That’s 3 great tips to improve process!

When we think about people, they need to feel safe …because that brings trust and allows them to think clearly. If they feel scared the chances are they’ll invest time chatting to colleagues, or simply fretting and pretending to be productive, when in reality they’re not. Here’s 3 top tips to make sure people really are adding value:

1) Contact. Be nice! Say hello! People need contact and to see their leaders and feel acknowledged. If you use telepathy to ‘send’ positive thoughts to your team then stop – they’re not mind readers. Go and talk to them, bring coffee and donuts, smile and use their names. People always work harder for a friendly, supportive, caring leader.

2) Contract. People need to know the rules and what is expected of them. They also need to know that the rules will be enforced and that people will be treated equally. The same applies when setting tasks too. Great managers ask great questions, such as: What are your expectations? How will you start this task? What is really going to get in the way? Can you give me your initial thoughts by next week? …If a task goes awry, go back to the contract and ask yourself what could have been done differently?

3) Competency. Are you competent to set the task? Is your colleague competent to complete it? It’s always worth considering this, because competency can fluctuate between different situations. In my experience confident presenters are often only good with their home subject. Ask them to present on a wider business issue and their competency drops. As a leader you may need to offer support, or training or re-assign the task. Competency counts – don’t overestimate what you or your colleagues can do. Be realistic and give people space to share issues and concerns.

That’s the key points of my networking talk. Let me know if you’d like me to visit your group sometime! (I do enjoy speaking). Next week I’m going to highlight 3 of my favourite ‘performance improvement’ tips that I shared at the end of this talk.

All my tips and tools tips have been drawn from 20+ years of experience and mixed with Lean process improvement thinking and Transactional Analysis. Do get in touch if you’d like to develop your business. It’s what I do.

Have a good week!


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© Richard Maun 2015 / Click here to contact