Saturday, February 20, 2010

Treat your team fairly or risk poor morale

Some disturbing news over the last few weeks, makes you think if the board of directors is very well advised when it comes to treating all your team members fairly.

Consider this three weeks ago the company broadcasts to its employees that there will be no annual pay rise this year. Most team members take this on the chin and accept times are tough and at least I still have a job to go to.

Imagine the hurt these team members fell when last week the company announces it has increased the CEO's salary by some 20%. Wow what a way to smash your companies morale.

While both announcements were in there usual sugar coated spin, the team members were not impressed and many were openly upset by the double standards applied.

I doubt many team members would disagree that some people get paid more than others as they have special skills to contribute. However when people are treated vastly different it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those involved.

Next time you need to make big announcements, perhaps you should take a step back and take a reality look to see that everyone in your organisation is being treated in a fair manner.

By treating everyone in a fair and reasonable manner, you stand a great chance of maintaining your team's morale and building towards the future.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cross training to strengthen your team

As the year gets well and truly underway, now is the time to look at how you can strengthen your team.

Take a few moments and look at all the tasks your team has to complete over the year, write these down in a list leaving three lines between each entry.

Next take a look at all your team members and match a name against each entry as the main person to complete this task. From here work through the list again and find a backup person to each task. Finally work through the list again looking for alternate backup people who could do this task.

The important step now is to look through each of your backup people and rate them on their capability to do their backup task, anyone who score less than seven out of ten you need to highlight.

Analyse your list and look for the area you just identified as a weakness in the depth of your teams capabilities. Consider the impact to your team if the principal person got sick or left your team.

Now it's time to earn your money, talk to each member you have identified and come up with an action plan to get them cross-trained to a higher level of competency. Some members will resist while some will see it as an opportunity to grow. Its your job to ensure that by half-way through the year you have covered all these gaps.

As the year progresses look to exercise your backup people from time to time to ensure they keep their skills up to an acceptable level. Be sure to provide feedback as each one of these backup people go through their paces and make sure they know why they are doing this.

By ensuring our teams are balanced with a good level of cross-skilling our team will develop a better appreciation of the other team members and what they do, but also you will have a far greater team with depths of skillful people to call on.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Team members to work task evaluations

At the start of most business years we get to hear all about the goal setting process and having each member of the team be assigned some goals to drive the productivity and performance of the team over the next twelve months.

Today I want to take a step back from this and look at making an evaluation of all the tasks your team needs to complete and considering if the right people are doing the right jobs.

One of the big dissatisfiers in the workplace and within our teams is when members are doing tasks that they don't enjoy, or are not part of their job descriptions. Consider this: you hire some young college graduate who specialises in writing software. As it turns out he is a wiz with numbers and spreadsheets. A couple of months later you're getting bogged down for a project review and you need someone to pull the profit and loss statements together. He takes the job on hand and does a wonderful job. Now six months later he is complaining about not being happy with his job, and sadly when we look back and review what went on we see that we have moved his tasking away from software development and now more than 60% of his time is involved in managing the books for the projects.

This is not an uncommon scenario as we look to get the tasks for team completed sometimes we overlook who is doing what and are they the best person for this job.

There are lots of ways to protect our teams from the this type of mis-direction, here's one simple way.

Firstly take a look at all the major tasks your team needs to complete, write the task out on the top of a sheet of paper. now take each team members Job Description (JD) and highlight the top four or five entries (this is what our members see as their principal tasks).

Secondly work your way through each team members job description and find any that have a first or second entry that matches to the tasks you put on each sheet of paper. Write down the name of the JD and the person under this task. Work your way through all your team members assigning their first and second tasks to your list of team jobs.

At the end of this process you should have a good split of names to each task, sure some will be primarily doing this task while others maybe assisting.

Watch out for any tasks that only have one person assigned or worse still have no-one assigned. if this is the case you need to do some research and find out if: the job is not being done at all, if someone is doing it as an extra.

Now we need to develop an action plan to plug these holes. If some is doing a task that is quite obtuse to their JD it is very important we talk with them and gain feedback and to why they do it and are they happy to do it. Maybe you need to acknowledge there is a gap and come up with a strategy to fix the issue or at the very least work out some form of compensation so they keep doing the job while you find a way to fix your workplace. Remember if you have landed someone with the task of being janitor or something they find not stimulating they will usually become unhappy in your team and want to move on.

By taking a holistic view of our team members, the jobs at hand and the team members expectations we can ensure the work is properly allocated and maintain a good team spirit.