Ask a manager to nominate the greatest asset in their business and they’re most likely to say, their staff.
If this is the case then, shouldn’t we invest more time in maintaining our key relationships with the most important people in our lives?
When we put people together and give them a task which requires them to cooperate and collaborate, something predictable happens. The communication (interactions) between each other becomes patterned and a leadership structure develops.
One person tends to assume a leadership role with a focus on achieving a task, such as goal and role setting, directing, assigning, summarising and offering ideas, suggestions and orders. (Task Actions)
Another person will assume the social/emotional role that focuses on ensuring healthy, collaborative and supportive relationships while the group completes the tasks; such as alleviating frustration, relieving tensions (laughing/having fun), solving interpersonal problems and mediation. (Maintenance Actions)
An effective leader will always pay attention to both actions because getting the balance right will result in an enjoyable, effective and efficient team.
Aligning the Agendas
As managers or leaders, we have an agenda which is often reflected by the outcomes we want and need our teams to achieve; net profit, market share, GP targets and the list goes on.
To successfully achieve our business goals, our agenda is made easier if the objectives are aligned to our staffs’ agenda. If management and staff are all on the same page, then managers spend less time in the task action space; telling, directing, overseeing, correcting, advising etc.
So, what is the agenda of your staff? What are their ‘pain points?’ What do they want their managers to stop and start doing that would make their jobs more enjoyable and productive?
Listening to understand - not to agree or disagree - and then not suggesting, or advising or directing, or solving is a key maintenance action.
Have a Bakery Maintenance Chat
Back to your business’s greatest asset, competent and committed staff. How often do we check-in on them and maintain our most important assets? I’m not talking about conducting a formal performance review, I’m suggesting an informal relationship maintenance check-in over a coffee.
Recently we asked 6 department managers to meet with each of their department staff over a coffee. Yes, you’re right, this was us being task orientated. Well spotted.
We also gave the department managers a Maintenance Chat template to follow and complete. Their enthusiasm for the task was at best, tepid.
At the end of the month the department managers met to debrief from the maintenance chats and talked about their newly acquired caffeine addiction.
The results? Here are some of their verbatim comments.
“We dealt with a few issues that we’d been dodging for a fair while. It (the chat) was a relief for both of us.”
“Found out more about my crew than I thought I would.”
“Discovered that one of the blokes wasn’t pulling his weight and that this was pissing off all the others.”
“It surprised me that they wanted me to put more formal structures in place, like meetings and they even suggested some agenda items. One agenda item was a rippa ‘what I’m struggling with is…’ We put this in the meeting agenda and we’re now supporting each other a lot more.”
“They wanted more feedback on how the business was performing and if we needed to improve in any areas”
“I didn’t like some of their feedback. All four of them told me some things that I was doing that really annoyed them.”
They aligned agendas
Often when we talk to staff, work colleagues, partners, bosses we can be very task orientated, especially in busy work environments.
The department managers found out that their staffs’ agendas were similar to theirs; that they wanted to feel valued, their opinion counted and that their efforts were appreciated.
Praising, showing appreciation, saying thank you, noticing when someone is struggling and offering support and listening and not jumping straight to problem solving are all maintenance actions.
Who are the key people in your life and when was the last time you gave them a really good listening to? You could also ask them for their agenda for you.
If you would like a copy of the Bakery Maintenance Chat template give me a call or send me an email.
Don’t eat to many croissants when you’re at the bakery!
And remember that a little maintenance goes a long way.