INSIGHTS

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Losing The Dressing Room… What To Do When The Team Turn Against You

After a truly horrific couple of weeks, the Sunday Times reported last weekend that Tory MPs have given Theresa May 10 days to ‘shape up – or ship out’. Hardly an enviable position to be in. But she’s not the first and won’t be the last leader to lose the support and goodwill of her team.

But what are your options if this happens to you? Do you even have any…?

Don’t Pretend It’s Not Happening

The ‘head in the sand’ reaction – while understandably tempting – is rarely an effective long term answer. Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away, in fact it usually makes things much worse. So put your big boy or girl pants on and set out to…

Identify And Address The Root Cause

The first rule of problem solving is ‘define the problem’ – so approach this in the same way. Write down in clear terms exactly what the issue in the team is, what it looks like, and how it is making you feel. Sometimes just doing this can help neutralise some of the anxiety many leaders in this situation feel as it will help you fully understand what you are dealing with. Then once you have done this you can set about trying to work out the root cause.  Which might not be easy: so to help you begin, you could…

Find Someone To Talk To

Crystallising the issue for yourself will make it easier for you to articulate what’s going on to someone else. Find someone you trust with whom to talk this all through. An independent third party perspective is likely to be helpful, both in terms of identifying possible root causes, and mapping out what steps you might take to resolve the issue with your team. It’s a particularly good idea to approach someone who you know will be honest with you, as exploring team issues like these are sometimes uncomfortable for leaders. In other words, you’re likely to need to…  

Look In The Mirror

Is there anything in your leadership style that might have created or contributed towards negativity in the team? Be honest – you won’t get anywhere if you’re not prepared to admit the truth to yourself. For example, how far do you consider the impact of your actions and decisions on your people? How would you rate your ability to communicate, delegate and listen to them? Have you ever asked them for their honest feedback on you as a leader?  If you suspect that the root cause might have something to do with you – then you need to be prepared to accept this. And not only that – but act on it. An open conversation your team – either altogether, or in the form of one-to-ones – with a bit of humility and a genuine desire to listen and improve could pay enormous dividends. The real test of course will be in identifying what personal changes to make, and how you can sustain these. It takes courage and hard work, but I have seen leaders brave enough to admit they got things wrong in the past turn seemingly dire team situations around with aplomb.  

Of course, it might be that the problem isn’t you at all – in which case you may need to…

Identify And Address ‘Problem Individuals’

Quite often the root cause of what seems to be a whole team issue can be traced to one or two people with a negative attitude infecting the rest of the team.

If this is the case, then swift and decisive action is essential. You have to deal with trouble making or insubordination straight away, regardless of how busy you are or how much you dislike conflict.  Treat it as you would any other performance issue. Hold a one-to-one meeting with any individuals concerned. Share with them the specific examples of the behaviour you view as unacceptable (such as repeatedly criticising your decisions) and spell out what the impact of their behaviour has been (such as on the attitude or performance of the rest of the team). Explain that such behaviour is not acceptable, because it not only affects their ability to work as part of the team, but undermines the performance of the team as a whole. Make clear what acceptable behaviour looks like, and agree some targets around this if necessary, together with a date to review. Explain in specific terms what the consequences will be if their behaviour doesn’t change. Emphasise that while you are open to debate, hearing other suggestions, and accept that not everyone will always agree with you, there is a line to be drawn and you will not tolerate behaviour that’s obstructive, inappropriate or unprofessional.

But Remember To Treat Everyone With Respect

To increase your chances of a successful outcome in these situations it’s important to adopt a self-assured and adult demeanour. You might think their behaviour has been childish but don’t start telling them off and don’t get angry. Or maybe you find them a little intimidating, or you dislike openly tackling difficult people situations like this – in which case, you’ll need to quickly brush up on your assertiveness skills. Either way, you must treat them with respect: they might not have been fully aware of how they’ve been coming across, the damage they’ve done or the possible ramifications for themselves. It’s not always easy but if you can show them a bit of the respect you are asking them to show you, and are prepared to listen to their side of the story (though you may not agree with it, of course) then you will know you’ve handled the issue in a fair manner, with professionalism and skill. In these situations, I have seen some team members accept corrective feedback and improve their attitude to the benefit of all. I have also seen some people who are unprepared to make the required changes within the agreed time frame, shown the door. Sometimes this is unavoidable and necessary, so be prepared to follow through.

As for Mrs May, it will be interesting to watch what changes she makes to her leadership style over the coming days – if any. Leadership takes courage. And the true test of a great leader is when crisis hits….

theHRhub is the ultimate online support system for startups and SMEs. We offer expert HR advice, a lively members forum and all the tools as templates you need to manage your team effectively. Find out more here

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Calling All Business Leaders: Think HR is boring? Then Read This…

This article isn’t about some new fancy techno widget you can download in a jiffy and implement overnight. No. It’s about HR. The function that helps you get the most out of your people. Hang on, don’t go….

Let’s be honest, we know HR has something of a reputation for being a little bit boring amongst some business leaders. It’s a burden that we’ve carried for years and it’s one that refuses to budge in a lot of circles.

But is there any substance behind it? Are we really just a group of thundering bores who can bring nothing more to your business than bureaucracy and forms to fill in and pointless policies that never see the light of day?

We’re more than willing to look at the arguments….

Here are 3 reasons why HR is vital to your business: 


We Can Keep You Out Of Tribunals

Because the court room is really exciting, right? It’s definitely where most business owners want to end up when they’re in the middle of balancing everyday concerns and striving towards growth. Though of course, it’s not. It’s your worst nightmare and it can be costly and stressful. Good HR practices ensure that you’re not accidentally breaking the law.

We Can Save You A Load Of Money

Is making money more tempting than saving money? It could be argued that it is. If you’re particularly daring, then you might decide to just focus on bringing more in, whilst ignoring the fact that your spending is spiralling out of control and you’re wasting cash all over the place. But good leaders know that it’s a mix of both… And that’s precisely why they use HR professionals to make sure that their staffing budget is invested in all the right places.

We Can Make Your Workplace A Peaceful And Productive Place

Some people thrive on drama and arguments and scandal. They might say that without these things, life is pretty dull. If that sounds like you, then HR might not be your cup of tea. Most managers though just want everyone to be able to get along and form positive working relationships, so they can enjoy their time at work and make a contribution.

Still think these things are boring? Then HR is guilty as charged. But if you recognise that these things are in fact prerequisites for running a profitable and sustainable business, then we should talk. We can bring the right brand of ‘boring’ to your business, and steer you clear of the unnecessary headaches and dramas.

Give us a call today on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk to arrange your no-obligation consultation. We might just surprise you.

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Training: How To Make Sure It’s A Good Investment For Your Employees AND Your Company

Training can often be a costly business for SMEs especially as your business grows and you try to retain your key talent. Have you ever paid for an employee’s training believing that they would remain loyal to your company only to watch them leave for another job? It’s truly gutting, and hard not to take personally. Whilst there’s precious little you can do about that particular situation now, you can take action in advance to limit your financial exposure in the future.

Actually, the process of recouping costs is relatively simple and straightforward. It involves you entering into a formal agreement with an employee before they start their training.

Follow these simple steps to ensure that you have some comfort of seeing a return on your investment:

  • Discuss what benefits the requested training will have for the employee and your business.  Only offer to provide funding for training when you can see a direct benefit for your company.
  • Once you have agreed to pay for all (or some) of the training course agree what the terms of repayment are going to be if the employee resigns. The most effective way to do this is to decide on a staggered system of claw back whereby the amount to be repaid by the employee decreases with time until a certain period has lapsed after which no repayment is due. You can calculate your own specific rules with regards to claw back but a common approach is to stipulate a repayment of 100% of the training costs if the employee resigns within 3 months of completing training; 75% repayment after 3 – 6 months; 50% after 6 – 9 months and 25% after 9 – 12 months. After 12 months, no repayment would be due.
  • Put the agreement in writing and give the employee a clear explanation of what the terms mean. You should also make sure that the employee signs the agreement to give their consent to the repayment terms. Such repayments cannot be implemented retrospectively without the employee’s consent because the repayment constitutes a deduction from pay. A deduction of this kind that is not agreed with the employee beforehand is an unlawful one.
  • Remember that you can only put a formal training agreement in place for training outside of any regular in house training that you offer as a business (such as the costs associated with their induction). The cost of on-the-job training is something that you should budget into your normal expenses and is not something you will be able to recover, even if your employee leave 2 weeks after the training.

Although training can be costly to your business, work-related training courses can be an invaluable investment for both you and your employees: your employee spends their time learning new skills and widening their knowledge; your business benefits from an individual who can play a more significant role in the business, in turn contributing to increased profits, more streamlined internal processes etc.

Need help formalising your training agreements? Contact us at theHRhub on 0203 627 7048 for more information on how to support your employees training needs. Or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

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The Secret To Better Work-Life Balance For Business Owners

When you dip into an article from an HR consultant about work-life balance, you probably have a few preconceptions about what we’re going to say. You might imagine that we’re going tell you that time off is vital, and that no one can fire on all cylinders without getting some well-deserved time away from the office. Maybe you think that we’re going to drive home the importance of adhering to the legislation around working hours, and ensuring that you aren’t breaking the law when it comes to how you require your staff to turn up and get stuff done.

And of course, all of these things are important and most definitely have their place.

Here’s the thing though…

We’re business owners too. We understand that it can feel like your work is never going to be done. We know the pressures of running the show, managing a team, and trying to hold it all together.

So how about today, we have a frank and honest conversation about YOUR work-life balance, as the head honcho in your business?

Sure, sometimes the long hours are inevitable if you want to reach your goals, make more sales and put food on the table. But the reality is that you can’t serve anyone – including yourself – if you’re constantly tired, burnt out, and spinning way too many plates at the same time. No one said that running a business was going to be easy, but it can certainly be a whole load more simple when you recognise that you aren’t a machine.

If you know that it’s only a matter of time before things start to spiral out of control, here’s one important thing that you can do to help right now:

Delegate, and outsource the things that you’re just no good at

If you’re spending half your days firefighting people management issues, or focusing on anything at all that isn’t your zone of genius, then you’re definitely limiting your earning potential.

How To Delegate Effectively

Brief Properly – carefully outline the outcome you’re expecting together with expected timelines and any constraints or barriers

Don’t Micro Manage – Try not to be too exacting when explaining the process itself – let them do it their way

Have Faith – Trust them to do a good job. You are not indispensable and competent people can get to grips with anything with enough practise

Set Them Up For Success –  Make sure they are armed with everything they might need to do complete the task with aplomb

Give Credit Where Credit’s Due – A bit of recognition goes a long way. And never forget to say thank you.

HR issues can often be a headache for business owners. Seeking help from a consultant will save you time and money as well as whole pile of stress. Do get in touch with us at theHRhub to chat about how we could work together to get you some breathing space, a bit more time outside of the office, and a cohesive plan to help reach your goals.

Give us a call today on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk and we can arrange to have a no-obligation discussion about your next steps.

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Onboarding: How To Mentor A First-Time Mentor

A new employee’s onboarding programme and on the job learning should always be the responsibility of their line manager. But it’s wise also to allocate each new starter a mentor who can offer further advice, specific training on a particular skill and generally be the first port of call when their boss isn’t around. As well as being a hugely important person for the mentee, being a mentor can be a crucial developmental step for future line managers. Given this, new mentors need to be supported and set up for success too. Here’s our advice on how to mentor a first time mentor:

1. Brief Them Fully

Take them through the onboarding programme (again, the line manager should be the owner of this document but it’s a wise move to ask the mentor for their input so they feel actively involved).

Carefully outline your expectations – be specific about their responsibilities and how long you see the mentorship going on for. Urge them to set up regular meetings with their mentee and make an effort to track the mentee’s progress effectively.

2. Measure Their Success

You want them to be successful in this role. To ascertain that be clear from the start about how that success will be measured. It may be there’s a specific skill you need the new starter to be trained in to a particular standard within a certain amount of time or a certain project that needs delivering that they have early involvement in. 360 feedback from the mentee and wider team members could be an important early gauge of the new starter’s engagement and overall potential if you feel its too early to measure performance. You may also want to ask the new mentor themselves how they would like to be measured.

3. Encourage Them To Be Proactive

In addition to the onboarding programme and their outlined mentorship responsibilities, other learning opportunities for the mentee are likely to arise in the first few months such as an interesting meeting, work project, course or social occasion. Mentors should definitely be encouraged to suggest a new employee’s involvement in anything that will further their immersion within the organisation.

4. Expect Them To Give Constructive Feedback To Their Mentee If Appropriate

This is often something that new mentors find very difficult to do. Whilst it’s important not to quash a new starters’ confidence (delivering good and bad feedback with a 70:30 ratio is a good steer here), if mentors have constructive feedback to give advise them do it quickly, in person and in private, always giving examples and coming to a mutually agreed course of action to ensure improvements are made.

5. Lead By Example

Be punctual, respectful and prioritise your own meetings with the new mentor so they appreciate how valuable their contribution is. Be an active listener, maintain eye contact, nod, and be interested in what they have to say. Demonstrate coaching skills yourself – asking them what they should do in particular situation rather than telling them how you would do it. In this way they will understand more than any other how you expect the role of a mentor to be carried out.

For advice and support on any HR issue contact theHRhub today for a no strings consultation about your HR needs and how we can help. Call us today on 0203 627 7048 or drop us an email at hello@thehrhub.co.uk.

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Quick Checklist: Performance Management For SMEs

Most business leaders buy-in to the fact that effective performance management is an important way to get the most of your staff, and ultimately for their businesses to achieve their goals

But making the most of the performance management process is a complex task to master. Particularly when business-critical issues are leading you astray.

Help is at hand though. This quick checklist, gives you the tips and advice you need when giving your performance management process an MOT:

Our Quick Performance Management Checklist:

√ Create A Policy That’s Well Communicated To Staff And Regularly Reviewed
Creating HR policies and procedures isn’t just about ticking boxes. Your documentation should support the day-to-day running of your business, prevent any problems from occurring and ensure that you have a clear route to follow if things go wrong. Done correctly, they can save you a load of time, money, and hassle. If you don’t have a performance management policy that your staff know about and understand, then this needs to be your first action point.

It should be noted here that any HR policy needs to be regularly reviewed. Is it fulfilling its purpose? Is there room for improvement? Are there certain issues that keep arising, that need to be tackled? If you haven’t recently reviewed your documentation, then take this as a reminder to do so.

√ Design A Framework To Manage Conversations

There needs to be a degree of flexibility in your conversations, and each and every member of staff will be different. Still though, having a framework that allows you to structure the meetings and cover key points is essential.

Exactly what you decide to include will depend on the nature of your business, but you’ll want to consider how you’ll include positive feedback, how you’ll introduce areas that need to be improved and how you’ll set goals.

√ Upskill Your Line Managers

As your business grows, it’s unlikely that you will be able to manage all the performance discussions. The responsibility will be passed over to your line managers and this of course makes sense if they are the ones who staff report to on a daily basis.

So make sure they are armed with the appropriate skills and training. Are they confident with the task? Do they understand its importance? And are they operating within the policies and frameworks that you have created?

√ Ensure That You Have A Comfortable And Private Setting To Hold Discussions

A no-brainer you would think, but when we’re under time pressure, it’s details like this that can be forgotten. What you discuss in performance management meetings should be confidential, so make sure that you’re making your staff feel welcome, comfortable, and at ease. If necessary, book a slot in a meeting room, and make it clear that interruptions are unacceptable unless there’s an emergency.

√ Always Agree On Any Action Points

During the discussion, there’ll be action points for your employee to take away. Even the highest performing staff will have priorities to work on, so they can continue to make a solid contribution and expand their skills, knowledge, and capabilities.

The key to success here is ensuring that the action points are agreed to. They shouldn’t be simply thrust upon the individual without any discussion or agreement. Getting your staff onboard with the goals will make sure that they’re committed to bringing them into fruition.

√ Make Sure That Goals And Progress Are Regularly Revisited And Assessed

Performance management isn’t just about holding a few meetings once a quarter. If you want to facilitate big improvements and exceptional progress, then you need to make sure that performance is something that is engrained in your business culture.

Encourage your line managers to check-in regularly with their direct reports, provide regular feedback, and diligently collate information that helps them build up a picture of how things are going. These things can take time, for sure, but they’re very worthy items on any manager’s agenda.

√ Ask The Individual To Share Their Views And Opinions

Some people think that a performance discussion simply involves the member of staff being ‘talked at’, for half an hour. This should never be the case. Always ask individuals to share their thoughts on how they’ve performed over the past quarter, and what they think they need to focus on in the near future.

You might unearth important information that you hadn’t previously thought about, and making it a two-way conversation shows your staff that you respect and value their contribution.

√ Welcome Feedback On Your Own Performance

You no doubt spend a decent amount of time thinking about how you can get the most out of your workforce. But are you giving them everything they need from a  business leader?

If you’re not already doing so, think about how you might be able to collect meaningful and honest feedback from your members of staff. Being a good leader is an ongoing process, and you need to have continuous development on your list of priorities, always.

√ End Discussions On A Supportive And Positive Note

Often, there will be less than favourable feedback that needs to be delivered in performance discussions. It’s essential that you and your managers are comfortable when it comes to handling the more negative aspects. Still though, it should never be all doom and gloom. Feedback should always be 70% positive and 30% constructive (if possible!).

If improvements need to be made, then you need to make it clear that you aren’t just ‘telling your staff off’. They should leave the meeting feel supported, and positive about the changes that they’re going to make.

√ Keep Your Admin In Order

Sometimes, admin can be overlooked. Surely, what’s important here is that you’re having conversations that inspire and motivate your staff, and encourage them to do their best in their roles? Whilst this is true, you also need to make sure that the paperwork is in order – it’s in your interests as well as their’s…

Having full and accurate records is essential for continuity purposes and it also ensures that you have documentation that backs up your decisions. And It’s worthwhile taking a look at your systems here, and asking yourself whether they’re the best they could possibly be.

Need a little help?

If you’ve recognised that your performance management processes have some room for improvement, then get in touch. We can help you to assess where you are right now, and where you need to make changes. Give us a call today on 0203 627 7048 or drop us an email at hello@thehrhub.co.uk and we can arrange to have a no-obligation chat.