When you are ready to re-open, recreating that all-important team spirit among staff is as vital as reviewing the products you carry. Helena Cotter draws up a plan so that you start, and continue, from a position of strength
It certainly has been, and continues to be, a challenging time for everyone. Including, of course, bridal retailers – and all who work in our Industry. No-one knows what the short- to long-term prospects are for businesses, but everyone I have spoken to over the past few weeks simply cannot wait to get back to normal trading.
Here then are my tips for a back-to-work programme to reinvigorate and motivate you and your hard-working team once you open the doors to your fabulous premises again.
1. Change the focus
At this unique time, instead of asking why, ask yourself how you can you get back on track. Having been forced to become remote from your business will of course mean you have to put more energy into starting again where you left off.
Taking a more constructive, positive approach to find out what had been working prior to closure – what you were doing well and right – will help ensure you keep doing your best.
As the business owner, particularly at this strange time, there are two important and difficult hats you must wear. Firstly, being able to empathise with your team; cecondly, the ability to deal with your own stress, and problems.
It’s important to keep your worries and feelings private, within reason, because your own apprehension can frighten the team. So, it will be advantageous to use this time to make a plan of action.
Out with the old, in with the new. Look at this as an amazing opportunity to fine-tune your systems, procedures and training in all aspects of your business.
As a team, list all your recognisable achievements to date – what puts you on the map; your business’s USPs. From the smallest to the largest, everything counts. Use this information as a starting point for returning to ‘normal’.
2. Team motivation and goal setting
When you temporarily closed shop, your employees left their work issues behind as well. On returning to work, these will be uppermost in their minds. They will need reassurance now that any issues are part of the bigger picture – the goals you are all working towards.
Aside from the obvious, are there any recent changes in your business that might have affected motivation?
υ Collect information from your team about any fears, thoughts and concerns relating to these events. Even if they appear trivial or simple, treat them with respect and honesty. In this way, you make any potential problems manageable, kept in perspective, and dealt with in a timely manner.
υ Be available and approachable: keep your door open, because your team may need extra support at this time and for the foreseeable future.
Allow them access to your time and be honest. Avoid promising something which you cannot fulfil.
Talking to your team and gaining their input will bring everyone back together and help all to move forward on the same page.
It is important to remember that in order for a team to feel motivated, they must feel motivated on an individual basis first. A good way to achieve this is to set up incentives and opportunities tailored to individuals – and then the team as a whole.
How you choose to design and structure your business has a strong impact on performance. Your team will always follow your lead; they will only reach full potential if the business owner and/or manager is a good motivator. Consistently give effective appraisals throughout the year.
Organise meetings to find out what each team member wants to get out of their jobs and your business in general.
Let them think about and list personal work goals they’d like to achieve in the coming weeks and months. Encouraging them to do this will make their fresh start feel less like a duty, and more like a series of ambitious plans to work towards.
Think about what really motivates your staff. Avoid assuming all people are motivated by the same thing; ie money. Find out what really motivates each employee. A good way to do this is to learn about their own personal values. These often will be the bedrock to new ideas about how to maintain motivation and personal development.
Motivating factors can be:
- Praise and acknowledgement
- Healthy competition
- Job security
- Public recognition
- Fear of failure
- Sales figures; results
- And, of course, financial rewards
It is crucial now your team feel valued and an important part of the business. During an enforced lockdown, some lucky people amongst us will have had this need satisfied by being among family or friends. People we choose to be with, within the restrictions of the current climate. In their working environment this is all too easily neglected. So, take some time to talk to each of your team individually.
3. Encouraging your team
Ask about their experiences during lockdown, tell them how happy you are to see them again, and how much you value them, and their hard work.
Design a questionnaire to use in conjunction with your back-to-work meetings. This will give you the opportunity to create a wonderful open platform for brain storming, and enable everyone to move forward in a positive and constructive way.
Empower your team. Give them some autonomy and allow them to find their own solutions, as opposed to simply telling them what to do. They will work hard to find answers and push through.
4. Going forward
For your team, knowing where they are going, and how you are going to help them – and your business get there, is vital. By planning ahead and helping them work towards short to long term goals you will reassure them that they have a valuable and important future role within your business.
Have a soft, slow and gentle back-to-work couple of weeks. Give the team time to find their groove again. Be mindful that old habits can creep back in when returning to work.
Things may have become a little rusty which is normal. So it’s as well to maintain on-going training in all aspects of your business.
• Sales training
• Product knowledge training
• Industry knowledge
• Any competition
Organise a celebration when everything is back to normal. It will boost your team’s self-esteem, morale, confidence and future success. And, crucially, help build back up a tight knit team.
To find out more:
LinkedIn: Helena Cotter