Build Positive Energy into your Team


Last week, Simon Brown,  a  leading  Management Consultant in Shared Services, gave some key tips for making your shared services team happy. This week Simon continues on the theme of making your team happy, by looking at ways of demonstrating recognition and ways to build positive energy and resilience in your team.

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Looking back over the 25 years of my career in HR ,where I have worked as a Generalist and ER specialist up to 1996, and since then in all the key roles in the HR triangle model, including European HR Director and Shared Services Director , I can clearly reflect on the managers I have worked for. Their management style has in every case significantly impacted me and influenced how I see and value my working environment.

Over all that time I’ve worked directly for  a total of 32 managers from 7 nationalities. Yet when thinking about  "Best Boss"  positive role models that number reduces down to just 8 for me.  These 8 role model managers ( 25% of the total ) all shared a number of key characteristics including: giving me the freedom to operate ( not over-managing me), giving their time up for me in regular coaching and constructive feedback review sessions, sharing their vision and objectives with me,  and most stimulating of all, giving me recognition for work done well and recognizing how to stretch me and energize me, without pushing me too far over the top with their demands. So this week  I would like to share with you  my own learning's about recognition and building resilience based on my own experiences.

Let’s talk first about Recognition:

Research shows that recognition for a job well done is rated as the top motivator of employee performance.  Recognition is ranked by employees as one of the top nine stress reducers. Effective recognition needs to be:

  1. Timely (not just once a year in objective reviews or the Christmas card message –although that helps!)
  2. Specific (Recognize objectives reached)
  3. Sincere (if you give it, mean it, and let them hear the music in your tone of voice!)
  4. Frequent (regularly review achievements as a standard agenda item in your 1-to-1s and in your team meetings)

A simple thank you (pronounced: THANK YOU!) goes a long way. 

Progress and success is compelling. People love to see results, but we often set the goal posts so far out of reach that we never feel we are achieving anything. By the time we get near the objective, the environment has changed and the goals  re-defined.

  • Create a winning team by widening the goal posts and bringing them nearer so you can achieve a record score. Break down annual objectives into a series of milestones... baby steps:
  • Assign people responsibility for outcomes and hold them personally accountable for results
  • Paint a picture, tell a story, and create a compelling vision. Use a mix of symbols, metaphors as well as words and numbers to appeal to all thinking and learning style preferences in your team
  • Celebrate achievement of each step. "One small step for man …."
  • Encourage people to share their successes and learning’s at team meetings, and praise them for doing so.
  • Push for daily progress. And always Keep the score!
  • Publicize /communicate results as regularly as possible
  • And last but not least – enjoy the journey! Your enjoyment is infectious

To build a strong sustainable shared services team which can keep the pace and continue to deliver over time, I have learnt from tough personal experience that we need to recognize work/life balance to help build resilience into our team members.

Flexibility and support for work/life balance have been shown to be key drivers of employee commitment and we as leaders have a really important role to play to avoid burn-out of our high performing/work –hard teams.

It is often the hard working conscientious members in your team who are positive, willing and volunteer for projects; that are the prime candidates for burn-out and stress related illness. And yet we can influence and change that, and must do so.

So as Shared Services Directors and Team Managers how good are we at role- modeling work-life balance, and creating an environment where burn-out never happens?

Consider these five "burn-out busting" questions:

  1. Do you establish and maintain interests outside of work and talk about them with your team?A little bit of informal self-disclosure about family, pets, and hobbies goes a long way for your team to see you as a whole person and not just their demanding boss. 
  2. Do you recognize when you are pushing the limits of resilience, going that extra mile too far and do you use outside activities to recharge and renew yourself?
  3. To what extent do you recognize the output and quality of the work your team does, as opposed to the time they spend at the office in the shared service center and what time do you go home?
  4. What can you do to fully understand and challenge over-stretching assignments set by you, or other Directors, which seem to conflict with reasonable balance?
  5. How aware are you of people on your team who seem to be exhibiting signs of burn-out and what are you doing to help them?

How did you do?  Fine on all 5 – congratulations! Or like many of us; could do more?

Now is a great time for a break, reflection, re-creation, and New Year’s resolutions…. .Seasons Greetings!  See you in 2011

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