In my recently launched book The VIP Principle I speak about the twelve challenges of building a VIP team and how hiring right and building a workplace of choice is critical in growing your business to satisfy the needs of the 21st century customer by providing a memorable experience that will have them returning and recommending others. It doesn’t matter what industry your business is in, the relationship between your customers and your frontline and management team determines your success.
Have you ever sat at your desk and thought to yourself, “What went wrong”? Three months ago you hired the best candidate, punctual, positive, well dressed and upbeat with a “Can do attitude”, encouraging and part of the team. This same team member has just shuffled past, 20 minutes late again, grunting a response to your well meaning and energetic “Good morning”. You can hear them whinging about the traffic, the weather, the workload, and of course the “customers” that they have to deal with today. As they walk through your business their “bad attitude” affects other team members, somewhat like the odour of a skunk.
Over the past two decades I have recruited many staff when in the role of consultant for clients as well as my own team and I have had my share of “skunks”. There are some choices I can honestly say to myself, I don’t know what I was thinking at the time and if I had stuck to the questions on my interview form and really thought through how this new recruit would fit into the workplace culture I would not have hired them.
The bottom line is if in doubt, throw them out; if they are not up to speed in terms of work and attitude during the probationary period, they are probably about as good as they are ever going to get.
- THE CHALLENGE OF RECRUITING A VIP TEAM
Many team-building challenges can be solved before they happen with quality recruiting. Too often, what you see is “warm body recruitment”: if you turn up at the front door, you are hired. Recruit with the end result in mind and never in desperation.
Behavioral profiling, group and individual interviews are all successful tools in recruiting frontline and management team members.
- THE CHALLENGE OF ASSESSING CANDIDATES
The first thing to look at in candidates is how they present themselves in terms of appearance. Are they clean, appropriately dressed and groomed for the position they are seeking.
The questions asked of candidates at job interviews, and the person who is doing the asking are clearly key. And don’t forget that bad hires will often drive off good team members, because who wants to work with a skunk with a poor work ethic?
- THE CHALLENGE OF SELECTING AND INDUCTING YOUR VIP TEAM
Much better to begin with the correct induction, the correct training and thorough, regular and timely follow-up assessments that include clear feedback to that probationary team member.
Smart management provides great training and support to all team members, commencing with a full introduction to the workplace and its culture. Introducing new hires to the team, and seeing that they learn the specific ways in which management expect them to fulfill their role. Encourage questions and be sure to provide ongoing support through the training period, not showing them once and abandoning them.
- THE CHALLENGE OF DEALING WITH YOUNGER TEAM MEMBERS
It used to be that you could expect someone who was comfortable with the job to spend years working for you, perhaps even through their whole career. The younger generation of team members may only stay put for a couple of years before moving on to the next job. They expect quicker promotions, without working their way through the ranks, but they often bring great, fresh ideas with them, and in common with older colleagues who are re-entering the workforce, can be great promoters for the new workplace culture you are creating.
- THE CHALLENGE OF BUILDING A MULTICULTURAL TEAM
An understanding of the various cultures within your team is critical for team harmony. An issue that we have come across arises when team members speak to each other in a language that is common to them but not to the other team members, making others feel alienated and anxious, as they feel they are being talked about. Management has to agree on a policy that is acceptable to all team members.
Avoid labeling people and stereotyping diverse groups.
- THE CHALLENGE OF CREATING A WORKPLACE OF CHOICE
Have you had a look at your staff room/team space lately? You provide your customers with beautiful décor but when you look at staff rooms, they are often abominable, tiny rooms with broken furniture, sometimes used as dumping places for Christmas decorations and other seasonal decorations. It is a space that very few team members would go to relax and there’s no excuse for that.
You can also use the room to help build company unity with a photo wall where team members have their photos posted with a short personal introduction.
- THE CHALLENGE OF CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
Getting team members who are comfortable in their fixed routines to change can be a challenge. Consider creating a competition for your team members to encourage buy-in and engagement. Seek their ideas, create change champions and praise any improvement.
Give feedback. What gets rewarded gets repeated.
- THE CHALLENGE OF BUILDING TEAM LOYALTY
What team members do like is personal recognition from the CEO in the form of a handwritten note or a conversation to tell them how well they are doing and how management appreciate their efforts.
But how about going that one step further. So often businesses recognise their customers with loyalty programs, but have you ever thought of designing an effective team recognition program?
- THE CHALLENGE OF SECURITY AND WELL-BEING OF THE TEAM
Is your business safe and secure for the team members working there? When they leave at night, is the pathway well lit, and do you offer a security escort if it is shift work?
Promoting mental health in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. At any given time one in five employees is likely to be experiencing a mental health condition. As a VIP manager, you need to take care of yourself, look out for others and know your rights and where to seek help for your team members.
- THE CHALLENGE OF ROSTERING/SCHEDULING YOUR TEAM
Rostering is a big challenge for management throughout a number of industries, whether your team members work full- time, part-time or casually. Inevitably, you have team members who are always happy to come in when you call at the last moment—until they find out whom they are going to work with, maybe a manager they don’t like, at which point they say, “No, thanks. I’m washing my hair or rearranging my sock drawer.”
In order to be a workplace of choice, your venue must show respect to all of your team members so that when they do come in to work, they work as a strong team.
- THE CHALLENGE OF ENGAGING YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY
A great way to engage the local community is through socially responsible causes. It’s not easy to get all team members together outside the workplace, so try to do your team building within business hours as well after hours.
This kind of group effort really makes an appreciable difference in how people relate to each other in the workplace.
- THE CHALLENGE OF BUILDING A GENUINELY CARING AND COMPASSIONATE TEAM
It is important to reward individuals who show initiative, who go above and beyond in their thoughtfulness and customer experience.
How much do your front-line team members matter to the customer experience? They are everything.
Great team members make the effort because they genuinely care.
Creating a benchmark for how team members are expected to behave makes it clear who is a good cultural fit for your organisation, and who will be trained up to meet the standards you are setting or leave if they can’t or won’t be congruent with those values. Building a team with aligned values is not a quick fix; per- severance and persistence is required to get the best from your team.