PositivePeople September 17, 2013 No Comments

Proven ways to lift morale and performance across your whole team

All of us can look around the office and identify the team members who are high performers and those who plod along doing enough to get by, and not much more. Imagine looking around the office and seeing a different picture, one where everyone is motivated, achieving well above their goals, and highly productive. Better yet, imagine the difference this would make to your bottom line.

Building high performers can seem a challenging task, but the good news is that by implementing a few simple strategies you can improve the performance of your whole team, and reap the rewards.

Strategy 1 – Communicate your vision

Staff like to feel part of a bigger picture and understand what they are working towards. By understanding the Company’s vision and goals, they will be more motivated and better placed to help you achieve this. Regular communication on your progress towards these goals helps to keep them enthused and understand what difference their contribution makes.

Strategy 2 – Put aside time for your people

In today’s busy environment staff can often feel overlooked or feel that their contribution isn’t important to the overall business. This can lead to a decrease in motivation and less care taken in their role. By putting aside regular time to spend with your team, answering questions, providing guidance, feedback and encouragement and talking about their work they will feel valued and important, and improve their efforts towards achieving your business goals.

Strategy 3 -Encourage questions and ideas

Your staff are in the front line in dealing with customers and products so are in the best place to know how to improve processes and make changes to improve the way you do business. If you encourage them to ask questions, understand how things work and make them feel comfortable to offer suggestions and ideas you will be pleasantly surprised with the improvements you see.

Strategy 4 – Ask for feedback and reduce barriers

Have you ever stopped to ask your team what they need to help them perform? By taking the time to understand the pressures or barriers they may be facing, you can help them eliminate these barriers, and create an environment where they are set up for success.

Strategy 5 -Help them look to the future

It’s easy for team members to become reactive and respond to whatever is in front of them on any given day. Be teaching them to think about the future for themselves, your customers and the business, you can help them to become proactive and make the right decisions for tomorrow for your Company and themselves.

Strategy 6 – Say thank you

It is true in all aspects of life that people like to be appreciated, and the workplace is no different. Staff want to feel valued and appreciated, and that their hard work is noticed and makes a difference to the business. A simple thank you is an often overlooked, yet powerful management tool. Try to find at least one thing each day in your business to say thank you for .Your staff will appreciate it and work harder in the future, and it will make everyone feel good.

Take action

  1. Make a time to sit with each of your team members, share your vision for the Company, answer their questions, ask for their ideas, and what they need from you to help them perform
  2. Make notes, allow them to try their new ideas and solve any problems they have
  3. Make a time to follow up, review exchanges, and say thank you for their efforts

When did you last talk “big picture” with your team? Do you do it regularly? How often do you sit with each team member to catch up? Do you postpone these meetings because you are too busy? What suggestions have we recently implemented that came from the team? Do you know what their concerns and issues are? Do you know what the future ambitions of every team member are?

And…When did you last say thank you for a job well done?

Our experience tells us that almost everyone who honestly asks themselves these questions will find something they could do better. Your people are your most important asset. Without them and their commitment your business would be in trouble. It makes sense to value them and take the time to make sure you are doing everything you can to provide the leadership they need to succeed.

The discussion about smoke free workplaces – just smoke without fire or is it really possible?

With the drive for increased fitness, improved diets and healthy lifestyles being given a big push at national level, the introduction of smoke free workplaces is a natural extension of these initiatives. Many workplaces are choosing to be smoke free, and supporting their teams with smoke free programs in an effort to improve the health and well-being of all employees. Being smoke free can also reduce the risk of fires, improve housekeeping and encourage a positive perception of the organization, to both staff and customers. Smoking, these days, is increasingly viewed as unacceptable in many social forums and giving your team the support they need to quit can have a positive impact for them both inside and outside of work.

So what are the main steps to consider if you want to introduce a smoke-free workplace? Whilst there is no perfect blueprint, the main vehicle to introducing a smoke free workplace is a smoke free policy. Introducing this in a way which engages and promotes employee involvement is essential to its success and the following represents some of the steps that may be appropriate in your workplace to help make your policy work:

  1. Start by engaging as many people in the organization as possible, both smokers and non-smokers, in the development of the policy.
  2. Establish how many smokers there are in the business and who of them wishes to quit
  3. Survey everyone to gauge the reaction that they might have to a smoke free policy.
  4. Holding of meetings and focus groups where discussion and the swapping of viewpoints can take place
  5. Formulate a written policy which spells out the purpose of its introduction, details the education available to employees, the signage that will be displayed and support available. Don’t forget to include company vehicles, contractors and visitors.
  6. Communicate the policy to all employees
  7. Communicate the avenues available for support and referral to those who wish to quit. The company’s internal communication should appropriately promote smoke free lifestyles and smoking cessation
  8. Provide stop smoking pamphlets and posters in staff rooms and on notice boards and arrange the regular turnover of signage in all public areas within the business, including lunchrooms and notice boards
  9. Display the Quitline numbers and website address prominently on notice boards
  10. Keep the topic alive at all Health & Safety meetings

And finally, hold the faith and persevere!

A Smoke Free workplace is possible. You will be doing the right thing to encourage your staff to improve the quality and longevity of their lives.

If we can help with this, please call Alan or Toni at Positive People on 445-1077

PositivePeople July 22, 2013 No Comments


Is your Company reputation being “twittered” away??

Communication is one of the fundamentals of business and with new ways of communicating being launched all the time and without some guidance from employers it is difficult to ensure your staff know what is appropriate.

In the days before the internet the saying was that “a happy person will tell 1 person about their experience, an unhappy one 8-16 people”. These days a happy person will still only tell one person but an unhappy one can complain to the world via the web. An unhappy employee who has had a bad day, or a run in with a customer or a colleague or supervisor at work can go home, jump on the internet or their phone and publicise their woes to the world A company relies on their reputation and a rant from an unhappy staff member can do just as much, if not more, damage as an unhappy customer.

The nature of communication has changed, and will continue changing at pace as technology continues to dominate the way we interact, both socially and in the workplace. With these changes comes a whole raft of new challenges, as traditional methods of communication, where you can judge meanings from tone, body language and the subtle nuances of speech, change to interpreting the meaning behind emails, and learning to read between the lines of the written word or decipher a message in text language.

As an HR professional it amazes me how many Facebook friend requests I get from staff I work with, and again it amazes me how often they have no filter on what they post. More than once I have been amused at the picture of baking from the staff working from home, who wanted “uninterrupted time to make real progress on an issue”, or I have been worried at the post from someone who “hates their boss today” when I know they are both sitting about 6 feet away from me and are talking politely. (Yes, that comment outs me. I have been known to check my Facebook page at the office.)

The Department of Labour first began warning employers about the dangers of social media in a press release in 2011, where they cited several cases which had come before the Employment Relations Authority (http://www.dol.govt.nz/er/services/law/case/themes/2011-10-social-media.asp). 

But it seems few employers have listened and acted to educate staff around these risks, and even fewer employees have heeded their words, as the number of complaints the authority hears concerning social media grows.

And emails…..haven’t we all heard of the perils of wrong email addresses as we see ACC, EQC and CYF’s all take the top story on the 6pm news due to easy email errors. I’d like to bet that in today’s world of constant technology there aren’t many people who haven’t sent a text or email to the wrong person. I’d also bet that most people have sent off a quick reply to a text or email, and then realised they had a typo…or changed their mind about the content which may have been sent in the heat of the moment and on reflection may not have been the smartest email to send . We can all just be glad our mistakes didn’t make headline news, otherwise these minor errors may not seem so small.

With the constant stream of information we are easily able to disseminate or receive in various online forms at almost any given time, this changes the way we do business, and has consequences for the way that we must manage our teams. Information which is confidential, inaccurate or damaging to your business can easily end up in the wrong hands, or on some website for the world to see, which is then impossible to take down. The long term impact this can have on the credibility of your Company and its reputation in the market means that this is quickly becoming a real issue which every business must address.

So what to do about this? A policy helps set up the standards and expectations, and is an essential tool in managing e-communication. However, policies that ban social media or stringently manage email content have limited benefit, and can also can inhibit innovation and empowerment, as staff feel they are not trusted with information.

The way forward to protect your Company and also harness the positive power these mediums can bring is to educate your team members as to the potential pitfalls of online communication, and make sure they understand the associated risks.


We suggest:

1. Having a clear online communication policy which is supported by a training session as part of staff induction. Understanding why things are in place, and what the repercussions are of potential actions will increase the chances of your team doing the right thing when communicating online

2. Educate your team to turn off their auto populate function in the email address bar. In this way staff can be doubly sure emails go where they are supposed to

3. Encourage the team to use social media to promote the business. If they all “like” the Company page and share your updates with their friends it is good for marketing, and helps to ensure the right messages are being shared

4. Ask your team to only respond to emails from their desktop (or laptop) computer. If it’s urgent people will call, so emails don’t need to be responded to overnight or during the weekend. This minimises the chance of mistakes, and helps with the stress levels as team members get to enjoy their rest times properly

5. Provide guidelines on the correct language to be used in each communication medium. Text language is becoming the norm so understanding what is appropriate for emails, proposals and other forms of written communication, and why, is important. This will be new to some of your team

6. Encourage face to face communication where possible. Conversation may be a dying art but it still provides an effective method for making decisions and solving problems. So if you see your team emailing across the office encourage them to get up and go and talk through their questions instead.

7. Finally, make sure all your team are confident using online communication tools and embrace it. Utilising good online communication channels can be more efficient for your business, encourage information sharing and bring the team together. Ask for ideas, you never know what improvements you could see.

The way we do business is changing, and so too are the communications challenges facing our teams. We believe it is worth taking the time to assess what you do in this space and make sure you do it correctly, so that you don’t get left behind…or caught short… because if you do, it could be you in the newspaper or on Facebook.

PositivePeople March 28, 2013 No Comments

Tip to re-energise yourself over Easter

Despite being only the end of March, the fantastic Xmas break seems a lifetime ago for most of us – and the relaxed, invigorated feeling we started the year with has quickly become replaced by the stress over deadlines, worry about targets and the constant nagging feeling that you have something else to complete which comes hand-in-hand with a huge work load.

Thank goodness Easter is upon us, and we have a 4 day chance to reenergise ourselves to be productive and effective through the winter months.

To make sure you and your teams get the full benefit from this mini break here are a few tips to help you out:

  • 1.Turn off your cell phone if you can – or turn it to call only. If it’s urgent you will be called, emails can wait until Tuesday to be answered.
  • 2.Don’t overfill your days – it’s tempting to try and get out of town, catch up with friends, see the family, enjoy a night out etc etc. With 4 days it’s easy to plan so much you end up exhausted on Monday night, feeling you need another holiday to recover. Identify what’s important to you and leave lots of room for relaxation and rest.
  • 3.Remember what Easter is all about – this doesn’t mean going to church (although you can), this means to remember Easter is about celebrating what someone else gave up for us. Try doing something nice for someone else, be it a family member, friend or stranger. You will be amazed at how good it makes you feel.
  • 4.Do at least one thing just for you – it may be starting a book you have been meaning to read, enjoying your favourite tipple or a game of your favourite sport. Do it just for you, because you want to, and enjoy every moment.
  • 5.Don’t feel guilty about not checking on, or doing some work. Having a relaxed, refreshed you will provide a far greater contribution to your business than an hour here or there over the holiday period.
  • 6.Make the most of the last piece of summer – soon enough we will be into the cold days and long nights and you will be sorry you didn’t make the most of the sun while it was here. The vitamin D from sunlight helps to increase energy and your overall well -being, so think of a picnic or BBQ like your own free wellness program (just remember to slip slop slap wrap.)

We hope you manage to take a few of our tips and use them to make sure you have a fabulous Easter break. We look forward to hearing from you with a whole lot of invigorated, healthy and rested people in April.

Happy Easter from the team at Positive People.

PositivePeople February 28, 2013 No Comments

Getting people to do what you want.

As a business owner or senior manager wouldn’t it be just great if people would do what you wanted? Surely this is easy? You are in charge and have all the power and so you should be able to get them to follow your instructions and then voila, all is solved.

Yeah right!….. If that was the reality then there wouldn’t be the need for many managers. Probably just one, you, who called the shots and everyone else scurried around trying so hard to please.


No, I am afraid that is all pure fantasy dreamed up after a week spent on holiday enjoying this beautiful weather away from the realities of the day to day machinations of a normal workplace.


How it really works is that the people in your business are all pretty smart, have opinions, have many years of experience across all functions and think they are right most of the time. And often they are. Amongst this set of clever people are all the different personalities that make for the odd game of Russian roulette or power plays from time to time, often when the pressure in the business is on and calm heads are needed by all. Throw in the spice of diverse cultures, different languages and sometimes diverging attitudes, and you have a right royal recipe for a very interesting day, every day.


So, I hear you asking, with the scene now set, “How do I, as the manager of all this mayhem, move these people along so that I can achieve business success?” Really, the question should be “How do I motivate people to move together towards a common goal?”

This is a simple question that has vexed even the greatest of thinkers.


I would bet that from time to time, as you reflect on your team members, that you identify with the old Yorkshire saying “There’s nowt so queer as folk”. If this is indeed true, then it takes a special person to lead them because to be successful you have to have a pretty good understanding of what makes people tick. If you want to motivate your team you need to be thinking about them as both a group and as special unique individuals. So, that is covered.


The most important thing to know, however, is that you cannot motivate anyone. Yes, you cannot motivate anyone! Before you all pack up on me here, let me explain. Firstly, every person is entirely responsible for their own motivation. What you can do, and this is really a huge part of your remit, is to spend a lot of time, energy and resources creating the environment where all these diverse people come together and actually want to do things in your organisation. If you can achieve this, then you will have committers as opposed to compliers and your business will start to flourish. Imagine having set the environment up so that people really really wanted to do stuff for the business? Once you get into this zone, suddenly things get a little easier because people in the business feel part of it and will look after it and defend it for you. They are finally on your side!


Is this easy to achieve? No. Is it possible? Very definitely. Each organisation has its own buzz and feel and the trick is to tune into a natural synergy with what is real for your business and develop and grow the culture, creating an environment that stimulates and motivates people. Yes, it is all about the environment. That is the way to get the motivation high.


Complex stuff but quite doable. It is the only true way to lasting business success.


Have a chat to us. Anytime. We’d love to talk.

PositivePeople January 30, 2013 No Comments

What is HR?

While recruiting an HR Manager recently, two of the core questions I used were “What is your definition of HR?”, and “What is the key goal of the HR function?” What was supposed to be a basic question designed to warm up the candidate and glean some information about their philosophies quickly became one of the most important questions I asked. I was struck by the range of answers I received, and the fact that no two candidates shared similar views on the subjects, despite sharing similar qualifications and levels of experience.

I was equally struck by this question when, as part of creating our website, I learned that the most searched term in relation to HR is “What is HR?” Here was I expecting to be enlightened as to what New Zealander’s are looking for from HR; is it performance management systems, recruitment services or employment relations advice, but no, what they really want to know is what we actually do!! And is it in any wonder when there are so many strings to the HR practitioner’s bow? Upon reflection, however, these differences and the answers were crucial in the recruitment decision and have proved equally valuable to consultants in finding businesses who align with our thinking, and where we can really add value.

In my discussion with HR professionals three trends emerged;

1. The first type of HR candidate described HR in terms of compliance and focused heavily on managing risk and employment relations

2. The second saw the role as employee support, a voice for employees and spoke about engagement and employee driven initiatives

3. The last group of candidates viewed HR as supporting business goals and described productivity increases and contributions to business metrics

Gaining value from these insights is in having the discussions with senior management and establishing what they expect from HR, and what they believe is the key goal of a function. If the expectations of the businesses leaders don’t align with the HR professional/consultants it’s an uphill battle for the function to be successful and gain the respect it deserves. If the thinking is similar then HR is sure to be a respected and valued partner in the business and the relationship will flourish.

Our lesson from this is to be clear on our philosophy, and what we believe we stand for as a consultancy. We have also learnt to have these conversations with the businesses we work with, and in some cases to walk away when we can see our goals will never align. It’s also a question we recommend all businesses ask when dealing with an HR professional. Ask your current HR team, your consultants, or ask us “What is HR?”. It is an important conversation and one we are happy to have.

PositivePeople November 21, 2012 No Comments

Flexible work options – how do we get it right in retail?

Read any article or magazine these days and you will find that flexible working options are top of employees’ list of “must haves” in any roles they consider. Most employers have implemented some kind of flexible work policy, with flexitime and work from home options becoming more and more popular. In fact, in a number of industries it is more the norm to start at 10, work from home one day a week and leave early on Fridays, than to be at the office 8.30 – 5 for five days a week.

The exception to this is the retail employee, who has a week governed by store opening hours, peak trade periods on weekends, and demanding customers who want to be able to shop at any time that’s convenient to them, including following the Friday afternoon work drinks when they finish at 2!

So in a world where the work/life balance is top of mind for most employees and flexible options are constantly evolving, how can we expect our employees to stay in the industry when what’s on offer elsewhere is so appealing? I’m sure every retailer has a story to tell of high performing team members apologising as they hand you their resignation letter, saying they love working for you but the admin job they are taking will give them weekends off or allow them to work around school hours, and who can blame them?

So what does this mean for retailers? Are we doomed to keep losing talented employees from the industry? We are if we don’t keep up and evolve our thinking to offer flexible options which allow our frontline workers to enjoy more time on the activities outside of work that matter to them. The reality is that the opening hours won’t change. If anything they will just get longer as malls and strip shopping innovate to compete for business. Consumers will become more demanding, especially as they become more savvy around online shopping and with it the growing expectations of 24 hour a day shopping. And weekends will always be a crucial time for sales, as the average New Zealand family loves its weekend latte and browse through the shops. Retail therapy is alive and well!

So knowing the constraints and demands of the industry, we need to start thinking of ways to work around these and innovate and improve the way we arrange our rosters and the makeup of our teams. One of the first ways to do this is to ask the teams themselves. What do they want and how do they think this could work better? If your Store Managers came back and said they wanted every second weekend off, and this is how they could do it and maintain sales, wouldn’t you consider it? Especially if it meant holding onto them in the long run?

Trish McLean, CEO of Retail World Resourcing says that this is a conversation she is having more and more with retailers, as top candidates start asking the questions about what is being offered in terms of flexible work options. “ We see a lot of talented candidates, and the package they are seeking has changed markedly over the past few years. Whereas most salary and career progression has always been top of the list, flexibility is now a key concern. The retailers who recognise this, and develop initiatives that offer flexible options to their employees will be the ones that win the war for talent in the future.”

Unfortunately we don’t have a one size fits all answer for this, as every team is different, as is every brand. But we can start you off trying ideas and innovating to keep being competitive in the labour market.

1.Design a roster that has clearly defined roles in school hours and outside school hours. This way you can hire students for one, and parents for the other, and they can swap hours during the school holidays when parents need to be at home and students need money and extra shifts.

2.Encourage your team to think like a team. Have a base roster with hours that need to be filled and it’s up to them who does what as long as they are filled. I have seen this work really well in rural communities where the team support each other and take pride and ownership in the store. If everyone commits to covering two shifts a month for someone else they benefit from the flexibility allowing them to attend important events in their personal lives and help each other out. Peer pressure often weeds out those who won’t play the game.

3.Let your Managers take ownership of their own roster and results. If they know what they need to achieve and the wage budget they have, as long as they stay in budget and reach their targets does it matter who works when? This allows them to set their own roster, which may or may not include weekends and late nights. If they are a good manager they will work the busy periods, at least part of the time, and if they aren’t the privilege can be revoked.

These ideas won’t work for everyone, and there are sure to be many more ways to offer flexible options. The point is it’s about time we, as an industry, started to investigate how we can do this and show some creativity and innovation in our thinking around our workforce. If we don’t we risk becoming a last choice job for most New Zealanders, and losing the potential to recruit the kind of employees we need to keep moving forward and ensure retail in New Zealand remains successful for the future.

The costs of recruitment are high, anywhere between 6 to 12 months of an employee’s salary when all costs are taken into account. So, retention is the way to go, and that, these days, is strongly linked to the flexibility that employees demand. Are we up to providing it?