Monday 26 September 2016

Problem solver: I'm finding it difficult to rid my office of negativity

Feargal Quinn

Published 02/07/2015 | 02:30

Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn

Former Superquinn supremo Feargal Quinn advises on how to raise office morale and how to ensure you hire the right people.

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Question:  I have 30 staff in my business but find it hard to motivate them and there seems to be a negative tone a lot of the time. Any advice would help.

Answer: Rather than start by giving you solutions, the best advice I can give you is, that you need to establish why they are lacking motivation in the first instance.

Are they bored and don't see a career path for themselves? Do they feel out of touch with the business and are unclear that they are a critical part of the team to make it a success? Do the management of the business see staff as a critical resource and treat them in a manner which reflects this?

It is probable that the root of the problem lies somewhere within the answers to those questions. I would recommend you sit down with your staff in small groups and be open about your feelings on the level of motivation and seek their input. That should help you pinpoint the solution. You may not like some of the things you hear so be prepared to face some hard facts, but also be prepared to take action.

The actions you take will vary from formal motivational events on the social side to creating career paths for staff members and conducting regular appraisals. Looking at further education opportunities and involving staff on different company projects will all help to create change. Your first step, however, is to establish the core of the problem!

Question:  I seem to get the recruitment of new staff slightly wrong each time and find that by and large the people I hire don't quite fit. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: We had some very simple rules in Superquinn about hiring people. We always hired for attitude. We always hired people who could smile. We always made sure we met lots of people before we made our decision on who to hire so we had the best choice.

I remember one of our employees who told me that he woke up every morning looking forward to coming into work. That sort of attitude is contagious!

Those simple rules helped us to find people who are genuinely interested in providing excellent customer service. We always took the view that we could give people specific skills for the areas that they would be working in, however it was imperative to us that we got the person with the best attitude.

I can't tell what you are doing wrong but perhaps you are not giving yourself enough scope in the selection process you are using. Apart from selecting the right people, I am a passionate believer in providing the right training. We spent endless amounts of time with people like Virgin Airlines, Disney etc, to ensure that we were encompassing training best practices in our induction process. We also ensured that people had enough time to be trained and weren't rushed into a live situation without having enough 'classroom training'.

All in all, if you take the principles above you should be able to dramatically improve the calibre of people that you employ. Then your priorities change to keeping them motivated and stimulated once they join the business.

Send your small business questions to himself@feargalquinn.ie

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