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Running an Effective Toolbox Meeting – Part 3

To finish off our ‘Running an Effective Toolbox Meeting’ series, we provide some practical tips and ground rules to keep in mind when conducting a toolbox meeting.

With a little preparation, the right attitude, a simple process to follow and a bit of practice, business managers/supervisors can run effective toolbox meetings that produce useful results, engage employees, facilitate human resource management and assist in your day-to-day business operations.

1. Knowing How to Do it

Most people don’t enjoy speaking in public (remember the wedding speech) and this shows. However, you can learn how to run good toolbox meetings, because like a lot of other things, it is mostly experience and knowing a few ‘tricks of the trade’.

Here are a few tips, and after some practice you can get over being nervous, relax a little and run a really effective toolbox meeting.

Preparation
  • Don’t try to run a toolbox meeting with too many people.
  • Preparation is critical so make sure you set aside preparation time.
  • Employees won’t remember a lot of detail so pick out the important things.
  • Carefully think out just what it is you want to say, and sound confident.
Presentation, attitude and body language
  • Remember people can talk faster than they can listen, so don’t go too fast.
  • 85% of all communication is non-verbal, so watch the body language.
  • Don’t put yourself down by pretending you haven’t got anything important to say.
  • Position yourself so you can see everyone and they can see you.
  • Look them in the eye and make them listen to you.
  • Use some notes to make sure you don’t forget things.
  • Don’t be too self-conscious for no one will be as critical of you as you are of yourself.
  • Remember, you have called this meeting and it is very important to everyone.
Produce useful results
  • Ask open questions that will encourage people to speak up.
  • Don’t get defensive when people ask hard questions, or criticise you or the company.
  • Don’t get sucked into arguments in the toolbox meeting in front of all the others – take individual gripes offline and handle one-on-one.
  • The first couple of toolbox meetings might be ‘bitch’ sessions but persevere.
  • Don’t try to cover too much in each meeting and put a time limit on the meeting.
  • Make sure you keep notes of what has been done – this is particularly important in relation to discussion about and initiatives taken on safety. (Refer to the meeting template below.)

2. Are Employees Really Interested in Toolbox Meetings?

Yes they can be, but they don’t like boring meetings that waste their time and don’t tell them anything about how they are doing at work, what might be happening to their job and what their prospects are for earnings, promotions, training etc.

 

Where supervisors have persevered with toolbox meetings, they have quickly found that their employees, the company and the supervisors are better off as a consequence of being involved in toolbox meetings.

3. Some Basic Ground Rules for a Toolbox Meeting

  • One speaker at a time – be an active listener
  • No personal attacks/comments
  • Everyone participates, no one dominates
  • Work to understand each other’s view as well as communicating your own view to the group
  • Keep an open mind
  • Work together for solutions and agree to the action plan
  • Keep a record of the meeting (the toolbox meeting template can help you with this).

To help keep your toolbox meetings on track and to assist you to record important information from your meeting, download our Toolbox Meeting Template.

Try out these simple toolbox meetings in your business and keep an eye out for the positive results that will follow.

And if you need advice or assistance with any HR / people management issues or in managing your day-to-day business operations, talk to an experienced business consultant.

 

Running an Effective Toolbox Meeting – Part 1

1. What are Toolbox Meetings?

A few supervisors and managers have been holding successful toolbox meetings for many years, but now the secret is out. The reality is that they are easy to run and do produce very good results on a regular basis.

How do Toolbox Meetings work?

The supervisor merely sits down somewhere at work (perhaps on the toolbox, hence the name) and talks over work related issues with his or her employees. This also allows workers to tell the supervisor what is really going on with the job, resulting in a two-way communication flow. This is an informal process and therefore has advantages over more formal meetings where people often feel uncomfortable or don’t think the meeting has much to do with them.

Research shows that business performance increases significantly when people are engaged so it is important to find effective ways to pass on information to employees and receive information back from staff – and toolbox meetings can be the answer.

2. Why are Toolbox Meetings so Important?

  1. Toolbox meetings allow for two things which are quite critical to successful business operations and effective human resource management and employee engagement:
    • They are the best way to give employees more information about the business, about what changes are occurring, how they are doing, what is going right, what is going wrong – both at the broader level and most importantly, at the local level. They can help you manage your human resources.
    • They are often the best way for management and supervisors to tap into the most precious information which employees have and which they are usually willing to share if only we ask them in the right way. All of us understand that the person doing the job knows just what is going wrong and what can be done to improve things and toolbox meetings can be the way to gather this information. Increased employee engagement leads to better business performance.
  2. Toolbox meetings are also important because we now have the evidence that employees are interested in what is happening to the business they work in. That should be no surprise, but somehow it often is. Employees are interested in information about their jobs, changes that are going on locally, how they are doing, their own prospects for promotion, what training is available and so on. Most importantly, they want to hear about all of this from the person they would like to believe before anyone else – their immediate supervisor.

Employees are interested in what is happening to the business they work in and in information about their jobs

3. The Nuts and Bolts of Toolbox Meetings

Over the years, a lot of supervisors have tried ‘having a meeting’ with their employees and many times these have been quite disastrous. Usually, this has been because the nuts and bolts have not been right. In particular, there are four things which have often gone wrong:

  1. They have been held in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  2. The supervisor did not have anything important to say and probably didn’t want to hold the meeting in the first place and that quickly shows.
  3. The supervisor didn’t know how to run the meeting and it became an embarrassing shambles.
  4. The employees had been through these sorts of meetings before and thought they were a waste of time. They had offered ideas before but nothing happened, so they figured why bother?

For more on Toolbox meetings and how to tighten those loose nuts and bolts and avoid disastrous or simply ineffective meetings, look out for Running an Effective Toolbox Meeting – Part 2.

 

Employer of Choice – Becoming a Learning Organisation

Business Success: The Human Factor (Part 6 of 6)

Is your business successful and profitable?

Are your people productive? Are your employees costing you money?

If you missed the earlier parts of our Employer of Choice series, you may wish to start with: ‘Become an Employer of Choice’.

Our people management series kicks off by looking at the various human resource management issues consistently found in the SME sector that worry business owners. It then covers Effective Staff Selection, Induction, Performance Management, and Employee Exit Procedures.

Subsequent articles discuss Effective Communication, Meetings, and Goal Setting and Feedback; then Rewards and Recognition; Selling the Value to Employees; and Building Leadership and Succession into your Business.

One of the keys to business success is employee engagement and alignment.

Staff Engagement = Motivation = Performance = Productivity = Profitability

What other human resource management strategies can you use to ensure your business becomes an employer of choice?

Become a Learning Organisation:

Monitoring, Measuring, Understanding and Working on Your People and Your Business

Understanding Your Organisation – Monitoring and Evaluating Success

There are many tools that enable you to see deep into your organisation. In skilled hands a range of these diagnostic tools provides an objective window into the human health of your organisation. There are clear steps to this very fundamental process:

  • Regularly assess the key barometers of human success
  • Review and understand the key drivers
  • Objectively measure and analyse those drivers
  • Review the results in a team environment
  • Develop a course of action to improve and and/or maintain a strong human culture within your business

Then, TAKE ACTION.

Act on what you see and understand by implementing actions that continue to build and maintain strong engagement and alignment, the essence of a strong team.

You can then fine tune and continually learn how to improve employee engagement and alignment and ultimately the human and business health of your organisation.

Human health does not eventuate via a once off feel good employee survey. It is a continuous process.

Become a learning organisation. And become an Employer of Choice.

Sound simple? Yet in the current business environment where sourcing and retaining the right people is so difficult, managers and supervisors all too often don’t apply these basic human resource management principles.

VERY IMPORTANTIt is never too late to act.

You’ll be amazed at the results if you do apply these basic principles. And if you need advice or assistance with people management issues or business planning, talk to an experienced business consultant.

 

Employer of Choice – Building Leadership and Succession into Your Business

Business Success: The Human Factor (Part 5 of 6)

If you missed the introduction to this people management series, how about starting with: ‘Become an Employer of Choice’.

Our Employer of Choice series starts with a look at the various human resource management issues consistently found in the SME sector that worry business owners, and then covers Effective Staff Selection, Induction, Performance Management, and Employee Exit Procedures.

Subsequent articles discuss Effective Communication, Meetings, and Goal Setting and Feedback; then Rewards and Recognition; and Selling the Value to Employees.

Staff Engagement = Motivation = Performance = Productivity = Profitability

Building Leadership and Succession into Your Business

Knowledge, Skills and Attribute Development – Set your people up for success

Stage 1 – Build success in your team in their current roles

  • Understand and establish role criteria – What defines success for each role in your business?
  • Knowledge – What are the knowledge requirements for each role within your organisation?
  • Skills – What are the skill requirements for each role within your organisation?
  • Attributes – What are the key attributes, qualities or values required for each role within your organisation?

Define and document each role in the organisation clearly and thoroughly to provide a blueprint for success.

  • Assess your team against their roles – How well do they meet the criteria for their respective roles in your organisation?

Assessments often reveal human weaknesses in your organisation which may require difficult decisions to be made. For example, there may be a need for an organisational restructure.

  • Take ACTION
Human Resource Case Study: Assessment of suitability of employees for their role

For an SME that Gibsons Business Consulting recently provided human resource management consulting services, using the above process it was found that 14 out of 26 key people employed in the business were deemed not suitable for their roles.

The result:

  • Some staff moved on,
  • Some staff changed roles, and
  • Some staff stepped up and met their role criteria.

The bottom line is that all of the employees of this business now meet the criteria set for their role, and business performance has improved measurably as a result.

For those employees who stepped up with the aim to meeting their role criteria, the following human resources management approach was undertaken:

  • Train staff where their knowledge or skills do not meet the criteria for their role.
  • Mentor staff where their attributes are inconsistent with the criteria for the role.
  • Revise or change role definition while the development process takes place to allow time for staff to transition effectively into their new role.
  • Regularly review staff against the criteria set for their role and provide feedback supported by action and support.

The above human resources management approach should be followed for every role in your organisation to ensure every member of your team meets her or his role criteria. This is the blueprint for individual, team and ultimately, business success.

Stage 2 – Build succession in your team in their future roles – become a learning organisation

These assessments become the blueprints for future leaders. Rising stars become obvious through this process as does their development into their next career move. Actions can be taken well in advance to train and mentor people into their next career move before it happens. Intentional leadership development and succession planning as part of your human resource management and business planning sets the business and staff up for ongoing future success and development.

Your employees will thank you for it and you will not only build a strong team, you will create the basis for true succession in your business by developing your future leaders in a dynamic and pro-active way.

Sound simple? Yet in the current business environment where sourcing and retaining the right people is so difficult, managers and supervisors all too often don’t apply these basic human resource management principles.

It is never too late to act.

You’ll be amazed at the results if you do apply these basic principles. And if you need a hand with any people management issues or human resource management initiatives, talk to an experienced business consultant.

The next blog and final blog in this series is ‘Employer of Choice – Becoming a Learning Organisation‘.

Employer of Choice – Selling the Value to Employees

Business Success: The Human Factor (Part 4 of 6)

Is your business successful and profitable?

Are your people productive? Are your employees costing you money?

If you missed the beginning of this people management series, you may like to start with: ‘Become an Employer of Choice’.

This first article in this series builds the foundations to becoming an employer of choice by looking at the various human resource management issues consistently found in the SME sector that worry business owners; and then covers Effective Staff Selection, Induction, Performance Management, and Employee Exit Procedures.

The others articles discuss Effective Communication, Meetings, and Goal Setting and Feedback; and Rewards and Recognition to engage and align staff.

One of the keys to business success is employee engagement and alignment.

Staff Engagement = Motivation = Performance = Productivity = Profitability

Why would someone want to work for your business?

Why would an employee or prospective employee consider you to be an employer of choice?

Selling the Value to Your Employees

Employees’ Value Proposition – Understanding and Respecting the Individual’s Path to Success

Selling Products and Services to current and prospective customers is all about understanding the Value Proposition of those customers. When we know what represents value to our customers then we can develop clear sales and marketing plans built around communicating and delivering that value to them.

Not only do we need to communicate that value to customers, we also need to communicate that value to employees.

One of the keys to attracting and retaining quality staff is based around understanding their Value Proposition, that is, understanding what drives your current and prospective employees to want to work for you.

The key first step is to Understand the Employees Value Proposition. What are the key factors that your employees use to determine the value in working for you?

VERY IMPORTANT: if you don’t know the key factors behind your employees’ value proposition then find out.

Then, build the right messages into your communication processes in all areas of your human resource management:

  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Induction
  • Performance Management
  • Skills Development and
  • Rewards and Recognition.

Remember, you must communicate that value to current employees as well as to prospective employees.

So, train your Managers and Supervisors to do it right. Then, sell it to current and prospective employees, and not only once – over and over again – and keep reviewing and refining the message because the Value Proposition will change over time.

It is never too late to act.

The next blog in this series is ‘Employer of Choice – Building Leadership and Succession into Your Business‘.

Employer of Choice – Rewards and Recognition

Business Success: The Human Factor (Part 3 of 6)

If you missed part 1 of this people management series, you may like to start with: ‘Become an Employer of Choice’.

The first two articles in our series build the foundations to becoming an employer of choice. Part 1 looks at the various human resource management issues that worry SME business owners; and covers Effective Staff Selection, Induction, Performance Management, and Employee Exit Procedures. Part 2 discusses Effective Communication, Meetings, and Goal Setting and Feedback.

One of the keys to business success is employee engagement and alignment.

Staff Engagement = Motivation = Performance = Productivity = Profitability

What other human resource management strategies can you use to ensure your business becomes an employer of choice?

Rewards and Recognition

Rewards and Recognition – Value the Individual’s Contribution to Team Success

Reward and recognise positive performance by employees. The term ‘reward’ will often bring to mind the idea of a financial bonus and, yes, no doubt monetary rewards would be welcomed by your employees but remember there are many ways to reward staff without paying them more money:

  • Up-to-date tools and equipment, for example, software
  • Office facilities and décor
  • Flexible salary packaging
  • Flexible hours
  • Celebrating business success, and
  • Recognition!!

A regular audit of the tools, equipment, workstations, software, computer equipment, office décor, factory layout, safety and cleanliness is strongly recommended for every business to assess the workplace in terms of what it offers its employees. All too often this is overlooked and can become significant in how the employee views you as an employer.

Flexibility in hours and location also provides a positive environment for staff.

Business success should be celebrated with the team in various ways. Success breeds a positive environment in which to work.

Recognition is often forgotten in workplaces today. Personal feedback is built into the performance management framework above. However, other more personal and public forms of feedback or recognition should be utilised in the workplace to acknowledge and affirm employee performance and ultimately build powerful staff loyalty. This is a powerful lever for engaging and aligning staff in the workplace.

Sound simple? Yet in the current business environment where sourcing and retaining the right people is so difficult, managers and supervisors all too often don’t apply these basic human resource management principles.

REMEMBER, it is never too late to act.

The next blog in this series is ‘Employer of Choice – Selling the Value to Employees‘.

Employer of Choice – Expanding on the Basics

Business Success: The Human Factor (Part 2 of 6)

If you missed part 1 of this people management series, you may like to start with: ‘Become an Employer of Choice’.

The various human resource management issues detailed in part 1 of our HRM series for employers are consistently found throughout businesses in the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. Business owners are rightly concerned about the impacts upon their business as they are very serious.

One of the keys to business success is employee engagement and alignment.

Staff Engagement = Motivation = Performance = Productivity = Profitability

EMPLOYER OF CHOICE – Expanding on the Basics

An Employer of Choice is an organisation that outperforms its competitors in attracting, developing and retaining talent through innovative human resource management initiatives.

As noted in the previous article, the foundations to becoming an employer of choice are Effective Staff Selection, Induction, Performance Management, and Employee Exit Procedures. But, there is much more!

The Second Step – Expanding on the Basics

Effective Communications – Create Pathways to Success

Good communication creates engaged and aligned employees who work effectively and efficiently together. The human resource management processes listed above (and described in part 1 of this series) provide a framework of communication between the manager and his or her team, so necessary for human success in any business. However, communication can’t stop there.

Effective Meetings – Aligning Individuals and Teams

Meetings can burn resources and waste money like nothing else on planet Earth. Managed well, they can be very effective.

  • Meetings must have a clear purpose that is clearly understood.
  • Meetings must be two-way, everyone has input.
  • Meetings must be effective and professionally run:
    • Set agenda.
    • Minutes taken and reviewed.
    • Meeting chaired.
  • Meetings must have accountable outcomes where action results.

If a meeting fulfils the above criteria, it can serve a practical purpose and engage and align staff in the process. They can also strengthen and build relationships within teams and across teams.

Meetings are necessary for a number of reasons:

  • Toolbox/Team Meetings to mutually understand and address team issues.
  • Safety/Environmental/Quality Meetings to mutually understand and address safety, environmental and quality issues.
  • Interdepartmental Meetings to mutually understand and address interdepartmental issues.
  • Vision meetings where the company vison is shared with staff.
  • Sales Meetings to review and strategise business development.
  • Management Meetings to review performance and strategise and implement the strategic direction of the business.

Meetings are an essential and effective way to communicate and ensure that teams are engaged and aligned in specific areas of the business which are relevant to individual and team roles in the organisation.

Effective Day-to-Day Goal Setting and Feedback – Fine Tuning for Success

Performance Management in human resource management provides a framework for managing goals and expectations based around personal objectives of employees and business objectives. However, business is dynamic and ever changing. Supervisors and managers must practice setting, reinforcing and correcting performance to short-term objectives to reinforce and/or modify behaviour and consistently develop individual and team performance. These simple people management skills applied diligently, skillfully and consistently, will help build high performance teams in your business.

Sound simple? Yet in the current business environment where sourcing and retaining the right people is so difficult, managers and supervisors all too often don’t apply these basic human resource management principles.

You’ll be amazed at the results if you do apply these basic principles. And if you need a hand, talk to an experienced business consultant.

The next blog in this series is ‘Employer of Choice – Rewards and Recognition‘.

Become an Employer of Choice

Business Success: The Human Factor (Part 1 of 6)

Is your business successful and profitable?

Are your people productive? Or are they costing you money?

One of the keys to business success is employee engagement and alignment.

Engagement = Motivation = Performance = Productivity = Profitability

The Human Issue

Human resource management issues are consistently found throughout businesses in the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. Owners are worried about, even afraid of, the impacts upon their business. The signs are always there and, in many cases, the impacts upon the business are very serious.

What are the signs that point to possible people issues or human resource management issues?

Business owners or managers will often make statements like:

  • If only my staff would do their job.
  • I need to manage tasks; otherwise I get problems.
  • If I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done properly.
  • If only they cared as much as I do.

Staff, meanwhile, often make statements like:

  • I am not happy working here. They don’t care about me.
  • This could be a great place to work, if only management would listen.
  • I don’t understand what is required of me.
  • I want to work in a dynamic team environment.

All too often these statements, and others unspoken, never get addressed, with inevitable results:

  • Overworked owners and managers
  • Disengaged and unproductive staff
  • Good staff leave and poor staff stay

This leads to serious issues within the business:

  • Poor customer service
  • Poor quality products and services
  • Safety issues and incidents
  • Unhappy customers
  • Poor sales
  • Unproductive staff
  • Waste across all areas of the business
  • Conflict in the workplace
  • Poor profit performance
  • And, at worst, business failure.

But it is never too late to act.

BECOME AN EMPLOYER OF CHOICE

An Employer of Choice is an organisation that outperforms its competitors in attracting, developing and retaining talent through innovative human resource management initiatives.

This is more than just creating an attractive place for employees to work, it needs to be an integral part of the corporate strategy that can result in a higher level of performance and productivity in the workplace, greater stability, stronger customer loyalty, high employee satisfaction and loyalty and ultimately, higher profits.
The key question is HOW?

The first step is to implement effective human resource systems and processes in your business.

Effective Selection – The Raw Material for Success

Set the core values and behaviours that you expect in your employees, and the core skills, the must haves, for each role. Develop recruiting standards based around those core skills, core values and behaviours. Then develop recruiting processes that ensure you bring people into your business people who reflect those core values and possess the necessary core skills. Use interview techniques and adhere to an unrelenting policy that you will not hire anyone who does not possess your core values or the necessary core skills.

Effective Induction – Start the Journey to Success

Induction is not just about Health and Safety briefings and introductions. It is also important to set the tone for the new employee and develop induction processes that ensure new staff understand your business, your expectations of them and that they feel a part of your team. Defining roles and responsibilities and building expectations within a role is often forgotten as new staff enter your business. This is pivotal to setting standards and activities for every new employee in your business.

Effective Performance Management – Maintain the Journey to Success

Invest in an effective Performance Management System and ensure your employees are clear about what is expected of them. Link your expectations to the goals and objectives in your business plan to make your business vision more relevant to your people and help them understand why it is important, and keep everyone accountable to those goals and objectives. Review performance against these agreed objectives and revise these objectives regularly. This process provides a two-way feedback framework for every employee and ensures that issues and resources are reviewed and addressed and each staff member is engaged and aligned by positive interaction with his/her manager or supervisor.

The techniques are simple but very effective and, remember, great people love performance management processes. They provide focus and feedback which engages your employees and aligns their performance to business objectives. Great people will thrive in that sort of environment.

Effective Exit Procedures – Refine the Path to Success and Become a Learning Organisation

Constructive feedback from exit interviews can clearly define any problems that you face in attracting and retaining the right people. Effective exit processes are essential to learning how to improve the management of your most important resource – your human resources, your people. If people leave then find out why and act to improve the organisation from the knowledge you gain from the process. This is the essence of a learning organisation.

Skills Development and Training – Provide the Tools for Success

Skills are an integral part of any role within your business. Unfortunately, skills are not always defined clearly for each role within the business. Defining and then assessing skills regularly with each employee provides a framework for the business to evaluate skill needs across the business, within departments and importantly for each individual. This provides the structure to build people development into the business culture and engages staff with a commitment to developing their skill levels with obvious improvements in business performance emanating from that process. Of course, for this to be successful, there must be a commitment to staff training.

Sound simple? Yet in the current business environment where sourcing and retaining the right people is so difficult businesses all too often don’t apply these basic human resource management principles.

You’ll be amazed at the results if you do apply these basic principles. And if you need a hand, talk to an experienced business consultant.

The next blog in this series is ‘Employer of Choice – Expanding on the Basics‘.