Archive: AVN Insights

Fantastic Teams #6 – Do YOU really understand?


How well do you really understand your team?

How much time do you invest in getting to know them?

What motivates every individual in your team?

Most often it’s assumed to be financial incentives but in fact, that’s not always the best motivator.

Do you understand what might be holding them back from giving their best?  What their aspirations truly are? What ideas they have that might help your business grow?

Research shows that a 20% improvement in team morale can have a 42% increase in financial performance in your business and yet so many employers take their team members for granted.

They believe their employees should be grateful to be employed and put heart and soul in to their jobs.  They issue their demands and expect mountains to be moved for them.  It just doesn’t happen does it.

There’s so much choice and opportunity these days that if someone chooses to work for you then you must be grateful for that.  You must show that appreciation and accept that their stay with you may be in the form of a stepping stone in their greater plan.  Make that stay valuable to both of you.

I’ve always found that the best way to engage your team is to spend quality 1 to 1 time with each of them.  This can take time but the rewards by far outweigh that.  When I spend quality time with each individual I discover…

  • How I can become a much better leader.
  • How well I’ve communicated the vision/mission and strategy to the team.
    • If the team didn’t get it, how can the customers and prospects be expected to?
  • What they value about the organisation.
  • What they believe its strengths and weaknesses are.
  • Fresh ideas to make the business better.
  • The inner aspirations they have about their long term career.
  • What’s really important to them.

This information is priceless.  For example…

As I eluded to above, it’s most often a misconception that the best way to motivate someone is via financial incentive.  What if, what someone really values, is spending quality time with their children whilst they’re growing up?  No additional amount of money is going to give them additional time in a 9am – 5pm working environment.  What if, by understanding this you agreed with that person that if they were to achieve a mutually agreed target of output for the day, they could leave early as long as quality and standards weren’t sacrificed.

That kind of incentive works for that individual, they know that if they put in the additional effort and produce more in less time they can leave earlier and spend more time with their children.  This compromise comes with a change of mindset. Employ for specific results and outcomes rather than hours worked.

I formalise this process with my team.  I allocate 90 minutes to each of them and aim to do this with each member of the team every six months.  I’ll confess that occasionally that frequency slips but it’s important to do this regularly.

In addition to the 90 minutes, I ask each of my team to complete a form full of thought provoking questions a week in advance.

This allows for each team member to cogitate when formulating their responses.  Then, when we get together, they’re not put on the spot.  For many, they need time to think and reflect, putting someone on the spot isn’t fair and also, you’re unlikely to get the best answer.  We simply go through the form together and in some cases I’ll dig deeper still to an answer they’ve given to really understand what’s behind it.

My form seeks to understand:

  • What they believe accountable for. Does this match what I believe?
  • How well they feel they’re treated and valued as a team member.
  • What learning they feel they should undertake to improve within their role.
  • How the business is doing and what could be done to improve it.
  • How their leader is leading them and what could be done to improve.
  • Their short and long term goals that they may not give sufficient thought without the prompt.

I see this process as a way to help develop the people I work with. Encouraging them to think about their aspirations helps to inspire them, gives them something to strive toward whether those aspirations can be achieved within my business or agreeing that my business is a stepping stone for them gives clarity on both sides.

You may fear encouraging your team to consider life away from your business but be realistic; if someone has a desire to do something beyond the remit of your business then surely it’s better to be aware and play a part in helping them achieve their longer term aspirations whilst they’re with you.  In addition, you can plan.  It’s better than having an environment where your team members are afraid to share these aspirations with you and then suddenly, out of the blue tell you they’ve found their dream job or they’ve made the decision to go it alone and now you’re left trying to fill a role with insufficient notice.

This process has allowed for new roles to be established within the business that play to peoples strengths and skills I didn’t realise they had.  As a result our employee turnover has been very low because people are able to expand and develop themselves within AVN.

From time to time we’ve helped our team members embark on the next chapter in their lives and because of this, our relationship has continued to be strong and even complimentary in our business connections.

Another fear of having these conversations is feeling exposed when asking for feedback about yourself as a leader.  Few people are natural born leaders and it’s good to keep an open mind.  You may not agree or want to adapt to everything that’s fed back.  But it’s useful to have the conversation.  Most often, it can be about communication either about the bigger picture or that you’re not providing enough detail on stuff you need doing OR it could be that you’re often moody or unapproachable too.  So having the conversations enables you to look for ways that you can improve as a leader – even if that simply means setting certain expectations.

There are lots of great reasons to have much more in-depth and candid conversations with your team. The benefits I find when running these Personal Development Reviews are plentiful.  We establish greater mutual respect, a better connection and in addition, increased loyalty and engagement in the business.

Remember this all important rule though.  Seek first to understand, then to be understood.  It’s easy to get on the defensive, to rationalise the way you work and operate. Dig deeper to find out why your team member feels they way they do.

Action to take.

Next time you’re in the office, go for a walk with a member of your team, invite them to give you open and honest feedback.  Ask them questions about how valuable they perceive their role to be in the business, how valued they feel they are, what’s important to them and dig a little deeper in to every response.

I’m happy to give you a copy of the form I use with accompanying guidance document.  Simply ping me an email at

If you’d like some clarity, help or guidance with this let me know via the comments box.

If you’ve enjoyed this article please let me know by clicking like and as always, if you feel others would benefit from reading this then please do click share.

Shane Lukas – Author of Amazon #1 best seller What’s Next for Accountants; How to make the biggest threat facing the profession your biggest opportunity.

Image courtesy of Matt Townsley –


Article Source: Shane Lukas

When it comes to customer service only remarkable service will do…


Why you need to deliver ‘Remarkable’ customer service and why does it matter?

  • It will help you in an ever increasingly competitive market, if you aren’t delivering a ‘Remarkable’ service then somebody else will
  • Give people something to talk about…Spread the word…’YOU ARE REMARKABLE’
  • Help you stand out among competitors and get it right, every time, with every customer
  • Likeminded customers will be drawn towards you and get people talking about the great things you do
  • Builds strong customer and team loyalty; a great place to work and great people to work alongside

You need to start going the extra mile: you can’t just decide you want to be ‘REMARKABLE’ you have to act like it too. Start doing and create an experience for your clients … every time

It’s a talking point: to be remarkable, you need to be remarked on, so think about how you’ll do this:

  • What are they going to talk about?
  • What are your USPs?
  • Do you go above what other business in your sector in your area?
  • Are you the go to person in your area/sector?

Be different, be BOLD, you may not have an endless marketing budget or time but you can play a different game

  • Be unconventional, be real, and be different – Why not?
  • Stay true to your promise and your passion, but don’t be afraid to push the boundaries and experiment with new ideas.
  • Above all, think of your customers, service with a smile is great, but you want to be remarkable, It has to be in in everything you and your team – do, say, think, and offer

 You first need to define what is your ‘Remarkable’ ?

Using this 5 step approach will give you a robust and structured process to start and continue to enhance your customer service each and every time:

  1. Team – Enthused, pulling the same direction, focused on the customers experience

An engaged Team pulling in the same direction is key, creating a great team ethos and culture can have an equal impact for you and your clients’ experience.

Benefits –

  • When a team member is motivated they do a better job, their workload will become easier, fun and become more enthusiastic
  • Build your businesses culture and live by your values, keep your team engaged and working together
  • Give your team a platform to gather ideas, nominate each other on a job well done
  • In order to motivate your team to succeed, you have to be a great leader and give everybody a sense of purpose
  • Understanding that you need to deliver a remarkable customer service experience every time!


  1. Systems – Don’t leave anything to chance, a step by step for every task

How can you ensure your remarkable service happens every time and not left to chance?

 This is where a systemised approach is key, Michael Gerber the author of The E-Myth books wrote that up to 80% of a business can be systemised. With the right systems in place alongside an engaged team every task can be carried out with the same level of expertise and the outcome be the same, no matter who is carrying out the task.

 Benefits –

  • Increasing standards, saves time and allows you all to work smarter – will give great customer service every time
  • Empowers your team, rather than having to ask you
  • Builds a culture – culture blame a system not a person
  • Each customer will get the same remarkable service every time!


  1. Wows – Exceeding your clients expectations every time

Wows in customer service and their experiences are about meaningful details, they are unique, and an expression of your company’s culture and shared values.

When a customer experiences a ‘wow’:-

  • You are exceeding their expectations in an unexpected way
  • It shows you are interest in building rapport and not just purchase a service or product
  • It is about making personal emotional connections with empathy

 Let’s look at ‘wows’ that our clients experience when attending a training event and why:-

  • All our car park space free and clearing marked with our company logo

Why: To help the clients clearly see the designated parking

  • Football table

Why: to interactive with the clients in a fun way

  • Charity donation to B1G1

Why: to help our clients see we care about others

  • Toiletries and toilet twinning

Why: To refreshes themselves and see the poster that (2.4 billion people don’t have somewhere safe, clean and hygienic to go to the loo. That’s more than a third of the people on the planet) shows we care about others around the world

  • Retro sweets

Why: Take the clients back to 1980’s and either eat themselves or take home for their children

With any wow its import to remember –

  • Your client relationship is paramount, clients will remember and perhaps more importantly talk about, the ‘little things’ that you do more than the products you deliver.
  • What was once remarkable becomes the standard very quickly, so it’s important to keep evolving and enhancing!
  • If you forget a wow you have done with a client in the past, your client may notice!


  1. Learning from others – Do not reinvent the wheel, what have been your experiences and read about what are other credible experts doing

We also experience good and bad customer service in our everyday life and taking the good and adapting it for your business is a great way of passing on what and how it made you feel.

Learning from others gives you a different perspective and it will gives you an insight to sectors and ideas for your business.

A great exercise is to brain storm with your team and all think of great customer service each of you have experienced and in true brain storming session pick the best idea which you and the team can implement.

There are many ‘customer service’ books which are recommend a couple:

  • Feargal Quinn – Crowning the customeris a hands-on guide written in a simple jargon-free style
  • Ken Blanchard – Raving fans that will help everyone, in every kind of organisation or business, deliver stunning customer service and achieve miraculous bottom-line results.


  1. Gathering feedback – Ask and reflect to know you are remarkable and ensure you get candid feedback

How do you know that your clients think you are remarkable? What are other saying about you?

  • The easiest way is to ask, many people don’t like to ask and if they do would you get an honest answer or would they just say the nice things!
  • Think about using an App or software – these can be automated throughout the year or after each job.
  • Don’t be put off sending a manual feedback questionnaire. You could sent in a bright coloured envelope, so it stands out and also printed on different colour paper e.g. yellow or green and you could also add a gift like a biscuit, tea bag. If sending through the post you must always enclose a SAE or a free post envelope.
  • Social proof and what others say about you and your services, so gathering Testimonials is a must these can be used whole to display in your office or on your website and social media.


With any feedback good or bad ensure you share with your team, if good to celebrate, since we all like recognition or if negative think about and implement, what system needs changing? Do the team need training?

Your Client happiness should be measured either after each meeting, project or periodically throughout the year. Research shows that only 4% of dissatisfied customers will ever complain. The other 96% will quietly go away and 91% of those will never come back. Furthermore, a dissatisfied customer will tell 8-10 people about it. Asking your clients for feedback gives you an opportunity to address any issues before they become a problem.

A few thoughts…

Deliver a remarkable customer service and your clients will become your advocates and tell others!

Be the business that people know because of what you do – not because of what you don’t!

Please let me know is this approach has enhanced your customer service

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog

Laura Newby



Article Source: Laura Newby



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