How do I im­prove the at­mo­sphere at a branch in my new role as re­gional man­ager?

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - David Fitzgib­bon

two months ago I took a new job as re­gional man­ager at a book­mak­ing chain. How­ever, it’s clear that pre­vi­ous man­age­ment has left a sour taste with one branch in par­tic­u­lar. The at­mo­sphere seems a bit hos­tile as a re­sult, and I am strug­gling to come up with ideas as to how to fix this. Have you any ad­vice on what I should do to make a hap­pier work­place with­out ne­glect­ing my other branches?

we move to­wards zero un­em­ploy­ment, em­ploy­ers need to con­tin­u­ously look at what they are do­ing to at­tract and re­tain staff. It is widely agreed that the suc­cess of a busi­ness is not solely due to the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of its leader, but the strength of the over­all team and their abil­ity to work to­wards a com­mon goal.

It ap­pears that in one of your branches, the team mem­bers have lost di­rec­tion and — in turn — fo­cus.

These two fac­tors can lead to a hos­tile en­v­i­ron- ment and it is ex­tremely im­por­tant to sort this as soon as pos­si­ble. As you are new to the role, your un­der­stand­ing of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and his­tor­i­cal man­age­ment may be lim­ited, so it is im­por­tant to get feed­back from the peo­ple on the ground.

How you do this is key as if ap­proached in­cor­rectly you could end up with staff just pay­ing lip ser­vice and not ac­tu­ally telling you the truth.

Some of the key steps you can take to de­velop en­gage­ment in your hos­tile branch as well as across the other branches are: 1 Root and branch: Do not fo­cus solely on the branch with the is­sues, but do a root-and-branch re­view of your re­gional of­fices. The key is not to en­ter into this process fo­cus­ing on what is wrong, but to also look at what is right.

It is im­por­tant to do this across the of­fice net­work as you will be able to as­sess is­sues and pos­i­tives from all other of­fices and en­sure that you do not sin­gle out one of­fice. 2 Of­fice meet­ings: It might not be an op­tion to get all the team mem­bers into one room for a ‘town hall’ meet­ing, so a visit to each of the of­fices with a fo­cus on re­view may suit your cur­rent busi­ness struc­ture. 3 Peer dis­cus­sion group: Take a defined leader from the group and give them the re­spon­si­bil­ity of or­gan­is­ing a group meet­ing to dis­cuss in con­fi­dence the is­sues that have arisen in the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

One of the ben­e­fits of the peer dis­cus­sion is that they may feel they can be more open and hon­est and can feed the in­for­ma­tion back con­fi­den­tially from the team as a group, prevent­ing any one mem­ber from be­ing sin­gled out. 4 Com­pile and take records: No mat­ter what your opin­ion on an is­sue is, if a per­son who raises an is­sue feels strongly enough to high­light it, then it is im­por­tant to recog­nise their in­put. Recog­ni­tion may be one of the rea­sons for the hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment. 5 Feed­back: You will be un­able to give feed­back on each and ev­ery sug­ges­tion, but it is im­por­tant to make sure you high­light what you feel were the best sug­ges­tions across the of­fices and present back to the teams in each branch. 6 Im­ple­ment: A plan with­out im­ple­men­ta­tion will al­ways just be a plan.

Fail­ing to im­ple­ment some of the key sug­ges­tions from the plan it­self can be as detri­men­tal as do­ing noth­ing at all.

Team mem­bers will look neg­a­tively and deem the ex­er­cise as a waste of time and could fur­ther com­pound the neg­a­tive feel­ing. 7 Re­peat: Things change, and some ideas just do not work.

It is im­por­tant to en­sure that the team see an open door in re­la­tion to sug­ges­tions and ideas, but hav­ing an an­nual root-and-branch re­view can en­sure you con­tinue to hear the voice of the em­ployee and can pre­vent a neg­a­tive sen­ti­ment from set­ting in.

The key to suc­cess is re­mov­ing per­cep­tion on both sides. You may have a per­cep­tion of what the is­sue is and what is caus­ing it and the team may have a per­cep­tion of man­age­ment.

Lis­ten to your team and while all sug­ges­tions may not be im­ple­mentable in your busi­ness, the buy-in from staff into your in­vest­ment in them can pay div­i­dends — not only for the hos­tile branch, but your over­all net­work. David Fitzgib­bon is re­gional man­ager of the Lim­er­ick Of­fice at Collins Mc­ni­cholas Re­cruit­ment and HR Ser­vices Group, which has of­fices in Dublin, Cork, Gal­way, Sligo, Athlone and Lim­er­ick.

As we ap­proach zero un­em­ploy­ment, it’s vi­tal that em­ploy­ers work hard to re­tain their staff

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