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Madeleine Geach, Head of Culture at Hawksmoor and Leadership coach answers some of the top questions asked during this masterclass.

1. How can we coach and drive future leaders within our venues?

A good place to start is to set aside time for regular coaching conversations with your team. During these sessions you should ask them simple questions such as: what has gone well this week? what have you learnt? what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? Getting people to reflect and think for themselves this way helps build the autonomy needed for leadership.

2. How important is it to adapt your leadership style in a crisis? How does a crisis impact our leadership?

At the start of a crisis you may need more of the ‘front/alpha’ leadership style we mention in the masterclass. Part of this is making sure you are communicating more regularly with your team to share ‘the plan’ – doing this really helps build confidence.

3. What advice would you have for helping a team bond?

Lots of interactive training which gets people talking and sharing ideas. And, of course, some regular down time together is also really important. Also talking honestly about some of the wellbeing stuff mentioned in our masterclass is really good way to have open conversations which build trust – do a ‘Wheel of life’ together!

4. Is it worth formulating a training plan even in a crisis?

Yes especially right now when some people are off work in lockdowns training is a really good way to keep your team motivated and engaged and make this time a period for some professional development.

5. How can I build trust in my team?

Being as open and honest as possible is really important. Use the 6cs mentioned in the masterclass to shape some of frank conversations. That and really taking an active role in people’s development – for those that want to stretch themselves your mentoring and guidance will show you genuinely care for them, which earns a lot of trust.

6. How can I lead my team to achieving their goals and targets?

Regular check-ins are essential. Set SMART goals with team members and then follow up in 6 months’ time to review performance. The purpose of this review is to establish, what was their goal? Have they achieved it? If so, what worked and what have they learnt? And what’s next? If not, what are the next steps to making it happen – what will they do and by when?

7. Within clear communication, and the x6 C’s, how important is it to add “hooks” for teams to latch onto.

Hooks can really bring what you are saying to life – you might have metaphor, quick story or real life examples that add a bit of colour to your message. Just keep it fairly short so the main message does not get lost.

8. My company has very little training planned going forward. What resources would you recommend for anyone looking to better themselves as a leader?

I’d start with the Diageo Bar Academy online resources. And an alternative to training is starting a book club and setting up a small resource library of books people can read at work. A couple of titles to get you started are The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters and How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb.

9. Any good tips on avoiding misunderstandings in communication?

In the masterclass we mentioned checkbacks or teachbacks to check people have understood by asking them to explain back to you what you said. It’s much more effective than asking ‘Do you understand?’ or ‘Any questions?’ which is normally followed by silence. Use the 6cs to use simple concise language helps too.

10. How important is it for people to have a sense of personal achievement within work?

For most people (although not everyone) it is very important. If you think about the times you’ve really felt engaged with your work it’s probably when you’ve felt you are achieving something meaningful. All the research in this area says people are much more motivated by a sense of achievement than just money. Take a look at Daniel Pink’s work on ‘Autonomy Mastery and Purpose’ for more on this – this is highly recommended reading (or you could watch a YouTube video for a quick summary).

11. Would you advise providing on the job feedback to your team?

Absolutely. People really appreciate frequent, regular feedback – both the positive and the constructive. Try to aim for the 3:1 ratio – for example three things that have done well and one area to focus on. And it’s much more effective to do this as part of your everyday on the job interactions rather than just once a year in a review.

12. In a small team do you think a group text is a sufficient way to communicate weekly happenings at your venue? What would you suggest?

Texts can be good but where possible aim to speak to people face to face (for instance in a weekly meeting if you are able to meet in person or Zoom call) as this can be more engaging and bring a bit of energy to what you are saying.

13. Do you have any advice for leading a group of staff from a different country with different cultures from you?

It’s good to learn a bit about some of the norms in their culture. For instance, different cultures have very different attitudes to how direct people are with each other. If you are managing or leading people this helps you think about how your message will be received. This goes back to ‘consideration’ and ‘stepping into someone else’s shoes’ when you communicate – all covered in the masterclass!

14. How do we deal with people who do not want our feedback?

You can’t force people to be open to feedback. If you are giving feedback in the right way and they do not want it I would question if they are someone you want to grow and promote or work with (if they are senior to you) in the long term.

15. Do you have any advice for someone who, over the course of two years, has seen a massive decline of leadership from their owner/GM?

If you feel confident enough you may ask if they are open to some constructive feedback at the right moment. But in the end you cannot control how other people behave – you can only control your own actions. So, if you are not working for someone who inspires you it may be time to look for another role with people who do.

For insider expertise and guidance on how to lead effectively during this challenging time you can watch ‘An expert guide to leading well’ on demand here.