One big advantage of really listening to people is that you begin to really understand them on a whole new level. Giving both the listener and listened too so much more information.
Helen(my PA) and I have had regular reviews/sessions probably every 6 weeks, where I would listen to her and she would listen to me.
Listening to Helen in this way on a regular basis, enabled her and I to devise some amazing systems, to recognise a need for training on how to look after our customers more effectively( Just Referrals training), to recognise a need for more support re bookkeeping, and to redesign job role/hours on many occasions.
Each adjustment and change made it possible for the company, Helen and I to work more effectively, increasing profitability, job satisfaction and efficiency for us both.
The session always started with the question “what would you like to have happen?” Helen was given permission to talk about and find solutions to whatever was bothering her most at the time. Helen found ways to manage the pressures at home of a new baby, unexpected car repair bills and 3 part time jobs. The sessions also gave Helen time to explore more efficient ways to work in the office and the things that needed to happen to increase job satisfaction.
Through these sessions I learned that Helen was really missing the customer facing side of her prevous role as pre-school Deputy, the sense of reward she got when the parents thanked her for doing such a great job. I was effectively her only customer. I was also aware that Helen wanted to earn more money than I could afford to pay her.
This is when Helens role changed to Customer service manager and we devised a commission structure to give her the opportunity to have potential to benefit whenever the company was earning more. I also began to be conscious about acknowledgingthe great work that was being done more often and not simply point out things that needed correcting. (so easy to do when you are short of time but also so demoralising for any individual, sorry Helen!!)
With this all in mind it came as no surprise or disappointment to find out that Helen will be leaving Step by Step today, to start a great new job at her daughter’s nursery where she can work more hours, with reduced childcare cost, no need for a car as it is walking distance. It allows her to give up both Step by Step and a Pub shift meaning she will have Saturday to Tuesday straight through where she can be at home and dedicate herself to her family, one of the most important things to her. Plus she may even be awake and not too ill to enjoy it.
We have had an amazing 2 years together and she has supported me in growing the Step by Step from absolutely nothing to a profitable company where people are calling us now saying we want to know more about your listening skill and will you come to our company and run a session?
The company is now running with efficient systems we designed together that may well mean I can reduce my overheads for a few months and won’t need a PA.
I will miss my listening sessions with Helen as she patiently asked me questions and helped me get clear about the next steps, but I am confident that the next step right now as we part company is good and right for all concerned. All the best Helen at the Nursery I know you will be an asset to them.