How do we change the culture?
It starts with the Store Manager; he or she has to support the idea and declare that managers are to run the operation in a common manner in order to set the tone and to ensure consistency. Associates need to know that there will be equal consequences for work not carried out properly and in a timely manner.
A culture of incentives should be practiced! I found as a manager, that when you reward people, not just for hard work, but for GOOD work, you have higher returns on retention and morale is higher. Let’s face it, retail, many times, provide the lowest paying jobs. They create a sense of defeat for many who actually feel that they have no other alternatives. Management has to get them to see beyond this and to see VALUE. Management HAS to be the conduit for understanding just how associates TRULY add value.
Front-line managers are tasked with the challenge of motivating, coaching, and retaining talented associates and therefore they must be creative and ever vigilant in creating value in the organization. Associates should be recognized for their successes. There is a lack of recognition for front-line workers who are indeed the bread and butter of operations. They are rewarded financially less than their corporate counterparts. How do we get the financial rewards to trickle down more effectively and more fairly?
Front-liners should be people who know and truly believe that customers are our allies. How do we improve and maintain stellar customer service index numbers? We HIRE beyond the bottom-line to increase the bottom-line. We want associates that want to hit the ball of out of the park but truly believe and are comfortable playing singles or even doubles. Create a strong, competitive environment. It’s not personal, it’s just required.
Cashiers are the first and last individuals that customers see; they will either create a positive or negative impact and a lasting image of that experience for customers. Cashiers have to be highly motivated with a growing body of knowledge of our products and services. They should have an understanding of the role, for instance technology and copy and print play in the store. They need to be informed of weekly sales and ensure that calls get routed to the right department in a timely manner, etc.
We need to understand and map out associates by their strengths. The more incite we have on their strengths, the more success we will have at targeting specific tasks to them. Hire not from the warm body perspective but from an innovative perspective. What attributes will new hires bring to the table? What present challenges is the store facing and what skills will be critical for future success?
Management has to communicate with one another. They have to be engaged and practice an all hands on deck approach. Managers have to be purposeful. Every step is scrutinized by those that they lead. Monthly, if not more, should take an internal inventory to determine where there strengths, weaknesses are so that they can better access where the threats are and ultimately what the opportunities are for GROWTH. The world of retail leaves many tattered and torn and disillusioned and disheartened. Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers. A worrisome trend that is taking place in the confines of retailing is the perceived notice that manages are acting with purpose and with discretion as it relates to employee relation matters.
Often, it is the manager that spills the beans. Managers are hearing stories from what should be trusted conversations with associates and five minutes later, associates are standing around disseminating the information out. How can managers expect for associates to focus on the critical aspects of the day when they are going against company protocol. Managers have to set the example and they are clearly breaking the rules. It has to stop NOW!
Discretion, professionalism, leadership, motivation, communication, integrity are getting lost at the expense of critical factors like employee morale, inventory management, shrink, etc., and most importantly, customers. Front line managers are being pushed in many directions; they are being pushed by their subordinates and they are being pushed by those above them. Front line leaders take things down to the tactical level. We directly manage up to 80% of the workforce and we are responsible for morale and motivation and ultimately for RESULTS.
We don’t control the tighter and tighter budgets that are coming down. We are being required to take risks, often-time with little trajectory. We are losing our training opportunities. What we can control is to take the vision and mission and help execute the company’s strategy style. We can recreate ourselves and mold ourselves in order to drive things consistently.
We have to be excellent at doing more with less instead of merely complaining about all the LESS we have. We MUST not ignore poor performance because you end of creating a lot of frustration among the team; among associates. Also, we have to be micro-managed. Front line leaders should set clear goals and objectives and let associates go out and do it. We need to make decisions based on facts and not the rumor-mill.
We have to tell employees what is expected of them. Constant communication has to center around goals. Ignite the conversation among them. Managers have to grasp what is critical and what is not so critical or urgent today. We must understand what REALLY needs to get done in 24 to 48 hours. We are not communicating anymore. Managers must really analyze the business so that they can educate their teams daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. It is a necessity to inform.
Front-line managers have to stop hindering and start focusing more on safety, quality, customer service, product knowledge, etc. The boat is passing many managers by and therefore goals are not being met. When goals are not met, managers have to take responsibility and be accountable. The blame should only be placed with management and not employees because we set the tone. We must connect the employees to the business. We have to share the health and wealth of the organization and their stores.
Managers must clearly know whether we are winning and why we are losing and they must dig deep to answer the question WHY. We must eliminate selective engagement and advocate collective accountability. Everyone should be working the same workload. In order to execute this fairly, managers have to be neutral in all aspects of their management. The propensity to be liked beyond the job is often the downfall of managers.
Front-line managers should be consistent, impactful, in their learning. There is no one way that a manager can grow, but they must growth and develop. They must transcend their roles and act according to what they are learning as to the market, and to industry trends. They must practice daily what they are learning. Front-line managers are responsible for creating a learning environment and ensuring that learning is transferred effectively. They should be asking questions and challenging employees in order to determine transference.
The focus and the suggestions here are left to ignite thought, discussion, and action. These are but perspectives based on personal experiences. Every day is an opportunity for front-line manages to allocate to what is happening in our industry and to positively press forward. Employees are frustrated, unhappy, unproductive, and underperforming because front-line managers are failing.
Front-line managers are less and less taking a look at the big picture; instead they are sweating over the small stuff and many stores are unresponsive to the market and to its competitors. Again, front-line managers are tired, stressed-out, overworked and may need to decide to get out. When these tendencies create complacency, upper-manager has to sound the trumpets. Passion is a factor; it creates motion; emotion creates motion.
Creating a sales culture
Here is a mental note; front-line managers have to coach its employees on salesmanship. It is imperative that they understand that each day they come in they must know the products, the services, and the overall value of what we are offering. Customers have so many options and it is critical that front-line managers block out as best they can the competitors in the minds of customers. Managers must get buy-in in order to achieve the results set-forth by upper-management. Educating employees and holding them accountable for getting the results will create an environment of consistent reproduction of increased customer value.
Front-line managers are tasked with disseminating relevant information on a daily basis and not contribute to misinformation and speculation. Front-line managers have to clear the cob webs and create clarity; clarity about store and organizational goals; what is expected, and why the tasks that are handed out are essential to company and store success.
Explanations breed results. When employees can attach a legitimate reason for their actions; they are less likely to be sedentary; as important, is creating a timeline for completion of tasks. Merely telling employees to complete tasks will not create timeliness. Giving them a task and a deadline keeps them more concentrated; they become more determined to get things done in order to ensure that their manager is satisfied and that they are perceived as having done a good job.
Finally, front-line managers must execute very strategic strokes. There is too much focus on things that clearly should be out of focus. With the many things that take place in a day, front-line managers have to be more deliberate than ever. With the economic downturn that is still in full flight, managers have to make things more fun. They have to keep employees from worrying about change because ultimately they can’t control change. What managers can help them control is how to react to the changes.
If front-line managers are visibly stressed, angry, negative, etc., employees will be. There is no doubt that there are challenges. Employees are not uncaring but managers are not supposed to be critical about the organization or stressed out by the day’s events. Employees imitate leadership. Employees are a direct reflection of management. Managers should show consistency of action.
Retailing will always have room to grow. The industry is ever-evolving and more and more new entrants will come into the market. Competition will continue to be stiff and therefore retailers will continue to demand a strong, dependable workforce and even more, they will need front-line managers with fortitude. Leadership is a huge responsibility. Front-line managers are the glue that holds retailing together.