Every retailer on the planet talks about how hard it is to find good employees these days. But what happens once you find that perfect match? How hard do you work, to make sure they work hard for you?
Gallup Management Journal (GMJ) surveyed U.S. employees to find out what effect employee engagement had on team-level innovation and customer service delivery. The GMJ survey defined three types of employees:
1. ENGAGED employees who work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.
2. NOT-ENGAGED employees who have essentially “checked out”. They sleepwalk through their workday, putting time – but not energy or passion – into their work.
3. ACTIVELY DISENGAGED employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish.
Gallup’s research illustrates that “engaged employees are more productive, profitable, safer, create stronger customer relationships, and stay longer with their company than less engaged employees.”
Be objective and answer this question: Which kind of employees are on YOUR team? We’ll venture a guess and say that you have a combination of all three. Most companies do, however, we hope that the majority of your staff falls into Gallup’s categories 1 and 2. If you have any employees in category 3, they need to go away before they can do any more damage to your business.
Here are 5 things you can do right now to stimulate creativity and re-engage your employees:
1. Re-think your Employee Evaluation Program
Instead of year end evaluations, try monthly mini-reviews. Let employees know you’ll be meeting monthly to discuss their on-going performance. These informal meetings will help you both get on the right track, and stay there. Carry a notebook and jot down things you observe on the sales floor. This will give you a point of reference for each mini-review.
We once asked an assistant manager how much more she knew today, than she knew three years ago when she was hired. We knew after just five minutes of conversation that this woman’s talent had been horribly under utilized. How well do you really know your team? That new accountant / book keeper you’re looking for just might be the person currently stocking your shelves. How do you know which classes they’re taking, or who is about to earn a new degree, unless you ask? Require employees to update their resumes each year, and you’ll have an on-going record of your resource pool. Have them include skills, such as merchandise presentation, they’ve learned on the job as well.
Go all the way and do a 360 Degree Assessment where your employees evaluate YOU. Think you’re a good leader? Do this and you’ll find out for sure!
2. Hold Frequent Brainstorming Sessions
You are guaranteed to turn off your employees if every company goal, rule and policy is handed down from the top. Engaged employees are part of the big picture – why not involve them in some of the decision making?
Start by holding a brainstorming session. Get a flip chart, throw out a topic and ask your team for suggestions. Write down every idea contributed. In brainstorming, there are no bad ideas – even if an idea sounds too goofy to actually implement, leave it alone. Another person just might take that bad idea and turn it into the best idea ever. Before the meeting give everyone a squirt gun – each time someone says, “That’s a stupid idea!” the entire table gets to take aim.
3. Give `Em an Opportunity to Have an Opportunity!
Are your employees empowered? Can they take care of a customer, even when it involves something out of the ordinary, without asking the bosses permission first? We are continually amazed when cashiers, who are obviously intelligent people, have to ask a supervisor to verify that the customer’s name and address on their check matches the one on their driver’s license. It’s insulting to the employee and a waste of time for both of you.
Instead implement an empowerment program and let the associates make their own decisions. If they mess up, have a conversation about what they might have done differently, and what they should think about the next time a similar situation arises. It works for Nordstrom Department Stores, and it can work for you, too. The following sentence is the entire Nordstrom employee handbook: “Make a decision that favors the customer before the store. You will never be criticized for doing too much, but you will be criticized for doing too little.”
4. Develop a Strong New Hire Program
Training needs to begin on day one and should not stop until the person leaves your employment. Day one begins with New Hire Orientation – sit down with the new hire and discuss what you expect, and what the job will entail. New employees need to feel successful from day one, so start them out with a task they can do well, right away. Success breeds success!
Implement the Buddy System. Pair each new hire up with a seasoned employee. Two things will happen: the new hire will feel more comfortable coming to a peer with questions he or she might be afraid to ask you; and the seasoned staffer will gain confidence and experience as a trainer.
For the first week or two, meet at the end of the day to discuss the new hire’s day on the job. Answer any questions he or she might have and set a goal together for the next day.
5. Train Them and Then Train Them Again
Each day at Ben Franklin Crafts and Frames in Redmond, Washington begins with an informal 10 minute staff meeting. Topics vary from day to day: what’s on sale today; new product discussions; what’s on board for crops and classes; social medias; vendor updates; things customers’ are asking for; something cool an associate did for a customer or the store – the sky’s the limit. These 10 minutes keep everyone up-to-speed on what’s important to know about the store.
Part of your daily store meeting could be our “Gimme 5” exercise. Choose five items, hold each one up individually, and ask associates to call out five other items that could be sold along with the original item; plus five items that could be added-on to increase the sale.
What gets measured tends to get done, so set a different, daily goal over the time clock or in a highly visible place. This might be a sales goal or an operations goal. Whatever you decide, just decide to do it everyday.
Create a daily Pre-Opening Checklist. List all of the things everyone must know before hitting the sales floor. You can use the topics from your daily 10 minute meeting as your guide. Drop us an e-mail, and we’ll send you our easy-to-customize Pre-Opening Checklist template.
Gallup's research also showed that engaged employees are more likely to look for creative ways to improve business, and are more likely to find creative solutions to customer problems. So if you want to grow your business, you need to make sure that your store culture welcomes staff involvement. Why wait to re-engage your team?