How many hours a week do you spend policing your stores and staff?
Retailers have it tough, you assign someone a task that you want completed only to have it fall upon deaf ears. It never gets done. Both your managers and your staff assure you that they’re trying. But it constantly seems as though they’re always trying and too often not succeeding. Whether you are responsible for one employee or one hundred, noncompliance among staff in a retail store is a supervisor’s biggest nightmare.
Why is it so difficult to get your staff to comply?
To follow rules?
To do what they are told to do?
To conform to policy?
How can you get your staff to realize that when you say you want something done, it means you want it done; that you’re not giving them a directive for the sake of hearing yourself talk?
One of the prime factors that is directly related to a supervisor’s ability to gain compliance is follow-up. Without follow-up, all of your efforts to gain compliance may be ineffective.
Earning a reputation for follow-up—good or bad—is easy.
For example, let’s say the issue of noncompliance is the wearing of name tags. You have decided that it would be of great benefit to have all salespeople and store managers wear name tags. To you, the reasons may be obvious:
- It makes store personnel visible to all customers making it easier for them to ask for assistance and for the store to deter possible theft.
- It looks professional.
- Customers enjoy talking to people, so when a salesperson has a name tag on, customers feel comfortable calling the salesperson by name.
- Wearing a name tag can even build personal trade.
Of course, there are many other factors that could affect compliance, but with something as simple as name-tags, you shouldn’t have to give your directive more than once—unless you have a reputation for forgetting to follow up on even the simplest issues.
Take a look at this scenario:
Chris Smith, store manager in store 624 is having difficulty enforcing the name tag policy. Salesperson Sara Jones always wears nice blouses and she refuses to wear one because it leaves holes in her clothes. Salesperson Fred White thinks name tags are a silly idea and he keeps conveniently forgetting to bring his from home. Store manager Chris Smith knows that his supervisor won’t even notice that his staff is not wearing name tags. He has a choice to make: battle his staff every day on a policy his supervisor won’t even notice, or just ignore the policy. Chris Smith is likely to ignore this policy.
Now suppose that the same scenario is happening in a store with a supervisor that has impeccable follow up no matter the policy issue. The choices this manager has are very different: battle his staff to a victory, or accept the consequences from the supervisor who will immediately notice the noncompliance of his staff. This manager is more likely to go to battle. He knows his supervisor will follow up.
If you earn a reputation for issuing directives without following up on them, your staff will neither take your directives seriously nor make them a priority.
The interesting question is why supervisors don’t follow up.
You could probably come up with at least a dozen reasons why you sometimes neglect to follow up. Do any of the following excuses ring a bell? You didn’t follow-up because:
- You felt like you would be nagging.
- You weren’t sure if you were specific enough in communicating the importance of the directive.
- You think your staff won’t respect you if you assert too much control.
- You didn’t issue a deadline for compliance.
- You just plain forgot.
- You didn’t have the time.
It would be very simple to refute the validity of each of these reasons, but then you could probably replace them with six more. The point being that you can continue to make excuses, or you can decide to do something. And you can start by creating a follow-up system for yourself. This alone will eliminate at least half of your excuses.
How you organize yourself is up to you.
Some supervisors use a calendar, physical or digital for the tech savvier types. If they ask anyone to do something, they note the deadline on their calendar and follow up accordingly. It won’t be long before your staff will begin to count on you pulling out your calendar and making a note of the deadline you just gave them.
Granted, this may seem extreme to do for all directives. But, your goal is to eventually reach a point whereby you do not have to follow up on every detail because the manager simply gets things done. You would then only have to make notes of major directives or ones that you feel the manager will have difficulty accomplishing.
Some of the more traditional supervisors may use individual index cards or post it notes for each point requiring follow up. The date to follow up, the manager’s name and the directive issued are recorded on a single card and filed according to the date for follow up. After follow up, the card is thrown away.
Whatever method you use, the point is that you must guarantee follow up.
What is your own plan to guarantee follow up?
Take the necessary actions to gain compliance and start to proactively manage your stores.