For the past three years, I have developed and facilitated the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) annual HR Forum. This is a two and a half day business meeting of HR managers throughout the convenience industry who get together to discuss common interests, share lessons learned and best practices and learn how to improve their jobs and the overall performance of their companies. Each year the theme is different. However, regardless of the theme, the conversation and focus always migrates to the frontline employees working in the store, in terms of how to improve their job performance by engaging them at higher level. Which leads me to this question: How engaged are your store employees?
On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is not engaged, and 10 is fully engaged, how would you rate the level of job engagement of your store employees? A 10-rating would be an employee who is completely locked in by having a laser-like focus on performing the duties of their job at the highest level: satisfying customers, suggesting selling, driving your company’s marketing strategies, helping co-workers, and going the extra mile without having to be told. You know the type of employee I’m talking about. Admit it, you’ve probably fantasized a few times of what your life would be like if you had a couple of these employees. Most companies rate themselves between 4-6. What’s your number? The next question is what supporting data or evidence do you have to justify your rating? In most cases there is no supporting data it’s more of a gut feeling.
Communication as Strategy:
Performance Management is a multi-component system designed to assist managers in helping their employees perform their jobs at a higher level, resulting in improved business results. One of the components is communication. Communication is the lifeblood of any strategy. I’ve written in past columns that high-performance employees view communication—more specifically, feedback on their job performance—as oxygen. Communication is the breakfast of champions for high-performance organizations. So here’s the million dollar question: How effectively does your company communicate throughout the organization; from the CEO or owner/operator, down through the ranks to the employees standing behind the counter interacting with your customers?
Communication is vital to achieving business success and is one of the most important roles of management. What good is a great strategy if you can’t effectively communicate it? Therefore, it would be wise to view communication as a strategy in and of itself. What do I mean by strategy? Strategies have structure, for example, implementation plans, metrics to determine effectiveness and identify areas for improvement, and all strategies have an owner; someone who is responsible.
Here’s an easy and cost-effective approach to determine how effective communication is in your organization. Practically all marketing strategies, programs and promotions are developed for store-level implementation. And store employees are responsible for executing these strategies, programs and promotions. Next time you’re visiting your stores, ask your employees (not the store managers) these questions:
1. What are this month’s promotions? (They can’t look at the POP – that’s cheating!)
2. What’s our company’s vision, mission, credo, etc? (Choose what’s applicable.)
3. What are the sales goals this month for your store?
4. Who’s the key competitor for your store?
5. What are this year’s goals for our company and your store?
6. What’s your role in helping us achieve these goals?
Regardless of the questions you choose to ask, the point is this: Do you think you’d achieve greater business results if ALL your store employees answered these six questions correctly? And what’s the cost to your business when your store employees are clueless to these questions? In the end, communication can make or break your business!
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