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Just Do It - Part Two

Getting Employees to do the things you want them to do

Last month, we began a discussion on the occasion of a manager or owner telling a staff member to "Just do it." And while being an owner or manager may entitle you to give instructions, followed by a "just do it", we have all found from experience that this simple instruction rarely provides you with a job well done.

I mentioned that from my years in business that there was a piece of paper that was taped to the wall next to my desk, and it outlined each of the 16 sections of a book by Ferdinand F. Fournies entitled, "Why employees don't do what they're supposed to do, and what to do about it."

I also mentioned that as I had read the book, all I needed was that small reminder as I would give assignments to my team members. I made a point to always take a quick look at the list to make sure I was not giving instructions which had a very good chance of failing. My suggestion was that you would take last month's column and this one, highlight the points of value to you, and tape the two columns on the wall next to your desk. Here are reasons nine through sixteen as to why employees don't do what they are supposed to do, and what to do about it.

Reason #9: They are rewarded for not doing it. We covered a similar situation last month. You pay your staff members on an hourly basis. There are staff members that are your star performers, and most of us have had staff members that have lagged far behind in the quality of their work. Not only do you know who these individuals are, but so does every staff member. If a staff member does a poor job, or does not complete the task at all, as owners and managers we rarely discipline that individual. Something as simple as a notation, signed by the staff member and manager, noting the problem can help to solve this problem. By stating that these notations will be placed in the staff member's employment file, and discussed at their semi-annual job review, you may correct the situation.

Depending on the severity of the situation, you may want to have a policy where an employee is placed on probation or terminated when too many notations are received in a certain time frame.

Reason #10: They are punished for doing what they are supposed to do. "You should have known .....", is a phrase which may have a place in a manager's vocabulary. However, it should be used with great discretion. Imagine the manager or owner who has been in this industry for their entire working life, and the employee who had previously sold other products, or worked in a service industry. Understandably, there should be a world of difference in the knowledge and interpretation of the experiences in day to day work.

Asking a question of how a staff member saw a situation and what they were thinking can enlighten the owner or manager to how the staff member saw a situation. A staff member who has been told to build a display, and is then chastised for failing to wait on a customer, is going to be even more confused when the next situation occurs.

Reason #11: They anticipate a negative consequence for doing it. This reason ties into the last one. Give a staff member a situation where they are afraid to act because of their fear of being chastised, and you are on the road to developing a staff member who is learning to just "stay out of the way and look busy". Fear of a manager or owner does not create a positive work place where staff members can excel.

Reason #12: There is a lack of negative consequence for poor performance. This reason is similar to reason #9; if there is a reward for not doing it, or a lack of negative consequence for poor performance, we are cultivating employees who can best be described as "slackers". Combining the reason from last month, as well as reasons #9 and #12, the healthy work environment will have rewards for those who do the job, and penalties for those who do the job wrong, poorly, or do not do the task at all.

Reason #13: There are obstacles beyond their control. Perhaps before you left for a meeting today, you gave a staff member the assignment of building a display. When you arrive the next day at work, the display is not completed. Someone may have called in sick. The necessary shelving for the display that you thought was in the store room, was not there. Maybe, and fortunately for your business, there were just too many customers to get to it. The valid reasons for the incomplete assignment could go on and on. The important point is for the manager or owner to consider, and validate these situations when deciding how to penalize an individual, as well as providing the necessary insight when making the next assignment.

Reason #14: Their personal limits prevent them from performing. I remember years ago speaking to a vendor about a problem we were experiencing with his company with regard to the shipment of goods. I explained that there had been several conversations with his dispatcher, driver, and warehouse personnel. His response, while blunt, did have a truth within it. "We didn't hire them to work in those areas because they were rocket scientists."

Not everyone is management material; not everyone wants to be. Hopefully, all of the sales team in your business is not making the same hourly wage. Hopefully, the main guideline for a raise during the semi-annual review is not longevity. Skill, both natural and acquired, knowledge, and desire should be some of the strong considerations for pay raise and job assignments.

Reason #15: There are personal problems. Probably all of us have hired an employee who would fit into the category of "professional victim". It seems that nearly every day they come to work, they are experiencing some type of personal problem or emergency. And we usually feel better when we have terminated this employee, or they have moved on to another job.
This reason is to call our attention to the situation where a staff member is having, just as every owner or manager does, a personal problem that is preventing the staff member from giving their full attention to the situation.

It has been the experience of this writer when such a situation has been detected, that a conversation on a personal basis goes a long way. An offer of "I would be glad to listen or help where I can" has helped in creating a friendship and better working relationship between staff member and owner or manager.

Reason #16: No one can do it. Consider a manager who has a vision of how they want something within the business to look. It may be a display; sometimes it is needing a report from computer. This manager was very good in envisioning what he wanted for the business, but there were those occasions where a staff member needed to ask how to complete the task. A possible problem was seen by the staff member even before starting the task. The manager was unable to clearly answer the request for directions or additional information. And with a sound of frustration in their voice, the manager would say, "I do not know exactly how. That is what I pay you to do. Just do it."

And thus, we complete the two columns with the same issue we began with. Just do it was a great slogan by Nike, and it may have worked well for Mom, but it does not have a place in your business.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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