The Time to Speak Up

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It’s time for the morning fire-up session on the floor with all the retail sales associates.  You gather in a circle, go over the promotions, special offers and markdowns for the day.  You go over yesterday’s numbers and the associate’s with the highest sales numbers.  Now for the customer Yay’s and Nay’s—customer feedback that was both positive and negative. 

The last part of every meeting is feedback from the floor.  What’s working; what’s not.  As usual, no one has any comments.  A lot of cheering, clapping and high-fives and everyone disperses to their work stations, except for one.  Sue is hanging back again, talking to the manager about some complaint or another.  It’s too bad she didn’t voice her concerns with the group.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan has some pet peeves when it comes to communication, and employees who throw co-workers under the bus are one of them.  Another is employees who hang back during a meeting and won’t share concerns or ideas with the rest of the team.  Honest communication is important in any business.  Retail moves so fast and changes from day-to-day.  Sharing ideas and concerns can make a difference in how you treat customers and solve problems. 

Pre-shift meetings, if conducted properly, can bring a team together, improve communications and get everyone motivated to put forth their best effort. Hotel F&B had some tips on how to make your pre-shift meetings more effective, no matter what business you’re in.

First, don’t start out by asking everyone how they are, unless you’re willing to spend time dealing with the answers.  This is an open door for some disgruntled employee to ask a question or make a comment that will start the meeting on a negative note.  Start with enthusiasm and a positive attitude, leaving no room for negativity.

Be consistent with meetings and start and end on time.  If you’re asking for 15 minutes of rapt attention, don’t take 16 minutes.  Everyone wants to get to work, so don’t waste time.  People like routine and predictability, especially at the beginning of the day.

Do you need everyone to put in extra effort?  Are they going to have to work late this week?  Do you have to move a certain product or make a sales number by the end of the week?  You know what it means to you as a manager, but why should the retail sales team care?  Always emphasize the positive, what’s in it for them.  If you want the team to catch the vision, set the stage by listing the advantages or rewards of meeting the sales numbers.  The old “what’s in it for me” works every time.

There is some risk in speaking out, no matter how encouraging the boss is.  Speaking your mind can make you look like a complainer or even a troublemaker.  How you say what you have to say can make all the difference.  Speaking in general terms, instead of using the word “you” can make it clear you’re not targeting or blaming anyone for the situation.  Framing your comments as your point of view only is non-threatening, since everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. 

If you’re going to speak your mind, be sure you have the facts.  Making a bold statement is one thing, but not having the facts can ruin your credibility.  You can’t “throw someone under the bus” when you’ve got your facts straight and come from a position of your own observations without placing blame.  Honest feedback can help make meetings valuable communication tools and morale boosters for everyone.

Photo Source:  Freedigitalphotos.net : Sattva

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