The 4-step system (awareness, intervention, language, follow-up) is how we help our clients improve the performance of their frontline staff. The process needs to be followed by frontline owners/managers on a regular basis to ensure staff are meeting or exceeding the required standards. As the title suggests, following these steps will enable businesses to succeed by:
» building better connections with their customers
» ensuring these customers are highly likely to come back
» helping to increase sales as connected customers buy more and more often
» ensuring staff are motivated in their job
» reducing the number of staff who leave looking for a better place to work
» increasing teamwork and morale in the workplace
» increasing ROI as a result.
Let’s explore in more detail what each step means.
Step 1. Awareness
I believe most owners/managers miss this step every single day in their business.
Typically, owners/managers spend too much time in their business and not enough time on it. They spend the bulk of their time on tasks such as email, compliance, and reports, leaving little time to spend in store with their staff.
This lack of time and focus means owners/managers may not see what is really going on in their store.
Owners/managers have to spend more time on the floor working with their staff members and observing what’s happening. They need to look for patterns and be able to answer the following question: “Are my staff members following the customer service process all of the time, some of the time, or not at all?”
Step 2. Intervention
Awareness is essential before intervention.
The objective is to help the staff member realise where they are currently performing and either keep it up (if they are doing well), or improve their performance (if there are areas to work on).
Without intervention, staff will not change their behaviour. When dealing with staff performance there is no other way but to build awareness (by observing) and intervene by providing feedback.
Step 3. Language
In my experience one of the main reasons why owners/managers don’t provide feedback to their staff is they don’t know how to do it effectively. The two main hurdles are a lack of time and not knowing the right words to use.
Feedback is a skill that can be learnt by anyone.
Most old-style feedback language was negative and just told the staff member what to do or how to fix the problem. For the receiver of the feedback, there was little or no involvement, so the amount of ownership and understanding is limited.
The language we recommend owners/managers use when giving feedback is direct, specific (deals in the facts), and can be delivered in 10 – 15 seconds.
This quick, on-the-spot feedback can be provided in between customers. It sets up the staff member for success by acknowledging them for a particular behaviour you want to see continued, or dealing with a behaviour you want improved.
Our recommendation for providing feedback, and the language to be used, is based upon getting the receiver of the feedback involved in solving the problem.
We also recommend owners/managers focus on observing their staff doing it right, rather than waiting until they get it wrong. Most staff want to do a good job, and acknowledging them when they do increases motivation.
Step 4. Follow-up
Ongoing follow-up is essential if you want to maintain a high level of performance with your team. If owners/managers build awareness and intervene using the right language, most staff members will improve their performance (or maintain their high level).
To ensure continuing high performance, ongoing follow-up is the key.