A key problem I hear quite frequently when I’m talking with and training store managers is, getting their team members to step up and take responsibility and therefore be accountable for their actions. Team members who do this make it easier for their managers in a number of ways:
- Managers spend less time answering the same questions from their team
- Team members take responsibility and deal with customer’s issues without having to ask for the solution
- Team members use their initiative and come up with ideas to make things run more smoothly
- Team members who aren’t afraid to voice their opinion
Who wouldn’t want more of this happening in their store? If the above outcomes are happening, the store runs better, team members are happier and the customers can feel the energy.
So why is it often so hard to get team members to take more accountability? It certainly starts with recruiting the right team members in the first place. It’s very hard to teach initiative and problem solving, so look for these great skills when you hire team members. It also has a lot to do with the store and company culture. You can’t just expect team members to automatically take responsibility and if team members are not supported in doing this and taling initiative then this won’t happen.
Here are some ideas on how to create and support a positive culture that encourages team members to take responsibility and accountability.
1) Ensure all team members know what they are accountable for and they have clear expectations. This is critical and is one of the first steps that needs to be carried out, so team members clearly know what is expected of them. How can they perform if they don’t know what good looks like?
2) Set them up to succeed. Provide training that fills the gaps. If a team member knows what they have to do (from Step 1) but can’t, then this is a training opportunity. Teach them how, so they feel confident in putting the expectations in place.
3) Set measurable and achievable goals. Now they know the what and the how, it’s time to set some goals that are aligned with their role, so they can measure how well they are doing. Ideally goals should be set in conjunction with team members as this creates more buy-in and accountability.
4) Provide regular feedback on their progress. Ideally, coach team members to find out their own results and discuss this with them. This conversation needs to be a positive one, no problem if they are achieving or exceeding their goals of course. However if they aren’t, the conversation needs to focus on how the manager can help them to be successful and not a blaming conversation that will only de-motivate.
5) Recognise and celebrate success. Find out what motivates each individual and use this as the reward for achieving their goals. Individualised rewards are so much more powerful.
6) Continue all of the above. This is not set and forget, all team members need reminding and refocussing, so it’s a matter of continuing with all of the above steps.
Setting expectations that all team members will commit to achieving is a leader’s job as well as continually communicating the results and helping their team to succeed.
Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.