What’s holding your company back: the people or the mindset?

Over the years, in countless conversations, I have heard business owners, human resource managers, store supervisors, and COO discuss in frustration how they, in their respective jobs and the companies they work for, could accomplish so much more if they only had the right personal store. Comments like, “Finding good store managers and CSRs prevents our company from taking our business to the next level” gold, “We have great store locations and designs. It is the quality of our employees and our inability to execute that is causing many of our stores to underperform.” Sounds familiar? Have you had similar conversations within your company? If so, you are certainly not alone.

Entry price vs. Differentiator:

Having a great store location, such as a far corner, high traffic, many roofs, and limited competition, coupled with great architectural design, does not make your store unique or give you a competitive advantage. The reason is that your competitors also have great store locations and designs. Therefore, the playing field is level. The way to win is not by playing on equal terms, but by tilting the playing field in your favor. And how do you do that? Through the people! Not real estate, design, products or services, but through people. Don’t get me wrong, real estate, store design, products, and services are really important. But in today’s highly competitive market, these things are simply the initial bet to get into the game: the entry price; it’s not a competitive advantage, unless of course you have no competition, and what are the chances of that?

In addition, real estate, store design, products and services do not run by themselves, but people do. Think about the investment you make to purchase the land, construction, and full supply of the store. Big number, right? And sadly, that number is increasing. But nothing happens until you add the final piece to the puzzle: people. You’ve just spent a fortune and are now handing over the keys to your store supervisor, whose job it is to install a store manager who will then hire store employees. Feeling a little anxious right now? God knows you should be. How much did that baby cost you again?

Redefining employee expectations:

So now your new store is ready to operate. What are your expectations of your store manager and your employees? I will answer that question for you, since I have asked it thousands of times and the answers are practically the same:

1) introduce yourself,

2) be in uniform and

3) don’t steal. Admit it, that’s pretty much the magnitude of how low we’ve set the bar on job performance expectations for store employees.

Keep getting what you keep waiting for! So if your company leaders have low expectations of the people who work in their stores, who is to blame for poor performance?

Discretionary effort:

Discretionary effort is the gap between how much effort, energy Y creativity an employee is contributing, and how much the employee “could” contribute if they so desired. Most employees just try hard enough not to get fired. In a recent research study my company conducted, we asked store employees to “honestly” rate their effort for job performance on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing maximum effort. The average score was six. When we asked the question again, but incorporated the definition of discretionary effort, the average score increased by two points, from six to eight. Statistical analysis will tell me that your company is no different. At your next staff meeting, ask your leaders why. With fierce competition, you either act or die.

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