Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Solicit Staff Suggestions Selectively

Convince your employees you welcome suggestions about improving store operations, but inquire selectively:
  • Select staff with a commitment to continue. Researchers at University of Houston and King's College London found that, on average, staff become more willing to share valuable ideas when the owner or operators of the store attend to employee complaints. However, this was not true with employees whose complaints had led them to want to quit. A common human resource management practice is to conduct exit interviews with departing employees. The research indicates that exit interviews in a retail setting might be good at identifying reasons for employee turnover, but not for obtaining ideas for improving store operations in other ways. 
  • Select when you ask. Researchers from Cornell University, University of Texas-Austin, and Penn State explored what gets in the way of employees frequently volunteering ideas for improvements. The most common motivation for withholding was that the employees believed sharing would be a waste of their limited time. They’d not seen sufficient evidence that managers seriously consider the suggestions. Therefore ask your people for suggestions only when you’re ready to make changes. 
  • Select what you ask about. About four out of ten of the respondents in the Cornell/Texas/Penn survey said they are quite open about sharing when they conclude it won’t be futile, but consciously withhold information about other topics. Employees, being people, want to protect their privacy and want to choose when to tell you what. Start with questions which are not sensitive. Introduce intrusive questions in the form, “May I ask you….?” 
  • Select out the generalized. Ask your staff for advice, not for opinions or expectations. Advice questions are of the form, “What items of advice do you have for our store?” Opinion items are of the form, “What are your opinions about our store?” Expectations questions are of the form, “What are your expectations of our store?” Researchers at University of California-San Diego and Northwestern University found that expectations questions distanced the informant from interest in the fortunes of the business. Advice questions gave rise to happiness at prospects for the store’s success. 
     It’s worth your trouble to be selective in these ways. Throughout their workdays, frontline employees hear what shoppers say and watch what shoppers actually end up doing. Back office employees can spot the trends and the important exceptions to trends while compiling reports you review only in a summarized form.

Click below for more: 
To Build Loyalty, Ask Advice, Not Expectations 
Take Employee Suggestions Seriously 
Interrogate Shoppers to Produce Epiphanies 
Drill Down to Dissect Trends

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