In the early days of my retail career, I knew I had reached the ultimate level of success, when I could leave on vacation and return to no other messages than, “welcome back.” See before I reached this point, I would come back to work (most of the time a day or two early just so I could what was really going on in my absence) and there would be a long list of things that I needed to handle; there would be all kinds of things ranging from angry customers, to incomplete projects, to a dirty store. Somewhere after years of getting frustrating by this, I figured out how to engage and develop a team of employees to give whatever was needed to get the job done. Up to that point, I had always been really good at setting expectations and keeping people focused at work while I was there, but what happened when I left?
The answer to that question depended on who was there, but I wanted that to not matter anymore. I wanted it to always be good. I wanted every customer, every day to have the same experience. So I went on a mission to figure out how to make that happen. And the only thing I had to change was me. I was already good at setting expectations and holding people accountable to meet them. I was also pretty good at training people to do their jobs. But most of all, I was good at demolishing discretionary effort. That extra effort required of people when no one is looking. Being good at this was easy; realizing it needed to change was a bit more difficult. But when it I did change, magic happened.
Make your own magic and stop doing the things that kill discretionary effort.
- Stop giving the answers all the time
- Teach the reasons why so that people can make educated decisions when you aren’t there
- If they make a decision and it is wrong, COACH them to see why another decision would be better
- If they make a decision and it is right, give them credit
- Thank them for just doing their jobs
- Let them do their jobs
- Refrain from stepping in and taking over for them- COACH later if needed
- Admit when you are wrong
- Be a good model every day
- Ask about their goals, help them get there
- Be flexible and open
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Sheri Mazurek is a training and human resource professional with over 16 years of management experience, and is skilled in all areas of employee management and human resource functions, with a specialty in learning and development. For more information send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sherimazurek.com. Follow me on twitter @Sherimaz.