Getting More out of Your Employees

"I can't get good help!" I hear it all the time. You hear it all the time. We all hear it all the time. So there must be some truth to this common complaint. Yet there are some things you can do to improve the situation in your favor.

  1. Tell your employees that it is OK to think.
  2. "Rotation of Clerks"--an employee's manual.
  3. "Stretch your employees"--step-up training.

Tell your employees that it is OK to think.

In fact, insist on it. Coach employees. When you explain a problem to an employee, think of how else the same idea applies to other situations the employee will encounter. For example, let's say that you tell an employee that you want him to regularly check that all the drink labels are facing forward. Explain that it makes a better looking display. Tell him to apply this idea on the gondolas and endcaps.

"Rotation of Clerks"--an employee's manual.

Many stores have checklists. One might be for a cashier. Another might be for a stock clerk. Yet another might be for a kitchen worker. I have seen many of these checklists and many are very good. (Click to see samples) They are thorough and the employees clearly understand what is expected. I have often walked into a C-store and found a bored checkout clerk standing behind the counter doing nothing. He had already stocked the cigarette racks and tidied up behind the counter. If he had a checklist, he had done everything on it. Yet fifteen feet away, the store was running out of coffee stirrers. Several sixpacks of beer only had two beers in them. He could have been helping another clerk bring stock out of the backroom.
Take all of your several checklists. Arrange them as pages of a 3- or 4-page manual. Give each one a title such as "Check-Out Clerk," "Stock Clerk," and so forth. Think about it for a few minutes, and then add one more item to the bottom of each list that says something like this: "When you have finished everthing on this list, then go to the Stock Clerk's List. Tie all your checklists together into one long, perpetual list that will be impossible to "finish." Eliminating this built-in "down time" might mean you have to "buy" fewer total hours from your employees.

Stretch you employees--step-up training.

Consider an employee who does a good job. During his shift he looks as many other areas of the store as he can. Think of a classroom. He has mastered these tasks, so he is ready for the next one. Train him some new task--how to place orders, how to take inventory, and other things that will free up more of your time or your manager's time.

To get the most out of your employees, keep these two ideas in mind:

  1. Hired employees do not show up for work the first day knowing what to do.
  2. Employees look to you and your manager to train them for new tasks.