From the Mind of an Educator: Producing Potency

Here we tread down slippery ground, one of the most difficult aspects of management to juggle, particularly in retail. We must get to know our employees on a personal level without befriending them.  But we must understand who they are to inspire them and to motivate them.  We must know what they need us to communicate to them.  One of the most eye opening articles I read in college was from the wise words of WSU professor Richard Sagor, A Lesson From Skateboarders.  As individuals we have innate desires within us:

Potency-  Employees are adults and need to feel empowered over their destiny, for some this empowerment will come easier than for others.  My largest pet-peeve as a manager was excuses and the pointing of fingers.  Sometimes when I would present an employee with their sales stats and explain they are were falling short of standards I would be met with excuses such as there are no customers when I work, the mall is dead, no one has money, etc.  If my assistant, Michelle, heard such excuses she would quickly pull them aside and say, “Jess would rather you be just upfront with her than make an excuse, you would just be better off.”  Michelle knew the true translation of “no one has money”, was really saying “I’m not willing to put forth the effort to reach out to customers” to my ears.

Instead of frustration over time I found redirection.  These easily discouraged employees were typically suffering from a trail of jobs that never provided decent training, or were constantly punished by their bosses for ignorance.  I decided to redirect their focus, to stomp out the excuses by showing through a simple math equation how they could raise their earnings by 25% with the same amount of customers in the store through the simple adding on of smaller items to every four customers.  A struggling employee who I saw a load of potential in was the poster child for this example.  He had an amazingly magnetic personality that was pure and genuine, but his lack of training to his particular learning type made it so that he never seemed to excel like he should.  When this particular equation was completed I opened the floor to questions and Chris finally reached out, raising his hand high over his head.  “But I don’t know what to say. Just tell me what to say.”  That night I didn’t sleep, hearing Chris’s words echoing in my head, that next day I worked from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on my word processor and wrote three possible opening and closing lines for each staple item in our store.  I printed a copy of the 13 page book for each of my employees.  All the sudden my register-flowers became budding conversationalists on the floor.  The statistics dramatically shot up for Chris, he had finally found a way around the excuses.

Where does your communication lack with the excuse makers?  Where is the roadblock of understanding between what you need from them and what they are needing from you.

Ways to produce potency:

  • Try new methods to measure employee progress and growth
  • Have one on ones where you focus on specific struggles and ask the employee what you can do to help.  At what point are they choking?
  • Constant positive and constructive feedback on employee performance
  • Find a strength your employee has and use that as a building block to regain their baby steps on the track to success
  • Be receptive to questions, take each concern or question of an employee, never laugh off their thoughts or worries.
  • Shadow an employee for an entire shift; start the employee on a series of baby step successes with customers, “Say hi to that customer.” “Great job, now go and ask that customer how they are doing.”  “Now let that customer know earrings are buy 2 get 1 free.”  Offer constructive feedback they can build off of after each interaction.

How do you reach out to those who are burned out and overwhelmed from a constant string of failures?  How do you alter their perspective?  If you don’t yet, what’s your game plan to help your excuse making, unmotivated employees become potent?

Image Courtesy of:  Jonund

8 thoughts on “From the Mind of an Educator: Producing Potency

  1. I find this article to be very interesting. Although your emphasis is retail, this is good advice for many other parts of the business world. I think managers in general would benefit from this post. I no longer manage people in my job because I got promoted to another position in my organization but this is very good information.

    Liked by 1 person

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