By Stacy Gershberg, Employee Expert
Have you ever walked into a shop and you couldn’t find anyone to help you? Or, if you do, they are so focused on their job that they don’t even look up at you? I am sure we can all say YES to that! It’s one of the most annoying situations you will encounter as a customer.
This behaviour can also apply to managers and business owners in terms of how you communicate with your employees. Are you looking up from your work to manage your people? Are you a task-focused manager or a people-focused one?
As an HR Manager in the retail sector, one of the most enjoyable but difficult parts of my job was visiting shops to speak with employees. The contact was great and I learned a lot more being out and about than I ever did behind a desk. However, I cannot count the amount of times I would walk into a shop, ask an employee how they were, and that person would burst into tears.
Needless to say, there’s A LOT of work-related stress out there, however everyone was so task-focused that the managers were not looking up from their work, or computers, to notice.
A couple of times a year, I would put my retail hat on and work in a shop as a team member – which was definitely a double-edged sword. It was great for building relationships with employees, understanding the business better and also the customer base. On the other hand, I overheard a lot of unhappy conversations, between team members, about the business, that I have no doubt customers heard too. I also noticed that while I was on the floor, almost every customer asked me for help but not any of the other team members. Can you guess by now why?
NO ONE WAS PAYING ATTENTION TO THE CUSTOMERS!
My advice, in brief, for Managers and Business Owners:
- Say hello and have a quick ‘check in’ chat with every employee, every day (or their relevant manager)
- Look around you, and up from your work.throughout the day and take note of how people look and the ‘vibe’ of your business environment. If you are concerned at all, stop, get up, walk around and check in with people
- Stop at midday (even if everything feels ok), walk around, check in (do you see a pattern developing here?)
- Smile, smile, smile (at customers and employees, in a natural way, not like the ‘Joker’ in BatMan!). A smile is often contagious and will spread (and the same goes if you are frowning). Be aware of what behaviour you are role modeling in the office, or on your work site
- Say a pleasant goodbye to as many employees as you can on your way out
- Make sure that if you directly service customers, you look up from your work and appear approachable (this is also important to include in any customer service training or coaching for frontline employees. Make it a KPI!)
This may all sound like a lot of work. But like they say, short term pain for long term gain. This will increase workplace wellbeing, productivity and profit. It will also decrease potential absenteeism due to illness and stress – and pricey psychological workers compensation claims that can run into the 100’s of thousands!
Remember, your employees really do matter. Please contact Employee Matters if you would like to find out more about this topic or if you have a tricky situation you need help with.