You can’t change process without changing people…
Post 3: Randy wrote at the top of the chart paper before the partners began their brainstorming: NO MORE VICTIMS! He was determined to avoid more of the negative feelings his store’s special events had caused to his employees, customers and vendors.
While referencing the list of recent mistakes, the group started by collecting all the perspectives and aspects they should have checked during their planning, then they expanded the list with any other things they should check before finalizing future plans. The list got pretty long, so they decided to narrow by filtering out the items not touching financial results, community support or the store relationships with employees, customers, the health department, landlord, or vendors. They considered these things the commodities they valued most and could not afford to put at risk. Eventually these became known as the Hot Commodities that everyone protected.
Referring to the formal change-strategy they had documented for the move to their store location a couple of years earlier, the partners bulleted other aspects they felt should be considered for each future store event or small process-change. After another hour they had a process plan drafted:
They would conduct a one-time training for all employees on event expectations:
- Explain the new event planning-process and the reasons for it
- Explain the “Hot Commodity” list and how special events drive the business
- Create expectations for every employee to give feedback at three key times from the Hot Commodity perspective: 1st) when plan details are shared, 2nd) the first few hours of the actual event, and 3rd) during the event if any good or bad unexpected extremes occur – especially with the “Hot Commodities”
- Clarify expectations of how critical employee engagement is to our events (schedules, energy, and accurate follow-through on even small changes)
For each event they would communicate these Event Specifics to all employees and request their feedback & perspectives from Hot Commodities they have interaction with:
- What the store should gain from the event – the goal
- The details on who should do what to execute the event
- The priorities for anyone interacting with customers during the event
- Any key risks for everyone’s awareness & responsibility to escalate
They documented the keys steps to the new ongoing Event-Planning Process:
- Plan the event
- Conduct Staff Communication: Hot Commodity Review and Event Specifics
- Conduct Post-event review with store leaders and discuss any process improvement opportunities
- Present in staff meeting 1) the actual results 2) appropriate process adjustments 3) CELEBRATION of staff effort and any positive comments from Hot Commodities
The partners were pleased with the results. The process was polished quickly over the next few month’s events, and employees responded to the expectation of offering feedback on the events as well as early perspectives on expected impacts to the Hot Commodities. The process became more efficient as shift leaders took on the pre-event communication and passed feedback to the partners. The post-event celebrations became a critical close-the-loop event that also served to engage employees in upcoming specials.
Reality: Never turn customers, vendors or employees into victims by failing to consider the total impact of business changes: perceptions of betrayal are as real as actual loss to most people.
- Always ensure all perspectives of your critical commodities are considered with each change.
- Ask customer-facing employees to predict customer responses; they talk to them every day.
- As soon as a change is launched, ask your employees to interpret customer responses before the ‘analyzed results’ come in.
- Express gratitude for issues that are escalated quickly to leadership… escalations from any direction can save money, time and relationships. (Save your excuses for a later, more private moment.)