Keeping Your People Motivated

While I am passionate about the joys of a career in retail and how exciting retail is as the purest form of commerce, there is no doubt that retail burns huge amounts of human energy and requires enormous and detailed discipline.

This is the major underlying contributor to staff churn in retail.

As leaders of retail businesses we need to acknowledge that 80% of what our staff do is energy negative. That is, it burns their fuel – and at a rapid rate.

If we compound this with a bad manager, un-necessary bureaucracy, poor working conditions, rough and ready recruitment, induction and training programs and under-deliver on all the other basics that make a store capable of performing at its natural level, you can understand why some retail chains have up to 80% annual staff turnover.

In the 21st century when labour pools are trending down relative to the customer pool we have to serve, we have a duty of care to ensure that the basics that support the 80% of tasks that burn our staff energy are as efficient, supportive and productive as possible. That takes care of the basics and gets us to the starting line.

But to keep the good staff and to get them to perform better takes more than the basics.

It takes motivation that is relevant to them. This is the 20% that is energy positive. For great retailers, the 80% is a given and they focus their intellectual capital on making the 20% produce more than enough fuel to meet the demands of the 80% that burns it.

Motivation is not about money. Big salary increases are usually what people ask for when they are not happy. Motivation is about keeping people happy and full of positive energy.

It starts by recruiting the right people in the first place. People capable of working in a team. People who share a genuine joy of serving customers and making life better for them in some small way. These people need training and support. But above all they need recognition and celebration of achievement in the everyday as well as the extraordinary. They need their suggestions to be heard – and where they have a valid point – acted on. They need the business to support them to do the job better where they do the job, rather than on a piece of paper in head office. They need to feel that they are becoming a better person and learning and growing.

They need to have personal contact and communication with the highest levels of the company and to know that the channels are open and they will be responded to. They need encouragement and reinforcement.

Treat your staff the way you treat your family and you will have a happy motivated team. Have the same kind of rules, encouragement, hopes and aspirations for your staff and you will have a team that performs to their best.