Encouraging staff to commit to cost controlBY Australian Retailers Association
Cost control benefits everyone in the store, however, the means of creating can be inconvenient and imposing on store teams. It is up to the retail manager to win the hearts and minds of their teams and create an engaging and compelling set of reasons or benefits to boost staff commitment for the initiatives. It’s primarily about developing strong working relationships.
Communicate the benefits of cost control
Engaging store staff members on the benefits of cost control depends highly upon the existing rapport and camaraderie of teams and the nature of the measures of cost control themselves.
Cost control measures that are perceived as inconvenient, unnecessary or petty are likely to be more negatively received by staff particularly if they have not been consulted throughout the process of developing potential avenues for cost control. When this occurs staff commonly feel disregarded and taken advantage of.
Retailers that effectively implement cost control measures consider their teams both during the development phase of measures and when deciding upon the most appropriate measures to implement.
- Staff are part of the stakeholder group consulted when developing cost control strategies
- They have a voice in deciding which cost control measures are most appropriate and most achievable in their context
- They are part of the discussion setting cost control targets and timeframes
Taking this approach significantly increases the likelihood of uncovering concerns and resistance prior to launching a cost control strategy and increases the likelihood of engagement and commitment to the goals.
Staff who have been part of the process are invested in the outcomes and are more commonly positive about any additional discretionary effort that may be required to achieve the desired outcomes. The win is then theirs and become a increases team cohesiveness.
Inspire individual accountability
All change occurs in the individual first. It is for this reason that winning the hearts and minds of individual staff is necessary when attempting to inspire any change in behaviour is retail teams.
Ideally, retail managers should be aware of the relative enthusiasm and influence of their individual team members and take steps to involve and inspire those individuals that are naturally highly influential over other team members.
Their involvement, endorsement, support and enthusiasm for any initiative, particularly ones that may be perceived as slightly undesirable or inconvenient will do far to ensuring comprehensive team buy-in. It is possible to get creative and implement motivational strategies such as individual and team incentives that act as drivers of change. Remembering most cost control measures require change in some form from individuals and teams, incentives may be beneficial is resistance is high.
However, it is always preferred to engage the hearts and minds of people through inspiration rather than reward as the use of a reward increases the likelihood of the new desired behaviour being anchored to reward, when the reward is removed as it will be over time the behaviour goes back to normal.
Develop feedback mechanisms to action recommendations
When consulting with teams to work on the development of cost control measures it is necessary to embed methods of feedback to action recommendations for improvement. When significant cost cutting measures are required or the business runs multiple locations consultation can occur over
geography and time. Ensuring key suggestions and recommendations get back to the key decision makers allows retailers to take advantage of and endorse cost control opportunities that may differ across the business. It is important that each be considered, modified as required, and endorsed in a timely fashion so store teams can implement their ideas while the momentum is still with them.
Having a long drawn out approval process can result in teams losing their excitement and enthusiasm for initiatives they have devised and the opportunity to maximise cost control via that means may be diminished. Businesses can ensure a streamlined feedback mechanism by creating a formal ideas process that outlines the format ideas should be communicated in and the lines of communication they should follow.
To illustrate, a large retailer with multiple sites may implement a cost control initiative as canvas store teams for ideas. They may stipulate that ideas must be shared with direct store management outlining the idea, how it is to be implemented and any potential barriers by a given date.
The process need not be complex, however it must be clear and include a description of how recommendations will be considered and feedback forwarded to those making the recommendations.
To learn how to steer your success as a team leader, the ARA Retail Institute runs multiple workshops on leadership and team culture. Join the ARA Retail Institute in their latest course which looks into merchandise performance results and following an organisational strategy to plan and enhance ongoing merchandise performance.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Australian Retailers Association
Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.