Use these criteria when evaluating natural retail employees

In my last post, I covered conducting effective performance appraisals. I want to pick up on that theme and expand it a bit by sharing more detail for making employee reviews an effective tool for you and for your staff.

In addition to having an open and honest discussion with employees, adopting or creating a good review tool for your store is key. Because retail staff members wear many hats, I would suggest that you find or make a two-part form. The first part would evaluate all staff on the same areas. These would include things such as attendance, customer focus, teamwork, communication, etc. You could also include here any major focal points for store. The second part would relate to the job(s) on which each employee spends the majority of his or her time.

Be careful selecting the items that go in this second section. What you focus on, your employees will focus on, as well. Emphasizing the wrong thing—or one thing at the exclusion of others—could have unintended consequences. A distributor in our industry, who has since gone out of business, used to evaluate its buyers on the margins for the items they bought. They negotiated hard and bought aggressively on deal, but always had high prices, the highest in the market. These employees had great reviews—and big bonuses, even, but the company had declining sales because of its high prices. These buyers were basically being incentivized in such a way that it drove sales down and contributed to the distributor’s demise.

Consider these criteria for each position in your store:

For buyers, focus not only on the margins for what they purchase but also product sales. If you want to drive down out of stocks, that is great—that will drive up sales and customer satisfaction—but also focus on managing inventory dollars at the same time. Otherwise you could have no holes on your shelves but possibly find some in your pockets.

For cashiers, you want a speedy, efficient checkout, but you don’t want that at the expense of accuracy with handling cash or of courtesy with your customers.

For salespeople, you want results, sales. However, you don’t want to make a sale in such a way that you lose a customer. 

For receiving/stocking, again, speed is a key. Getting merchandise to the sales floor is the name of the game, but it has to be checked in accurately so that you only pay for what you received and, if you keep a perpetual inventory, the merchandise needs to be scanned in properly and accurately. Inventory handling mistakes at the checkout are not good, but are one at a time. Inventory mistakes in the backroom are a dozen at a time. Ouch!

It takes a team

While you want to evaluate your team on the basis of individual contributions, in most stores, everyone does a bit of everything. You will go from stocking to selling to ringing up to answering the phone to cleaning and back—and that’s in just 15 minutes. With this in mind, there is an evaluation method that teams in the NBA use. They evaluate what happens when a particular player is in the game, regardless of his “measured” contributions and if the team is up or down during that time frame.

If every time “John” is on the court, the team is up by 4 points, he is contributing, even if his game play doesn’t make it to the game recap. Many times, the unsung hero is taking care of things so the superstar can score the points. Without the unsung hero, how good would the superhero be? Do you have those kinds of contributors in your store? The quiet person with the feather duster building floor displays so others can focus on sales and service?

What kinds of evaluation criteria have you found to be effective in your store? Please share them in the comments section below.

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