Lessons learned: Truth is the best policy

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December 23/30, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 13

By Tom Jennings

 

It’s no secret that employees both want and need job security. It is obvious that employees are more productive and loyal if they feel their contribution is important and valued. Yet in spite of this knowledge, it seems as if many owners and managers go out of their way to make their staff nervous about their futures. Let’s examine a few ways that sense of security can be built.

First, remember that a sense of security does not mean things won’t change. Changes happen constantly in retail. The cruelest thing any employer can do in the big picture is to minimize change. To do so means the business is likely falling behind its competition. This cannot make employment more secure over time since less competitive will surely mean less business. This, in turn, will mean fewer and less fulfilling jobs for all concerned.

Employees do, however, want to always know what changes are brewing and the thought process behind them. They need to trust that their management will keep them informed on topics that will impact both them and their fellow workers. Good managers nurture that trust by regularly communicating how things are going, not only in the business but in the marketplace as a whole. The key is to always be honest with your staff. While you cannot—and should not—tell everything you know, don’t misrepresent reality. When the changes do occur, your staff will realize you are making considered responses to the business plan and they are not being victimized by a knee-jerk reaction.

Employees will watch closely every word you say and every action you take on virtually any subject. They will notice how you speak about, as well as directly to, any fellow worker. Use this to your advantage. Never miss an opportunity to build up an employee’s value to the organization. Missing the chance to do so is regrettable, as negative remarks almost never have good consequences. The tone in your voice can have a powerful effect on how your staff views their company. Be careful.

It also stands to reason that employees feel secure when they see their management taking great care in managing the company’s resources. No good employee wants to see the wasting of time or money on what they consider to be trivial matters. The attitude will quickly become one of, “There’s plenty of money for that, but never any more for me.” Very understandable.

I would also remind you, though, these same observations are being made regarding your personal lifestyle. Most flooring stores are not big corporations; they are smaller operations where the personal lives of management are almost always intertwined with the business. This is not to say that you cannot enjoy the fruits of your efforts. Involved employees will realize you have an investment in both time and money that they have not made. I’m merely suggesting management be careful not to give the impression that they are living life at a level that the majority of their staff cannot understand. Whether real or imagined your staff’s perception will be that they are constantly drawing the short stick. The more generous you are with both your money and your praise, the less of an issue this will be.

Job security to most people usually boils down to their feelings about the management of the company they have chosen to associate with. It is your job to affect these feelings in a positive way. Properly doing so will result in more content employees, thus ensuring your job security as well.

 

Tom Jennings is vice president of professional development for the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). Jennings, a retail sales training guru, has served in various capacities within the WFCA.

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