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NATIONAL REPORT — Single-store owners may not have the big budget and vast resources available to chains, but they can still compete to attract and retain top-quality employees. After hiring the right team members, managing them, rewarding them and advancing their roles all play an important part in the retention process.
“Operators need to become a coach. Not a boss, but a coach, giving them ongoing feedback,” said Terry McKenna, principle and co-founder of Employee Performance Strategies Inc., based in Alexandria, Va. “When they are not performing to standards, have a coaching session to show them where they can improve.”
He also recommends highlighting behaviors employees do well, especially the top behaviors owners would want them to do each day. When an owner sees one of these behaviors, they must recognize them to reinforce them, according to McKenna.
“What gets recognized and reinforced, get repeated,” he explained.
Monitoring, measuring and documenting employee actions on a regular basis will help a manager recognize and reward, as well as review and promote hard-working staff, while also staying on top of those not performing up to standards. This entire process should be mapped out and followed for every employee, and does not need to be complicated, according to Bruce Tulgan, founder of management firm Rainmaker Thinking Inc., based in New Haven, Conn.
“What you need is a process that is simple and easy to use; not a bunch of cumbersome paperwork to hold you back,” he advised. “You need a process that is practical so you will stick with it.”
Some managers keep a notebook with them to take notes on employees each day — making entries with the employee’s name, date and time. Others create templates for each employee to track tasks and responsibilities. Then, there are managers who turn to software, creating an electronic notebook.
“All you need is a database and scheduling program that allows you to create a data record for each employee you manage,” Tulgan said. “Whether you use a notebook or software program, you need to capture certain key pieces of information.”
This includes expectations, such as goals and requirements; instructions given or to-do lists assigned to the employee; actions, which are things observed while watching the employee; and measurements to see how the employee’s actions match the expectations.
Through this record, any performance problems can be handled quickly.
“If you engage in regular problem-solving, nine out of 10 performance problems will be solved quickly and easily, or will be avoided all together,” Tulgan noted. “In most cases, even longstanding problems will die away under the withering medicine of regular and consistent strong management.”
Editor’s note: Check out the June issue of Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner for more best practices around hiring, wages and benefits, and retention.