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The 4 Stages To Put C-Stores On The Path To Accountability

Accountability & Management

The way humans deal with change is a process. Many have studied different stages for human response to life changes – growing, aging and death. Likewise, management studies show that change management has to be addressed in order for an organization to reach its potential. Like any organization change the implementation of a strong accountability system and mindset requires people involved to address the changes they encounter.

As  a Manager initiating accountability measurement, you may hear things like “I am already doing all this stuff” and “This is just another management ‘flavor of the month’.” or even possibly, “This does not make sense.” After all, you are likely asking them to report what they are doing.   One must remember that change causes discomfort and the natural reaction to it is to repel  the source of the discomfort. The first question that comes to their mind is “Why?”. They know you are there watching them do these things, why must they report it as well. They do not initially understand why you are asking them to do what you are asking, so they question it. It is helpful to move them along in the process by explaining the benefits to the company and the role they will play in the solution in doing what you ask.

Once they understand that it is needed to identify trends and problem areas, it is only natural that a little paranoia sets in. Oddly enough, this is usually occurs the most in your best employees.  They think they are doing their best but, what they are reading into the request is that you may not think it is enough. That instills frustration on their part. You may find yourself frustrated with your poorer performers because they may be more vocal in objecting and lagging behind, still dwelling in the area of denial.  They will say things like, “Don’t I have enough to do?” or ” This is just micromanagement”. They may feel like you are asking them to solve your problem.  It may be beneficial at this stage to remind them of the benefits they might get when they do what you are requesting. By doing this type of monitoring you could very well be able to justify the purchase of better equipment or tools to help them accomplish their tasks.  It is not a lack of trust you have, rather you are merely looking for areas that could be improved and make things better for everyone. Once they begin to see the value to them, they may be more inclined to accept and engage in the process.

Explain the overall goals in measurement and involve them in the measurement decisions.  By letting them set the standards of what is normal and what is not, for they are the ones who do it everyday, they are beginning to become accountable.  They are defining what the norm is and to ask for that level of performance from them does not seem so unreasonable.  Let them ask questions as to how you want things measured so they are very clear on what standards they are to set. In any C-Store, it is important that the floors are kept clean to ensure safety and provide a feeling of cleanliness so customers will come back.  Do you want them to clean a mess as soon as it happens, or balance the overall workload and just assign the task of cleaning the floors on the hour.  Be ready to make decisions as you go through this process. You may even learn a thing or two you had not even thought about.  What is important is that when they engage, they are on the verge of acceptance.

Now that the change is underway and standards have been defined, accountability has begun. When the first report or whatever measurement tool your decide upon comes to you, it will be easier for you to see if standards are being met, where coaching may be needed, and compare performance among your employees in quantitative terms. You probably knew who was better and who was worse, but probably not by how much. You will begin to see where your priorities are and where you are needed for training and coaching.  As you implement these steps you and your team will begin to see improvements in the areas that you have identified.  Using this measurement as a practice, things begin to stabilize. The team is getting used to the new reporting and starting to realize it does have value and your company or department is improving.

Though these steps can be a little difficult at their onset, you may find that first meeting to be the beginning of resolution for many of your problems.  You will know where your problems are, where they fall in priority and have a unified set of task listed by importance to keep you efficient in your management. You will find less things falling off of the table.  Your staff will be encouraged and stay motivated as they see the improvement in performance and you will find yourself getting to your goals a lot easier.  When you look back you may even decide it was the most important meeting you held all year.