C-Store Accountability – Do You Have to be So Mean?
C-Store managers often discuss accountability when stores are not performing well. Perhaps even more often when money or inventory goes missing. It is easy to become frustrated when employees do not perform as desired. When supervisors get frustrated or angry they may even think the employees have a bad work ethic or are not trustworthy.
For many of us, it can be stressful to have to address problems dealing with people. The problems typically involve bad sales or scorecard results, which means they are impacting profits or customer service. These bad results also create stress because others may be impacted and a supervisor or manager is held responsible.
Fixing mistakes by people requires a lot of time and communication. It can feel like it takes too long and requires too many repetitive instructions. When things are really bad, it can feel like staff are becoming belligerent and intentionally acting against their company. In the worst case, it may seem like fixing the problem is making it worse. Unfortunately, if bad results don’t get better, managers may decide it’s better to ignore them. In this situation managers may be told they lack accountability.
C-Store Accountability – When it gets mean
If behavior is not addressed it will likely get worse until something or someone passes a limit and the person in charge just lets their frustration overwhelm them. Once control is lost, many will act rough and hurtful. Such mistakes can make it even harder to address future problems. Once there is a history of over-reacting, others are more likely to guard themselves. The person in charge may feel guilty about their past approach. Such stressful situations can lead managers and owners to believe that no one likes accountability and the only answer to hire different people. But if the situation is not addressed, it may very well re-appear in the newly hired staff.
When C-Store accountability problems last too long and relationships become frayed, it is not uncommon to feel like those that work for you do not like you. Some may think you are mean and unfair. The staff know that getting new staff is very hard and they can ‘get away’ with almost any bad behavior as long as they stay quiet. Managers sometimes think there is nothing that can be done in these situations, leading to a feeling of hopelessness. If you reach such a point, it may be useful to take a completely different approach to the problem. Instead of looking at fixing the staff, take a look at the management process.
C-Store Accountability – Looking in the Mirror
When we look at the staff in terms of responsibility, or worse, blame, we only looking at the actors in the process. But the best place to look may be at the C-Store accountability process itself. Bob Latino describes his theory about looking first to the management process in Mistakes Were Made, But Not by Me… Facing the Mirror . He states that managers need to worry less about who made the decision and why, and more about how the management process or system allows that action to occur. He suggests ‘… we have to look in the mirror and face the possibility that we could have unintentionally contributed to the bad outcome. That is the only way we will make progress. This type of openness and non-punitive environment is a key principle….’ He argues that we must make sure we are putting a process in place that directs the correct action. Further, it must provide an assessment that allows errors to be corrected when they occur.
Take the approach that the management has the main responsibility for problems. You may find a less defensive response from your staff. Even better, they may help to fix the management problem.
C-Store Accountability – Related topics
For more information on a related topic, please see one of our most popular blogs on the differences between consequence and punishment.