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Grandma’s Secret Sauce for C-Store Accountability

The C-Store accountability secret is not a secret to any grandparent. Kids, parents, employees – really just all people – want to know what is expected. They want to succeed. They want to be treated fairly and most of all they want to be appreciated. Well, if we know what we expect and can tell our kids, their parents and, yes, even our employees, then we can have great results. Grandma’s secret sauce for C-Store accountability is just that everyone wants and craves accountability when it is done in the right environment.

Grandma’s Secret Sauce for C-Store Accountability

Grandparents know if you tell people what you want, provide a nurturing environment, and reward good behavior, you can have a great relationship. Of course, they also know the grandkids go home with mom and dad, so once they are tired they get a break.

Of course, managing people is not all about treats and naptime, but there are a few key ingredients. Making it simple is certainly part of the success. Realizing that employees want to succeed and even desire accountability is a key point to making it easier to work together. Once employees know what is expected they have a understanding of what is needed.

C-Store Accountability Process

Once you know where you are going, the path and the resources become the mechanism to achieve the desired results. When there is a purpose, training is motivated. With the resources of time, skills, facility and product provided, the operations can be performed. Checklists, schedules, and feedback provides the mechanisms to make it clear how to do the work that is needed to achieve the required results. With measurement, performance can be assessed. Finally, with a culture of responsibility and problem solving, change is possible so employees develop to achieve the results. With a process in place, employees’ ability to execute is simple and specific.

Grandma’s Secret Sauce for C-Store Accountability:

  1. Express a Compelling Vision
  2. Define Measurable Results
  3. Create a Culture of Solutions instead of Blame
  4. Supply the Necessary Resources
  5. Develop Needed Skills
  6. Improve Operational Processes
  7. Be Kind and Truthful with Feedback

Related blogs and posts

You may also like a related blog regarding C-Store accountability that focuses on employee emotions and reactions. It has foundational component that can be reviewed in detail in a post by Bob Latino, one of the best at root cause analysis.

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C-Store Performance – Accountability – Trust or Bust

To achieve top C-Store performance accountability trust must be strong. In order to operate remote stores well, there must be a level of trust. This trust must be bi-directional. Employees must believe they will have the resources they need for success and HQ staff need remote operations to perform as required. That is why many accountability coaches say ‘Trust or Bust’. Trust is required by everyone in the organization.

C-Store Performance Accountability – Trust or Bust

Many argue the concept of accountability is the polar opposite of trust. They argue that measuring and verifying performance shows just how little trust there is in the people doing their work. That is, you either get trust or you do not get the desired accountability. Hence, it’s Trust or Bust. Managers and leaders often start to establish trust before they try to make changes or improve operations.

Learning from Sam Walton

Bill Scott, loves the concept of trust in a C-Store Operation. In his book ‘Retail is Detail’, he describes the practice of Sam Walton in his stores as the key ingredient to successful operations. ‘Sharing in a sense of ownership within an environment of trust and respect are key elements necessary for the success of any group, organization, small shop… even Fortune 100 companies.’ He explains that any large organization requires the efforts of many. With a sense of trust, there is an understanding and belief that good results help both the company and the staff.

In a trustworthy environment – when there is an atmosphere of trust – it is safe to tell the truth. When truth is desired, then getting the facts is helpful and never harmful. Many times, people get confused and think bad facts should not be provided. They think that they may be perceived as having a bad attitude. However, not knowing the facts is and hiding information is much more harmful.

Facts Are Facts – Deal with Them and Build Trust

If the facts show good results, we can find best practices. If the facts are bad we can find ways to improve things. Perhaps one great definition of ‘accountability trust’ is the willingness to measure and score results accurately. That is, there is no desire to fix the numbers. The numbers are trusted as the team trusts each other. If things are bad, they will get the needed attention so that the results can be improved.

For more information on C-Store Performance – Accountability

You may also want to read about our blog on C-Store Accountability- Does It Have To Be So Mean?

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C-Store Accountability – Do You Have to be So Mean?

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.

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C-Store Staff Retention – The Top Challenge?

C-Store staff retention – Many  owners argue it is their biggest issue.

The improving economy is often cited for making a difficult job of C-Store staff retention even harder. While all positions are important the one that I hear about the most is the challenge of finding and keeping good store managers.

Sometimes the situation is so bad, I hear operators complain that they do not address bad performance because it is just too hard to find staff. They reason that having a bad employee is better than not having enough staff to man the stores. In the most extreme cases, I have heard of closing stores due to the lack of available staff.

Some argue that keeping staff is a direct reflection of the store manager. The concept – “People leave managers, not companies.” (Jack Altman – ‘Don’t Be Surprised When Your Employees Quit’) places high value for the store manager in regards to C-Store staff retention .

So then the need to keep the manager happy and productive becomes very important. There is not much of an issue when things are going well. The challenge presents itself when a store is not performing well. If you push the manager you may make things worse and lose staff compounding a bad situation. Such concerns, can lead to a paralysis of action worrying about losing staff and making things ever worse.

Doing nothing is a choice

The lack of a decision is still a decision and not taking action when things are bad has not often been sited as the best approach. Everyone has their limits of what is acceptable and how to deal with problems. We have gathered a lot of information and come up with our own system to address staff retention. I’d love to hear your approach and share how we approach it. I’d like to get your feedback on how you address C-Store staff retention. Give me your opinion (and your address) and I will send you a free copy of our new book – ‘If You Have Time To Lean, You Have Time To Clean’. To send me your opinion and your address for mailing, click here.

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C-Store Performance – So corporate can see this?

Yep. It works. Best intentions are good, but inspections are better.

 How many times in our training do we hear this question ‘So corporate can see this information?’. The answer ‘yes’ carries a certain gravity. No one wants to disappoint or fail. There are lots of reasons why we slip up. We want to do a good job, but knowing that the work is measured and reviewed ads priority. It helps to get things done.

 Will it increase sales to have clean bathrooms, well stocked shelves, friendly greetings as your customers enter the store.?Not everyone agrees, but the clean stores that have friendly staff sure seem to stay busy.

 We cannot control every aspect of our day, but with careful training, clear prioritization, monitoring tools and management oversight we can control our customer’s experience in our C-Stores. Lots of successful companies make sure they are controlling what they can. It is a sure way to drive C-Store Performance.


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Step Up To Accountability and Increase C-Store Performance

It is well understood that consequences and rewards are key components to successful accountability. Most even agree that clear goals, assignments, deadlines and processes are required to make accountability work fully. We even have a six step definition to help those that are serious about using an accountability process to streamline their organization and get better results – https://bandyworks.com/the-6-rights-of-accountability/.

All of the items listed are necessary items in any great process. They require hard work and often it comes with stern communication, serious ramifications and coldly objective assessments. In short, it can feel quite stressful. The interesting thing that I find, however, when it is done well you find the results are

C-STore Accountability

When it happens, an amazing teamwork and effort is engendered. It does not happen immediately and never forms if too many of the accountability methods above are not performed. It can be scary and too overwhelming if it takes too long or is not done well.

The magic is the encouragement that comes from an honest belief that the results will be attained. It means that the process is good, the staff executing it are capable and the intentions are worthwhile. It does not require perfection all the time, but honest assessments and creative and active actions. When the leader believes in the end line and applies the encouragement necessary, the mistakes or shortfalls become learning events. Problems become celebrations of honest assessment and improvement plans. Success of course becomes a team celebration and before long the teamwork grows so strong that productivity evolves from the elimination of wasteful steps and the creative solutions that get better results in less time.

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

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.


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The Arrogance of Ignorance and Other Reasons C-Store Operators Shouldn’t Get Mad

C-Stores typically hire part-time people.  This can leave  their employee base to be largely among the young.  Remember,  their life is shorter than many Boomers have been paying their mortgages.  People often complain about the young being arrogant.  They have known little failure, most have experienced little of life’s abuse and received trophies, stickers and awards ther entire lives.  Little has happened to them that would hurt their self esteem. Plus, they have been exposed to so little, they have total recall of everything and can express what they know with absolute  and utter certainty.  Why wouldn’t they be confident and think they are infallible? Didn’t we feel the same when we were younger as well?

As a “Baby Boomer”  I can remember people of my parent’s age saying things like “Kids today have no backbone.  They never work as hard as we did.”  This was usually followed by  tales of walking 5 miles  through the snow to get themselves to school,  having a job when they were only 14, and many other hardships faced by those coming up through more difficult times.  Back then, I thought the advice they offered was ancient and not applicable.   I now realize that they weren’t complaining. They were educating. To their credit, though I have not experienced any of their hardships, I still learned a lot from those tales they told.

It is our turn to pay it forward and teach values we have learned in life. The only reason we should judge the youth of today is to  determining where we might be able to help them grow.  If you don’t think we have anything to offer, just ask yourself what you would do if to encounter the hardship of a 3 day power outage. Then ask a millennial the same question.

So, what can one do in order to  keep themselves from getting angry when someone much younger argues that what you know to be correct is not correct?  Just do what our parents generation did and count to three:


#1. We have to keep in mind that it is not arrogance if you do not know that there could be other perspectives.  Tell them what you know and let them do with that information what they will.  Since  what you say is true, they will find it to be so. The end result could only be that they trust you more the next time you offer other advice.


#2. Remember that we cannot hate ignorance if we hire those that wouldn’t know.   They did not choose not  to know. They just don’t know.  If it angers you, then you should point your anger at yourself for not hiring an older person who would know such things. If you hired them, then it is up to you to educate them.   Find creative and palatable ways to do so. Ask questions that will help them understand while showing you are open to letting them disprove your case. 


#3. Be patient.  If we teach them and they learn to believe us then both problems of ignorance and arrogance disappear.  it may be a separate day when you and the youth realized they had learned, but both days should  be rewarding to you.  Aguste Rodin once said “Patience is also a form of action”.  Life happens to all of us. Just remember you may be a little further ahead of the game and that patience is a virtue.

Why bother getting upset?  One of the many advantages of getting older is that we don’t allow our emotions to run us. Realize we need to celebrate and support the millennials.   Just as a baker starts with flour, water and an egg, it is up to you what you do with all of that raw talent.

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Everyone in a C-Store Operation Can Find Comfort Under the Blanket of Accountability

Accountability is everyone’s friend. It provides the support that organizes, motivates, rewards and recognizes your work.

Too often, in the rush to keep things moving we only take time to analyze problems or mistakes to fix them. A natural management response but one that can leave us feeling less that perfectly appreciated.

The great thing about accountability when done well is that goals are clear, responsibilities are assigned and results are measured. Hence, you know what you were supposed to do, what you did and how it was ranked. Even if your boss does not have time to recognize you, he knows and you know.

Even better,  adopt a scoring system comparing your list of things to do to what you have accomplished.  When things are rushed and there is no time to explain, you at least know what is required and how you did. If you get a bad score, you know you have the need to change. Your future scores will let you know how you are doing. If in a period of work overload, the list of expectations will be documented for a reasonable discussion where the manager can realize the need to re-align his expectations.

Let’s apply this to something you may be able to identify with better. C-Stores are fast paced, with a lot of activity happening that can impact ones ability to meet expectations. A lot of it can be out of an employee’s control. No manager would want an employee wiping down glass if the store is full of customers from opening to close. If the customer counts support that was the case, then missing the task of cleaning the glass will be overlooked. Without each of these measurements the manager would be left to assume the worst. With the accountable measurement, the employee is deemed as doing the right thing by taking care of their customers and everyone just moves on.

Accountability is often given a bad wrap, when in truth, it only hurts those that do not do their job. So if you are doing your job, and your boss is not one to pat you on the back, at least you have the recognition of a job well done that is objective and shared with the management of your company.


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Surprising Results of the C-Store Managment Method of Accountability

Accountability works, is needed and is expected in almost every situation – work, athletics, academics, relationships; you name it. Nonetheless, it often feels bad when encountered. Well at least when it is encountered as a ‘teaching’ or ‘coaching’ moment. The problem, however, is not that feedback for negative performance is often done incorrectly. Getting help for bad performance even when done well is still not a situation that most of us want to experience each day.  Let’s face it, who wants to report that they are failing and seek help?

The surprising part of accountability is that because we focus on this only fearful aspect of the process, we miss all the positive aspects. Things  like hitting a goal, closing a tasks, gaining trust, getting great results, finishing early,… etc. are all part of accountability as well. We enjoy them and we experience them often yet, we forget they are part of the overall accountability process.

Maybe it’s our ego that thinks that we would always perform well regardless of standards, deadlines, process and clarity. Regardless of the reason, it is important for leaders, managers and, anyone else that wants to achieve, to understand that those great things can only happen when accountability is in place.  You either need to hire those employees with a tendency to hold themselves accountable or put process or systems that will enforce it.  Either way, to enjoy the benefits of accountability it has to be used.  If the tasks and goals are realistic then the entire process will be enjoyed by all, including those being held accountable.

Esko Hannula, makes a simple point in his article – What I learnt by tracking my time. Esko writes in his Lesson 3: [I need the feeling of accomplishment. I believe most human beings need regularly the feeling of accomplishing something. I realized I can create those feelings for myself by planning my work so that each chunk of work I plan to do has a proper “definition of done”, no matter how small. In reality I may not have accomplished anything more but still the feeling of achieving my “definition of done” energizes much more than the feeling of “having progressed a b]it”.]  Great accounting systems will have clear objectives that have deadlines and measurable results. These results are planned so that hitting them leads to the achievement of a larger vision that is comprised of the process, team and systems that have measurable steps along the way.

Most respond well to positive feedback. Perhaps a simple method to put great accountability into effect is just the regular notice, praise or recognition for a job well done. A great boss will probably do this all the time. All of us can be the boss of our actions and break our work into daily (or even hourly) objectives that provide the stress of completion but also the satisfaction of getting it done. An important thing to observe is that if you are modeling your C-Store after one of the greats in the industry, it is likely that you would find with little investigation that methods of accountability are in place.

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