In this Furniture World edition, David McMahon explains why every home furnishings retailer should track employee turnover numbers over time. The first part of his article (starts on page eight) explains both the obvious and hidden costs that come along with high turnover, and presents an easy to apply formula for calculation and tracking.
David then lists 10 action points to consider that can reduce employee turnover. Number 10 on his list, "Remove Bad Attitudes" caught my attention.
Poor closing rates and average sales metrics are used by retailers to evaluate and coach, but what about bad attitude metrics? I guess it depends on the circumstances, and what each curmudgeon on the sales floor or in the accounting department brings to the table.
Retailers are in the business of selling furniture, not normally coaching the depressed, the paranoid, the serially fearful, mean, inappropriate, narcissistic, or disappointed.
Recently, a NYT opinion piece by David Brooks, "The Wisdom Your Body Knows," quoted Lisa Feldman Barrett of Northeastern University, “You might think that in everyday life, the things you see and hear influence what you feel, but it’s mostly the other way around: What you feel alters your sight and hearing,” Barrett writes in "How Emotions Are Made." If the perception of facts is subjective and based on attitude, that's not great news for any retailer looking to provide a consistent customer experience because talent and skill are devalued by bad attitudes. As the psychologist, Dr. Karl Minninger, noted, ”Our attitudes are more important than facts."
What can be done? First, hire to support a corporate culture that sets standards for interacting with customers and co-workers. Next, hold people accountable. Define behaviors that cross red lines, and list consequences. Accountability may look like, "Your attitude stinks... you're fired!" Or, "You've earned another 22 sessions with our on-staff life coach."
Gordon Hecht observes (see his article starting on page 62) that true FRIENDLY salespeople can turn a shopper into a friend by simply treating their store like a home and inviting guests to visit. That's a great starting recipe for setting sales associate attitude expectations. Fill in the blanks for people who work in management positions, customer service, operations, the retail back end, and even for yourself.
Best wishes for a happy attitude and a peaceful holiday season.
Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at email@example.com.