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Emotional alignment

There’s a great deal of wonderful people in retail land. There’s no greater story than that of an employee going above and beyond the call of duty to satisfy or indulge a customer request. Resource-8

I would even go as far as to say it’s a goosebump moment for me. Obsessed? Absolutely. I wish I could say with honesty these moments of genuine passion when an employee embraces all of their knowledge and desires to serve the person in front of them occurs 24/7. But it does not. This has a great deal to do with alignment.

Aligning an employee and employer’s values, desires, motivations and aspirations are all crucial aspects of a strong retail working relationship and the creation of a loyal retail workforce.

This often comes down to exposing and discovering what motivates your staff, while at the same time verbalising your company map, direction, and its core reason for being (your story).

When this conversation is had, it brings into greater clarity whether you’re indeed suited to dance together on the retail stage, or weather your parameters or thoughts don’t align.

Continuing to evaluate this thought process during employment can often identify early signs of incompatibility.

Given that we take the undeniable possibility that parameters don’t always align, how do we get customers over the line when staff are clearly not? How do we make customers believe, when staff clearly don’t?

I believe the answer could lie in the constant retelling of your story. When we keep retelling our story we have a tendency to realign ourselves with our core believers.

If we want to hang on to our believers and get the best from our people, the conversation must constantly be about your story, belief and purpose.

Obsessively reminding employees of the organisational story then becomes the story they tell your customers. This will be one of pride, passion and purpose.

In contrast, unaligned staff do little for customer service, the product, the company – and also themselves.

Locating the root of the problem is only half the battle, with the other half seeing if it’s possible to straighten all the bends to get their frame of mind back to where it should be.

Sometimes a gentle conversation about why they aren’t aligned is all that’s needed to bring them back on board, sometimes it has simmered too long.

Despite consumer sentiment being at an all time low, an ever more travelling Australian consumer, the fuel and phenomenal success of online retailing, I still see passionate people everywhere in retail land.

I hear stories being told in retail of why “our difference” is worth it and how it’s almost never a problem to accommodate an unusual customer request.

Keeping in the alignment of good customer and staff relations isn’t always easy, the best starting point is to understand your story and consistently aligning people with it.

Happy alignment trading.

* Barry Nicolaou is principal of Barlan Consulting.

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