A look in the mirror

A look in the mirror

Taking a deep look at your business can be just as valuable as going undercover.

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October 17, 2019

You don’t need a disguise and TV crews to become an undercover boss – Anne Obarski told listeners at LANDSCAPES 2019 exactly how you can examine your company behind the scenes.

Obarski, a motivational speaker at Merchandise Concepts, was also once a secret shopper at restaurants and companies to provide feedback to managers on how their employees were treating their work. Obarski said what she learned in that time was that it’s easy to overlook underlying issues at a company. Taking the right precautions, however, can help you retain your employees because one in three are actively looking for a new job, Obarski said.  

Ultimately, she said you need to evaluate why a great employee should work for you. After all, one of her slides read, “Employees don’t quit companies, they quit leaders.” To get started, here are a few prompts to consider:

You have a current, updated company handbook that states the company mission and vision statements as well as the required performance skills for each employee. Obarski said this can be as simple as one sheet of paper, and the vision and mission statements should already be on your website anyway.

“If in fact I’m going to hold you to a performance rating, I have to have something to base it on,” Obarski said. We didn’t like pop quizzes in high school because “we didn’t know,” Obarski said, not because we had a quiz.

You have a structured, on-going training agenda for new and current employees. It can’t just be whenever you feel like it, Obarski said. This needs to be consistent education that they can expect. It could just be 10 minutes every Monday morning in a huddle, and you could just talk about one focused thing.

Obarski said that following up is vital, too. Asking employees how the training worked a few days or weeks later is a good way to measure your effectiveness. “Communication and how we build relationships is what sets us apart,” Obarski said.

You know how to effectively give corrective feedback to your employees after receiving the information from customer service surveys. The negative feedback you receive from clients shouldn’t be weaponized, Obarski said. It’s not about making people feel bad, but it’s instead about helping people understand areas where they can improve. Making sure employees can positively connect with top management is essential.

It’s also good to follow up with employees to connect on a personal level in an evaluation. They should be able to come to you at any time, but setting aside scheduled time quarterly to evaluate them makes them feel valued and like you’re paying attention to their work.

And, much like an undercover boss, you can also find out what you need to be doing better in those sessions. However, there’s an easier way of doing it than dressing up and pretending to be a new employee like the television show. During evaluations, simply ask, “What could I do better?” Make those sessions about your own evaluation, not just theirs.