Friday, April 7, 2017

E for Empowerment - Employee Empowerment

Have you felt that the restaurant where you spent a few hundreds or even thousands provided a great meal but the service was basic, if not atrocious?

Have you experienced cashiers without any life at cash tills in supermarkets who hardly look at the customers faces?

Have you encountered sales staff at apparel boutiques who are not interested to show you varieties of merchandise?

Have you seen sales staff at a mobile retail store who are more engrossed in their own smartphones playing games or watching Youtube than serving you?


There are many such examples that we could discuss in detail and the prime reason for this is that the Retailer has provided limited or nil empowerment to the staff. I had a similar example this morning. I was at Café Coffee Day Ispahani Centre (Chennai) with a guest and we ordered two cold beverages which arrived fashionably late after 10 minutes. One sip and the Frappe was lesser by a quarter. In 3-4 minutes my drink was over! And it was meant to be a cold drink. After a while, I went to order a Cappuccino and again had issues with the staff who were novices and were under training while the senior guy was not around. When he appeared suddenly I told him about the cold-less Frappe and he just gave me a blank look – nothing more. No apology, no offer to replace the drink, nothing. I wouldn’t blame him. This is how most of our large Retail chains work who are facing severe challenges in employee management.


While we could debate what the staff in the above example could have done, I think the issue should be addressed at the Corporate level than at the store level. Worldwide, many retail stores, especially in services businesses such as food and entertainment have given a lot of empowerment to their staff across hierarchies. For example, walk in to a Starbucks and order a drink – if you didn’t like it and inform the guys behind the counter, they would just replace it without battling an eyelid. Yes, there could be some cunning customers who do it purposely to give a try for some new beverages, but “Customer Delight” which we discussed in the previous article is foremost for such Retail Brands than the few sour apples.


Indeed, many small and medium retailers have empowered their staff immensely and I must give credit to such Entrepreneurs as well. It is not without a reason that some brands have grown their businesses immensely while established ones falter. Even large retailers are empowering their staff. Case in example: The Store Managers at The Future Group outlets are designated as “Kartas” not without a reason. Karta is the official name of the person who heads a business managed by a Hindu United Family (HUF) and the Future Group has just taken a leaf out of it. The Karta of a Future Group is fully empowered to take decisions pertaining to his/her store, ofcourse what’s within their areas of power & consideration.


There is inertia among Business owners to empower their staff due to trust deficit and employee dependability. However, with the right coaching & mentoring, this can be very well be overcome and businesses can indeed succeed.

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