Don’t base skill mix and leadership model decisions on gut instinct. Recognise opportunities and create insights based on activity measurement and workload model creation.
By ReThink Productivity CEO Simon Hedaux.
In retail, people matter. Having the right team in place to provide your unique brand experience is just as important as having good stock management and till systems.
Smart retailers measure how long it takes to undertake all the store tasks and combine the results with volume data so they can calculate the workload by week or day for each store in their estate. This matters because they can be sure the salary budgets and number of colleagues on duty align with the business’s sales targets. Too many colleagues create lower productivity, and too few means a compromised operation and less time for customers.
Activity measurement and workload model creation are used by retailers to plan resources and undertake ‘what if’ modelling for process changes and new initiatives.
Understanding how much work there is to do is the foundation for having the right team in place. The next step is to decide which roles will cover each task. Your team will probably be a mix of specialists and generalists. For example, in a pharmacy there are tasks only a pharmacist can do, and in a coffee shop you’ll want your barista to make coffees rather than clear tables.
Experience shows that in most businesses you can deliver great customer experience with a multiskilled and flexible team. Calculating workload gives an evidence base to underpin your decisions on whether a specialist role is required or not and supports deployment of a mix of part-time and full-time roles for maximum flexibility.
The next important decision is the leadership structure design. Many factors should be considered when designing the optimum leadership model. How many heads can one manager lead? How do trading hours influence the need for management cover? How do you get a cost-effective balance between number of managers and colleagues, and how do you have a structure that supports colleague development?
Role studies that shadow designated roles for a whole shift, to produce a picture of how leaders spend their time, provide important insights. There’s no wrong or right answer. What matters is that the role performs as the organisation designed it to. We’ve seen examples where the roles were not optimised within a structure. For instance, in a department store with multiple layers of management team, managers were observed spending less than 10 per cent of their time on management duties and most of their time filling shelves. Recommendations were to slim down the leadership levels and allow a general assistant, on a more appropriate rate of pay, to undertake the stock duties. Variations have also been seen in how a well-designed role spends time in-store. Observations from a DIY store’s studies included managers who spent most of the day on admin, and a manager who spent a day rearranging slabs in the garden centre and no time with their team. With clear job description and key accountability documents available, the degree of variation suggests a role clarification exercise is needed for consistency between stores. Benchmarks on how team leaders, assistant managers and store managers spend their time also give retailers a wider context for their review and decision making.
It’s so easy for decisions on skill mix and leadership models to be based on gut feel, or the view of a single senior executive. Time and motion work study measurement gives you the evidence base you need to review your operation and create your ultimate shop floor team.
About Simon Hedaux
Simon Hedaux is founder and CEO of Rethink Productivity, a world leading productivity partner which helps businesses to drive efficiency, boost productivity and optimise budgets. For more information see https://rethinkproductivity.co.uk/