It was in the late 80’s where my adventure began and my eyes were opened to the Octopus reaches of Retail. When I look back at these earlier experiences I now realize what impact they had on shaping who I am today. I would not say that these impressions were negative but more over going against the grain of my junior, virgin and yet to be tested belief that everyone CAN teach and learn something from one another.
In retrospect these “experiences” lit the fire under me to never repeat the following and to treat everyone as equals. This was the start of the evolution of who I am today.
This is my Story……..
No…I did not start as a Manager, Salesperson, Stock Clerk, Loss Prevention……but as a Store credit card pusher. Yes, there was a position lower than the Guy or Gal who picks up the gum from inside the mens urinal. My first day I got my tools of the trade: 1 pen, 1 table, 1 chair, 100 applications and 100 phenomenal pens that were surrounded by velvet in a beautiful presentation box. In my mind I was thinking “Holy Crap, who wouldn’t want a pen in a beautiful presentation box with velvet in exchange for their social insurance number, credit card number, address and date of birth. The pen is worth WAY MORE than that information. Please remember that this is the end of the 80’s.
During my tenure as the King Pimp of credit cards, I was quite successful due to my charming personality, good looks, and apparent bouts of Turrets Syndrome (this will come into play throughout this adventure). Instead of yelling out the occasional obscenity, I would let the world know I was hawking FREE PENS in my loudest most authoritative voice, and attracting blue haired Older Ladies, Men who smelled like they just pissed themselves and Ex-Girlfriends. I averaged about 50 applications a day, but unfortunately 2/3 were incomplete due to fake identification because of that lure of the F-R-E-E-P-E-N.
Thankfully the Management team started to take notice of my selling skills and decided to promote me to the Electronics Department of ……Kmart. Their high end technology was mind blowing. There were Citizen 14” black and white televisions, Commodore Vic 20’s, All in one stereo systems with record players and….wait for it…typewriters.
Yes, Typewriters will be the Key as you will soon see to Unlocking me and my ability to see through the Tree of Stupidity. – Drop the Mike.
During the months of November and December all went well. I was enjoying demonstrating the breakthrough realistic graphics of the Atari 2600 and Intellivision II and showing how lifelike the Colors were on the Juliet 22″ television that only weighed 547 pounds…these were good times. The only hiccup in all of this was that they were scheduling me during the nights that the Simpsons were on TV. So what would any good employee do in this situation?….Yes, you guessed it. I hooked up all the 16 televisons to play the Simpsons. It only cost them over 400$ in television amplifiers, various cables and splicing issues to relay the signals….but I got to see the Simpsons.
Then it happened…the EVIL Typewriters.
One day the Store Manager asked ” Cary – How many typewriters should I order for the Christmas season?” I looked at him with wide eyes and said………”Sir, your fly is open“. Actually I recommended zero due to increasing popularity of home computing and the word processing abilities of these machines with their daisy fly wheels that were as quiet as a Machine Gun in World War II.
Take a guess at how many were ordered – 125. Guess how many were left in January – 126;
one got returned from the previous month.
Boy, did thatpiss me off. Why would he have asked me If he was not going to repect my immature knowledge? This habit of asking my opinion continued for another couple of months but all my opinions were discounted much like their pricing and life left (they closed shop 8 months later). I Quit and walked out without having another job or prospects; but who cared I was 18 at the time and I KNEW EVERYTHING.
So why did I just put you through reading this whole story only to end it off so unclimatically.
Simply to nail home the message of …Stop, Look and Listen to your Team Members.
They sometimes hold the keys to opening new doors and increasing your potential bonus.
Listening to your Employees is actually simple but in today’s world is not being practiced.
Here are some simple tips to make your Team Member feel like they made an impact.
1. If they would like to talk to you about an idea or concern; Hear them out in the moment or set an appointment.
2. Turn off your phone, take off your earpiece, and if in the office, put on your pants on and turn off the computer monitor.
3. Write down the conversation for future reference and place it in their file. When it comes time for their annual evaluation at least there will be something for you to talk about.
4. If you CAN action their idea right away, Celebrate it with the Team and thank them for their input.
5. If you CANNOT action their idea right away, PLEASE, PLEASE let them know what YOU are going to do next and that you will follow up with them during a SPECIFIED TIME to which you will schedule in your Outlook calendar.
5.5 Do not break this appointment. If you have received any information back to share with the Team Member, keep them updated and reschedule if necessary.
6. If the idea is NOT actionable, let the Team Member know the reason why and walk them through the thinking and process behind it.
7. ALWAYS thank your Employee for the idea. As ludicrous as the idea may sound or seem, you never know if there are any parts of it than can be extracted for later use.
8. NEVER EVER, EVER, EVER take credit for their idea. A Leader grows other Leaders. A Team Member who is thinking for themselves is a CREDIT and REFLECTION of you.
By creating and developing a Culture of Communication and thinking, you not only WIN by having an Engaged Team who want to help grow your business but you are developing future Leaders and putting more money in your pockets for your Wife or Husband to spend.
Have a PHENOMENAL day.