JCK Show: Finding and keeping employees

Kate Peterson and Joe Soukenik of Performance Concepts returned to The JCK Show for another encore presentation.

The Olympia, Wash.-based management consulting firm’s seminars are always among the most popular draws at The JCK Show’s conference programs. This year, they offered two sessions: “How to Find and Keep Employees in Today’s Market” and “Sensitive Subjects, Sensitive Staff.”

The former seminar focused on being a “hardwired” retailer, someone who can see the big picture, rather than the minutiae, and someone who tends toward spherical thinking rather than linear thinking. Discussions centered on the details of hiring. For example, make sure you have an application, don’t just take a resume, said Peterson. To find a hardwired employee, ask open-ended questions that reveal the person’s passion for what they do.

“Ask, `Why do you like to do what you do in your spare time?’ “

Once an employee is hired, the most important thing is managing for retention. The best, most talented people look for leadership, not just adequate management. Managers influence by authority and title, leaders influence because people choose to follow them. It’s an earned, vs. an appointed, role. Management forces compliance, leadership inspires commitment.

Performance Concepts’ second seminar focused on dealing with sensitive issues, whether they’re public issues, like conflict diamonds, or employee issues, such as an associate with a substance abuse problem.

“Employers today are more than employers. They’ve also become relationship therapists, fashion consultants, and parents,” said Peterson.

She outlined several approaches to deal with in-store problems:

First, clarify and define the situation. Don’t react quickly with one piece of information; gather all the information you can from a number of sources. Know your limits and liabilities, both personal and legal. If you’re not comfortable dealing with a situation, appoint another to do so. Focus on the behavior, not the person, and couch it in terms of how it fits into your business principles. Think through a logical action plan, take action in a confident and sure manner, offer as much support as you can to help the behavior change, and finally, provide a written summary of the process.