Terry McKenna’s recent article, “The Case Against Checklists” notes that field employee checklists serve an important role in ensuring consistency and reducing errors. However, he questions whether these checklists place too much emphasis on management controls at the expense of new insights and fresh thinking. As stated in the article, “Checklists should facilitate high performance from your employees and be flexible so as to encourage innovation and creativity on how to perform their jobs better.”
A laser focus on field-level task management can often crowd out the opportunity to learn from customer-facing employees what customers are experiencing in stores. Multi-site operators would be well-served to balance their efforts to ensure operational compliance in the field with standardized processes to ensure that head-office staff are spending time in the field listening to site-level needs.
A program for requiring and tracking field visits coupled with systems for tracking responses to insights gathered in the field can accelerate growth in a number of ways:
- Balancing the focus on operational efficiency with an awareness of the customer experience
- Improving execution of store-level initiatives by better targeting plans to site-specific needs
- Increasing engagement of field employees in plans created at the head office
We agree that checklists help reinforce best practices, and by streamlining certain tasks, can free store managers to spend more time with customers. But, to drive innovation and engage employees in the successful implementation of growth strategies, we think that retailers should expect their head office team to be equally disciplined about their efforts to listen, learn and act on the wisdom of their field employees.
To learn how AccuStore improves your head office SiteIQ, click here.