From Camarillo, CA — 09/15/2010
Challenges and concerns:
I read with interest the message sent out concerning the "balancing" of payroll hours and while some of the factors mentioned are valid, there is still an apparent lack of insight and understanding of what it takes to run a HFT store.
Yes, there needs to be consistency in terms of payroll budgets and staffing based upon sales, but you cannot use productivity "standards" as a basis if those standards have not been defined. Most retailers do use a percentage of sales as a starting point for allocating payroll, but you also have to take into account the non-selling facets of operating a store and it doesn't matter whether it is HFT, a grocery store, or clothing.
There was inequity in how hours were allocated previously and aspects of this are attributable to bias by those in the position to allocate hours. This is a reflection of a lack of maturity in allowing petty emotions to guide what should be rational business decisions. Just because someone doesn't like a particular manager is no reason to allocate fewer hours and more hours to the "favorites".
Achieving high productivity is a goal of any organization, but given the archaic and inefficient systems and processes in place at HFT, there is a need for a higher level of payroll for all stores. It is mentioned that task needs to be emphasized less and service emphasized more, but until those inefficiencies and overly redundant processes are remedied, reducing payroll to an arbitrary percent of sales is merely cutting off one's nose to spite their face. It is apparent that the author of the message and their supporting cast and crew really don't understand the challenges of operating an HFT store. They haven't had to navigate and run a register based upon flawed software that increases transaction times. They haven't had to receive and process a shipment (a topic for another post). They haven't had to do the myriad tasks that have to be accomplished in a day and during the week that take time away from selling but are required to be accomplished. In essence, they don't know what they are talking about when it comes to HFT at this point in time with their tenure in the organization.
The reality is there is going to be a lot of pain involved in the changes that HFT needs to experience to change successfully, but you cannot simply listen only to the new members of the senior management and how they view things should be based upon previous organizations. A mistake many new managers and executives make in companies is trying to make their mark on the organization without understanding the organization and its culture. I grant that many senior managers (including store managers, DMs, RMs, and corporate staff) needed to be replaced or placed in different positions, but the current approach in terms of decision-making is an attempt to yield high short-term returns and results, but are quite likely to generate marginal or sub-par longer-term results.
I invite the author of the message (subject: Payroll Updates) and the others involved in the decisions to include the VP of HR to spend a week in a middle to high volume store (leave your phones at the door) to walk in the shoes of those you are asking to do more with less and really find out what it takes to unload, receive, and process a shipment that isn't based upon sales (you can't convince me at this point in time the models really are based upon sales). I challenge you to spend a week running the register and the myriad keyboard combinations that are necessary to process the varied transactions. Help with setting the numerous ads that are many times just as confusing to the customers as for the employees in terms of the sheer volume of ads that have to be set and torn down during a month. Help with the daily outs (twice daily) along with the 25/100 weekly counts, the weekly POG counts, processing the daily paperwork to include shrink adjustments, damage/defects, and ensuring daily standards. A lot is asked of the store staff and I doubt you fully understand what it is like to run an HFT store. Sure you may have been successful in previous organizations, but it is important to note that past success is no guarantee of current and future success. Success is situational and a one-size fits all approach to enacting change yields limited results that are beneficial to an organization
Camaraderie, team, and dialog are also mentioned at the beginning of the message, but is there really a commitment to these concepts? The decisions that have been made and put into action seemingly don't reflect an inclusive nature of these decisions. I certainly hope that HR and the executive team are monitoring this site to gain insult on the pulse of the organization. There is a major morale problem in this organization and a definite perception of us vs. them which is not healthy for an organization to grow and change. Many of the comments posted here are valid (no, I'm not a corporate tool), just as many are simply counterproductive flames intended to make one feel better about themselves, yielding little in substantive solutions.
My challenge to everyone that is a current employee or manager is not to foment rebellion, because winning a battle to only lose the war does no one any good, but rather be the best you can in what you do and are doing. In addition to not accepting sub-standard efforts as being acceptable, speak up loudly with conviction and passion based upon sound arguments to support your concerns. There are many things that need to be fixed at HFT and many of these things have needed to be fixed prior to the change in regime. If you have given your best, no one can take that away from you. If you have tried to change things for the better and not at the expense of others, you have not sacrificed integrity and character.