sad faceSo, social media may be stretching it a little bit, but I have told EVERYONE I have talked to about this incident, so I guess I am being social about it.  I was at the local branch of a drugstore chain on Sunday morning. While I was there, I was my usual gregarious self. I talked to the cashier and wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day. After a bit of chit chat, she confided that she didn’t celebrate V-Day. Great, so I told her that I wished that she would have  terrific day nonetheless.

She said, “Yeah, I hope its not busy. That would make it a great day.”

I used to work in retail. And all I could think is OMG. How badly does this chain treat this woman that she would hope that her store isn’t busy? How unaware is she that she doesn’t understand that bad days mean that they store could cut staff? I was just astounded. How clueless was the store management in their training? What about a little scripting so that she might have some conversational hooks so that she doesn’t have to stray off the reservation too far?

Wow. I was just amazed.

I immediately thought  my employees and the folks that I am lucky enough to manage every day. I called them all to tell them  that they were doing a great job today, and we had already aligned their compensation so that they do better when we all do well. More revenue means that their paychecks are a little bit bigger. Perhaps it is time to bring a little performance incentive back into retail. Maybe my cashier would have asked me if I wanted a pack of gum with my New York Times rather than wishing that she wouldn’t be busy.

There is seriously something wrong with companies who can’t align their employees behavior with their company goals. Give this woman a reason to be engaged. Tell her she is doing a great job. Teach her how to do a great job. Make her compensation in line with some measurable metric. Give her a reason not to be miserable.

Retail can be great. Retailers can create environments that reward employees and make their jobs fun. I wish this drugstore chain was more like Trader Joes or Whole Foods.

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