Dan Naden

That’s not my department.

Responsibility; ownership; accountability; these themes sound weighty, and they are; being responsible, accountable, with an ‘owner’s mindset’ is tough to achieve.

A few weeks ago I witnessed firsthand an employee lacking the drive or interest in being responsible and accountable when I was ready with an open wallet to buy his store’s products.

It was Sunday afternoon and the family and I were finishing some ‘before school’ shopping. The store wasn’t insanely crowded, so I believed that I could get some help if I needed it from one of the store clerks.

When a customer arrives at your storefront, act as if you want them there.
When a customer arrives at your storefront, act as if you want them there.

After meandering through the store in search of running shorts, I was at the end of my rope; I needed some help. A few minutes passed before I was able to locate an associate, sporting a bright blue shirt. The clock read 1pm, but he appeared as if he had just awakened from a nap.

“Excuse me, sir,” I said, hopeful that I’d soon find some shorts.

“Can you help me find the running shorts?”

“Uh. Hmm. Not sure. That’s not my department,” a pimple-faced clerk announced.

He pointed towards the back wall of the gargantuan store and reluctantly shared: “I think it is “kinda” that way. I would just walk over there and find someone wearing a blue shirt.”

I faked a thank you (what was I thanking him for exactly?), mumbled something under my breath and walked away. I must have displayed a troubling, confused, bewildered look as I glanced at my wife.

Eventually, I found a few pairs of nice running shorts, but let’s rewind and see how the sales associates could have played this one better.

  1. Take ownership: Walk me over and introduce me to a sales associate who knows the department a little better. Pointing in a vague direction isn’t leadership.
  2. Be a servant leader: Instruct me to wait where I am for a few minutes while the clueless associate finds someone to help me.
  3. Apologize: This person had to know he could have done better, but his lack of an apology had me convinced that this wasn’t the case.

Responsibility, accountability and ownership aren’t just pie in the sky, ethereal concepts. When present, these themes empower employees and shoppers, creating memorable transactions that will make a difference.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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