Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Proactive Approach

We as human beings have a highly limited attention span varying between what engages and intrigues us. Take the average attention span in a work environment and cut it down a little bit more to accommodate Generation Y. In no way is this a statistic or truth. I truly don't have any data to back this up beyond my personal experience and opinion. I have found in my experiences managing generation Y that multi facets of a job mentally bog down my employees especially when I relay the urgency of all the priorities.

Generation Y tend to have the ability to multi task and do a tremendous amount of small tasks at the same time. They usually look for instant gratification or quick fixes and many small successes. It's very common for Gen Y to connote frenetic movement with success and accomplishment. It's interesting though when you look at the bigger picture and see the long term growth and end result of such activities. They usually burn out or end up dropping a lot of priorities and becoming more reactive problem solvers than proactive stable workers. Not to say you don't need the rockstar employees that can do everything all at once and magically be at all places at once. Especially when they make you scratch your head wondering if they have 2 brains and 6 arms and more so when you do truly need to react with the utmost urgency. At the end of the day you need to capitalize on those extraordinary individuals and hone in on their ability to teach and condition others how to be like themselves while you show them how to do less but get more done.

In any job, in any industry you will have a mission and an objective and to stay in line with those goals there will be multiple priorities with varying levels of urgency. In many instances the resolution or tactic to the end goal will have contradicting messages as well as multiple priorities that are deemed as equally high priorities. Navigating through the desires of your organization's fundamental mission, your employees development and buy in, and your customer's satisfaction is what causes so many Generation Yers to quickly become wrapped up in the reaction vs the long term vision and movement. I've heard it called by my mentor as the "shiny object syndrome" where we get bogged down by changes and direction and start reacting to every new "shiny object" that comes are way because as humans we are mentally wired that way.

The key to bringing your team out of this funk of always having to "fix" problems is to stay true and stable to your long term vision. Balancing between reacting and pro-acting towards your long term vision. There will always be reactions that need to happen especially when managing people. People will get sick, forget to request off to study for a final, have a random and urgent family function come up. . . . etc.

You learn to deal and react and find your highly capable and reliable people and lean on them but you start to find solutions as you do so, so that the problem never happens again. I always choose to over staff my store and/or bank numbers of employees that can work or cover shifts from other stores.
This is by far the most basic but fundamental tactic that I use to ensure high productivity and growth in revenue. It's how I stay proactive vs reactive and control my store, and try my best to never let my store control me.

Over staffing will reduce hours on average across the board throughout your employees. So you communicate very clearly what the parameters of earning hours are. Another blog post will go over "clear and concise message" but you basically leverage what qualities you want out of your team by giving the most hours to performers who exceed your expectations and are dependable. Over staffing also allows for people to request days off with the ability of having many willing people to come in to cover their shift. Anyone that doesn't perform will get little or no hours or at the very least will always know exactly where they stand with you, and know exactly what to be like by role modeling after the higher "hours" earning employees. This is by no means a Starbucks tactic, its just something that I do because I refuse to be immobilized by "shiny objects". When you don't have to worry about your employees being able to cause disruptions in your vision and also at the same time giving them resources to readily pull upon in needs of crisis; you naturally eliminate the problem causing employees and develop responsible employees.

I befall reacting often as my time and energy is pulled every which way by my company, employees, friends, family and everything else I entertain in my life but I continually try and plan ahead and stay true to my vision for every aspect of my life so that I can be pro active vs reactive and in essence do more with less. To foster Generation Y to have this mentality you need to create systems to condition the way they think in a structured way so that in the end of the journey your store will rarely have any situation deter it from it's smooth operations.

As a manager your store is a representation of your leadership. You are only as good as your weakest person.


  1. Very entertaining read!

    "They usually look for instant gratification or quick fixes and many small successes" -Story of my life

  2. Thinking about the generation Y, sometimes I wonder if I belong to it. I think it only belongs to the first country people.
    :( how sad!!!!

  3. Uhmmm... Instant gratification? Being and living in a multicultural country though us to react to any crisis, be loyal and work hard. The consequence is recognition and if its faster is better. We look for celebration but if it doesn't happen, if it's a fake celebration? uhmmm