Sharon DiMinico entered the world of toy store ownership in 1987, when she opened the first Learning Express store in Acton, Mass. From those tiny roots blossomed a franchise of more than 100 stores across the United States.
|"Every person I hired always had buying responsibilities." —Sharon DiMinico, Learning Express|
DiMinico’s positive relationships with employees has played a big part in the success of her business. “For me, it’s always been about treating people how you want to be treated,” she said. “Most of it is common sense.”
Managing employees is a big challenge that many owners of small toy stores face, particularly those who do not have formal management training. Implementing the following five tips can help owners hire and retain happy, helpful, motivated and productive employees.
1. Hire the right people. According to Vincent Pellettiere, president and CEO of HR Design Solutions LLC, owners need to devote adequate time and effort to hiring: “A small employer should prepare in advance a profile of what would be an ideal candidate by matching the required skills, abilities and knowledge to the requirements of the position. Once that is established, prepare your interviewing questions to find this information from interested candidates.”
Pellettiere believes business owners should interview at least five potential candidates for any given job. “Hiring the best employees for your organization is the first step in having a motivated, committed workforce.”
2. Give employees responsibilities that will challenge them. “Every person I hired always had buying responsibilities,” DiMinico said. “They would manage a couple of vendors, depending on how many hours they worked. For the most part, we would give them more responsible jobs than just ringing the cash register, straightening shelves and sweeping the floor. They felt more included in the business.”
3. Accentuate the positive. Managers often make the mistake of always looking for and correcting mistakes employees make, rather than acknowledging them for the things they do right. “There should be a blend of each, with the focus of coaching employees to develop themselves, which provides a more effective workplace,” Pellettiere noted.
Business consultant, author and lecturer Rick Segal believes that most people would be willing to sacrifice some money to work for people who listen to their ideas, respect their family life and offer a pleasant place to work.
4. Be flexible. Many people who work for small businesses do so because they want flexibility in their work schedules, said Dr. Gerardo A. Okhuysen, a professor at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. “Unfortunately, the small size of these businesses can be an obstacle to offering flexibility, since many require on-site presence or coverage of shifts.” Okhuysen suggests that owners remedy this problem by doing things such as hiring two part-time people instead of one full-time employee. “This increases freedom in questions like scheduling.”
5. Use incentives to motivate. This doesn’t necessarily mean offering monetary bonuses, although those are useful, too. Managers might talk to their employees to find out what incentives would be most valuable to them. “For some, a set of golf clubs may mean more than the cash to buy them,” Okhuysen said.
Employees are the front line of every business. Owners and managers who treat them right are more likely to achieve greater success than those who take them for granted.
Click here to learn more about how to create a successful staff.
Click here to read about how a successful staff helped one toy store thrive.