Thaddeus Figlock, PHR | Blank Slate Challenge

On March 17, 2010, in HRExaminer, by John Sumser

blank-slate-challenge-entryThe submissions for our Blank Slate Challenge are in and this week we’ll be featuring some of your submissions from around the world of HR. You may recall that we challenged HRExaminer.com readers to create an HR led strategy that could produce results in your organization like the iPhone and iPad have for Apple. How would you change the way you recruit, hire, develop and retain your employees so they could reach their full potential while keeping them engaged? After we post these select submissions our Editorial Advisory Board will be voting on the top three entries with the grand prize winner taking home an Apple iPad. – John Sumser

Today’s submission is from Thaddeus Figlock, PHR and outlines a new HR idea for a big box home improvement company.

“Driving Performance” at The Big Box Improvement Store; Putting Associates in the Driver’s Seat

Reaching for new levels of customer service and retail employee productivity, Big Box Home Improvement’s HR team has been challenged to turbo charge employee performance. Their response is to implement an across the board use of innovation to crash through barriers of communication and engagement to make performance management a very personal focus for each and every employee.

Starting Quarter 2, The Big Box Home Improvement store (BBHI) will come out onto the competitive track with a new way to connect performance to recruiting, orienting, and onboarding employees, measuring customer service, performance management processes and developing leaders: “Driving Performance.” Two Driving Performance modules are arriving in every store, replacing the self-service hiring kiosk and one employee training computer with a state of the art computer, video exchange and training/feedback interface. “Driving Performance Booths” may remind people of a souped up racing game console found in video arcades. Don’t be fooled; this is not a game, but a game changer.

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Decorated with the bold colors of our racing team, the Driving Performance booth commands attention. The Driving Performance booth is a hybrid of the cockpit of a racing car and a jet fighter, complete with an extensive dashboard/video windshield, steering wheel, gear shift input device, keyboard, web cam and super sound system. The seat swings out to allow a wheelchair and the software can operate from remote computers to accommodate any ADA-qualified consideration. This is designed to provide each and every associate an exciting way to engage into their own race to greater performance.

A total redesign of many major functions, the DP booth incorporates increased communication, clear expectations of performance, and frequent review of personal performance with valuable, archival two-way records of customer, employee and management feedback that can be drawn upon to enhance sought after behaviors. HR becomes the “Performance Improvement Technicians,” or PIT Crew, to help stores drive up customer satisfaction as well as individual and team performance. PIT Crews coach using the increased communication, flow of information and enhanced technology to address building a resilient, responsive workforce.

Performance starts and ends with the customer in mind. Placing a Driving Performance booth at a key place in the store where customers can give instant feedback on their experience by typing, writing or video taping their comments. This literal voice of the customer is a keystone for this new way of viewing performance. As a reward for giving feedback, the customer can play a racing video game, watch exclusive celebrity driver interviews, be entered to win monetary and racing themed prizes. The increase in customer communication will give more data for service metrics. These records will be drawn upon for problem resolution, recognition, coaching and counseling. The message to the world, Big Box Home Improvement is very serious about increasing our performance for the customer.

This booth also serves as a recruiting and hiring kiosk within the store and at schools, career and racing events across the county, telling potential employees, “we are hiring for performance.” From before a candidate fills out any form, expectations of an interest in and devotion to high quality performance is established. Besides having national material, local District and store managers share clips of their welcome and expectations. This will include the usual employment screening process, but with enhancements. Video of the candidate can be taped at this point to be used after the selection is made to show the starting line of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Over the course of an employee’s tenure, a video diary is kept, benchmarking associate development.

Each time an associate logs on, a performance dashboard comes to life, sharing their personal sales achievements, training due, tenure, time and attendance information, customer service recognition earned, store sales metrics and more. Using the steering wheel, employees can navigate across particular aspects of their information. Associate awareness of what is expected and action required increases tremendously. The more visual learner will have a chance to experience their status – what their personal speedometer, odometer and gauges saying about their efforts. Racing flags wave and dials spin based on how the employee is driving their career, showing if they are under a caution flag or leading the lap. The goal is to provide the associate windshield clear transparency to monitor their own performance and total team communication to help them navigate the competitive track of the business. The associate is in the driver’s seat.

The Driving Performance booth provides web based training. Monthly safety information and quizzes become more fun and more captivating. With certain trainings, the employee is invited to make a brief commitment video; it is very easy to see if a message about a new initiative was received & understood. This alone would create value, but here comes the high octane fuel. The associate gets near instant feedback from their supervisor. Supervisors tape brief messages, recognizing successes and coaching improvement. This is not to replace one-on-one live communication, but provides a much needed way to pass on customer feedback and performance direction in a striking manner when work paths don’t cross nearly enough. If a customer comment is fantastic, even the CEO can drop a personal message into the associate’s video file.

Supervisors and managers now go to the archived feedback they and the associate have documented every week and create performance reviews that are living agreements, based on regular, constant focus on performance. No longer is there ever a surprise rating or comment, but an accurate picture of where the associate has driven. This is also a two-way street; associates are able to tape feedback for their supervisors that can be used to help evaluate and review the leadership provided, making a truer 360 degree feedback available.

Incorporating Driving Performance into the store’s culture of service, Big Box Home Improvement will engage employees in their own performance at Mach speed towards the real race for the championship, earning customer satisfaction.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/thaddeus.figlock Thaddeus M. Figlock

    This was a very thought provoking contest. If there was an aspect of your business that HR could change, totally, what would it be? Would it be talent management? Recruiting through mentoring? Turning engagement into a top notch business achievement instead of a warm and fuzzy slipper of a buzz-word? I chose Driving Performance; what would you choose?

  • http://www.facebook.com/cvmahoney Carol Valenti Mahoney

    love this – very visual. i am a very competitive person – love to “win” – so this kind of system would work for me. i am left wondering how people who aren't driven to win would respond? for example, many successful innovators are driven to create. how would a system like this motivate them?

    very very good response the the Blank Slate challenge. thanks for sharing!

  • thaddeusfiglockphr

    Carol, thanks so much for your input. Since I've put this idea out there, I've been wishing for feedback. I thought creative people would like the opportunity to tape their own responses to their supervisor's comments. So much in my retail experience has been one way communication; I'd love for more associates to have a voice. Maybe having a process where managers are expected to video tape innovation and examples of creativity so they can be highlighted when all the other employees log onto the kiosk/driving performance machine.

    I am open to work this for all ages and types of people. Just because this idea may look like a video game, doesn't mean it can't weave in elements to involve more experienced, “old-school” workers or creative types or whomever is not being reached.

    Sincerely,

    Ted

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