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Archive for December 1st, 2005

Management of generic staff

One thing I notice in my retail sales position is how little decisioning power each of the associate have. Procedure dictates daily operation, even though sometime it may not be the most optimal way to solve a problem. Which, interestingly is similar to what I discovered in my “tech spec” article on my blog.

Yesterday I was at Barney’s getting a new suit. I was fitting a size 36, but notice the suit came with much bigger pant size than it hould have. I explained to the sale associate on the floor that there was another suit of the same style with a jacket size 40 and a much smaller pant size. I told her obviously it was mixed up, and ask if she can swap them. She said there is nothing that she can do. After two phone calls to her manager, disscussing with her peer and having the manager come and check, they switched the pants.

I am surprised something that simple would need so much hassle to resolve. It kinda make sense. At my former job we rely everyone having a similar level of intelligent to understnad the problem and figure out the best solution. So a lot of times the problem is not very well described. But when faced with a work force with less experience and education, many company rely on procedures to run the operation. But when autonomous decisioning is not allowed, responding to dynamic situation become very costly. If a retailer can educate the sales associate to understand the intention of the customer and each decision’s implication to the P&L of the business, it will allow them to act autonomously to handle new situation that arises.

I am not a believer in operation manual, as this often strips away the original intention behind each operation. It will inhabit any suggestion for a better way to achieve the original intention. However, operation manual act as a check and balance for each decision that an associate makes by keeping the impact small. This works to prevent lost to the bottomline, at the expense of the decisioning power of the executioner of the procedure.

What’s eye opening about this retail experience is seeing how to work with labors with different skillset. You can’t always hire the same caliber of people cost effectively. The objective then becomes how you can work with people with different skillsets by putting in check and balances.

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Some old pictures

Some old pictures of my former coworkers


The PTS team (non of us work there anymore)


Last picture with this thing called “the pager”


The rest of the payments team

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