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Best Practices

How to create standards of professional conduct

Apr 12, 2021 5 min read

Qvalon Blog article content

Sales are the basis for the existence of a retail network. Therefore, operations managers often try to focus on this particular performance indicator of sellers, encouraging them to sell more. However, sales are no less dependent on how customers evaluate their visit to your store. This assessment will depend on the culture of service, which in turn is shaped by standards of professional conduct.

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Why do we need standards?

Customers’ impression of the outlet is made up of many factors:

  • cleanliness of the room;
  • convenience of the purchase process;
  • courtesy of sellers;
  • speed of service at the checkout and much more.

It all depends on how the store operates. In other words, how well employees perform their daily duties. Usually this issue is regulated by writing job descriptions and monitoring their compliance. For example, the employee must ensure that the goods in the shop window are placed carefully, but it remains unclear how he should do it and how to evaluate the results of his actions.

In order to avoid ambiguity, standards of professional conduct need to be defined, that is, how the staff member should perform his or her duties.

DUTY STANDARD OF CONDUCT
WHAT HOW

Only in this case will you be able to assign responsibility for the quality of the employee’s duties. The fact is that any responsibility can be fulfilled with different degrees of “correctness”, and the standard is unambiguous — it is either observed or not.

How to describe the standards

At first glance, everything seems obvious, but in practice it is not so difficult to confuse the standards of professional conduct with responsibilities.

Compare the two statements:

  1. The seller must keep the shop windows and shelves clean.
  2. Wipe off dust from the shop windows and racks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when the flow of customers allows it.

The first is a duty and the second is a standard of professional conduct. A properly formulated standard gives the employee the most specific description of the order in which duties should be performed. You need to formulate it so that it is clear to understand, but that is the difficulty.

About 70% of the information transmitted is interpreted in its own way by our conversation partner, often putting a different meaning into our words. For example, for you, a “clean cashier’s desk” might mean “no items on the table”, but for an employee it might mean “no large boxes or packages”. So if you do not formulate your requirements precisely enough, you will not be able to control their implementation.

However, that’s not all.

It’s not enough to describe it, we need to teach

Often training, even in companies with clear standards of professional conduct, is that new employees are simply informed of their responsibilities. Immediately after that, the control phase begins. However, practice shows that in this case you will have to spend up to 75% of your time correcting the mistakes of your employees.

The reason is that training cannot be completed with information transfer. It is not enough to inform the employee of his responsibilities and even the standards of professional conduct. We need to make sure he really understands them the way you want them to be performed. In other words, it is not enough to ask a staff member after they have received all the necessary information: “Do you understand it?” Because he’ll say yes, even if he’s actually unclear about something.

In order to ensure that the knowledge is accepted, you need to complete the training with a test. This means that after the question, “Do you understand?” I have to say: “Show me how you’re going to do it”. Only in this way will the sellers be able to turn the acquired knowledge into skills and abilities, which means that they could really observe the standards of professional behavior.

Only an employee will decide for himself when he has passed the action check stage: to do his job the way he’s supposed to, or not. And you will be able to clearly assess what the deviation in his work is: ignorance or willful misconduct.

How to support the implementation of standards

Obviously, there’s only one thing to do — regular monitoring. It is necessary to regularly monitor how well employees perform their direct duties. There are different methodologies for this, the most common is the compilation of tables with estimates of the seller’s activity on a number of parameters.

However, there is also a more convenient, high-tech solution — QVALON. It is a system for operational audit based on checklist ideology. Having standards of professional behavior, you can easily create checklists, controlling their implementation. The audit data is immediately uploaded to cloud storage and is made available for comprehensive analysis.

Having the results of regular checks in a clear electronic form, you can easily monitor the implementation of standards of professional behavior, and thus create a high culture of customer service in your store.