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The 80 / 20 Rule


There’s an old saying that 80% of your results come from 20% of what you do (or 20% of your customers, or whatever it is someone happens to be soap-boxing about at the time). However, in my retail experience, 90% of my results (as a store manager, district manager, or regional manager) have come from 80% of what I focus my attention on: Processes and People Skills. Let’s cover the Process issue first because it’s less detailed, AND, is part of the People Skills (Associate Management and Customer Management) issue.

If you Google the word Process, you get the definition, “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end”. There are good business reasons, good people management reasons and good personal reasons (some of them selfish reasons) to focus on Processes. First, the Process has to have value. Otherwise, it doesn’t deserve our time and attention. Second, it needs to be as simple as possible (for the sake of training it to others). Third, it has to be time efficient. Fourth, it has to accomplish the results that we’re looking for. If we can train it to most other people, we can expect them to use the Process. If it’s time efficient, our people are more prone to use it, and less unhappy with being required to do so. If we’ve trained the Process to our people and they’re using it, we know what results we can expect. This also means that we can now do something every manager MUST be able to do – hold people accountable!

Developing (when necessary) the right Process, then training and implementing the Process, means the company can expect certain results because everyone is doing it the same way. Whenever possible, uniformity of Processes is good for the company. In addition, people actually like to have good Processes in place whenever possible. It allows them a reasonable opportunity to learn how to be productive, and it allows them to understand what results are expected of them and how to get those results. Lastly, from my selfish standpoint, I don’t want to have to “babysit” any more than I have to. It’s time consuming and often frustrating to have to “babysit” people. When a good Process is trained, implemented, and assigned to someone, as a manager I can spend much more of my time on other things. So the Process issue allows ME to be more productive! Process training, implementation, and oversight, will help every retail associate to be happier and more productive. In addition, it allows every manager to be more productive, less stressed, and happier with their job. The company, the associates, and the manager all win, and that goes a long way toward making a retail location successful. It also goes a long way toward reducing “turn-over” (one of our biggest people issues in retail).

Retail is detail. Who knows that more than us folks in retail management positions? Training, implementing, and then assigning those processes, to accomplish as many of those details as possible, will provide us with much more time to tend to the other issue mentioned above, and that’s all the necessary People Skills (includes Associate Management and Customer Management).

I had originally intended to cover both of the issues that fall into my 80% focus in this article, but alas, I’ve run out of room. I WILL cover ALL of the people issues in my next article. Look for it soon!!!

Retail How-To Consultant: Edward Fox

TAGS: retail, management,
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