By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: With evidence now surfacing that Truscotts senior management dismissed warnings by staff that changes were necessary to avoid a second collapse, sought out management and retail training expert Bob Johnson to find out how best to deal with staff complaints.

Johnson, who runs Turning Point Training & Development, said that the key to good management is not just listening to staff concerns, but also seeking them in an active and open way. He said the simple fact that email was the choice method of communication for dissatisfied staff shows just how bad communication lines were in the Truscotts organisation.

“Depending on the size of the organisation, to have environment where people feel the only way they can talk to management is via email is pretty sad,” said Johnson.

“Remember the old saying, ‘my door is always open, come and talk to me’? I’ve always felt that was crap, because it implies the manager is sitting in their office and people can come and talk to them; the manager should be out of their office, if they have one, and out there asking people: what are your problems? What are your issues? What can we do better?”

“Having an atmosphere where regular meetings are conducted and where there’s a forum for two-way communication would be my method of management.”

Johnson said there were two forms of evidence: soft evidence and hard evidence. Soft evidence is anecdotal, such as a staff member complaining that there isn’t enough stock to meet demands. Hard evidence is proof through customer records and sales figures that show consumers are asking for a product but none was available at the time.

The goal of management in dealing with internal complaints, according to Johnson, is to listen to the soft evidence and then investigate to see if the hard evidence backs this up. Once management and staff agree there is a problem, based on the evidence at hand, all parties can then work together to find a solution and get back to selling goods and making money.

Bob Johnson is a regular contributor to Appliance Retailer magazine.

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