If you aren’t on ‘the floor’, that is in the thick of things, get there. Get out of your office and onto the floor to see what is happening. There is nothing more important than being ‘hands on’. Managers can not be trusted to manage. This is because ‘having to work there’, needing ‘good relationships’ with employees, blind eyes are often turned. This means you need a fresh pair of eyes. One of the things these ‘fresh eyes’ will probably see is that your business is overstaffed. Your goal is to have one less employee than you need, this forces ‘management’ to fill in while every worker does a little bit extra. Often the ‘manager’ is locked in his office dealing with paper while your business goes to hell in a handbasket. Come down hard on the hiding manager when customers are left on their own, or forced into long lines while cash registers sit empty. Managers who think being a cashier in emergencies is not part of the job description can be dispensed with. Remember, a manager is to manage the business not occupy an office. Having one less employee keeps your workers occupied. It limits their opportunity to gossip, to fight, to waste time. Idleness among people who are only at the same place because they work there often leads to conflict. Once there is no idleness, conflict has little room to grow. No employee is irreplaceable. There should always be those who can multi-task, who can step in to do what needs to be done, then step back. There should not be ‘extra workers’, but a floater who can do a number of tasks. For example, the Assistant Manager who is also a bit of a techie. Another thing ‘Fresh Eyes’ might see is that your company is top heavy. Having a Manager, a Deputy Manager, two Assistant Managers, on and on, often means that they do nothing except cash their pay cheques. No one should be hired to see that others work but have no work of their own. Although moving one to management is often done to avoid paying overtime, it is extremely costly in not just monetary matters. I have seen managers argue over which is their chair because they have nothing to do. Others who enter their offices and never emerge. What are they managing? The fish tank? Your first step is to get to that One Less level where efficiency becomes paramount, and pare management to the absolute minimum. The work ‘day’ is not written in stone. Nine to Five is not a Commandment. Implementing shift systems, whether called Part Time or Flexitime should be explored. One must know when the busy times are, when the slack times are, and create shifts as is needed. Customers hate standing in line. Take a supermarket, it’s crowded on Saturday morning. Customers glance in, turn and go away. Others, on line, abandon their carts and walk out. If the entire front of the store is full of checkers and every post is filled, well, there’s nothing more you can do, you’ve got a terribly successful business. But that’s not the case, is it? Seven aisles, four checkers. Where are the others? At lunch. A wise manager would create shifts so there would be no lunch break. The employee would work four hours and leave, to be replaced by another. If this were practiced at the supermarket I mention, there would be seven moving aisles and customers who see the crowd, but how fast it moves, would not be dissuaded from entering. This image can be translated to almost any occupation.
Lunch Breaks should never be a break in productivity. It is better to double your staff and put them on overlapping shifts then to close the office while the only cashier who came to work this morning enjoys her luncheon. Unless you run a monopoly, no one has to do business with you.