Improving Frontline Performance

Taking a look at Team Morale and Cohesion

Over the course of many articles, we’ve been talking about improving frontline performance. Among many these things, we’ve discussed ways in which the frontline can learn from mystery shopping reports, and how the frontline managers can use a good MSP to better steer their team. One thing we haven’t talked about is how improving frontline performance can drastically impact not only sales, but also frontline morale – which then, of course, helps improve business and sales.

It’s all connected.

They say an army marches on its stomach. By this they tend to mean that if you don’t feed your team they’ll become restless and likely start causing trouble, and no one wants to deal with a pillaging army. Especially not on an empty stomach. A joke in poor taste, I know.

The point of it, however, is that keeping morale up in any team setting is vital to the cohesion and performance of that team. Improving frontline performance comes with multiple benefits and with multiple angles to tackle it.

Morale is about confidence, self esteem, and a sense of belonging. If a team member isn’t ‘feeling it’ then their performance will reflect this. There are countless team building exercised, tried and true, which have been used to boost team cohesion. All of those tactics could work in improving frontline performance to be sure, and a lot of the time these exercises are inexpensive and easy to try out. Working with a team to build up the way it functions is the best way in which to improve its performance.

One of the many benefits of mystery shopping is that it can help identify areas within a team that require more attention than others. Improving frontline performance is more easily managed if we know which people need more training, or what need part of internal procedures work better than others. If we go back to our ‘an army marches on its stomach’ analogy and draw it out a little further – I know, I know, bear with me – we know that not all armies are made equal. Some are bigger, others are better trained, and the ones on the other side have better weapons. It’s important to know what’s what and who’s capable of what – if we discover our infantry isn’t performing well and that we’re constantly relying on our cavalry to bail us out of trouble, then we need to look at what we’re doing right and what we could be doing better.

Back to improving frontline performance without the army analogy: knowing what’s working and what’s not working are important to finding the solutions. There’s no point in fixing things that work; that would be inefficient use of resources. We know that using a mystery shopping program can help identify where the resources really need to be spent; I think we’ve covered that topic from plenty of angles.

After a mystery shopping program has delivered its results, it’s sometimes useful to present selected results to the team. Helping them understand what impact the data has an help boost their understanding of their role, their self-esteem, and their confidence, thus improving frontline performance. It’s important to focus on all elements of the mystery shopping report: not just the negatives. The team should see these ‘failures’ as opportunities to improve rather than as a sign that they are not cut out for this line of work – how they learn to see it as opportunity is really in how the news is delivered to them, and is thus in the hands of the team leader or store manager.

Mystery shopping is no longer used as a means to catch out bad employees; they are less useful as employee performance measures, than they are at allowing companies to analyze their frontline’s overall performance. Sure, there are some types of programs that can track a single employee’s performance over the course of several waves; it’s been done, and it can be quite useful when done consistently. Mystery shopping can provide both big picture and snapshot, depending on the company’s goals. It can help do many things, like building team cohesion and morale and improving frontline performance because of it.