In working with managers and leaders at different levels of an organization, one of the consistent opportunities I see is for the managers, owners, and executives to be more prescriptive in his/her approach.
Let me explain. Imagine for a moment you have a sharp pain in your foot. You go to the doctor and she does a thorough examination. Maybe she’ll have you walk on it. Then she’ll probably send you for an x-ray and maybe even an MRI.
At the end of the examination the doctor will then make her diagnosis. She’ll tell you what she believes is the problem, and then she’ll move into being prescriptive with her plan to treat it. She may give you a shot, fit you with a boot, send you to a physical therapist, or even recommend surgery. The doctor will see it through until the pain is gone. That’s being both diagnostic and prescriptive.
Here’s what would happen if the doctor were like many retail owners and managers. She would do a thorough examination, and afterwards announce that the foot was indeed injured. She would then tell the patient he needs to get better and send him on his way.
Sound crazy? It happens in business every day. Managers and owners point out what’s wrong and what they what to see instead (diagnostic). “Your sales are off 15% from LY. I need you to get them up.”
What leaders don’t focus on enough is the exact plan and actions needed to achieve the goal (prescriptive). Even when they do, they often state the plan without seeing it through. That’s like the doctor giving a shot and sending the patient on his way. Instead, the leader would want to say something like, “Let’s put together a 14-day plan you can work every day to raise your sales up to where they need to be.”
Most leaders aren’t aware that they are not being prescriptive enough until they’re asked about it. Even those currently in my multi-unit manager program, who are responsible for driving sales and performance in their stores, have discovered the opportunity to be much more prescriptive.
How do you ensure you’re being prescriptive enough? I’m glad you asked. Here are some tips for being a more prescriptive leader:
1. Agree on what actions are to be taken, or at least the next steps. Any time you talk with a direct report about something that needs improvement, can be done better or differently, or about leveraging an opportunity, you should be able to agree upon what actions the person will take. Without actions, or at least the steps to get you to define the actions, you’re still in diagnostic mode.
2. Be specific. Your foot doctor wouldn’t say, “Try moving it from time to time.” Instead, she might give you five different stretching exercises that need to be done twice a day for three weeks. The same needs to happen when coaching your employees.
If an associate, or store, ADS is down, you need to be more prescriptive than “You need to add-on more.” Instead, help the individual, or staff, identify specific actions they will take to increase their average sale. Then set the expectation that those actions will be taken, and request that you be kept informed of the progress that is made. That last part is key to ensuring success.
3. Create regular performance development plans. No, not the type of plan you implement with underperformers, but the type of plan that everyone in the staff is following to elevate his/her own performance.
Being diagnostic isn’t just figuring out what’s wrong, it’s also identifying opportunities to become even better. That, to me, is what differentiates a good from an extraordinary leader and coach.
I firmly believe that everyone can become even better. The key to achieving that, and maximizing our opportunities, is to work a (prescriptive) performance development plan.
Every performance development plan also contains both a diagnostic and prescriptive element. The diagnostic element can include increasing conversion, selling more of a different category, giving better feedback, raising average sale, improving clienteling, etc. The prescriptive part is, again, the specific plan of actions on how those opportunities will be achieved.
So let me ask, how successful do you think you are at being both diagnostic and prescriptive? What two actions you can take this week to be a more prescriptive leader?
One action you can take is to sign-up for my Four Weeks To Becoming A Next Level Coach And Developing A Winning Retail Team program that begins on Tuesday. This program will absolutely pay for itself after you become a more prescriptive and effective coach. Read more here and to reserve your space.
Doug Fleener, a proven retail and customer experience expert and consultant, helps companies dramatically improve their customer experience and their sales results. Visit the Dynamic Experiences Group website, or call Doug at 866-535-6331 to discuss how he can help you create extraordinary results.