Remote training: Introduction of modern employee appraisals at leading retailer

Obermann Consulting was asked to apply their expertise on the topic of employee appraisals for a well-known European retailer. As a result, all 700 managers on the floor were trained remotely. The order came in the middle of the Corona year 2020 and it quickly became clear that nothing would work in presence.

There were plenty of variations and attempts beforehand. We all know about annual performance reviews and the retail organization had similar challenges as other companies: How do we prevent bad vibes from „appraisal“? How do we prevent the initiative from becoming an unloved compulsory exercise again? How do we transport enthusiasm and energy to the floor?

To this end, there were some groundbreaking conceptual decisions to make a difference from the past. The appraisal interview was completely stripped of all elements that smack of appraisal, scale, or compensation. The whole focus should be on inspiring salespeople’s motivation and energy toward the company’s goals: Enthusiastic employees lead to satisfied customers.

Does that fit – agile leadership and employee reviews?

In times of agile leadership, one might think that the classic annual appraisal is out – too slow, too late. We have therefore delineated very precisely what spontaneous, direct feedback to sales employees on the floor must accomplish. But there remains a delta for topics that belong in a formal annual review: Reflecting employee performance with the requirements profile, being able to really listen to the employee for once, working out fundamental obstacles to more motivation and performance, space for thanks and appreciation, discussing perspectives.

Mission: Customer loyalty with enthusiastic employees

As in many other companies, there was a short-lived hype for the issue of employee appraisals until then, and then it fell asleep again. We jointly identified the cause as being that managers on the ground had in the past sometimes perceived the rating forms as annoying additional work and also had little desire for conflicts with employees. Instead of traditional training workshops, our response was more of an organizational development approach: involving our own managers and the managers on the left and right, introducing the discussions in small steps with practical testing, but stretched out and sustainable. Again and again, the starting point was: how can we retain customers with enthusiastic employees?

After Corona: management training completely remote

In retail, the digital world is different than in the office: hardly any computers, even for executives. Only the store manager is allowed to access the one computer, many shift workers, who do not want to sit in front of the screen for whole days. Also break down of the videoconferencing tool is a challenge because of the technical bandwidth.

We have succeeded. We are particularly proud of the fact that despite the adversities described above, participants experienced exciting and inspiring online seminars. The participants in the training sessions were able to apply the tools they had learned for conducting discussions directly to real cases from the market, so that they could start the upcoming discussions optimally prepared. These important use cases were thus able to digitally confirm once again that Corona cannot stop the development of our customers!

Desire for content and substance

Role play & co. on practical cases is bread and butter for trainings. Nevertheless, there is a need for inspiration from psychology. Through our claim of closeness to psychology and science we want to fulfill this need. These are the concepts used, translated for the target group in sales: Our concept of the psychological contract for employee retention, our SAIL model for effective feedback, psychological safety in conversations, effective relationship building and the principles of employee development.