The company I work for has this punishment thingy. I guess this is similar to many other consumer products companies. Any violations would result in some sort of punishments, be it delay of shipments, or reduction in cool products, etc.
When I first joined the team, probably the third business related call was a complain. Someone is not following your rules. What you gonna do about it? I didn’t follow but i am losing business. How are you going to compensate?
I hated these calls. If you just go ahead to punish that violator, your phone will ring more. Well, actually this is not the bad part because they call you anyway. But the tough thing is you have to be as fair as possible, at least in their eyes. It doesn’t mean you need to be as transparent as possible, but again you need to appear to be fair. I also slowly realised that it is impossible to stop everything, no matter how much time how many people you send down to the streets. Violations will happen.
It took me a while to find the balance. Then one night I had dinner with my highschool buddies, and one of them, chi, was a cop. He is an inspector, i think. Basically he doesn’t need to wear the standard policeman outfit, and I think he runs his team more or less in an office. So hey, that’s abit like my job! And we started talking about our jobs. I started to find this odd similarity between thugs he went after, and friendly retailers that I had to deal with everyday. His point of view was that, you could never ever stop all drug dealers, nor don’t expect that hookers would disappear for good. The key was to find the balance. So in my friend’s case, the balance was not to let it blow out of hand. He said if the hookers or drug dealers were starting to get out of hand, or that the press/public might start to get more attention towards these activities, then it was time to do something: a raid, a well publicized close down, etc. and in order to keep the crooks in control, it is important to keep them on their toes. However, if you pressed too hard, things could also get out of hand as well. If you cornered the crooks, they could also make a desperate move and might just turn the whole situation the wrong way.
Similarly at my company, this is what I believe: the balance is that we cannot allow our violations to go so out of hand that everyone is retaliating each other so fiercely that we lose control. However, this actually could be triggered by two things: no control, or over control. It is not easy, but every now and then, we need to appear to be doing something. A small catch, a punishment here and there, an all out crackdown for like a week or a weekend, and be sure to keep everyone on the edge. I also believe if I am determined to catch something, I will catch something. Therefore I know I pretty much have full control over what I want to say and do, as long as no one else from the inside fucks me up.
Another thing that I find extremely difficult is to establish control. I cannot allow anyone but ourselves to dictate whom and where and when I should implement my policies. More powerful players could potentially force us into doing that, but this is something we must be extremely careful in terms of what we do, when we do it, and how we publicize what we have done.
anyway, this is a boring topic, but this has been my number 1 task 4 days since I have been back. During my absence, we didn’t “catch and punish” anyone. Obviously, things are getting a bit out of control. Now it is time to take care of business.
People always say, footwear is easy. I believe in terms of business and process, yes, it is actually a lot easier than the other teams. However, there is one thing that makes the footwear sales job a lot more difficult: footwear has the most power, and this comes with inescapable responsibility and pressure. Retailers expect footwear to lead the business, and footwear has to lead the team to manage the marketplace. This is not a walk in the park, for sure.