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4 Lessons in Staffing from the Apple Store (Guest Blog)

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Apple is running a seriously smooth operation in their retail stores. Each employee has a distinct role to play, understands that role, and does his/her part to deliver the level of service we've come to expect from this powerful brand. All of this requires serious alignment of brand, business goals and people process.

Finding the right people to work in the stores is half the battle. There are things that Apple’s retail arm does particularly well in organizational development--things any organization could learn from:

1. Make Work Meaningful.

When your employees know that what they’re doing matters, it’s easier to inspire them to do their best. And no one appreciates this more than the employees staffing the stores, who are on the front lines of the customer relationship.

Apple would be hard-pressed to deliver their standard of service in retail unless their employees were satisfied with the level of employee engagement.

2. Free Up Your Leadership.

When your workforce is deployed effectively--with minimal room in the process for bottle-necking--managers spend less time wondering who should be where and more time keeping the machine in ship shape. Apple Store employees are busy delivering Apple-grade customer service, so it’s up to leadership to maintain the same level of awesome day after day. They’re doing more than managing the operation--they’re coaching staff, leading training, and driving sales.

3. Know your roles!

Tightly-defined roles ensure that your employees knows exactly what he or she is expected to do, what others do--and what other roles they could move into.

Those boldly-colored tees Apple Store employees wear aren’t just for looks--they designate the distinct role each employee plays. From Experts who assess visitors’ needs, and direct them to the right place--to Geniuses who speak your language when something’s wrong with your precious MacBook--everyone in the store knows his or her place.

4. Retain With Growth Opportunities.

Many organizations are struggling to retain top talent, but how many offer a great opportunity for college grads to make something of themselves? Despite having a great job portal on their site with multiple open positions, Apple prides itself on promoting from within. For the twenty-something Expert with a Master’s degree who’s manning the entrance to an Apple store today (I could name more than one), that’s pretty encouraging.

A Lesson for Your Grinding Gears

Organizational development at this calibre doesn’t just happen--but it’s a necessary part of a thriving company culture like Apple’s. Getting to that level requires open dialogue between senior leadership and business partners--and human resources and recruiting. You’ve already got Experts, Specialists, Geniuses and Creatives in your organization. It’s up to you to find them, engage them, and let them know you want them to grow with you.

 

About the Author: Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice, an online resource for reviews of talent management systems and applicant tracking software. Kyle reports on trends and best practices in HR and recruiting software—offering fresh insights into the ho-hum of people processes. For further reading, you can find this article in full on his HR blog.