Make time to “check in” with your team members on the fly: Pierre Battah


A recent Hardlines Podcast featured Michael McLarney talking to Pierre Battah, a leading HR advisor in Canada. Battah has also written a great book: Humanity at Work: Leading for Relationships and Results. He’s also a broadcast journalist, frequently featured on CBC and Radio Canada. Scroll down to the link at the bottom of this article to listen to that podcast.

In their half-hour conversation, McLarney and Battah focused on the realities of managing teams in the retail home improvement environment. HR management has to be done through “check ins” on the fly, because stores are very busy places, Battah said. And the whole point of the “check-in” process is to increase an employee’s engagement.

What is engagement? It’s a commitment of a retail floor employee to a customer, to serving them as well as they can. And more than that, it’s being fully absorbed in whatever the retail task is that day. Battah gave some statistics of employee engagement.

“We know that a third of our folks are born engaged,” Battah said. “They are our owners and managers—they are our leaders. Twenty percent of our employees are involved in a transactional relationship. They have the attitude of ‘you pay me, I’ll do my job.’ But it’s a job. The other 50 percent, if we do a few things, including management by walking around, we have a shot at affecting them—and engaging them.”

Check-ins with staff are important to increase employee engagement, Battah counselled. They ideally are done one-on-one, between the manager and the employee. And, ideally, they are done daily. Checking in doesn’t have to take very long—few minutes if that’s all you have time for. “It’s these small little connections,” Battah says. Do them at the beginning of a shift. Or while you are walking through the store. Take time to check in with each employee. “There’s not a lot of magic bullets on leading people,” Battah confessed. “But checking in is one of them!”

(Pierre Battah, management consultant, HR guru, radio personality and author, is our guest on the latest episode of our Podcast Series, “What’s in Store.” You can listen free and get notifications of upcoming podcasts by clicking here! Scroll down at the linked page to see our complete library of episodes.)