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How can department managers be given more autonomy and responsibility?

The Covid crisis speeded up changes in how people relate to work. Remote working and flexibility are now seen as normal, and this means greater autonomy and responsibility for company employees.
In retail, where you need to be on hand to stock shelves, for example, this type of organisation is more difficult to set up. However, over 50% of point-of-sale staff feel they have a high degree of autonomy. We should be aware, though, that this perception reflects a non-constructive “laissez-faire” attitude, rather than a management style based on autonomy and reaching objectives that allow for growth. In fact, 2/3 of retail managers admit that they are overwhelmed when it comes to managing and monitoring their teams due to a lack of time, tools and often training.  
So, what do we really mean by “autonomy and responsibility”? How can these values be put into practice in store management teams?
The answer – and solution – with Timeskipper.

The retail sector: what do we mean by “real” autonomy and responsibility?


Autonomy and responsibility: a commitment to the shop’s team and customers

We can say that a department manager is autonomous if they are capable of making decisions and carrying out the tasks of their choice in line with customer expectations and the shop’s needs. They enjoy this autonomy within their own scope, but there is also the vital concept of employee interdependence.
Provided that their priority tasks are completed within the allotted time, each member of the team may be asked to leave their assigned area of responsibility to contribute to a shared workload (cleaning, facing, tidying up, training, etc.). In specialised distribution, for example, autonomy means always ensuring that sales advice takes priority over your own tasks. This means taking care of the customer first. 
Autonomy means the freedom to decide on the resources and organisation needed to achieve a common goal. Continuing on from this, responsibility lies in taking ownership of the objective and committing to reaching it. In this sense, autonomy is consubstantial with responsibility; implementing both of these improve employees’ motivation and performance.

Autonomy and responsibility: what does the organisation model require?

Autonomy and responsibility are neither given nor demanded. They are earned – under certain conditions:
1 – The manager’s mindset and ability to motivate their teams
The manager’s approach is the first catalyst for autonomy and participation. There are certain non-negotiable pre-requisites for this:
  • Trust in their teams,
  • A management style that values co-responsibility, 
  • Allowing each individual to take initiatives. 
2 – A precise knowledge of the tasks to be done: employees need to be able to see the workload in order to choose “what” to do and be present when needed.  
3 – Smooth, clear communication in real time between employees and managers, based on multi-support mobility for “seamless” interaction.
4 – An ability to adapt: knowing when to step into another’s shoes based on operational needs and demands, making sure that everyone’s skills overlap. 
5 – Individual commitment: this commitment comes from a good understanding of others’ work and a co-responsibility for the benefits of an overall project. 
It is important to understand that a “true” autonomy and responsibility for each individual can be judged by their contribution to the team’s operational effectiveness.


A tool to support department managers’ autonomy and responsibility 

The manager’s mindset is essential to building employees’ autonomy and responsibility, but it must be supported by activity management for the teams. For employees and managers, using a tool is one of the surest ways to get there with peace of mind.
The tool’s main advantage is its ability to automatically calculate the workload and assign it equitably to employees according to a task and time reference. The schedule gives each department manager a clear view of their tasks so that they can take responsibility for the running of their own department, with the freedom to decide on priorities while taking into account the constraints of the shop and their colleagues. 
The tool also provides an overview of all assigned and shared tasks that can be carried out during working hours, even when employees thought this was not possible. 
For example, Décathlon has introduced a weekly rotating inventory of a few product families per category to be carried out by the teams. Each employee must take the initiative, according to their priorities and free time, to contribute to this shared weekly objective. They must also be able to see whether this objective is being achieved at any time during working hours.
Continuing with this approach of interconnection and mutual aid, the Timeskipper platform is helping to make the organisation more flexible. For example, an employee can make themselves available to help with shared tasks, provide back-up or take on another person’s workload should there be too much work. Where working hours are annualised, employees can choose to arrive earlier or later for their shift, depending on operational needs and the team’s workload. In this sense, the platform empowers employees to become co-responsible for the smooth running of the entire department. 
The Timeskipper platform is also a great way of recognising the work done, thanks to the transparency of the schedules. Employees are valued and recognised by their peers and management, which leaves no room for “things left unsaid” or misunderstandings. This principle is liberating and makes us more inclined to embrace and anchor the process of autonomy and responsibility. 
In conclusion, with a tool-based, motivational management approach, everyone can feel at ease and self-confident in their positions. With a desire to succeed, department managers use the tool to better organise themselves and improve the department’s performance as a whole. 
This is a perfect example of the autonomy and responsibility that activity management tool Timeskipper can bring every day to specialist and food retailers.