Attention: Consumer Electronics Trade-In Programs Key Element #1: People

Attention: Consumer Electronics Trade-In Programs

Blog Series Summary
You will probably agree there are no shortages of “trade-in” programs for practically every industry under the sun; from ink cartridges to transmission converters.  The question is what makes up a successful “trade-in” program?  You will see from the graph below my “7 Key Elements of a Successful Trade-In Program.”  These elements can be applied across nearly any industry; however I will focus on consumer electronics.  I will summarize my thoughts on each element separately, along with some comments of the major players in the industry (Walmart, Sams, GameStop and others).

Key Element #1:  People
The success or failure of any well-rounded company is being strategic in regards to employees and management.  We have all heard variations of a company stating “people are our most valued asset.”  What does that really mean and how does it impact your organization having a successful trade-in program?

Asset as defined by; “something of value that an entity owns, benefits from, or has use of, in generating income.”  The essential missing piece in the definition is the employee’s perspective which is rare because most companies feel they own the asset view since they feel they are taking all or majority of the risk.  They forget the employer/employee relationship is a two way agreement that doesn’t automatically become one sided when employment paperwork is signed and therefore giving up all rights and solely becoming property of the company.  For people in a company to truly be an asset; the company must demonstrate consistently, not just at Christmas, the employees at and below mid-management are valued more than “be glad you have a job in today’s economy” attitude.

Let’s change the above asset definition to the employee’s perspective…”a healthy company and management one can take pride in ownership as an employee, benefit from or has use of, in generating income and a career.”  Notice I included “management” in the definition because a business is made up of people and a manager can make or break an employee’s perspective of the entire company.  An employee can work for a company with great pay, benefits, co-workers, product, etc… but have a boss that drives the employee to look for another job, quit or he ends up being promoted outside the four walls of the company (fired).  Employees, especially on the front line, view their manager as an asset to develop, sell or retire.

One of my favorite shows is Undercover Boss with the common outcome of the CEO or Executive gaining an eye opening perspective from the employees where they don’t feel valued because they are just a number, warm body to fill a hole and/or their ideas are shot down or never answered due to their position or lack of experience or they have a manager that is truly unfit to be manager.  The disconnect between the two parties is where strategy is missing and needs to be interjected and intertwined in the company DNA at all levels and phases of the employment process.  A strategy perspective needs to be applied for:  defining job roles, hiring practices, promotions, meeting documentation, evaluations, suggestions, skip level meetings, bonuses, awards, communications and the list goes on and on. 

Below are 36 questions to ask yourself to start the dialog in your head to determine if your company is strategic when it comes to your employees at all levels:

  1. Does your company plug in a vacant or needed role with a warm body with a sink or swim outcome attitude?
  2. Is communications within the company sporadic, rare, confusing, selective or non-existent?
  3. How do your employees see you as a manager?
  4. If the employees gave their managers an annual review, would the outcome be they no longer have a job, demoted, put on probation or high marks with a raise?
  5. If you did Undercover Boss at your company, what would you discover or not want to discover?
  6. Are company politics a driving force in decision making in any part of your company?
  7. Do you require skip level meetings throughout the company more than once a year?
  8. Do you continually look for strategic candidates without having a written or specific job description?
  9. Do you have hidden gem employees to this day still hidden or lost forever?
  10. Do you have a suggestion box and/or survey tool used and taken seriously and encouraged involvement with rewards?
  11. Does upper management work on the front line 2-3 times a year?
  12. Have you lost good employees and never heard their side of the story possibly revealing more than what you were lead to believe?
  13. How do you know if the people in their current roles are the best fit for those roles?
  14. Do you move heaven and earth to help your employees reach their career goals, even if it isn’t in their current role or within your company?
  15. Do you request from your employees individually and in brainstorming meetings to solve issues and/or bring new ideas for the department and/or company?
  16. If employees are surveyed anonymously would the word “favoritism” crop up in double digits when it comes to manager relationships?
  17. Do lower level employees voice distrust or other non-flattering attributes to their immediate manager about upper management?
  18. Are the managers starting from under the CEO, President or Owner the right people for the position?
  19. Do your managers keep a healthy buffer between you and the employees or keep you in the dark or on a limited need to know basis?
  20. Do your managers know the company goals, plans, vision, objectives and health of the company?
  21. Are your managers dedicated to all their employees and not just some of them?
  22. When an employee leaves do you find out why without strictly going by the HR file?
  23. Is there animosity between any departments and how are you addressing it with consequences?
  24. Do any departments have more weight or pull than others creating an imbalance of power and a lack of unity?
  25. Do you provide profit sharing or bonuses without financial buy in requirements?
  26. Do you give authority bandwidth without penalty to your mid to lower level managers to make business decisions to help them grow and develop?
  27. Are all departments created equal when it comes to adhering to policies and procedures?
  28. Do employees fear management is out to get them by watching and documenting their every move?
  29. Is there two way protocol when it comes to meetings to ensure all parties are represented and notes are documented and distributed?
  30. Do your employees fear any healthy disagreement or push back to their manager would equal some form of  “pay back”?
  31. When searching for internal/external job candidates do you attempt to match the candidate to the job description or the job description to the candidate?
  32. Do you provide town hall meetings with all levels of your management team?
  33. At the core, are all your managers strategic in their thinking by bringing new ideas, products, procedures, improvements to the table to better the entire company and /or industry?
  34. Do you require your managers to allow employees to present ideas bigger than their manager’s title or department to upper management verses filtering deemed worthy projects?
  35. Do you have strategic thinkers with company and/or industry game changing ideas in your organization not being utilized?
  36. Would you want to work for your own company as a lower level employee?

People are the foundation for a successful trade-in program and really for any company.  If you aren’t strategic in how you hire, retain, develop and promote your employees; you are looking at building upon a cracked foundation from an unhealthy atmosphere, chaos, slow leaking away of good talent, lack of communication, deteriorating moral and inability to meet key objectives.
Strategy is more than just a buzzword; it is a 360 degree way of thinking that should be oozing out of the four walls of your company, executive wing, management and employees verses a chosen few.

The question to ask yourself throughout this blog series are GameStop, Walmart, Sams, Best Buy and RadioShack applying true strategy to their trade-in programs?

The next element will be Business Analytics…stay tuned.

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