Acknowledging a Condition vs. Seeing a Problem
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As part of the loss prevention/risk services industry, we typically spend part of our daily efforts evaluating the recent global issues impacting today’s retail environment. We continue to see how technology influences the evolution of the industry and how the loss prevention world adapts and changes focus to address these challenges within our organization.
But when we look closely at some of these issues, we realize that we are confronting smarter people with better strategies; which in turn create more complex internal and external scenarios in the stores. Our store profits continue to be impacted directly, sometimes involving organized retail crime groups. What should we do at this point?
The reality is the same conditions continue to exist in the field. The triangle of opportunity, control and necessity maintains a living place in most organizations, especially those with internal LP teams. Yet while traditional training tools have been useful for most of us and can lead to very positive results, I felt the necessity to re-focus some of the vision and help adjust my team to the new challenges in the industry.
Changing the Vision
The goal was to complement these strategies by changing the vision of internal/external theft or fraud from a problem-based approach to a condition-based approach. By taking a different perspective we were able to improve results in our department, develop strong partnerships and support company vision with minimum changes in our structure. This process helped field leaders to have a better understanding of what prevention and awareness was all about, and moreover, how they can continue impacting their markets on a daily basis without changing any of their processes.
Let’s use an everyday example to explain in more detail. Say that your toaster goes on the fritz and stops working. What would you typically do? Most often the solution is simple – you go to the nearest appliance store and buy a new one. When you return home, you exchange the broken toaster for the new appliance, throw the broken one in the trashcan, and the problem is considered solved.
But theft or fraud cannot simply be viewed as a” problem.” You can’t simply identify an internal case, follow through with prosecution, and expect to be free of more theft or fraud. Establishing a policy or procedure will not solve all of your internal or external issues. You cannot wipe out every store issue even by changing or improving the pool of talent within the organization. While each of these can be very successful at addressing a concern, they still can’t eliminate a condition inherent to the retail environment.
Now, let’s consider the concept of having a “condition.” For example, if you were diagnosed with diabetes, you will have been diagnosed with a condition. People with diabetes receive training about their condition, the possibilities of controlling it, and the potential consequences should they not follow the medical recommendations. People with this condition need to visit the doctor regularly. As patience with diabetes, they must keep a consistent diet and exercise routine. They need to check their blood regularly and often need to medicate in order to maintain the correct level of sugar in their blood. Ultimately, they must manage the “condition.”
A Holistic Approach
When you consider the many different aspects of the retail business from a loss prevention perspective, you have to look at it from a holistic point of view. Robberies, burglaries, internal/external theft or fraud, safety concerns, and similar issues must be seen as conditions that we are all exposed to on daily basis. These conditions will not simply go away. We must diligently manage the condition to protect the overall health of the organization.
Changing our vision of these issues from a “problem” to a “condition” can help change the entire picture of what we do. Prevention, self-commitment, awareness, training, and the ability to adapt helps to provide a new perspective of what is needed to be successful in the workplace, just as it can it our personal lives. When you train people to see theft or fraud as a condition rather than as a problem, it helps them take ownership, which leads to further improving prevention and awareness. Changing the vision leads to improved customer service, more efficient management, and better execution.
Remember, problems may go away; but conditions are part of your daily business. Changing the focus of your team will help improve overall performance. This approach takes daily effort, but will provide your team with an opportunity to own the process. The more you dig into the benefits, the more the possibilities of this new focus will come to light.
About the Author
Daniel Rodríguez Cabán is currently a Risk Services Executive with Axcess Financial. He also has 22 years direct experience in loss prevention working for specialty and department store retailers in both single and multi-store environments throughout the Caribbean and southeastern U.S. He also holds an Associate’s Degree in Social Science from Universidad de Puerto Rico. Cabán can be reached by eMail at email@example.com