This essay attempts to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Spencer model of staff development as it pertains to my work environment in the retail jewelry business. In other words, by understanding the fundamentals of staff development and the Spencer model and principles, I will attempt to correlate any associated relevance to my department. Staff development in the retail industry entails many areas; however, even though the jewelry business is basically the same sales process as compared to a clothing or shoe retail outlet in many respects, this industry also requires even more focused staff development because of the end product, the level and sophistication of the consumer as well as the extra security and integrity requirements. Jewelry retail is more a 'One-on-One Consultancy' process where sales staffs are appointed to work as one-on-one consumer-focused services. This means that that under training or inexperience could and does adversely affect the overall sales process. This area is highly specialized and therefore requires a minimum of staff development in all of the following areas: staff and store presentation, customer service standards, business planning, goal setting, in-store promotions, advertising, operations, systems, rosters and staff selection -- training- on-going coaching, incentive and closing sales techniques, budgeting and of course staff accountability. Thus, training and/or staff development is the essence and foundation of individual and overall organizational success.
Before focusing on development and the Spencer methodology, it is best to understand the jewelry retail industry. The industry is a work-based as well as self-paced learning environment. Successful individuals learn directly from the work and sales they do so one aspect of staff development is internal motivation. Without this inherent desire for self-improvement and an ability to take responsibility for one's own learning, it is very difficult to excel. The initial hiring and recruitment process must take these attributes into consideration. The competency-based individual trainee for example must demonstrate the appropriate skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes in relation to tasks at hand and must be able to perform to those standards that have been established through centuries of trial and error in the industry.
The industry has many written and unwritten rules or competency standards that clearly establish proficiencies required for effective workplace performance. These also are used as ongoing staff development benchmarks for training, assessment and quality control. Having the label of being competent means that an employee can learn and retain the necessary knowledge and also that they can understand how that knowledge fits into the big picture of the organization. The industry competency-based criteria are more than an assessment because they distinguish what each individual must learn at their own pace as well as what must be provided through staff development programs.
A major area in the jewelry industry that requires constant vigilance is the customer service training area. The objective of this staff development training area is to clearly identify the before mentioned written and unwritten industry and company customer service codes of conduct. Every employee must fully understand the rules and therefore able to communicate these to peers, staff and at times even customers. This standard in the industry helps to identify potential problems and to establish non-negotiable standards so that the customer service outcomes strategy goes well beyond the expectations of each customer. We are constantly receiving coaching, seminars, weekly workshops and other ongoing in-store and external measurements and evaluations. This area is by far the most important aspect of our staff development concerns and reaches all levels of the staff from part-timers, to the owners and managers.
One would think that sales training would come in a close second but they would be wrong. The reason for this is because of the inherent security problems that come along with our end products. Security and theft are the second most important aspects of the industry. The main objective of this area of staff development focuses on the basics of the knowledge and skills required to maintain a secure workplace. These include but are not limited to the primary areas of the elimination of financial and economic loss caused by fraud, store layout and site lines, surveillance, auditing and stocktaking procedures, credit card fraud, shrinkage reduction methods, how to handle hold ups, break-ins, hostage situations and more such as the obvious threat of armed intrusions. We are in many ways more vulnerable than banks because we are not storing our merchandise in a vault or some other hidden medium in the same way as banks do and their cash reserves are rarely in plain view. The same cannot be said for the retail jewelry industry.
Another related area in the industry that is often taken for granted and therefore overlooked is the need for very high levels of social and economic ethics. Our industry specs a great deal of time and effort in the staff development area because we require higher levels of ethics than most other types of businesses. No matter if they are large or small; jewelers have a great responsibility to the community because we hold a level of expertise in an area that is highly regarded by society. For centuries, the industry has had to ensure that their profit-making activities and methodologies remained on the bounds of fair practice and ethical trade. Our industry must learn for example from revelations emanating from the likes of the recent Enron debacle with Arthur Anderson.
We have a moral, legal and ethical obligation to establish industry standards that reflect and codify society's values. Staff development is a major part of the roles that the law and ethics play in a typical business transaction within the jewelry industry. This training and development must help each individual define ethics and our role in society, business and industry. It must provide insights into the importance of ethics in the jewelry industry as it pertains to the Federal Trade Commission regulations and also clear the roles of deceptive advertising practices often being used by unethical competitors.
We also are in need of constant staff development in the areas where the industry professes expertise such as repairs, stone setting and understanding the precious metals industry. Consider that the repair industry is a multi-billion dollar global industry that requires a thorough understanding of the customer's specifications with common requests like sizing rings, repairing chains, replacing earring posts, or resetting stones. These could mean hundreds of dollars or millions of dollars per action. For example, practices such as retipping or repronging may mean a small commission or huge one and many ethical and professional expectations must be adhered to. Also, staff development entails providing each consultant with a thorough working knowledge of gemstones and choosing proper gemstone for the right piece of jewelry. And just as crucial, staff development entails teaching the karatage of gold and the fineness of silver and platinum because minor miscalculations in this area could cost the business or the consumer a great deal of money.
Spencer divides his development process into ten specific steps and each falls under one of two different categories that he believed would assist an HR department in finding and focusing in on those skills. This line of reasoning entailed that by prioritizing the steps that it would help transform them. When I evaluated those ten steps, I think it would be wise to separate the two categories into a third level. He chose to separate them into action steps and attitudinal steps where in the group of action steps they could be further divided into Action V maintenance and monitoring and Action V proactive development.
Action steps maintenance and monitoring
Recruitment logically is the first step in the HR task list and this step does not fully concur with a majority of the research in the field. Spencer insisted that an organization should take on the identity of the people that are hired and therefore finding the right people for the right position was the most important aspect of recruitment. Of course, while this may be true that individuals are often hired because they hold some specific of certain type of skill set or building block, they rarely if ever hold all of the essential skills needed by and for their new position. Spencer even went on to point out that new people required new skill and remediation to learn their new employer's way of doing business, regardless of prior experiences. In the retail jewelry industry this may or may not hold true. Because the industry has done its best for example to standardize the industry code of ethics for example, experiences gained in one location may actually be enough to carry over to a new location with in the industry.
The purpose of the HR department should be to find the right person for the right position. However, this responsibility is not the end of only area the HR developmental process has a responsibility to fulfill. An HR department must also stay connected to…