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The Fine Line Between GSA and GSTL

Joined
Mar 18, 2012
Messages
177
Hi there as some of you may know, I currently am a GSA. When I got offered the job my ETL-GE made it very clear that GSA's are meant to 'step up' and perform as a Team Lead, even though really you are still a team member. I talked to my GSTL and she said that the GSA is pretty much like a GSTL position without coachings and reviews, and TL meetings. She also said on-the-spot coachings are also wanted by a GSA, for simple performance issues; such as time management, cashier speed score, redcards etc.

Anyways, to the point: A relatively new cashier team member was closing the Service Desk, and she had been up there only 4-5 times prior, beyond her training hours. She was continuously needing backups, however I expected this as she is somewhat new. Anyways I realized why, she was not looking up at guests when they were queued. I then gave her a tip, and in my eyes it was just a tip as I used to be a Guest Service team member. I said "I know it can get a bit overwhelming up here but every so often try to look up to see if you have any guests, sometimes you might miss them" in a pretty friendly manner.

Our ETL-GE was closing that evening, and while the GSTM was on break, she had talked to her about this "coaching". I was called into my ETL-GE's office and she had told me that only GSTLs should be the ones coaching and that I should have talked to my GSTL to let her know for the next time they were working together.

Is that true? Because as I understood it, it was just an on-the-spot coach if a coaching at all...more of a friendly tip.

Input please!
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2011
Messages
1,203
according to our ETL-GE and ETL-HR GSA's are not allowed to coach AT ALL. If you have a problem you need to call a TL or LOD asap to address the problem for you.
 

StaticSun

Former Front-End Guru
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
Jun 12, 2011
Messages
2,008
It's a very, very fine line. We should be identifying problems via observing TMs. Approach the TM and mention specific things that you noticed which were either incorrect or not being executed properly. Then, offer some tips to resolve the situation.

Situation: TM has a red speed score.
Observation: TM is bagging things incorrectly.
Action: DON'T start the conversation with "Hey, your speed score is red and that's bad." Instead, say "Hey, xx, I noticed that you're having some trouble with bagging items. Maybe you should try grabbing the larger items off the belt first, etc..." In the end, explain how bagging speed correlates to the transaction speed score.
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2011
Messages
210
It's a very, very fine line. We should be identifying problems via observing TMs. Approach the TM and mention specific things that you noticed which were either incorrect or not being executed properly. Then, offer some tips to resolve the situation.

Situation: TM has a red speed score.
Observation: TM is bagging things incorrectly.
Action: DON'T start the conversation with "Hey, your speed score is red and that's bad." Instead, say "Hey, xx, I noticed that you're having some trouble with bagging items. Maybe you should try grabbing the larger items off the belt first, etc..." In the end, explain how bagging speed correlates to the transaction speed score.
It sounds to me like that was the approach the OP took, and it backfired on them! As a new GSA also, I am extremely hesitant to say anything at all to the team members for this very reason. Unfortunately our GSTL avoids conflict at all costs, including much-needed coachings and final warnings. This really makes for a frustrating situation for the GSA's! I'm quickly finding out we have all of the accountability and none of the power to make changes.:angry:
 

Mr Quickart

Cart Magician turned GSTL
Joined
Jun 15, 2011
Messages
177
To me that would be fine. You phrased it in such a way that I didn't interpret it as a coaching. I know personally going from GSA to GSTL that that is an incredibly fine line. Because of this I will always speak to team members if my GSAs don't feel like it is within their bounds.
 
B

Barcode

Guest
You can't coach, you can "train" ;)

I only pull people aside to talk to them if I feel like I can keep control of the situation and be professional, otherwise I pass it on to a TL or ETL.
 
Joined
Jun 8, 2011
Messages
30,596
It sounds like a coaching to me. Learn from it. Try this with that gstm:
Lead by example, hey I saw the the backup at gs & came to help you out. Then say on radio, lod/Gstl, I am backing up gs. Everytime!
Help the guests with a smile & resolve their refunds/questions. Document any issues with guests & that tm.
Keep on doing this & hopefully your Gstl/lod will notice you are backing up gs alot when this tm works. Also, documenting bad guests issues that lead to a complaint against that tm, your Gstl will ask you about it. You will say, I solved it & this is what happened.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
210
There's are fine lines between coaching, feedback, training and challenging. In my store, we are regularly told to challenge our peers and give and ask for feedback. IMO, I would have said you were challenging the gstm while giving a helpful hint. Nothing more, nothing less. I would think since the tm is very new at GS, they would have asked for feedback; "how can I avoid having to ask for back up so often?" or " hey, do you have any tips that will help me out over here?"
In their defense, she may have been feeling a bit frazzled (I know GS can do that lol) and rather than take a breath and really listen to what you were saying, just jumped to the wrong conclusion. It's been brought up at our huddles that part of the One Voice is listening. Our STL stressed that listening with an open mind and actually hearing what the other person is saying is extremely important. I would gently remind the ETL-GE of that and while you understand and take responsibility that it could have been worded differently, it is also the tm's responsibility to listen.
 

redeye58

Hasta Ba Rista, Baby!
Joined
Jun 9, 2011
Messages
19,661
Sorry, HLM, I disagree.
It's called "giving feedback", something that GSAs are allowed (even encouraged) to do. It's all in the approach.
If the TM were truly going to get coached, you can bet they'd ask her WHY she's not looking up enough to see she has a line (texting?) & their solution wouldn't be delivered so kindly.
 
Joined
Jun 8, 2011
Messages
30,596
Sorry, HLM, I disagree.
It's called "giving feedback", something that GSAs are allowed (even encouraged) to do. It's all in the approach.
If the TM were truly going to get coached, you can bet they'd ask her WHY she's not looking up enough to see she has a line (texting?) & their solution wouldn't be delivered so kindly.
Ok. You win again!
 

Rock Lobster

Executive Team Leader
Joined
Jun 11, 2011
Messages
1,428
First of all that wasn't a coaching, it was a teach and train moment :)

The easiest way I found to tell people about GSAs is to compare it to another position! The GSA is to the front end as the Electronics TM is to hardlines... You are specialized in that area and perform specific tasks, but you are still a TM! You are there to be knowledgeable about your area, help guests, answer questions for TMs about the department in case they arise etc... but you aren't a TL and therefore aren't there to coach or do anything like that! My general rule of thumb to GSAs is to compare it that way... Ignore the title GSA and ask if you were in electronics and a team member was helping you back there, what can you do and what can't you do?
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
135
That wasn't a coaching, that was something that needed to be said. If your ETL doesn't recognize that...smh
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2011
Messages
287
I recognize that its not technically "brand", but i personally empower my TMs to call out/coach other TMs on mistakes. Its a fine line because i dont want the wrong methods being taught, but it works for me. I cant be everywhere, so i rely on my higher quality TMs to lead when im not around.
 

StaticSun

Former Front-End Guru
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
Jun 12, 2011
Messages
2,008
Just make sure you drop keywords such as "suggest" and "tip" and imply that you're giving advice. That seems to hold me over pretty well!
 

ptl

Red shirts in closet: 0
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
328
Simple way to tell if it was a coaching or not: Did you fill out a coaching form for it? If you didn't document it (which you didn't), then it wasn't a coaching. It couldn't be used to support a corrective action. It was, officially speaking, nothing.
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2011
Messages
1,405
Ya def not a coaching. OP was in the same position once, the TM over there is brand new, they were just offering advice to help with backup, nothing more nothing less. If the TM got upset about this Id love to see how they handle other situations
 

buliSBI

Former Team Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2011
Messages
3,409
This is the exactly why the GSA is going to backfire. There is going to be a GSA that is going to genuinely offer a tip/advice, and someone is going to claim it was a coaching; verbal or documented coaching.

The OP was in the right. They were offering advice on improving performance not coaching them on an incident. Trainers and fellow TMs do the same thing when they catch someone doing something not brand or best practice.
 

thee

Walmart CSM
Joined
Sep 4, 2011
Messages
25
I used to think that the GSA was a position similar to the CSM at Walmart, but now I realize that is not quite the case. I would still say that the GSTL is like the Front-End Zone Supervisor, but the CSM is a light-duty GSTL. We are able to do coachings, (not exactly the same as at Walmart: it is a 3 Ss you're out when it comes to formal coachings perhaps this is what you call a corrective action...?) but as a CSM we can pull people into the office and talk to them about how they are not performing correctly. Then after we let the associate go back to work, we fill out an ISIS form (not sure what ISIS stands for, but that is written on the binder) that has four parts: 1) Reason for the ISIS; 2) Actions that lead to the discussion; 3) Impact on business; 4) Strategies for fixing the problem given.) Anyway, once we give one of the ISIS's, if we see it happen again, it is an instant S in the 3 Ss you're out system.

So maybe some of the job duties overlap, but when it comes down to it, we are definitely a Supervisor, and it sounds like a GSA is a super-cashier (depending on how long of a rope the store gives them.) But it seems like the job description does not give the GSA any leader responsibility...?
 
Joined
Oct 14, 2011
Messages
825
I used to think that the GSA was a position similar to the CSM at Walmart, but now I realize that is not quite the case. I would still say that the GSTL is like the Front-End Zone Supervisor, but the CSM is a light-duty GSTL. We are able to do coachings, (not exactly the same as at Walmart: it is a 3 Ss you're out when it comes to formal coachings perhaps this is what you call a corrective action...?) but as a CSM we can pull people into the office and talk to them about how they are not performing correctly. Then after we let the associate go back to work, we fill out an ISIS form (not sure what ISIS stands for, but that is written on the binder) that has four parts: 1) Reason for the ISIS; 2) Actions that lead to the discussion; 3) Impact on business; 4) Strategies for fixing the problem given.) Anyway, once we give one of the ISIS's, if we see it happen again, it is an instant S in the 3 Ss you're out system.

So maybe some of the job duties overlap, but when it comes down to it, we are definitely a Supervisor, and it sounds like a GSA is a super-cashier (depending on how long of a rope the store gives them.) But it seems like the job description does not give the GSA any leader responsibility...?
No, GSA stands for Guest Service Attendant. They are supposed to "help out" at the front lanes - helping both guests and TMs. So if a TM needs change, they get it. If a guest needs a carry out, they either do it or find the cart attendant. Basically they are responsible for tasks it wouldn't make sense for a cashier to do.

The only reason people confuse them for a GSTL (an actual supervisor) is because they do much of the same work.... and honestly, I really don't understand how this confusion happens.

Take a hardlines TL, for example. A hardlines TL does much of the same work a TM does. (zone, work strays, set end caps, help guests, etc) Yet, no one seems to think a hardlines TM is the same as a hardlines TL.

I think the biggest problem with GSA's is that a lot of them try to act like they are a TL. (similar to how sales floor TMs may do this, usually the young 16-18 year olds who get it in their head they are "in charge" for some reason) IMO, a lot of stores don't do anything to stop this behavior.... so when a TM starts to act like a TL, and no actual TL or ETL puts a stop to it, TMs start to think that TM really is a TL.....

Honestly, a GSA would probably be called a "head cashier" at other retailers. (term that is not really used that much anymore, but many years ago at places like Kmart it was) Basically, just a person the other cashiers look to for help.
 
Joined
Jun 8, 2011
Messages
30,596
I used to think that the GSA was a position similar to the CSM at Walmart, but now I realize that is not quite the case. I would still say that the GSTL is like the Front-End Zone Supervisor, but the CSM is a light-duty GSTL. We are able to do coachings, (not exactly the same as at Walmart: it is a 3 Ss you're out when it comes to formal coachings perhaps this is what you call a corrective action...?) but as a CSM we can pull people into the office and talk to them about how they are not performing correctly. Then after we let the associate go back to work, we fill out an ISIS form (not sure what ISIS stands for, but that is written on the binder) that has four parts: 1) Reason for the ISIS; 2) Actions that lead to the discussion; 3) Impact on business; 4) Strategies for fixing the problem given.) Anyway, once we give one of the ISIS's, if we see it happen again, it is an instant S in the 3 Ss you're out system.

So maybe some of the job duties overlap, but when it comes down to it, we are definitely a Supervisor, and it sounds like a GSA is a super-cashier (depending on how long of a rope the store gives them.) But it seems like the job description does not give the GSA any leader responsibility...?
Wow! I think our GSA's need this.
 

redeye58

Hasta Ba Rista, Baby!
Joined
Jun 9, 2011
Messages
19,661
I think the biggest problem with GSA's is that a lot of them try to act like they are a TL. (similar to how sales floor TMs may do this, usually the young 16-18 year olds who get it in their head they are "in charge" for some reason) IMO, a lot of stores don't do anything to stop this behavior.... so when a TM starts to act like a TL, and no actual TL or ETL puts a stop to it, TMs start to think that TM really is a TL.....
Actually, it's the opposite.
Leadership dumps the same duties on GSAs as they do the GSTLs. If a GSA dared to point out that something isn't part of their "core roles", you can bet they'd be yanked & replaced with a "team player". As has been stated before, the ONLY thing they CAN'T do is coachings & reviews because those actions directly involve performance (up to termination) & pay scale.
I'd be curious how many GSAs on here do ONLY what the core roles ACTUALLY dictate.
 

StaticSun

Former Front-End Guru
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
Jun 12, 2011
Messages
2,008
It's difficult, I admit. In a perfect world, a GSTL would always be working. Hypothetically, it would require 3 GSTLs to work 40 hours/week. In addition, the GSA would be scheduled as cashier or photo. They would assist the GSTL and "attend" to the front-lanes. They would cover breaks, get change, do price checks, and backup carts/cafe/sbucks/photo/gs/lanes. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. In the absence of a GSTL on-shift, they are the front-end manager.

Of course it varys from store to store, but my old store had a GSA working 40 hours a week, closing 5 nights a week.
 
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