Policies are important. They provide clarity, set expectations for employees and help to create consistency across a distributed workforce. When communicated effectively, they can support a brand’s mission, vision and values. When communicated poorly, policy changes can lower morale and lead to dissent within the stores. Fortunately, both corporate teams and retail leaders can take action to ensure a smooth rollout.

The Frontline Leader Mindset

You set the tone for your store culture and are fiercely protective of it, seeking to boost morale at every opportunity. You know that a policy shift, especially one that might be unpopular, could disrupt the carefully crafted ecosystem you’ve built. You do, however, understand the need for standards and want to ensure your store is representative of the overall brand ethos—and you know that policies help you to accomplish this.

When communicating changes to your team, you want to be able to provide context. Take a dress code policy, for example. Simply communicating the items in the dress code that are changing is not going to be enough to maintain cultural buy-in. You also need to communicate why its changing and how this change ladders up to the overall brand mission.

The Corporate Mindset

You take a global perspective on policy changes, thinking more about the whole rather than the individual parts. This view allows you to make the best decision for the retail channel, but can leave individual store needs by the wayside if they are not deliberately considered. As we’ve mentioned previously, your first concern is consistency across the channel, which often creates a better customer experience.

When communicating change to your retail leaders, you want to ensure that the information is as clear and concise as possible so that everyone can go back to doing what they do best—providing exceptional in-store experiences.

Collaborative Communication

In order to best accomplish the desired outcome on both sides, think through how you can collaborate at each stage of the process:

  • The corporate team should bring in retail leaders when conceptualizing the new dress code policy. While too many cooks can create an unproductive environment, a few key leaders can form a guiding coalition (ala Kotters 8), influencing the other leaders in their cohort. Even if the policy has been largely decided on, allowing retail leaders to give feedback and express concerns in advance of the rollout will go a long way in creating buy-in once it’s finalized.
  • The retail leaders should include the corporate team in the rollout communication whenever possible. When it’s time for the store meeting where you will roll out the new dress code, see if a member of the corporate team can attend. Giving the local retail team a direct line of communication to corporate will allow them to feel included; your corporate team member will also appreciate the connection.
  • Ensure there’s followup on both sides. If retail team members had questions during the policy communication, ensure they receive a follow-up response. If a member of the corporate team attended your meeting, send a thank-you note and outline the impact on the retail team. These tips will create that “one team” mentality that every company desires, but so many lack.There’s always something you can do to increase your Double//Vision.