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Jewelry Store Owners Explain How They Handle Employees Who Resist Change

Many use graduated steps to encourage their involvement.





How do you deal with employees who have been loyal for years but are resisting important changes that you’re trying to implement?

  • This has been a major issue here. I have not found a suitable solution. We are a small staff and are like family. A lot of the time, I have to gradually work the change in myself and eventually show the benefit. By that time, the change has been made without the staff noticing or resisting the change. — Eric Stevens, Stevens Diamond Jewelers, West Springfield, MA
  • I try to make them still feel important and make the change “their idea” too. — Stephenie Bjorkman, Sami Fine Jewelry, Fountain Hills, AZ
  • They must accept or get written up with possible termination or job position change. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” – Spock. — Dorothy Vodicka, The Gem Collection, Tallahassee, FL
  • Get other employees to buy in, and the others will slowly come around when they see things working out. — Zdena Jiroutova, Z Folio Gallery, Solvang, CA
  • I increase their training to make sure they comply with the changes, and if they don’t, then I move them to a different position that better suits their abilities. — Dianna Rae High, Dianna Rae Jewelry, Lafayette, LA
  • Persistent gentle reminders. — Russell Criswell, Vulcan’s Forge, Kansas City, MO
  • Reminding them that they should never fear change, and that they have more than enough confidence to learn something new! I have an amazing team! — Kelli Reinbold, Vernon Jewelers, Salina, KS
  • Improvise, adapt and overcome is our motto. — James Adair, Adair Jewelers, Missoula, MT
  • Always tough, but when it comes down to it, I am the boss, I will win! — Rosanne Kroen, Rosanne’s Diamonds & Gold, South Bend, IN
  • I think store leaders have to change, employees will follow. When new procedures come into play, one person teaches, others learn, then we all help with the changeover. Updates on POS, new credit card procedures, correct take-in protocol, all need to be implemented and followed up. Resistant to change — our industry is ever-evolving — you need to find another line of work! — Denise Oros, Linnea Jewelers, La Grange, IL
  • Change is hard and it’s coming so fast that it is difficult to keep up. Lots of patience, reinforcement and a shared outcome generally works. — Jon Walp, Long Jewelers, Virginia Beach, VA
  • It’s tough. You know what needs to happen. If an employee hinders necessary changes that need to be made, maybe they need to find somewhere else to work or be willing to take some of the financial risks themselves. — Laurie Langdon-Gerber, Elisa Ilana Jewelry, Omaha, NE
  • We explain the benefits of the change and listen to their resistance. After we consider and address their concerns, we then implement the change. — Allison Leitzel-Williams, Leitzel’s Jewelry, Myerstown, PA
  • Hmm … never easy, but I think it’s important to never allow the current staff to become complacent or to not be open to the ever-changing world that surrounds us. — Brenda Newman, The Jewelry Source, El Segundo, CA
  • Our oldest sales lady said, “I will not sell lab-grown diamonds.” The next day, a lady her own age came in and said, “I want to look at the lab-grown diamonds.” She purchased a $4,000 ring and the old sales lady says, “I love lab-grown!” LOL. We push and push, then no change. I beat them with a stick … — Alan Perry, Perry’s Emporium, Wilmington, NC
  • Sometimes it is a battle. But, I will work with them for a couple of weeks to implement the changes, and if that doesn’t work, I use this line: “I still sign the paychecks.” Funny how that works. — Patty Wedemeier, Elegant Jewelers, Sugar Land, TX
  • We don’t have unwilling employees. We do have employees, like every one of us, that are challenged in changing their behavior. Here’s how we tackle that: I give staff the new procedure in a meeting and put the written version up on our bulletin board. At a second meeting, I review it by asking them to tell me the procedure. When an employee misses the procedure, I review it individually with them. If it is still a challenge to some of the staff, we create a contest to reinforce the new behavior. — Debbie Fox, Fox Fine Jewelry, Ventura, CA
  • It’s very difficult. We need to try new approaches. If it fails, I’ll change it; if it works, fantastic. I work with a group that is not supportive of brainstorming, which I feel is very important. Sometimes, I just give up if I feel that with no support it will never work. Unfortunately. — Christine Matlack, E.G. Landis Jewelers, Boyertown, PA
  • Unfortunately, we slowly weed them out. Too much has changed in the jewelry retail landscape to resist change and be left behind! — David Lindsay, Purdy’s Jewellery & Gems, Bobcaygeon, ON
  • Drop-kick them down the stairs. — Mark Neumann, Ross Designs, Highland Park, IL
  • Byeeeee, I have no time for resistance. We don’t have room for anyone who can’t roll with our ever-evolving industry and business. We recently had to dismiss a 13-year employee who couldn’t keep up; it was the hardest yet best decision we had to make thus far. — Julie Terwilliger, Wexford Jewelers, Cadillac, MI
  • Ask them to go with the flow, wait and see results. — Lisa McConnell, Lisa McConnell Design Studio, Fort Worth, TX
  • I always play follow the leader. I am the leader, and if the employees see me doing the changed procedure and it is working, they follow right along. — Donald Killelea, Killelea Jewelers, Midlothian, IL
  • After the second reminder, I become more stern and tell them it is not a suggestion. — Bob Richards, Bob Richards Jewelers, Germantown, TN
  • Cat o’ nine tails! — Chuck Kuba, Iowa Diamond, Des Moines, IA
  • Try to get to the root of the objection. Use similar techniques as closing a sale. Use team selling and turnover. Reinforce their status and importance. Stress the benefit to them and the importance to the business. — James Gattas, James Gattas Jewelers, Memphis, TN
  • This is a HUGE challenge and one we are dealing with right now. My husband and I recently bought the business, and existing employees are not always on board for the different ways we would like to run our store/shop/company. We are trying to be inclusive and make them feel like their opinions are welcome and matter but still developing boundaries. — Jennifer Hornik Johnson, Miller’s Jewelry, Bozeman, MT
  • I deal with it by not having employees. — Daniel Spirer, Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, Cambridge, MA
  • Blissfully, I am down to one employee and my business partner, but neither like the thought of change, so I don’t tell them. I implement, and then the hard part is over. — Jo Goralski, The Jewelry Mechanic, Oconomowoc, WI
  • We had a 11-year employee who resisted all changes. Our sales were plateaued and we were looking for a better way. When we fired her, it allowed us to implement the changes we wanted and propelled us into the next growth phase. — John Przeclawski, Monarch Jewelry, Winter Park, FL

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.



Moving Up — Not Out — with Wilkerson

Trish Parks has always wanted to be in the jewelry business and that passion has fueled her success. The original Corinth Jewelers opened in the Mississippi town of the same name in 2007. This year, Parks moved her business from its original strip mall location to a 10,000-square foot standalone store. To make room for fresh, new merchandise, she asked Wilkerson to organize a moving sale. “What I remember most about the sale is the outpouring excitement and appreciation from our customers,” says Parks. Would she recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers? “I would recommend Wilkerson because they came in, did what they were supposed to and made us all comfortable. And we met our goals.”

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