LP and HRManaging Two Seemingly Divergent Functions

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EDITORS NOTE: Dan Doyle is vice president of loss prevention and human resource administration for Bealls Inc. of Bradenton, Florida. He is not only responsible for LP and HR, but also maintenance and facilities, inventory control, and serves as political action committee administrator, 401K plan trustee, and the company’s ethics officer.

Doyle began his career as a private investigator with Lloyd M. Barber and Associates in Houston, Texas. He moved into retail security and investigations with Lord & Taylor and Marshall Fields before coming to Bealls as director of loss prevention in 1990.

As an active participant in both the loss prevention and human resources industries, Doyle sits on the National Retail Federation loss prevention advisory council, Florida Retail Federation board of directors, ASIS International retail council, and Loss Prevention magazine editorial board. He is a frequent speaker at national conferences and has appeared several times on network television programs, including ABCs 20/20, discussing employee theft and retail crime trends.

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Doyle holds numerous professional certifications, including certified protection professional (CPP), certified fraud examiner (CFE), and certified forensic interviewer (CFI).

EDITOR: As someone who is responsible for both loss prevention and human resources, how do you make that marriage work?

DOYLE: The short answer is that both of these disciplines deal with people issues. I have found that there are real synergies between the two organizations that allow the two disciplines to work really well with each other. When you see a lot of push and pull between these two departments, the issue is usually about control. The way we are set up, there is no battle for control.

One example of how this partnership works well, take discrimination, EEOC, or sexual harassment investigations. Historically, investigations on these type issues are done by human resource or operational people who do not have investigative backgrounds. They might ask questions like, Joe, did you do this? And Joe says, Of course not. You know that Im not that kind of a guy, which they might take at face value. The result would be an inconclusive determination with no resolution of the issue.

The people that I have seen over my career that have been good LP executives or good HR executives have the ability to be strong on one hand, but compassionate on the other. You cantlet people confuse kindness for weakness.

On the other hand, when we send trained LP investigators to do these investigations for the HR group, we find that we resolve the issues by either getting an admission or developing other information. This is a natural area where the marriage works wonderfully.

Diversity is another area where HR and LP have integrated well. We have been able to develop a very diverse workforce within these organizations, and they serve as examples of the practical and business benefits of diversity for the rest of the company.

EDITOR: Is it difficult for you to manage both areas?

DOYLE: Not really. What it all boils down to is leadership and basic management. Coming from the LP side, my challenge was learning the technical aspects of human resources. But like most organizations, I have technical experts a trainer, a benefits director, an HR director who handle many of the technical aspects. So what I try to focus on is the leadership of the organizations and letting the people do what they are good at.

EDITOR: It is not common in retail for one person to manage both areas. Whose idea was it to put these two functions under one person?

DOYLE: It was essentially mine. Bealls historically has not had a large formalized HR department. As is my nature, I took it upon myself to get involved in some of the traditional HR-related issues, like the investigations example I mentioned. Back in 1996 or 97 I told our president, Steve Knopik, that as the HR department grew, I felt like I could manage part or all of it. Coincidentally, that year the NRF conference in Kansas City had both the LP and HR groups together for, I believe, one of the only times. Steve was interested in getting the HR function going, so he went to the convention. In the airport on the way back, he said to me, You can do this HR function I bet, cant you? I said I thought I could. It was six weeks after that I was promoted. So, it was partly my suggestion, but it was his attending the conference that solidified the position. I would also note that, although not common, there are a couple other companies that have or are trying a similar arrangement with LP and HR.

EDITOR: Do you have separate directors of LP and HR reporting to you?

DOYLE: I have three LP directors, one HR director, a benefits director, an inventory control person, and a maintenance and facilities person.

EDITOR: How is HR management handled in the field?

DOYLE: The day-to-day operations are handled by store operations. At HR corporate we are in more of a leadership or strategic role, designing corporate plans and policy and procedure for example. I look at the HR department as more of a compliance-oriented department, but in reality we do act in an advisory capacity regularly with the store groups. The truth is I have heavier resources on the LP side than I do on the HR side right now, and thats by design.

EDITOR: For those readers who are not familiar with Bealls [pronounced Bells], talk a little about the company.

DOYLE: It would probably surprise people to know that Bealls has been in business since 1915. It started right here in Bradenton with a store called The Dollar Limit. After about ten to fifteen years in business, they changed the name to The Five Dollar Limit. In comparison to a lot of retailers, they grew slowly. They didn’t have a second store until the 1950s.

As shopping centers began to grow in Florida, our original chairman partnered with the Eckerds and the Jenkins family from Publix and helped develop some of the shopping centers around the state. So, we ended up with our department stores in a lot of those centers. At that point in time, we were a retailer that catered to the snowbird, retiree customer.

It was very slow, conservative growth in the 50s and 60s. The company was known for its fiscal responsibility. Our chairmans philosophy was we are not growing past what we have the ability to pay for in cash. That fiscal responsibility has carried along over the years and is probably the reason that were still around.

While the department stores continued to grow and evolve, in the middle eighties, our chairman at the time…who is the current chairmans father…became intrigued with the off-price outlet concept. In 1987, we kicked off our first Bealls Outlet store. Now we have 442 outlet stores in thirteen states.

EDITOR:Mostly in the southeast?

DOYLE: No, actually from Florida to California and up to the Carolinas.

EDITOR: And how many department stores?

DOYLE: Theres an additional 84 department stores all in the state of Florida. The department stores are more of a full-line, customer service-oriented department store. We have some unique services for our industry. For example, we have free gift wrap and, during the holidays, we have free mailing. Thats another tie-in to the snowbirds, because they are all sending packages back up north, so they come in and get their purchases gift-wrapped and mailed for free.

EDITOR: Speaking of snowbird, you, in fact, were a snowbird, residing in Chicago and working for Marshall Fields. What attracted you about coming to Bealls to head up the loss prevention department?

DOYLE: Other than the obvious reasons why somebody would want to go from Chicago to Florida, the impetus was that Dayton Hudson bought out Marshall Fields. I was one of the casualties of that corporate acquisition. In looking for new opportunities, I was lucky enough to find a privately-held company in a great geography that was looking to essentially start a loss prevention department. I think that anybody in our industry would jump at the chance to come into a company, start your own program, write your own manuals, have it be your baby. I was certainly lucky enough to do that, and have been here for fourteen years.

EDITOR: Originally, when you left the University of Wisconsin with a degree in sociology, how did you make the leap into retail loss prevention?

DOYLE: It was my goal coming out of college to work for federal law enforcement. I was either going to go to law school or try to get into the FBI or Secret Service. However, I went to work for a high-end private investigation firm in Houston whose owner was an ex-FBI agent with a pretty colorful history. He actually talked me out of pursuing the FBI. He told me that government service was not all it was cracked up to be and thought I would do much better in the private sector.

While I was at that firm, I did an undercover job for Lord & Taylor working in the mens department. That was my first exposure to retail loss prevention. I apparently did a fairly good job for them because they offered me a security manager job in another store after the undercover job was over.

EDITOR: Getting back to your collective responsibility for LP and HR, how have your views on human resources and loss prevention changed?

DOYLE: I used to do this test when I first came to Bealls. We used to have an annual meeting with our entire field loss prevention staff…all of the agents, everybody. Several years in a row, I started the meeting by asking everybody to take out a piece of paper and write down what business they were in. Usually about 75 percent would say they were in the security or the loss prevention business. Of course, I would tell them that, no, we were in the retail business and that the business did not revolve around LP. We were a partner or spoke in the wheel and all of the partners needed to work together to make the business run successfully. If they thought that they were going to get their store managers to run the business based upon loss prevention needs, it wouldnt work. We needed to evolve and work to do what they needed us to do in order to protect the merchandise.

I think the message for HR is really the same thing. Were not in the human resources business. Were in the retail business. Its all about making a profit for the company and what we need to do to make the business more efficient, to be more competitive with better benefits to recruit and retain better people, to provide the best kind of training. In employee relations, its to respond to complaints and handle them before they get to an EEOC or law suit situation.

When I fill out my tax return and write down what my occupation is, I dont put down that Im a human resource executive or a loss prevention executive. I put down Im a retail executive.

EDITOR: What other lessons have you learned?

DOYLE: I think all of us in the industry, regardless of which field were in, need to focus on taking a future look at whats going to happen as the business evolves and try to prepare for it, particularly in a company thats growing. You cant foresee all of the changes, but it certainly helps to sit and ponder what we are going to be doing three or five years from now? What programs are we going to need? How many people are we going to need to do it? Of course, you always change and tweak those plans, but you cant just do business day by day.

EDITOR: Are there any traditional loss prevention training methods or seminars that you’ve given your HR people?

DOYLE: Our HR people have participated in some of the Wicklander-Zulawski interview seminars. We have also had the LP people participate in some of the HR training on topics like sexual harassment, discrimination, and diversity.

EDITOR: In most retail companies, HR and LP will occasionally butt heads over particular issues. Are you often put in a referee position?

DOYLE: From time to time well have LP saying, This is what we need to do, and HR saying, No, we need to do this. And, yes, I become the arbitrator in that case. We almost always go back to the interested parties on both sides, whether it is operations or whatever, and we ask for their opinion of the situation and let them weigh in. Then we take the weight of the evidence, make the decision, and move on. While the decision may not necessarily please everybody, I think I do a pretty good job of weighing the facts on both sides.

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Going back to the original decision to put both functions under my leadership, our chairman told me, This is an unorthodox marriage, but I feel comfortable in letting you do it because I believe you have a very level approach that is even and fair. What I understood from that conversation was that as an LP guy, I followed the rules, was strict, and had good loss control function, but I didnt go cops-and-robbers crazy. They believed that I could handle those situations where HR is involved and say, For the good of the company, this is the decision were going to make. That I wasnt going to let the LP hat overrule everything. The human dynamic is often a big challenge in leadership, and you need to balance this with the business demand of the situation.

EDITOR: As a member of the executive committee, how do you challenge executives to partner internally?

DOYLE: By communicating well the program that I am trying to promote, the needs to do it, and the ROI for the company. Our company happens to be one that has great executive committee leadership and works hard to get meaningful things accomplished. We dont do anything emotionally. There may be a lot of rhetoric on a program or a position, but when it comes right down to it, you have to sell it by how its going to help the business.

EDITOR: If you look at the biggest component of shrinkage, employee theft, how do you balance the HR initiatives with loss prevention initiatives?

DOYLE: This is one area where theres certainly a good marriage of HR and LP. First of all, our offices are all in the same area, so theres a lot of daily interaction between the two groups. Take background checks, for instance. In some companies, its an LP function, but in other companies, its anHR function. Because were one department, part of the pre-employment screening happens in HR and part in LP. Both functions are focused on the process as an integral part of protecting the assets because we want to hire the best, the most honest candidates for our staff.

EDITOR: What other things have contributed to your shrinkage control?

DOYLE: One of the things that has helped greatly is taking over the inventory control function and having the combined resources of inventory control along with LP focused on the whole inventory process. Weve gotten the inventory control staff to start looking at things from a loss prevention point of view. What are the weak points? Wheres the merchandise going? Lets audit and find those weak points and close them all the way through the supply chain.

On the other hand, the inventory control department has garnered the support of the LP staff, and now all of the LP staff works as auditors for the inventories. The inventory control people have conducted several training classes and have essentially gotten them their own auditing manual to go out and audit the inventories. The LP people have become pseudo inventory control people.

EDITOR: Have you been able to maximize technology in your marrying the two worlds of HR and LP?

DOYLE: We absolutely have. For example, in about sixty percent of our outlet stores, we now have remote video and digital monitoring. When our HR staff has a situation, almost the first thing they do now is ask LP if we have video of it. I dont think in most companies thats the first place that HR is going to go.

We are also creating an on-line service that is going to electronically complete our pre-employment screening, our application process, all of our new-hire paper processes, and create an electronic employee file. All of that will automatically incorporate the drug test, the background screening, and our targeted tax credits program. It really has been a collaboration effort between LP, HR, and IT. Its about a three-year project,and were just into the first year of it.

EDITOR: You are a wonderful example for retail loss prevention executives of an individual who has expanded and broadened his role as a retailer. What would you say about how to go about doing that to those who are interested in broadening their responsibilities?

DOYLE: Thank you. I would encourage anybody to not only take any opportunity that you are given, but to go out and proactively solicit opportunities from your management. Point out that you believe you have the ability to do more than just what youre doing and if given the opportunity you can be a leader and provide more value to the company. More often than not, you will find that youll be able to do the job.

I can certainly tell you that there were days when I first took over the HR responsibility that it was very clear to me that I needed to go to school on some things. I did, and Im still learning. However, if youre a good manager, I think you can manage any function.

I would encourage everybody, number one, to take advantage of any opportunity that will help you learn more about your business, whether it is HR-related, labor law-related, IT-related, finance-related, whatever. Its ultimately going to help you in the long run.

EDITOR: What is it that HR and/or LP need to do to better understand and work with each other in a retail environment?

DOYLE: I dont know that its any different for HR and LP than it is for HR and IT or IT and HR or Finance and LP. I think they all have to recognize their common goals, objectives, and what their mission is as a company, and try to do whatever they can to support each other. Its as simple as that.

EDITOR: Theres a wide perception that HR personalities are warm-and-fuzzy types and LP personalities tend to be a more straightforward, hard-nosed kinds of personalities. Do you agree with those stereotypes?

DOYLE: Well, I can tell you that every time I do a presentation on benefits, our chairman tells me that Im getting squishy [laughter]. I think that like many stereotypes, youre going to find some shred of truth to the stereotype. But, in general, to succeed I believe everyone needs both of those characteristics to react appropriately depending upon the issue that comes up. For example, where ethics violations are concerned, I can be pretty hard-nosed about how we should handle it. But, on the other hand, I think that where an employee whos having personal troubles needs some help, I can be pretty compassionate. The people that I have seen over my career that have been good LP executives or good HR executives have the ability to be strong on one hand, but compassionate on the other. You cant let people confuse kindness for weakness.

EDITOR: How has the senior management and ownership of Bealls supported the programs that you have initiated?

DOYLE: I go to conferences and often hear the tales of woe of other HR or LP executives about funding or lack of management support for their programs. I have been extremely fortunate to have that support. When we have gone to them and explained a current industry practice or something new that we see coming in the future, how much its going to cost, and what the benefits are, weve never been turned down for an emotional reason. I must say our upper management has been extremely supportive, particularly in the area of LP. When our chairman goes out and visits stores, he always asks about the LP coverage. Do you need more? Are you getting the help you need? Do you need extra equipment? My success here is due in large part to their support.

At the same time, I certainly could not manage the things I do if I did not have the support of my direct reports. The LP directors, my HR director and, of course, all of the field staff. All of those people are given a lot of autonomy, and I rely very heavily on them to get the job done and then I take credit for it [laughter].

EDITOR: Who are some of the people that have been an influence on your career?

DOYLE: I had a couple of mentors along the way that taught me some nuggets of wisdom that have definitely stayed with me. No question, Lew Shealy is certainly one of those [former VP of loss prevention for several retailers]. I still have his paperweight sitting on my desk that says, Does it stand inspection? Another thing he used to always say that runs through my head to this day is, Dont go in without doing your homework.

In addition, the person I worked for at that first investigation firm, Lloyd Barber, taught me an awful lot about human behavior. He was always a gentleman. He taught me a lot about manners and how to act in a boardroom situation.

EDITOR: Finally, would you recommend HR executives read LossPrevention magazine?

DOYLE: Absolutely. It certainly would give them a much wider breadth of knowledge about whats going on in the LP industry as a whole, and more than likely within their own organization. Plus, it can help them speak the lingo. Thats one of the problems that interdepartmental relations have often times we just dont speak each others language.

EDITOR: From the reverse, are there things that LossPrevention magazine ought to be doing for our LP audience that is more HR-oriented?

DOYLE: Yes. I think LP people sometimes misunderstand why HR makes a particular decision. For example, the classic one is, Were not going to terminate this person. The LP reaction might be, Youre just doing that because you guys are a bunch of softies. But the truth of the matter may be that there are labor law-related reasons, business-related reasons, or they have made some type of complaint against their manager, that the HR person doesnt necessarily want or can share. HR often makes decisions based upon factors that either arent explained to the LP person or that the field LP person may not fully understand because they dont have the knowledge about how something like ADA or workers compensation laws work. Articles or any additional training on those types of subjects would be beneficial to LP professionals.

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