When more needs to be less

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I sat down with a retail Regional Manager earlier this week, as we embarked on the first of many coaching sessions. 

We began by unpacking her week. I learned that her days all started very early, first checking and responding to emails, then hitting the road for a day jam packed with store visits. After a full day, she then returned home to carry on the job of responding to more emails, preparing for interviews to fill vacancies and reviewing the days’ results.  She explained that every day was basically the same, and felt that she was constantly chasing her tail, with no real opportunity to initiate a change.

No wonder she’s exhausted.

After we had stripped back her week,  I suggested that  it may be time to assess what systems and structures she had in place, which are helping her to plan, prepare and execute great store visits as this are where, as Regional Manager she spends most of her time.  With the right systems it would help her to have meaningful conversations that contribute positively to her results.  It would then allow her to embark on future planning, and be fully prepared for any changes down the track.

Success is not determined by how much time we spend working, but by what we do with our time.

Regional Managers are often completely overwhelmed by their workload, best described as feeling that they are trying to keep all of the plates spinning at once. Throughout my years of experience in retail and as a business coach, feedback such as this is the most consistent I receive, and managers identifying and lamenting that they are in this situation is all too familiar. Feeling exhausted and over worked is common and can also be counter-productive.

Planning and structure is crucial for a Regional Manager to use their time effectively.  If their time is consumed with being re-active, and only looking at what is happening in the present, it’s difficult to deal with the various curve balls that are inevitably tossed in their path. The right system will enable them to work smarter, not harder and will deliver the results necessary to shine.

 

The Regional Manager - Your Retail Knight in Shining Armor

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Recent studies have found an alarming 35% of retail employees feel disengaged with their work.

Yes. 35%.

Over a third of your workforce.

These figures are of great concern as high performing retail staff are the key to elevating sales and repeat business which are both vital for retail growth.

There’s an abundance of competition for retail; online shopping (onshore and overseas), social media, direct marketing the options are continually growing. Retailers have no alternative other than to raise the bar by providing an excellent customer experience to attract consumers back into their stores.

Sounds simple, but how is this achieved when morale is low and expectations are high?

My firm belief is success starts with an effective and influential Regional Manager.  The right Regional Manager will provide a window to your company’s goals and values, set the tone for expectations and lift engagement by driving a smoothly functioning, high performing team. Unfortunately, in many cases, the importance of effective training that reflects the unique and significant role they fulfill is not given enough consideration, with many Regional Managers expected to hit the ground running with little guidance.

I should know. I worked for several Regional Managers, managed many, and most importantly, was one.

Have you ever wondered why some businesses thrive while many more fail to grow at all?

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The economic climate, online competitors, rising costs and a more competitive environment are factors often used as an explanation. Some business owners fall back on the ‘business is tough’ mindset to avoid answering the hard questions.

Many factors that impede business growth are valid, but can also be used to mask the real harsh truths that they’d prefer not to face.

Over the course of my business life, I observed one key factor that stood above all others when explaining business success or failure and that is people.

Bad results are often the result of ‘people challenges’.

Employing the wrong people, not retaining your best performers, or having disengaged, unmotivated staff will have an enormous detrimental effect on a business and its’ growth prospects.

Experience has shown me that investing in your leaders (from a growth and development stand point) is the best way to turn a business around. An improvement in your leadership will have a positive ripple effect on all the people in your business. Outstanding results come from people working in a positive environment while being inspired and empowered by their leaders.

Alison Crabb
Inspiring the Humanity of Business

Case study – Organisational teams are just like families

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I recently worked with a General Manager who was quite frustrated that a core part of her team was disengaged and unmotivated.  She felt that everyone just clocked in did their job and clocked out. She perceived this younger generation was lacking the work ethic required to succeed in today’s climate, and found it extremely frustrating that she couldn’t think of a solution. It was perfect timing to make some changes, as she was about to appoint a new leader to look after this part of the business.

As I began to investigate to gain an understanding of what I could do to help, I asked a question that switched on a light bulb for her;

“How many people do you have in your team? “
She replied, “Twenty”.

Interestingly, as she answered the question, she could immediately identify that this was a problem. I explained to her that teams in business are no different to families. Imagine a single parent trying to keep tabs on 20 children.  It would be difficult to know which children had been bathed, who had done their homework or who had eaten their dinner. In this situation, it would be hard enough to get the basics done, let alone make any improvements to how the household ran.

It is very difficult to meet the needs of your people when there are large structures in place. Most importantly, it is hard to create a sense of belonging and build connection with such a large group. It is a big task for any leader to effectively build strong relationships with twenty individuals and drive great performance.

As we worked together, it was agreed that a structural change was definitely required. We devised a cluster of small teams, each allocated with a leader to work with a smaller group of people and create a much better structure. We took the team from one leader looking after twenty staff, to one leader looking after four leaders who then each looked after four people. In familial terms, we took one very large family and created four smaller ones.

Within 6 months, we observed significant improvements in the level of engagement, higher levels of accountability, better communication, improved retention and ultimately better results. Our strategy allowed individuals to take on more responsibility and develop their own leadership skills resulting in promotions into others roles within the company.

 

Alison Crabb
Inspiring the Humanity of Business

 

Please read below for what the General Manager had to say about her experience with Alison Crabb Consulting:

Alison has been my mentor for the last 18 months since staring my first leadership role.  She has taught me how to think more strategically when forward planning to work on my business. We have worked on projects together such as implementing new and improved team structures, which resulted in great sales results and enhanced productivity.  Being new to leadership, having Alison as a mentor really gave me the confidence to lead, through her helpful tools and techniques. She truly has helped me to be the leader I am today. – AH, General Manager

Developing engagement, ownership and consensus across your team.

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Your people will drive your results.

Most business leaders will attest to that. I’m often told that retaining good people, inspiring them, challenging them, and making them more productive is one of the greatest challenges in business.

There are so many hurdles and barriers that you need to overcome when creating a successful business and usually when you search to find the common denominator, or the key reason, that these issues exist, is almost always related to your people.

I have faced most business challenges in my role over many years, and have always approached them by working from the inside out. This means understanding the human capital first as people, then as employees. It is important to find out what matters to them most, then aiming to create an environment that supports their needs. If this can be achieved, managing people becomes a lot simpler.

Alison Crabb
Inspiring the Humanity of Business