Key Focus Items 2016


#Retail Leadership: Key Focus Items 2016

I have said it before and I will say it again – there is so much amazing information at our fingertips that it is totally criminal if we don’t put a plan into place to focus on topics that can improve, support, and boost growth of our team members and a continued healthy and happy workplace culture.

Recently, there was a great article posted on TLNT written by Cynthia A. Hedricks on, The 8 Things That References Say Candidates Need To Improve On. Here are the highlights:

-Being more sociable
-Asking for help
-Showing patience with others
-Better team orientation
-Listening carefully
-Being open to the ideas and opinions of others
-Sharing information with others
-Building relationships with others

Interestingly, five of these improvements (being more sociable, better team orientation, being open to the ideas and opinion of others, sharing information, sharing information with others, and building relationships with others) can all be addressed by a retail organization fostering a culture of strong, respectful, and dynamic workplace relationships (starting at the candidate experience and onboarding phase) and a genuine peer-to-peer recognition program, built around the Company Values & Vision, that is promoted by the company’s executive leadership team and actively encouraged by all company leaders. Also…the “asking for help” opportunity I believe will come when you’ve built a safe and supportive culture for your employees. They will feel comfortable soliciting help from others…that will be an inherent result of the culture.

Our workplaces are becoming more automated and much less personal. We send emails to people who sit 15ft. from us instead of getting up and have a conversation or any dialogue with people. We get to work at 8am and leave at 5pm. In my Productivity in #Retail post I covered how employees spend the majority of their day. Here were those key points:

-Checking Social Media: 44 minutes of the day
-Reading News Websites: 65 minutes of the day
-Discussing Non-Work Activities with Colleagues: 40 minutes of the day
-Making Hot Drinks: 17 minutes of the day
-Smoking Breaks: 23 minutes of the day
-Texting and IM’ing: 14 minutes of the day
-Snacking: 8 minutes of the day
-Preparing Food: 7 minutes of the day
-Calling Friends/Family: 18 minutes of the day
-Searching For A New Job: 26 minutes of the day

…and we also know that employees in the US spend an average of 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict at work, another time waster.

Imagine if we even made the 17 minute “making hot drinks” time frame a mixer for the team where everyone would join together in the break room and talked with each other – out of offices and cubicles and face-to-face with co-workers, once or twice a week. Clearly, we have the time available. Having some time built in there to recognize team work and results. Hitting five of the eight improvements by ensuring that relationships were being built and people felt connected to each other. Once that happens, sharing of information, elevated team work, and relationships can organically grow and improve.

I have covered the topic of “listening” in my post, #Retail Competency: Listening, it is definitely a skill to focus on improving in our team members (and I have that on my list as well to keep focusing on next year). This will also, if built into the coaching program, tackle the improvement opportunity of “being open to the ideas and opinion of others”. In order to be amenable to the suggestions of others we have to be great listeners. Also being a great business partner will help build genuine and considerate work relationships.

Understanding that these are the biggest opportunity areas that candidates and, ultimately, new hires have, I am going to work on asking some questions around these topics during the interview process. It will be a worthy challenge to determine the best way to introduce and a have a dialogue around these specific areas of opportunity as another way to gauge fit for the job and the culture.

I have never seen a “Top List” of these opportunity areas and though I have heard many of them from references, I never thought about the consistent nature of the improvement area feedback/topics I received. The article was absolutely an eye-opener and definitely worth sharing. Our retail industry is evolving and reinventing itself daily and the more we know – the better prepared we can be to find the right people and process combinations to keep up with the changes and drive results needed for a retail organization to be wildly successful.



Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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