Celebrating Top Performers In Retail

Top Performers In #Retail

I recently read a blog post by Jon Ingham of the “Strategic HCM Blog” regarding a Harvard Business Review article by Ram Charan that stated “2% of people drive 98% impact”. Here is the link to that blog post: Ram Charan’s 2% of the People Drive 98% Impact

The accuracy of the statistic is definitely questionable but there is no doubt there are certainly those who are top performers and extremely important to the business. In retail this typically means: that they are top contributors to the business levers that their department is measured on; they are skilled at recruiting talent and filling open positions quickly with right fit people; that they’re on-time (or frequently early) with their projects/deliverables; that they are the best representations of the brand and they inspire their team to be strong brand ambassadors; and they easily fulfill their job description/duties and their results exceed expectations in that area; they possess an wide array of core competencies; they are, typically, innovative, solution-oriented, actively share best-practices; and they proactively seek additional responsibility.

Should these top performers be managed differently? My opinion – ABSOLUTELY! These are highly-productive, often self-motivated team members who take a great deal of personal pride in their work ethic and their performance results. They do well because they must do so for themselves – to feel a sense of accomplishment and a high level of job satisfaction. They also tend to get bored easily and need frequent challenge and newness. They often-times can reinvent their approach or style to keep themselves engaged but they need support from the company as well. They need recognition from the company. They should not be measured on the same scale that the average employee is measured on or managed the same.

In my business – here are a few things we do to recognize our strongest, most productive leaders:
-They receive a monthly budget to manage specifically for their team to plan team building events or use for contests or employee incentives
-They manage their schedule completely (if they can get their work done in 30 hours – they work a 30 hour week – typically, these team members put in additional hours but they have the flexibility without having to get approval from leadership for a specific schedule)
-They have lunch with the Director of Stores once a month for a feedback and ideas sharing session
-They cross train in various departments with the Department Heads based on their preferred area(s) of self-development “Passport Program”
-They receive an extra two PTO days for every quarter they exceed their targets
-We have a quarterly party for our top performers that takes place out of the office and they can invite their family or a few friends – nothing is discussed about business it is just a fun event to celebrate their contributions and show our appreciation

This is a candidate’s market and if you aren’t doing something to make your top performers feel special – someone else will. Understanding retailers need to be fiscally responsible and, generally, have a process already in place for pay increases – the above actions have allowed us to show our appreciation (while keeping our expenses relatively low) and the value we place on our top performers,and it helps to keep them highly-engaged.

The pedestrian approach in retail is to manage and focus on the bottom performers and so frequently that is done to the detriment of appreciating and supporting the “A” and “B” players in a company. They are, unfortunately, taken for granted. It is time for a change. It is incredibly interesting how impactful it has been to show that top performers get additional considerations and opportunities and how that has served to motivate the “C” players to improve in their roles. Having an appreciation process in place has elevated performance, retention, productivity, and our profitability. Not only is it important to the business but it is important to people to be valued, appreciated and recognized for their contributions. #NewWayToWork


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | beth@excellencein-retail.com [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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