“Human Leadership” In Retail

Human Leadership In Retail

I am a strong believer in investing in employees. Investing in training & development. Investing in recognition tools that make people [especially top performers/contributors] feel valued and appreciated. Investing in career path planning that is aligned with the company objectives and ensuring that we have the right people in the right places and ensuring that they have the tools and resources to deliver amazing results. I have always aspired to be an accessible and involved business partner to my team members. As a retail leader, I have always felt my job is 90% how my team feels, how I support them, and guide them to find their success.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 11.49.50 AM

Recently, I read an article from the amazing and always brilliant Tim Sackett. Tim Sackett is someone that I greatly admire and, almost daily, I visit his website as it is always filled with amazing content that is helpful and exceptionally well written. He also is very passionate in his presentation of HR practices and processes that are clearly important to him and his passion and delivery is contagious. In this article, “5 Ways to Create a More WorkHuman Workplace!”, Mr. Sackett provides direction and guidance on how to support a culture that is committed to employee engagement – not a goofy, surface concept so your organization can add that to their career page as a benefit [but fail to deliver on it] but one that actually culminates in a living and breathing culture that equates to a truly great and authentic place to work. A place that is conducive to growth, opportunity, innovation, respect, supporting a great customer experience, and genuine brand advocacy.  Here are his thoughts:

5 Ideas On How You Can Create A More ‘WorkHuman’ Workplace

1. Hire ‘glass half-full’ people.  You can’t teach optimism. You can’t create it. People either have it when you hire them or they don’t. High optimism also won’t guarantee you a great employee. What it will guarantee you is someone who will continue to work to get better. People are drawn to that. Hire talented people, and make sure they share your organization’s optimism!

My thoughts: All businesses should consistently share their short and long-term goals and objectives with the entire organization. Those objective need to consistently tie in with the Mission Statement and Company Values to drive a culture that is aligned with it’s guiding principles. Retail leadership needs to always model optimism and a fundamental practice that, through partnership and collaboration, we overcome obstacles and develop innovative solutions that support the health of our company.

2. Hire people who love to recognize others. Creating a culture of recognition isn’t just about giving them the tools and resources to recognize others. That will help, but you also need people who do this naturally, given no tools or resources. This is one you can also pick out fairly easy with some well-planned interview questions.

My thoughts: A formal peer-to-peer recognition program increases visibility for employee achievements (both individual & collective), it connects employees across locations, and it supports a collaborative work environment. According to TINYpulse, “54% of Millenials wish they had a way to recognize peers for a job well done”. It is a tool when provided, and use is encouraged, is valuable to the workplace culture. According to a Bersin by Deloittle study, “Customer Service is 14% better in companies where recognition is built into the culture“. The Aberdeen Group found that “Best In Class companies are 41% more likely than all others to empower employees to recognize each other for great work.” It’s a powerful program.

3. Get your Leaders to be human!  Normal human, not themselves! This is an easy and cheap way to create a better employee experience. Ensure your leaders get out and talk with your employees, and not the employees they usually talk with. Actually, get them out to meet and learn who your employees really are, personally. Employees love working for companies where they feel the leader actually knows them.

My thoughts: As retail leaders our employees expect us to deliver support, inspiration, motivation, empathy, and involvement in their careers and their career path. It is our job to provide career collateral and understand the individual contributions made. We can’t do that if we are primarily or simply officers of compliance or if we lack knowledge of our team members and how they fit into the organization.

4. Manage outcomes, not hours.  It’s exceptional freeing to everyone when you start actually managing by results and stop believing that hours in a seat equal results.  Don’t take this as soft. Managing by results will get you to decisions much quicker than watching someone sit in a cube! But allowing people to manage their life around their work, and still produce great results, well, that’s workhuman!

My thoughts: I spoke about this in this article from November and something that I absolutely agree with! Back In 2013 Vouchercloud conducted a study on productivity. This study identified that, over the course of a traditional 8 hour work day of an office worker, only 2 hours and 53 minutes were productive. Hours worked do not directly correlate to high-productivity in retail. Quality of work, quantity of work do, for sure. Having passion and being able to deliver results that “wow” your leadership and customer consistently on-time [or early] shows your commitment to productivity. Self-developing and being able to take on stretch assignments, because you have your high-value items complete, within your working week also shows productivity. Respect that your organization employs responsible adults with lives, families friends, and hobbies that are all important to them [probably even more important that their work].

5. Care about the health of your employees, not just physical. The financial wellness of your employees might have as much impact on your employees giving you their best, as their physical health. Help them manage their financial health. The stress many of your employees feel over their finances is staggering. This isn’t about retirement. This is about paying bills, childcare, student loans, buying a house, etc. Your employees are unhealthy. Like major drug problem unhealthy, and you’re ignoring it!

My thoughts: Ditto.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 11.50.58 AM

When you look at the very few retailers that make the “Best Place To Work” lists annually – and you dig in to what makes their culture outstanding, engaging, and unique. They truly care about their employees. They understand that employee happiness and growth equates to customer happiness and growth. They invest in their people, they plan for their future and develop innovative programs around consistently instilling career capital. They give their employee’s work with meaning and purpose. They recognize the value that the individuals bring to the aggregate results and acknowledge it. All retail organizations should aspire to create and deliver a truly great and ‘human’ place to work – not just in theory or on a poster in the backroom, but in action and through a genuine, every day focus and promise to their employees.


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!

View all posts by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *