Organizational Success: What You Need To Know

Image: Beth Boyd
Image: Beth Boyd

Organizational Success in #Retail: What You Need To Know

The amazing team at DDI recently published their Leadership Development Road Map and some of the statistics were pretty shocking and critical to know if we are going to effect change in 2016 in our businesses. You can click on the link above to view the interactive infographic (which is very clever and a great read) but here are some of the highlights that immediately resulted in my brain working through a plan-of-action on how to elevate our current and future leader’s competencies:

Are Leaders Ready To Deliver?
-40% of leaders say the overall quality of their organization’s leadership is high
-25% of HR professionals view their organization’s leaders as high quality
-15% of organizations have a strong bench
-46% of critical positions can be filled immediately by internal candidates

What Business Challenges Are Keeping CEO’s Up At Night?
-45% say “Customer Relationships”
-33% say “Operational Excellence”
-27% say “Human Capital”
-26% say “Innovation”

Who Do Leaders Say Is Not Involved Enough In Their Development
-48% say “Human Resources”
-46% say “Senior Management”
-33% say their “Manager”
-22% say “Employees”

What Happens When Organizations Get Leadership Development Right?
-20% higher than average leadership quality and bench strength
-26% more critical positions can be filled immediately (by the right people)
-2.3x more likely to out perform other companies on financial metrics

Interacting vs. Managing

“Leaders currently spend 41% of their time managing, but if given the choice, leaders would nearly double the time they spend interacting and cut in half the time spent managing. And that shift would serve organizations well.”

Organizations That Value Interacting Benefit More
Resulting in:
-2x more leader experience
-3.5x more leadership strength
-2x financial impact
-20% more leaders ready to fill critical roles

The Behavioral Benefits of Leaders Interacting vs. Managing
-Maintains and enhances self-esteem
-Listening and responding with empathy
-Asks for help and encourages involvement
-Shares thoughts, feelings, and rationale
-Provides support without removing responsibility
-Facilitates discussions/dialogues
Currently leadership performance in these areas is sorely lacking, with less than one in three displaying high proficiency.

Interestingly, in Retail we have a very high quantity of future leaders who are “eager and waiting impatiently” who are strong but need continued development on their competencies. Ours is highly competitive industry and pretty soon, if leaders are unable to have a significant impact on their business through improving revenue and employee productivity, there are other “eager” candidates ready, willing, can capable to deliver results.

The DDI team also explains this very interesting concept of Developing Leaders To Working Within to the VUCA Vortex:


…all of these concerns (and realities of the business) need innovative and courageous leaders who can react and come up with solutions to these very common Retail Industry challenges and obstacles. Here are some questions to ask:

-Are we encouraging our team members to take risks and try new things in their business?
-Are we hiring talent with the competencies that can overcome these challenges?
-Is our culture built to encourage apathy/sheep or are we hiring talent that galvanizes action and inspires creative solutions?
-Are we rewarding success? Top contribution?
-Are we sharing success stories to rally others to find solutions and deliver excellence?

In Retail, especially the in the field leadership organization, we are relegated to managing. Managing minutiae, managing hiring, managing HR compliance standards, managing conflict, managing store visit forms, managing schedules, managing visual compliance, etc.. There is not a healthy, or adequate, amount of “interactive” time available because we are busy ensuring we are compliant with what our bosses, HR, and executives want/need.

In early 2015 we transitioned a few of our normal procedures, in my current business, for more engaging and interactive processes. Here are some examples:

Conference Calls
We stopped the pedantic Monday conference calls and transitioned to video conference calls. These calls immediately became collaborative, engaging, and productive. It was a huge and significant improvement for everyone and for the business overall. Participation on these calls improved by 187% and peer-to-peer recognition improved 125%

Annual Performance Reviews
Probably our biggest win of 2015 was transitioning away from this antiquated, ineffective process and into the “Stay Interview” program. We sit down with every single employee once per quarter and have an interactive dialogue about them. Their happiness at work, what they need from us to be productive and engaged, future planning for career growth, etc.. We actively guide our employees daily (which means we speak to their strengths and opportunities each and every interaction). This has improved employee engagement, workplace relationships and development (both planned and self-development) initiatives greatly.

We instituted and encouraged a really great peer-to-peer recognition program with the understanding how effective it was at building great working relationships which improved workplace happiness that has a direct impact on customer service, according to a Bersin by Deloittle study, “Customer Service is 14% better in companies where recognition is built into the culture”. We also publicly recognize our Top Contributors and Performers monthly and quarterly and reward them for their hard-work and results.

Company Vision & Values
In late 2014 we re-evaluated our company values and our vision/mission statement and set out to truly make these our guiding principals in our business that we made decisions around. We hired talent into our business that was complimentary and conducive to our vision. We built our training and development programs around the foundations for our business. We tied recognition into our values. Making these things living and breathing entities to our business (as opposed to just a poster on the wall) gave everyone a reason and a direction to want to succeed. Our culture is built around who we are and what we contribute and frequently referencing our philosophies supported a culture that was aligned and dedicated to the same things.

We also updated our:
-Hiring practices
-Onboarding program
-Succession Planning
-Mentoring program
-Store Visit program (to allow more time for interaction vs. managing minutiae)

The one statistic in this report that is surprising and (truth be told) confusing to me is that “48% of leaders say ‘Human Resources’ is not involved enough in their development”. Perhaps it is specific to our retail industry but HR has never been an active or encouraging participant in training or development. In my experience HR is a compliance role and one that is mostly accountable for ensuring that the company is up-to-date and in compliance with State and Federal Law, employee paperwork, dealing with conflict in accordance with laws to mitigate escalation of internal issues. They are not, generally, interested participants in training and development outside of being in compliance with topics such as; sexual harassment training, new hire document training, explaining and reissuing employment applications to be in compliance with “ban the box”, etc.. HR has never been a great business partner for growth planning, upskilling talent, or future planning, in my experience.

Retail organizations that expect to survive the changing landscape need senior leaders dedicated and focused on training and development and that role cannot reside in HR – it needs to be an employee support role and most people (as you can see above) do not believe HR supports them. Creating a Director of Training & Development role in the business and ensuring that the person in that role is flexible, adaptable, innovative, creative, interactive, and committed to the growth and future road-mapping of their leaders will benefit an organization greatly and it can help fix many, if not all, of the concerns that the executives have that keep them up at night.


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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