Strategies For Becoming A Top Performer

Strategies For Becoming a Top PerfoRmer in #Retail

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have worked in the retail industry for approximately 18 years. In that period of time I have worked for many inspiring (and some not so inspiring) people in a variety of roles. I have aspired, in my career, to be an inspirational leader to my team members based on the qualities of the leaders I most admire. Even some of my less inspiring leaders have taught me a lot about what “not” to do to ensure I was the most effective and engaging leader possible.

In my career I have also had some amazing team members that I have been fortunate to work with who were open to development and challenge in their roles. In my career I am very proud to state that I have been able to promote approximately 30 team members into higher level roles (Area Managers, District Managers, Regional Managers, Store Operations Managers, etc).

When all is said and done these team members took the guidance, feedback, stretch assignments, and their personal passion and created their destiny through a fundamental desire to be successful. After stopping to assess the performance qualities that all of these employees shared I found some consistent competencies that were very strategic in their success.

(1) Be Innovative
-If a process doesn’t work – adjust and reinvent it until it does
-Be resourcesful – use the tools at your disposal to excel and if the tool doesn’t exist – create it
-Challenge yourself daily – don’t wait for someone to light a fire under you – create your fire to overcome challenges and obstacles
-Find a way to make work fun for yourself and your team

(2) Be A Strategic Thinker
-Be obsessed with being #1 in all areas
-Work hard to ensure that all metrics measured are focused on for impact and exceeding all targets (Don’t hang your hat on being good in one or two areas – leave that for the mediocre performers in your company)
-Create processes that are more efficient and effective for you team – don’t excuse processes that are too cumbersome – fix them
-Proactively share your Best Practices to assist your peers with their tasks

(3) Develop Strong Working Relationships
-Top Performers know that their boss is oftentimes their biggest supporter and will push for their growth
-Be open and receptive to feedback and be courageous while delivering feedback to your supervisor(s) or direct reports in a respectful, solution-oriented way
-Seek stretch assignments and take on additional responsibilities to develop additional leadership skills
-Be the voice of your area of responsibility – if you see opportunity for improvement or something that will negatively effect performance – speak up

(4) Create Your Own Culture
-Let your team’s enthusiasm and desire to be the best speak to your leadership reputation
-Be the best representation of the brand and inspire that in your team through your actions, coaching, work ethic, and results
-Be positive. Top performers eliminate the phrase “I can’t because” from their vocabulary and focus on “Here’s how we will do it”
-Hire the best talent and hold them to your standards – never compromise
-Recognize your coworkers for their contributions and accomplishments (when recognition starts, it is contagious)

(5) Know “You Are What You Do, Not What You Say You’ll Do”
-This is VERY cliché but, actions speak infinitely louder than words
-Always give 100% to each and every day
-Always give 100% to your team members to support them
-Always give 100% to your boss who supports you
-Always deliver exceptional results early or on-time, every time
-Honesty and integrity speak volumes as to character and reputation
-Share recognition with your team and acknowledge their contributions

(6) Be Open To Development and Proactive With Self-Development
-Proactively seek feedback on performance and areas to improve (if you have a strong boss they will proactively have these dialogues with you)
-Always know where you want to improve and find a way to develop those areas through partnerships or study
-Have a no excuses attitude. Failure is never an option and using strategy, resourcefulness inherent in retailers, and tools you never have to excuse your results
-Know it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them

(7) Effective Time Management and Planning Skills
-Top Performers know how to plan their day, delegate effectively, and follow up to ensure completion of projects, accuracy and timeliness of deliverables, and achieve highest level metric results
-Help your team understand your process of planning as a way to coach this important competency

(8) Be Accessible
-Never be too busy to communicate with your team
-See the signs of struggle or wavering commitment and support the team when needed
-Be a sounding board and a great listener – help people work through challenges to develop problem solving skills and build confidence
-Ask for your teams input and feedback consistently to develop a culture of open communication, partnerships, and respect

Retail is amazing for creating opportunities for those who truly stand out. If you are working for a strong leader and company that truly values hard work, integrity, efficiency, openness, and results – you will have the opportunity to take on more responsibility and elevate your role in retail.

Retail Organizations: All companies should have a plan for these “A” players who are the future senior leadership in retail. Have a program that speaks to your committment to Celebrating Top Performers In #Retail. Don’t take them for granted because if you aren’t making them feel special, someone else will.


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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