What comes first? Culture, Strategy or Results?

April Sabral

/ Teamwork

THE RESULTS CAKE; To deliver Stella results, Leadership Matters. This is a simple but true statement however it’s not a simple thing to get right.

I trained this a couple of years ago to a group of 23 District Managers. What was interesting, was when I laid out each level individually on a table and cut it into strips their were many different perspectives on what should come first!

This year retail forecasts the most substantial amount of store closures in the past ten years, however along with stores closing, many new stores and brands are entering the market.

What this means is retail is transforming along with e-comm; retailers are trying to find new innovative ways to shop. Developing Omni store associates will become even more necessary, as will redesigning stores of the future.

Along with this transformation, senior leadership teams should be thinking not only about transforming the customer journey but also the employee journey.

When sales and traffic are down finding ways to motivate and retain sales managers becomes challenging. After working in retail as long as I have, I know that there are cycles of change, sales go up and down based on many factors. With this new transformation and declines in bricks and mortar, senior executives should be asking themselves how do they ensure managers and store teams feel valued motivated and stay? Not all sales are tied to store employees’ yes we know that a great experience builds brand loyalty and future decision making however the bottom line is traffic is down and keeping your high performers engaged is a necessary strategic pillar your team should be working on.

Traditional KPI’s such as Conversion and Average Ticket are essential and provide insight into service levels and customer purchase habits but what if these KPI’s were not as crucial as two other metrics, Customer Satisfaction and Employee Satisfaction? What if you could set up new ways to measure performance to help your teams feel valued?

When I was growing up in retail, working for American companies such as Starbucks and Gap Inc. did precisely that. These two mega brands back then measured my performance on employee’s engagement and customer engagement. This was extremely motivating as it was something that I could control and improve upon month on month year on year. And when my scores were high so were my sales results, customer retention and employee turnover lowered.

Monthly sales goals are necessary, and so are labour controls along with access to P&L’s this allows managers to identify opportunities and build SMART action plans. But so are monthly goals around engagement. Do you ever think about this? Or have a way to measure it?

During times of change, it is easy to lose sight and take for granted that people will stick through it all, work harder and be there. However, when times are tough it is not easy; this is why focusing on employee satisfaction may assist your teams in finding wins and motivation which can ultimately support to turn the ship around. These are the people that get behind every product launch, or not!

When I moved to Canada in 2006, I like to say that was the golden days in Canadian retail. There were less American retailers which meant less competition for customers to choose to shop at and fewer places for top talent to work at. The US was already experiencing a decline in traffic back then, and they were actively thinking about different ways to measure success.

As humans we are all driven by our emotions whether we want to admit it or not. Feeling good creates endorphins, and a higher desire to be successful. It has a knock on effect around us when we are happy and feel a sense of accomplishment more of this is created.

When employees demonstrate positive sentiment towards the company and their immediate boss they are more likely to do more, work harder and solve issues to support the success of the company they love. Their conversation becomes uplifting and solution-based, versus complaining and spreading negative emotions. I truly believe in this and understand that every casue has an effect. I know this as I have witnessed this in my personal and professional life. Why do you think so many people read self help, how to live positive lives etc. Because it creates more success. If you want to tap into this you need to take a serious look at the culture and have a plan.

This can be applied at all levels, from Store Manager up to Vice President and CEO.

So how do you focus your efforts here?
When do you recognize that your not?
How do you get the team around you to focus on it?
What do you do to build culture first and then strategy in your team or entire organization? Especially in times of poor results, and stress on the business.

Here are a few tips;

  • First of all, you have to agree on the why and take a deeper look at the root cause of poor results. Complete a root cause session SWOT analysis and get aligned with what and why.CLICK HERE to download our helpful SWOT TOOL.
  • Secondly ask your team, complete pulse surveys and round table discussions. Some can be anonymous as sometimes it’s hard for employees, to be honest, and critical in fear of losing their job or looking contrary to others on the team. Ask all levels in all areas so you can have a helicopter view of the business and see what areas you really need to improve on. Improving product or SKU count will only get you so much when your team is not engaged that could be a bigger issue.
  • Prioritize employee engagement. Review performance and set achievable goals. If goals are too high, then think of something else that can be achieved to cause a positive momentum. Focus on training and developing crucial leadership skills that will deliver results, such as how to hire the best talent, how to develop the best talent, how to communicate and building teams. These crucial leadership skills may be seen as intangible however in my experience when teams feel valued and developed they can overcome anything you throw at them. One of the most significant factors that stop many businesses today in winning in this area is resources. Time being the top commodity that everyone is trying to find.

This is why I am on a mission to help senior executives to understand that when their teams feel valued, everyone wins. Time-starved teams today find it even tougher to make this a priority; however, in the fast-changing world of retail making time for people should be on the top of the list.

Keep up to date, gain valuable resources for your retail teams, follow us on LinkedIn @ HERE

Remember to appreciate someone on your team today even if it’s for something small, value your people and you will see immediate WINS!

Happy Monday!

retailu provides e-learning and coaching to help your team achieve this.
Our approach is small bite size training that is easy to use. With over 20 years leading operations and sales teams, along with multiple other areas April has built high performing teams and helped the brands she worked for navigate pivotal times of change through highly engaged teams.
retailu provides an affordable solution for retailers to ignite leadership skills and motivate teams to succeed. When leaders can inspire their employees your brand will become unstoppable.

Want to learn more email us @ info@retailu.ca

Welcome To My Blog

Hi I’m April Sabral, Founder & President of retailu.ca

I started my retail career over 20 years ago and always get asked how did I become a Senior Executive? I put it down to three things.

    • Hardwork
    • Mentorship
    • Attitude

I had amazing mentors and leaders along the way that helped me develop my own leadership style. And I worked really hard.This blog is where I share lessons learned, leadership tips and practical skills that can be used when managing any team. I hope this inspires you to be the best boss you can be.

April Sabral

Intentional Leadership

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