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Lead by example

Strategies for establishing strong, effective leadership habits that will improve and grow your business.

There is an adage that says, “work on your business, not in your business” which means focus your energies on continuous improvement and expanding your operations in a profitable manner. This sounds logical but the question is how one accomplishes this when there are so many daily tasks to be accomplished: working the cash, ordering, cleaning, stocking and merchandising. The answer lies in strong leadership and delegation skills. 

If the goal is to grow and improve your operations or perhaps expand your network, the key will be in how you lead your staff and empower them to make good decisions.

Walk the talk

The first step to being a strong leader is to lead by example.  

Ensure that you always have your uniform on, including a nametag and engage with the customers as you would like your staff to do. 

Working with the staff and leading by example will impress upon all employees that you walk the talk and do not expect any more of them that you would do yourself. 

Communication is paramount to being a strong leader. Not only should you walk the talk by leading by example, but also consider posting weekly memos for the staff to keep them informed of new innovations or changes coming to the store. 

It will sometimes feel like you are constantly repeating yourself, but if you want the key messages to resonate, you must be diligent and consistent in your messaging.

Empower by delegating

The next step is delegation. If you want to have time to work on your business in a strategic manner, you need to leverage your staff to do the daily operational tasks. 

Delegate to all employees some tasks, not just to your leads or managers. Every employee should “own” some part of the store. 

“Ownership” would entail ensuring that their section is stocked, cleaned and properly merchandised. 

By giving this responsibility to each staff member, they collectively feel empowered to keep their sections and the overall store operating at the highest level. 

If each staff member prepares a list of the items which needed to be ordered for their section, this would make the manager’s job easier when preparing the overall store merchandise order. 

The staff should also be encouraged to make suggestions for improvements to the store and pass along any customer requests. 

Measure outcome 

For delegating to be successful, the tasks required, and the outcomes must be made very clear. 

Once you have established these parametres, it will be very easy to manage all aspects of the basic store operations and have a clean, well-stocked and merchandised operation.

It is important to monitor how the store is operating to ensure that the delegation plans are working. As the leader, you should attend the store at different times to observe all shifts at work. 

You need to be focused on the details. Are all the items on the task list for each section complete? If not, why? 

Staff must be held accountable for their sections and should not be allowed to abdicate their responsibilities. It is a team effort, and the store is only as good as the weakest link. 

Good coaching and training will be necessary to ensure that all employees understand and embrace their responsibilities. 

Celebrate success

Do not forget to celebrate success by recognizing the team for doing a great job. This can be done either for individuals or the team overall. 

It can be as simple as ordering pizza once a month when the store targets are attained so that the team can celebrate together. Alternatively, giving gift card rewards to team members is a good way to recognize a job well done. 

This type of recognition goes a long way to inspiring and encouraging good teamwork and focus on operational excellence. 

Raise the bar

Strong leadership and effective, on-going training and feedback will empower your employees to raise the bar of operational excellence at your store. 

This has many benefits. Having a fully stocked, clean and organized store will increase sales. Giving your staff more responsibility will improve job satisfaction and staff retention. Importantly, having the team do the daily tasks allows you to work on initiatives which will grow and enhance your business. 

Therefore, it is a win-win proposition to take an active leadership role in managing the store and making it a team effort with all team members actively involved in the successes. 

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