Over the last few weeks I've had the opportunity to work with some great retailers. Of course I'm biased, but I also see the very things that make them great. This is what a great retail organization looks like:
1. They balance strong culture with high expectations. One of the analogies I like to use is that culture and expectations are like the opposite ends of a barbell. If you put 50 pounds on only one end of a barbell it's almost impossible to lift. Put 50 pounds on each end of a barbell and it's easier to lift even though it weighs twice as much.
Having high expectations but a poor culture usually makes for a miserable work environment with poor performance. Having great culture with poor expectations leads to mediocrity and poor performance, too. Combine the two and you've got a winning formula.
2. The leaders are focused on employee development. Whether it's the owner of a national, regional, or local retailer, or the head of retail for an international brand, these leaders run great companies or organizations because they push to keep improving their employees.
Too often leaders are focused on products and results, and look at growing their people as not much more than an afterthought. Great leaders know that the way to stay competitive in an ever-changing business environment is to grow their business through their people.
3. They're never satisfied...in a good way. One reason good companies and people never reach greatness is because they fall into the trap of complacency. I know a number of once-good retailers who are no longer in business. I'm not sure good even keeps you in the game anymore. Great retailers are always driven to be better.
It doesn't mean they're never satisfied with their employee's performance, but they never rest on their laurels and they won't let their people do so, either. Stop and rest too long and you slowly drift backwards.
What I love about these attributes is that they work for long-term strategy and for today. They apply to companies of any sizes, and leaders in any position.
So what about your day and your company? What will your great look like today? Will you balance a great work environment with high expectations? Will you create greatness through your people being better today than they were yesterday? And last but not least, will you be not satisfied in a good way?
Praise your people, take advantage of teachable moments, and make it a great day!
Doug Fleener, the former director of retail for Bose Corporation, is president and managing partner of Dynamic Experiences Group LLC, a proven retail and customer experience firm that works with progressive retailers and other customer-focused companies.