Showing your appreciation (or not)
As leaders we sometimes do things that, entirely unbeknownst to us, have a negative impact on our staff. One example of that is how we come back into the store or business after a vacation, a vendor meeting, or even just a few days off.
Back when I was a district manager I had a store manager I'll call Jack. Jack was a good leader with a strong team. We even sent new store managers to him to learn how to grow and develop a staff.
I was visiting the store during Jack's vacation, and an employee I knew quite well mentioned that she really disliked it when Jack went away. I asked her if it was because they missed Jack, or because they didn't like being short staffed.
She said, "No, that's not the issue. Instead of thanking us for working double shifts and doing what's necessary with him out, he comes back and points out everything we did wrong and that he's unhappy about."
I didn't see that one coming, but as I poked around I learned that everyone felt the same way. One employee even said Jack was a jerk whenever he got back from meetings or vacation. Let me tell you, this behavior really didn't go over well in the winter when Jack got back from a vacation in the tropics and the staff had been driving to work in the snow.
Jack was shocked when I told him how his staff felt. He had no idea that he was so negative when he returned from being away. From that point forward he changed the way he came back into work. He demonstrated his appreciation, and looked past the little things that did or didn't happen when he was gone.
Ultimately, if a store or company doesn't run well when you're out, it's a leadership issue that starts with you. Fix it. But the last thing you need to do is to make people feel under-appreciated for their hard work when you're out of the store.
So let me ask, how well do you come back after a vacation, meeting, or days off? It's a bigger deal you may think.
Doug Fleener 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. www