Building your bench


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I’ve been working with several clients on how they can build a stronger leadership bench. Every organization, even every location, needs a strong bench. Here’s how to help your management team and high potential staff make a greater contribution and be ready for the next position.

1. Expect more out of your entry-level management position. One of the biggest mistakes retailers make is having a “third key” position. That person’s only managerial responsibility is to open or close the store when other members of management aren’t working.

I was a third key many years ago. It’s not a fun position. You’re not really a member of management, but you’re still occasionally in charge. Either a person is in management or they are not. Expect more from this position and that person will be ready to step up into the ASM role.

2. Push more accountability and responsibility down the organization. In my new delegation program I teach what I call The ART of Delegating. At any given time a manager or owner can delegate Accountability, Responsibility, or a Task.

We have a tendency to only delegate tasks to entry-level managers or non-managers. In order to build a stronger bench you need to delegate more responsibility, to managers and non-managers alike. Let them run with key activities in the store. You might even delegate total accountability to the assistants. Hand it off and get out of the way! That not only frees you up, but also prepares this person to work at the next level.

3. Focus the entire management team on coaching and mentoring the staff. Some organizations have a tendency to have lower level members of management spend their time on operational activities, and leave staff development to the manager.

The problem with this approach is that people are promoted and only then you learn they’re not good at developing people. The best organizations require even more coaching from the entry-level management positions. These folks should be the one to train new or seasonal staff. They should be the ones working with the staff on increasing their ADS or conversion.

4. Play favorites. Okay, I don’t really want you to play favorites, but you might be accused of doing so when you start working with high potential employees. When it is clear you have someone on your team who has management potential, it’s important to start developing the person before you need him or her.

Consider giving her some special projects. Have him run the next event. Assign her to be a mentor to a new hire. Ask him step in and help the management team when one of the managers is on vacation. This person should be ready to be promoted when the need arises. If that means you’re playing favorites… so be it.

5. Set and maintain a high on-floor and sales standard for the management team. Excellence starts at the top. Leaders not only lead by example, they also teach by example. Why should a staff execute the little things with customers if the leadership team doesn’t?

A strong bench starts with a strong foundation. In a store, that means the ability to engage the customer, deliver a great experience, and maximize every customer opportunity.

The best stores I work with have a strong leadership team that walks the talk, talks the talk, and coaches the talk. Prepare your best people for that and you’ll build a stronger bench.

So let me ask, how strong is your bench? Which of these tips offer you the most opportunity to elevate your bench and your team’s performance?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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