Keeping a molehill from becoming a mountain


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I’m a big fan of the television program Project Runway, so of course I’m watching Project Runway All Stars. At first I was disappointed that Tim Gunn, who usually acts as mentor to the designer/contestants, would not be taking part in this edition of the series, but I’ve really come to like and appreciate Joanna Coles, Editor-in-Chief of the U.S. edition of Marie Claire magazine and mentor to the All Star designers.

In last week’s episode Joanna handled an issue in a way all of us can learn from. When talking with the designers she discovered that one of them believed that another designer had copied his design. That designer, of course, felt differently.

Instead of letting the issue simmer or talking with each designer separately, she immediately asked everyone in the room to gather round. She told them that whenever there is tension in her office she pulls her entire team together on the spot and addresses it.

She then asked the other designers if they felt that Michael had copied Jerrell’s design. After getting their feedback she shared hers, and then dismissed the meeting. Done.

Love it!

Here are the five things we can take away from how Ms. Coles handled the situation.

1. She addressed a problem immediately. She didn’t tiptoe around it or hope it would take care of itself. Nope, she saw an issue between two people and stopped what she was doing to address it.

2. She publicly acknowledged that there was tension among the group. Why step around the elephant in the room? That just requires extra energy and impacts the ability of a team to work together.

3. Her reaction kept the molehill from becoming a mountain. The issue was only as big as Joanna Coles’s reaction to it. Because she didn’t overreact, the situation didn’t become any bigger than it was. Many managers and owners can learn from this.

4. She addressed the issue in the open. Of course we have to be careful here, but there are many opportunities to address issues among the team. Whenever there is a problem we sometimes inadvertently create the “he said she said” dilemma by meeting separately with each individual involved.

5. She brought closure to the issue. At the end of the mini-meeting she declared that the issue would be decided on the runway. In other words, we’re done and it’s time to move on. I like to also set clear expectations on how you expect people to behave going forward. “From now on, if you have a problem with someone you need to tell them directly and not complain to others behind that person’s back. Let’s now move forward and work together.”

Later in the show, Jerrell beat Michael in a head-to–head competition, so in the long run the question of copying a design didn’t really matter, and I’m guessing that’s why Joanna Coles made sure a mountain didn’t grow out of a molehill.

So let ask, are you keeping molehills from becoming mountains in your store?

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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