Empowered retail leaders

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Sheridan was a store manager at a busy DFO retail outlet.

It was a busy afternoon, and the store was on track to hit its daily budget. It was 2.30pm and, with a store full of customers, Sheridan could see an opportunity to finish the day off strongly. However, her casual team member Kylie was due to finish her shift at 3pm. Kylie was happy to stay longer, but Sheridan was not authorised to extend her shift.

She called her area leader and excitedly explained the opportunity. Her area leader advised that she would have to check with her state leader to get the authority to extend Kylie’s shift by one hour.

Sheridan received a call a little while later to say that it would be ok, but by this stage, Kylie had already left the store after completing her 3pm shift. Sheridan was fearful that if she had asked Kylie to stay beyond her shift, she would get into trouble, but she was also frustrated that she wasn’t trusted enough to make a decision that could have made the store money and allowed her to exceed her budget.

The true costs of disempowerment

When you look at the cost of the lost opportunity vs the cost of the store manager calling her area leader, who then called her state leader, the cost of lost productivity would have been far more than the additional wages required to have her casual stay for an extra hour.

I have worked with many retailers of all shapes and sizes. When I look at what sets great retailers apart from the ones that are not doing as well, I can say without hesitation that the difference is the level of empowerment the leaders have relevant to their role.

This includes store managers, area leaders and state or brand leaders. I consistently see that there is so much potential to elevate the decisions each can make in line with their roles and responsibilities.

I am not suggesting that it should be open slather. Still, we need to trust our store managers enough to back themselves and make a good business decision to extend a team member’s shift by one hour to maximise an opportunity.

Leaders who can make critical business decisions relevant to their role have more ‘Spiritual’ ownership of the business and their results. Empowered leaders not only reduce inefficiency and maximise performance, they recognise that they are trusted to make a contribution to the overall business.

So now you know WHY empowered leaders are important, here’s three things to reflect on that will help you create leaders who can act in the best interests of your business:

1.    How can you give more ownership to your area leaders and store managers?

2.    What decisions can you entrust your leaders to make relevant to their role that would help achieve better results?

3.    What decisions are bottlenecking your growth due to red tape?


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