Retail Observer

August 2014

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 43 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM AUGUST 2014 44 R ecently I participated in an international discussion about organizational culture. Some members of my forum feel strongly that the word culture has turned into a popular buzzword with no substance for organizational improvement or viability. In truth, the word culture is typically associated with a particular group (often we think of countries or regions) who has common beliefs, patterns of behaviors and norms that differentiate it from other groups. Some members of our forum preferred the word environment instead. Regardless, your company's environment is impacted by both internal and external forces, history, patterns, and beliefs. Leaders know that the environment in which work happens—not only your physical location (like a storefront) or the virtual environment (like your website, call center or help desk)—all impact your customer experience. Often, we don't think that environment, or culture, also includes the interpersonal relationships that make up your organization: supervisors or managers to employees, owners to managers, staff to staff. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO IMPACT YOUR ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE: 1. Recognize that Your Environment is Determined Either Accidentally or Intentionally. Often, leaders take for granted the company philosophy and values, vision and strategy. They think because people have worked for them for a long time, everyone knows what's important. You must revisit the language of your company over and over again. Business growth expert Verne Harnish says if they're not mocking you, you're not saying it enough! I love that principle and share it with my leadership clients often. 2. Language is Important. Want to know what matters in your organization or company? Listen carefully. What sort of language do people use in their every day interactions? With each other and with customers? Is it positive, focused on win-win solutions? Or do you hear complaining, victim mentality and blaming? The way people ask for something and resolve issues is important. The way you say things matters. 3. What gets Measured gets Done. Every organization that has more than 4 people needs a performance management system of some kind. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, but it does have to be specific and focused on outcomes. And, to be certain, the sales team is not the only team, nor the most important team, to be measured. The best way to manage performance in any company is to first, hire the right person, but after that, a really great employee can take a dive quickly if there are no specific, measurable expectations for performance. 4. Lead from the Front. As the leader, you're responsible not only for setting the tone of the organization, but also for modeling what you want. Would you like your employees to treat customers like family, in terms of going above-and-beyond or taking extra care? Then you need to treat your employees the same way! Want your employees to manage their time well and be accountable for their promises? You need to do the same: be consistent in your follow-up and follow- through. The most important thing you can do at day's end is check yourself out in the mirror: did you lead from the front? 5. Maintain Perspective. As a leader or manager, you've got one of the most challenging jobs: you need to keep an eye on the horizon, as well as keep yourself rooted firmly in the present to deal with the issues at hand. It's a tricky balance to do this, and you need to maintain perspective so that you're not focusing on the small stuff and getting stuck in the weeds, while at the same time not worrying needlessly about what's to come. Maintaining perspective means that you recognize that you've likely come through challenging times before and persevered. And, you're likely to help your team and company grow if you allow time for the strategic visioning that leaders need to do. Healthy companies assess themselves regularly, as do healthy leaders. This is why employee engagement or satisfaction surveys are as important as measuring your profit margins and sales percentages. It's all connected, so create a buzz around what's important to your company and your customers' success! Libby Wagner Culture Coach Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain Profit Cultures. RO CULTURE: BUZZWORD OR OPPORTUNITY?

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