Retail Observer

February 2015

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

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM FEBRUARY 2015 40 Elly Valas Retail Views Elly Valas is the Marketing Services Director for Nationwide Marketing Group. She can be reached at or at 303-316-7569. Visit her website at RO M anagement is complex and being a good leader requires a wide set of skills. The best are good listeners who can analyze information quickly, make good decisions, and set the course of his or her company, department or team. They create and maintain culture and morale and mete out fair and prompt discipline when necessary. They have in-depth knowledge of their markets and their customers. But how do you measure your ability to lead or manage your staff? Hopefully, your team members get regular performance reviews that measure their performance against their job description or a pre-set list of goals and objectives. They have either hit the target or they need additional coaching. Some companies use 360 reviews where evaluations are conducted by managers, peers and sometimes even customers. In conducting reviews through the years, I've found great value in asking employees to rate me as a coach, manager, mentor or leader. What one thing can I do to make your work environment better? What can I do to help you do your job better? What do you need from me? I need their input to determine how well I'm doing my job and what I can do better. One of the best lessons of my business career came when I was at NARDA. Rosemary, my second-in-command, was the consummate professional. She was creative, led her team well and helped us navigate some tricky financial waters. I relied on her for ideas, input and support. Since my role involved almost constant travel, she was, in fact, running the association. During one review—which was usually more of a love-fest than anything else—I asked Ro if there was anything I could do to help her be more effective in her role. She responded that yes, there was something. Since I was only in the office one week a month, it was usually packed with back to back meetings. When I was there, we planned our programs and conferences, reviewed financials and budgets, set themes for our monthly magazine, held Credit Union Board meetings and a host of other things. Rosemary explained that while I always scheduled time to meet with her to discuss whatever was on her plate, she never felt that she had my full attention. She noted that I'd sit behind my desk plowing through the stack of papers on it, looking at my emails and making notes while she went through her agenda. I felt like I'd been hit in the head with a board. I truly cared for my team members; I thought I was a good listener and that they knew I really wanted every one of them to succeed. They were the hardest working people I'd ever known and surely they must have known how much I appreciated their efforts, right? Since that day, I've never met with anyone at my desk. It's too easy to get distracted there. I learned that I needed to be fully present in order to be a good manager. From then on, I either met with my associates at their work space or in a conference room. I made a point to "drop by" at my staff's desks and sit down unscheduled just to see what was important to them. The management challenge is even more difficult today with a host of electronic diversions at our fingertips. Personally, I hate sitting at meetings where everyone is watching their phones or answering texts. It's rude and distracting. Anyone who thinks they can really multi-task and still be completely engaged is fooling themselves. And I learned that lesson long before technology took over our lives. Want to know what kind of manager you are? Don't ask your boss; ask the folks who work for you. If they're honest you'll become a better leader. Since I asked, I think I'm a better coach and mentor. I know I'm a better listener. I'm more engaged with those around me. I only wish I'd asked these questions earlier. WHAT KIND OF MANAGER ARE YOU?

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