Retail Observer

March 2020

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 MARCH 2020 44 D uring a recent client call to kick off an event, a member of the company's team confessed that they'd been working outside the formal boundaries of their roles. They admitted, not without hesitancy, that they hadn't actually been given permission to initiate the project being discussed. One team member had remarked, "I hope I don't get in trouble…" for doing what they felt was best for the organization. Unfortunately, it's an all-too-common theme in business today. When people start chanting "But it's not my job!" it can quickly degrade the team's cohesion and effectiveness. It's an attitude that can spread a paralyzing virus throughout the organization. In healthy organizations, people have a feeling that it's everyone's job to move the business forward, and to care very actively about its future. A healthy culture allows people the freedom to color outside the lines of their formal roles, knowing that taking responsibility for everyone's success is also part of their job. It should start at the top, with senior management that trusts people's initiative and creativity. When it's modeled at the top, the team can breathe easy, knowing they've got the green light to look at what's possible. The leaders need to open paths to "pursuing the possible," even if it means ignoring role definitions, lest they get in the way of "extraordinary." A healthy injection of creative, out-of-box problem-solving can spread quickly, as people see the smiles of those who've dared to exercise initiative. When teams don't have the freedom to think outside their roles (or worse, they're punished for doing so), you can forget "exceptional," because the best you'll get is "ordinary." It makes for an obedient, orderly culture, but you can forget about the big rewards that come from collaboration, innovation, and thoughtful risk-taking. Healthy cultures have a touch of chaos, thanks to the brave souls who are constantly initiating new directions and exploring uncommon solutions, even when it's uncomfortable. Stirring things up is the healthy first step toward the next level. Google invites its teams to spend up to 20 percent of their time exploring projects that are outside the confines of their present roles. At Google and other like-minded companies, this policy has led to innovations such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google Earth, Twitter, Slack, and Groupon. Some of these "side projects" are now billion-dollar companies. Slack is worth $19 billon! Here are some questions to ask when you're considering what might be possible: • Beyond the narrow confines of your role, what opportunities do you see that would help the organization? • What safe steps can you take to initiate what's possible? • How can you get permission for innovations or initiatives that will benefit the team? • How can you do your job better by operating beyond the literal definition of your role? • As a leader, how can you give permissions that will make it safe and rewarding for everyone to help your organization thrive? Consider the difference between your job and your role. Your role is the responsibilities of your overall function and your immediate duties: marketing, accounting, customer service, etc. Your job is to help the team and company thrive — whatever it takes. Doing your job conscientiously may require that you step outside the boundaries of your role. Asking permission won't always help you achieve what's possible, because "no" is the easiest answer. But staying in your lane isn't going to foster collaboration or innovation, either. This is why there is often no alternative to simply stepping up and doing what's right. A caring culture rewards people for taking the risks required to do their job. The big opportunities in business don't always come by doing what's allowed, but what's possible. If you want your business to thrive, hire people for their humanity, and give them permission to step up and pursue the possible. For the past 25 years, Steve has served as an advisor and consultant on brand strategy, organizational life, and humanized marketing strategy. He has worked with companies such as Samsung, Habitat for Humanity, New Balance, Sony, LG, Amazon, NFL and MLB franchises and is a regular speaker for TEDx, Creative Mornings, CES, HOW Conference, Social Venture Network, American Marketing Association, and AIGA conferences. Steve has published two books, Brand Love and Loyalty and Humanizing the Customer Journey, as well as a forthcoming book, The Evolved Brand: How to Impact the World Through the Power of Your Brand. He has been featured in Business Week, Brand Week, Ad Age, Conscious Company Magazine, MarketingProfs, and HOW magazine. Steve leads his own brand and business strategic consultancy, Mth Degree. Contact:, 619-234-1211 or RO Steven Morris On Brand PERMISSION OR POSSIBILITY?

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