Your store likely employs a variety of leaders. Department managers and supervisors are the folks who motivate others and get things done. But to encourage productivity, they must also feel supported. Here are four ways you can help them.
1. Provide a framework
Be clear in communicating your expectations and the responsibilities of managers and supervisors. Talk with them about leadership and how your company values the differences between management and leadership. Provide a clear, concise job description and take the time to ensure an agreed-upon understanding of the role. Give them the tools and training they need to be successful in their position. Ask them to identify key areas for development and seek out opportunities that align well with their individual needs and personal interests.
2. Offer your time and attention
Without regular face-to-face time with your leaders, it will be difficult for you to determine whether they’re succeeding. Schedule a weekly or biweekly meeting with each leader, and use that time to check in on a variety of topics. Allow them to bring discussion items to these meetings, and don’t forget to ask them how they’re doing. Your leaders will value your attention, so use part of this time together to get to know each other. Ask about a recent vacation or how their child’s Little League team is doing—this shows you are genuinely interested in who they are as well as how they are performing.
3. Be honest
Provide your leaders with honest feedback on their performance. Celebrate with them when they have a victory and give guidance when they need help. Share your own experiences to help them grow. Offer new tools and resources when they face new challenges. Building trusting relationships with your leaders will make the difficult conversations easier and allow them to come to you for help when they know they need it.
4. Build a culture of support
Building confident and successful leaders in your store creates a foundation for a culture of support. When your leaders feel supported, they’re likely to be more productive, make sound decisions and provide solid support for their own team members. Furthermore, when workplace culture is built on support, your employees are more likely to feel empowered and have a higher level of job satisfaction, which in turn helps ensure the success of your business.
Bonus: Promoting leaders from within
When employees are promoted to managerial positions, it’s about more than a new title and higher pay. Relationships with their coworkers will change, perhaps more profoundly than they realize. Your role is to support them in navigating that change. Make sure candidates for leadership positions recognize what it means to be a member of the management team. We recommend developing a managers’ code of conduct and asking all internal candidates to agree to it if they wish to be considered for the job.
Carolee Colter began working for a natural foods co-op distributor in 1973 and has helped hundreds of co-ops and independent retailers with management training, employee surveys and human resources systems. She is part of the CDS Consulting Co-op HR Team.
Melanie Reid is also a member of the CDS Consulting Co-op and has worked in natural food co-ops since 1996.