Natural Foods Merchandiser
Management lessons from the basketball court

Management lessons from the basketball court

Basketball executive Phil Jackson has that something special draws a winning team together. Consider what you, as a natural retail store owner or manager, can learn from this former player and coach.

What would you choose if you were told that you could have either a new boss or a raise, but not both? The results of a recent survey found that 65 percent of executives would rather have the new boss than get a raise. These executives are paid enough that they could likely forego a raise, but it is still a shockingly highly number. 

While I wasn't surprised to hear that nearly one-third of employees don’t like their boss, I was caught off guard upon reading that more than half of people would trust a total stranger over their boss. Think about the lack of confidence implied by the fact that these respondents would choose someone at random and trust his or her judgment and/or integrity better than someone they know.

Across most offices, one of the main reasons for employee failure and employee departure is the boss. But this stands out in stark contrast to recent happenings with basketball's New York Knicks. The team hired one of the sport's great all-time coaches, Phil Jackson, as president of basketball operations. As Jackson assembles a staff of coaches and other leaders, it has been fascinating to see how many former players want to work for him, based on their experience playing for him. Some are vocalizing their desire to be on his staff while employed elsewhere.

Obviously, there are major systemic differences between working in a natural products retail store and playing professional basketball.

Even so, there are a couple of things that a retail store manager can learn from Phil Jackson. 

First, he focuses on task excellence and obtaining results.
If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right. Even if you are just rotating the inventory in the dairy cooler, it is worth doing right. This is doing a great service to your employees. In today’s world, no one is surprised any more when high school and even college graduates cannot read, write or do basic math. Promotion and advancement with attainment or accomplishment is common. Helping your employees learn the value of doing things right prepares them well for life. It also helps your store stand out from the others in the market.

Second, Jackson focuses on relationship excellence.
Everyone is on the same team and works together, as a team. As importance as task excellence is, observers credit Jackson’s emphasis on building positive team relationships as the key to the success his teams have enjoyed. Make sure that everyone on your staff knows that they not only have a seat at the table, but a voice that is heard.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.