Monday, January 3, 2011

How to Inspire to GIVE MORE in Retail

Someone once said: „Retail is detail.“ But what detail should we have in mind when we talk Retail? Retail experts have clear answers: You can only be successful, if you manage several factors in the same time, if you multi-task, if you pay attention to smallest practical solutions. You have to be operational as well as strategic. You have to balance external and internal priorities. You have to create new opportunities and wisely manage risks…. I have one decisive addition to all of that:  You have to engage the whole team to tackle the priorities together with you.
Successful retail companies understand that they need to put service mindset as the top priority. They unite their employees around their Company’s distinctive vision, mission, strategy and plan. They understand that employees’ engagement brings rewarding way forward. Personal leadership with passion and its ability to be contagious to people motivation drives their success. It can never be just the leading role of the CEO. It is about his/her ability to create an atmosphere of sharing and learning environment. It’s about believing that employees are able to enrich the Company’s purpose in this world.
Easily written, difficult to implement especially in bigger corporations. Few years ago I have thought about how to pass to the whole organization our new consumer oriented mission, we have created with my management team to restart the growth: “At Tchibo We Give You the Best, Because We Give YOU More“. Having in mind the audience (180 shop assistants out of 340 total employees), with desire that this should be lived by everybody without me daily supervising it, I have painted a picture everybody could understand. I have summarized the desired behavioral result in a detailed mission statement that was empowering each department, each employee or each shop assistant, encouraging them to bring new ideas, motivating them to take responsibility for their (shop) operations as well as for the impact they make on consumers. Everything was supported by a visual - internally used symbol  – kind of stamp of smiling coffee, symbolizing we are not just about coffee, we thrive to provide our consumers more than anybody else. Not just coffee and consumer goods. Smile and greetings, consumer first mindset were to become the corporate standard in our shops. This idea itself would not be enough.
I have asked the department heads to summarize with their teams how they want to contribute in concrete steps to the new mission statement, how they want to GIVE MORE to the consumers, to the customers externally as well as to the other departments internally. Then department leaders presented how their teams want to support the shop assistants in their task to DELIVER MORE quality experiences to consumers.
The critical factor was the way I have chosen for spreading this new mission statement out among shop assistants. I have taken the knowledge of the Chinese Philosopher Confucius (551BC – 479 BC, China): “What will you tell me, I forget. What will you show me, this is what I will remember. What you will let me do, this is what I will understand.”
I have asked the shop assistants themselves to define and document on film, how they want to change themselves to start to GIVE MORE to consumers, based on everything they have heard. They felt enlightened by the fact that somebody was treating them with respect and trust. They started to “play” with us and presented back advertising films demonstrating top class consumer experiences they want to start to provide, with concrete examples.
I was astonished twice. First, I have seen everybody got the message and we all are united and want to go for it, secondly I have realized even big groups of people with different educational backgrounds can start to breathe for the same purpose, if they strongly believe in it themselves.
The financial results were visible shortly after we have launched this internal program. We have over-delivered our KPIs, while especially the shop performance improved significantly, despite starting economical crisis.
If YOU put all your belief in your people and in the success you want to create together, if you visualize together with them the desired outcome and “what is in it for me” i.e.for them, your employees will start to DELIVER MORE not just because they are asked to do it, but because they will have a passion to GIVE MORE. This passion will stimulate uniqueness. This uniqueness will differentiate your company from your competition.

P.S. I am happy to run workshops with your teams to stimulate the passion to GIVE MORE, so that you can DELIVER MORE ! (more at:

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