This chain of retail stores has one store under the direction of a single manager. Initially two of the managers we were asked to coach were overseeing stores that were on a downward slide in terms of sales and customer growth. The company was at the point of believing that the solution was to ‘demote’ these managers to a support position and bring in leadership to accomplish the company goals. It is important to realize that both individuals had been previously productive and successful and only in the most recent eight to 10 months had they begun the downward slide.
We interviewed the individual managers and those to whom they reported directly and indirectly. Through these interviews we gained the related perspectives of those involved in areas of both strengths and weaknesses. With a
…our coaching was directed at making the managers totally dispensable to the day-to-day operation. It required delegation, communication, willingness to “let go” and accountability.
clear understanding of what was expected and needed, as well as where that manager was “at the moment,” we scheduled weekly coaching sessions with each manager and began the process of working through the challenging areas that were keeping each one from being the person that they had previously been and that the position required.
In both cases, as the manager realized they were failing to be effective, they withdrew to doing tasks and activities more associated with associates hired to work on the floor of the store or, at best, those usually delegated to an assistant manager. The managers agreed that their real job was the overseeing of driving increased sales, retaining current and attracting new customers, and increasing the average purchase value of each customer coming into the store. This was ideally their only focus, whereas the day-to-day operation of the store was to be left to all other associates and overseen by the rest of the management team (assistant managers and supervisors). Thus our coaching was directed at making these managers totally dispensable to the day-to-day operation. It required delegation, clear communication, willingness to “let go” and accountability.
In each case, the stores were made to operate without the involvement of the top manager (driving manager) on a day-to-day basis. All tasks associated with this were delegated to others and in every case there was a backup roster of trained associates who provided the cushion between the operation task and the store manager. As a result (and because they could focus on their primary challenges), sales began a dramatic growth, the customer-count grew, as did the average being spent by each customer. The two stores involved went from being the last in terms of performance, to consistently being in the top four. A further reaching result was that this company contracted with The Third Zone to coach their additional nine store managers, realizing that although their stores were performing in an acceptable manner, through coaching the potential for improved performance was significant and realistic.