Retail success can live or die by how effectively teams deliver the physical brand experience instore. Creating a harmonious working environment is all well and good, but transforming retail performance demands full engagement and ultra efficiency.
Having someone on your back because teams are underperforming is one thing. But, literally, having someone on your back – over a 253.5 metre course – is quite another. Of all the sporting events that will take place this summer, you will be forgiven if the annual World Wife-Carrying Championships pass you by.
Each year, the event held in Sonkajärvi, Finland, attracts couples from around the world. Though it’s unlikely to ever become an Olympic sport, it is does serve as a particularly good example of the symbiotic relationship that exists between people, working together ‘as one’, and enduring success.
Marriage has always been seen as a stepping-stone to stability. A demonstration of what is possible when people with a shared interest and common goals unite – the starting point to inspire a better future, if you will.
Taking the analogy a step further; marriage brings efficiency. Intuitive understanding, divided tasks, even finishing each other’s sentences. Regardless of the context – in the home, in sport, or instore, teams who work effectively with one another have the capacity for increased productivity. Find ways to ensure stores teams work more efficiently, and you will be more profitable. For retailers, it’s a simple equation.
But as anyone who has ever been married, or taken part in team sports, will tell you; success requires clear communication and understanding of roles, responsibilities and expectations. Equally, that ‘truth’ applies instore. In reality, that requires retailers to rethink traditional approaches to engagement: buying into the idea that real change can only start by securing real buy-in. In other words, winning hearts and minds. Teams will always perform well if they believe in what they are doing, and understand why. Just ask leading UK brands like O2, Sainsbury’s, Triumph Motorcycles, Big W in Australia, or any number of others we’ve worked with over the years.
Simply leading people up the mountain (or carrying them round an obstacle course) is not enough. What’s really important is equipping people with the learning, development and communication tools they need to work well together and keep them at the top. That requires training to be made believable, practical, evidence-based and focused on common sense, using the power of the group to make it stick. Success means focusing employees’ attention to ensure they don’t just get the message – they ‘live’ it.
There is a marked difference between telling people what to do, and getting them to a place where they themselves recognise what is the right thing to do. This is a crucial tipping point when store teams and senior management begin to see that getting it right delivers real performance improvement. It also has a magnetic effect on the relationship between the store and its customers.