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Being an effective manager is a lot like juggling multiple spinning plates: you have to lead by example, coordinate your subordinates’ schedules effectively, handle customer service emergencies, engage with ownership, or any of another dozen duties you’re likely imagining right now. But management is more than a fun parlor trick: your livelihood and the livelihoods of other employees depends on your exemplary work. No pressure, right?
You might be surprised to learn that by focusing on a few key fundamentals, the other stuff will all fall into place naturally.
The first good practice is, of course, good delegation. After all, the list of things you can be doing is long enough, so worrying about the little things rather than trusting your subordinates to handle them is only going to drain your energy and convince them that you don’t trust them. We’ve seen countless managers, for example, who try to handle every sale that comes in, choosing to use their salespeople as assistants rather than letting them do the very jobs they were hired to do. Those managers often counter with, “But I can’t let sales slip. If I don’t do it, it won’t get done right.” But here’s the key: those salespeople can’t get better until they get more practice. You have to let them succeed—and, yes, fail—on their own merits. Focus instead on the big picture and trust the team you’ve assembled and trained to do the work.
There’s an adage about the buck stopping at the top, and it’s an important one. It’s far too easy to share in the credit of a team’s successes and pass the blame for its failures. Taking ownership is essential to being a leader: you should use “we” rather than “I” or “you”, of course. However, subordinate employees sometimes develop a kind of us-versus-them mentality when it comes to management; they see it as though they’re the ones fighting in the trenches while management judges them from high above. Accountability—for both the positives and the negatives—is the best way to combat this sentiment. The balance you must strike between being a member of the team but also its leader can be a difficult one, but taking that ownership goes a long way towards showing your employees that you’re not simply “above it all”. We often talk about building customer loyalty, which is one of the best guarantors of success. Another? Engendering that same loyalty among the staff as well.
Speaking of customers, you have to keep them and inspire word-of-mouth referrals if you hope to have a team at all. At the end of the day, earning the patronage of your customers is what it’s all about, regardless of whether it’s diners in a restaurant, shoppers at retail, buyers at dealerships, or clients at a financial institution. Insert your industry, and this still applies. Your patrons might be individuals or whole businesses—doesn’t matter. They’re people either way, and all people care about how they’re treated, from the barebones of being respectful to going that extra mile when anticipating and meeting their needs. You must expect A+ work from yourself and your employees both in this regard. Focus and accountability, especially in customer service, are mantras for the whole staff to share.
Trust. That’s the keyword in all these ideas, the shared foundation that connects them. In order to focus on your duties, you must trust your employees to do theirs; accountability inspires those same employees to trust you in return; and customer service is ultimately about convincing your patrons to trust in all of you and everything you do. If you can’t trust your employees, you’ll never get anything done. If they can’t trust you back, you’ll probably lose them. And if your customers can’t trust any of you, then they’ll definitely find an alternative.
Make trust the priority in your management style, and everything else will come together on its own. You’ll be a better manager, the work environment for your employees will be better, and you’ll deliver the best customer experience to your patrons.
To learn more about managing the big picture—from focus and accountability to customer service—reach out to us at The Brandt Group. We offer everything from secret shopping to training seminars. By learning all the right skills and getting an independent set of eyes on your process, you’ll prime yourself and your business for continued success and growth.