You are a leader for a challenging retail company and the new year is upon you. As you review last year’s performance, you notice areas where your team could have delivered more. From margins to inventory turns, you need this year to be better. However, how many meetings can you have to send the same message?
Gone are the days where the money was flowing in and we could have lavish summits in Florida or Arizona and kick off the new year with a bang. In today’s retail climate, everyone is clamoring for each dollar and sales plans seem farther and farther away.
You may already use an internal scorecard. It is most likely filled with actual metrics to help you plan. It is also likely measuring too many things. When too many metrics are involved , teams often find it difficult to determine what is most important. And for that, everyone picks their favorite part of the business and makes it their most important.
There is good news to be had! Here are 3 tips to align a team:
1. While every metric may be important, they are not all equal
Discerning what metrics are most important requires industry experience and sensitivity to your team. I am not advocating going rogue, however, you need to have a nose for what will get your team delivering quickly. Remember, wins create more wins.
These days, many retailers are seeing an overall sales decrease YOY. So chasing overall sales may seem to be a good idea right? Wrong. If you are in an industry such as consumer electronics, chasing big-ticket items is the shortest way around the lake, but with all of the competition, may be the slowest.
“Chasing overall sales may seem to be a good idea right? Wrong.”
To create a quick win and build momentum, consider a supporting metric that supports overall sales, yet is more attainable in the short run. E.g. attachment sales and service sales. If you determine that each big-ticket item sold needs to be complimented with accessories and services, you improve the overall ticket, increase the margin of the sale and the end user, the customer has a fantastic experience. Do this more, you attack the large sales piece and improve overall margins. In this example, a leader can make the accessory and services metrics paramount to overall sales. Senior leaders may give you a look of wonder, but if you pave the road with margin rich accessories and services on your way to sales, you P&L will gladly thank you.
2. Consistency is key
Your team will become seasick if you drop a new “most important” focus each Monday. As the leader, you must stay firm on what you determine to be critical. Yes, being a good steward and supporting Company initiative is a must. However, the moment you draw a line and determine “we are going to win at this” you will need to ensure you keep banging this drum.
“Your team will become seasick if you drop a new “most important” focus each Monday.”
Why? New things are cool right? Your team needs time to develop a rhythm for behaviors that lead to performance. If the goal line is shifting, you will not get the right behaviors to deliver results. You may have early adopters in success, but the overall team will not have their legs under them to hit the floor and make it happen. Keep them focused on what you have determined. On your weekly call or meeting, start off with what you have determined as most important, recognize the heck out of the team if they are winning and support those who may be behind, but keep your focus on point. Yes, Company metrics and seasonal focus can be added, but this is after what you as the leader has made critical.
3. Don’t let a small bump in the road throw you off
When scoring a team, you will have great months and perhaps a tough one or two. It is important to keep your leadership rudder deep in the water when you hit the waves. If each time you get an updated version you do either cartwheels or scream from a bullhorn, you run the risk of providing too much positive recognition followed by a tough period of somber depression. Your team will ebb and flow on how you behave some keep the cheers and tears in balance. Declaring victory in period one can allow the team to get too sure and lose the competitive edge so early in the year.
“The lesson here is ensuring the team understands the “how’s”, “what” and “whys” of scoring.”
So how does scoring the team fit in to the points above? Perfectly. Teams that are engaged want to win. A scorecard keeps the team aligned on what is most important and how their individual efforts are leading to an overall result. Ok, I am sure some of you are saying “I hate being scored!” Or, “scorecards make me feel pressured.” To a degree that is correct and for any type of high performance, one must focus on improvement. Guess the lesson here is ensuring the team understands the “how’s”, “what” and “whys” of scoring.
- Why is it important to keep score and what effect will it have on the overall business?
- How do my contributions to the efforts of the team affect the outcome?
- What is in it for me? Or WIIFM?
Besides, the idea is not sweat the score itself but seize the opportunity.
Overall, we are leading teams and performance must count. Scorecards are not the only way to motivate and deliver performance, however when utilized correctly, you may just be amazed on how great a team or individual can reach with checkpoints along the way. Being true to yourself and treating your team in the manner you appreciate to be treated will keep your delivery in the right direction. Remember, keeping it about your team is what truly makes the scorecard come to life.
Have you ever applied any of these strategies to your scorecards? Let us know in the comments.
About the author:
Brian Travilla is a retail leader with over 25 years of experience in a variety of industries. With a concentration on leadership and team development, Brian is an avid contributor and writer on LinkedIn and is currently publishing a retail leadership book. Brian also is a leadership coach and offers real-life experience and strategies to develop leaders to realize and develop the right skill set to deliver results and develop the team.