Tag Archives: change

Why Are Australian Retailers turning to the UK for Leaders?

I know what you’re thinking. Surely we have enough great retail leaders on our home turf, right? Well, not according to the facts and figures. The people behind the large supermarkets and major retail stores in Australia seem to prefer the idea of been led by the British. In fact, more and more UK retail executives are being called upon for their services.

Businessman holding in hand a global connection,communications concept

Now, I don’t know about you, but it bugs me a little bit. More than a little actually! That said, we wouldn’t have to look further afield for worthy talent if we had it on our own doorstep. Even Woolworths is believed to be getting in on the poaching action. So, why is this happening?

The reason is that some of the leading UK trained executives have the ability to take an average, or even good, retail store and turn it into a bloody great one. That isn’t to say that Australian leaders can’t do the same, but let’s take a look at why international retail talent is so desirable.

New blood = significant change

According to some of the big retail players, they experience less positive changes when hiring Aussies. However, management and leaders from abroad know how to make the right changes to stay competitive. It’s like a breath of fresh air for retailers that have struggled with strategic foresight and innovation. Many believe that foreign talent also have the edge because they have new unencumbered views.

So – what does that say about us? We’re afraid of change. I don’t understand why, though. Consistency and less change are not going to make you stay ahead of the game. In fact, it will do your organisation more harm than good. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen businesses stay in the shade while others are moving forward in the right direction.

The longer you avoid change, the more expensive change will become. That means you’ll spend more investing in things your competitors have already done. If you ask me, there’s no point in investing in change at all when you’re already too far behind everyone else. You should constantly be investing in change as your business grows.

Think back to 2008 when UK retail executive, Ian McLeod took up the reigns at Coles. His no-nonsense, low-cost strategy was a winner from the get-go. In 2015, David Jones headhunted John Dixon for the CEO role. John Dixon played a huge part in turning around the Marks & Spencer food business, which is an area David Jones were desperate to get into at the time. These are only two out of a countless number of UK leaders who have made their way to Australia.

Take a leaf out of some of the British-trained executive’s books and start delivering global standards and experience. If you don’t, an overseas leader might end up being your replacement.

 

The Challenge of Taking Over Leadership of a Retail Team

You’ve landed the management gig. Let me start by saying congratulations. But before you get too carried away, it’s important to remember that (at this time) you’re nothing more than an outsider. That means you’ve got a lot of impressing and learning to do.

It’s also worth pointing out that resignations can follow structural changes, so you might find a few unwanted letters on your desk when you walk into your new office. Combine that with figuring out what’s what, and you’ve got one hell of a challenging road ahead.

In any event, there are some things you can do to bring yourself up-to-speed quickly and ensure your team accepts the recent change.

Successful businesspeople sitting at conference or seminar during lecture

Successful businesspeople sitting at conference or seminar during lecture

Start by gathering information

You can’t just walk into your new role and act like you know everything because we all know that isn’t possible. Plus, that fancy title you’ve just been awarded isn’t going to be enough to win over an existing crowd. If you want respect, you need to earn it.

The one thing you can do is gather as much information as possible and start teaching yourself about your organisation and team. You should learn:

  • Your organisation’s values, mission and culture
  • The company procedures and systems
  • Workplace expectations
  • Performance standards
  • What your team actually does on a daily basis
  • The exact role of each team member
  • How the work actually gets done

It’s crucial to start off on the right foot and be prepared to ease the transition period for everyone involved.

Make a great first impression

Management changes in any company can make existing members of staff feel uncertain and apprehensive. When you first walk through the door, you can’t blame your new team for questioning whether or not you’re going to be a great person to work with. There’s only one person that can prove you are worthy of the role and their approval – and that’s you.

It’s likely that your personality and management style will differ from the person’s shoes you’re filling. That’s perfectly fine. Having said that, you need to show everyone that you’re happy to be there. Make sure your body language reflects that of a leader who genuinely wants to learn the ropes. You also need to keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut in terms of making important decisions early on.

Establish rapport one-on-one

Getting to know each employee as a person will help to form some trust and enable you to learn the fundamentals of his or her job. It also helps to put your new team members at ease with you as a person. Meet one-on-one and start by asking questions about their current tasks and responsibilities within the company. You can even ask about what they’d like you to bring to the table as a manager and any issues that have been hindering them before you arrived.

Once you’ve established a bit more about their role, ask them about their family and hobbies. You can also share some of your own stories and personal interests. It will show that you care about getting to know them, which in term, can lead to staff members being more open with you. Just make sure you make the time to meet up often with every person, especially in the first few months.

Hold team meetings

It’s a great way to grow your team and bring in fresh thinking, which are two things everyone in your organisation can benefit from. Holding regular team meetings also gives your team the opportunity to speak off the record and in front of each other. You can encourage interaction with some simple questions, such as:

  • What changes would you like to see in the team?
  • Are there any things you wouldn’t like to see changed?
  • What do you expect from me?
  • Do you feel you need further training in your role?

These are all important questions to ask when taking over an existing team. You can add to them and ask your staff whether there are any other things they’d like to discuss in your meetings. As time goes on, your brainstorming sessions will change – but always ensure your meetings are about work only and not the personal traits of any employee.

I should also point out that you absolutely must take notes during group meetings. You might find that certain individuals make comments that would be good main topics for future meetings or valuable points that you’d like to follow up on in one-on-one sessions.

It’s a lot of work, isn’t it? However, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can build a strong and loyal team when you manage your staff well from the get-go. Good luck.