A recent nugget of a story in Chain Store Age talked about Meijer Grocery Stores and their drive to re-evaluate all 4,500 of their store managers. My first thought is WOW! This type of focus on the employee base is unprecedented in most retailers.
I want to bring up a couple scenarios as they relate to the headline above.
1. I worked for a great South African/Australian guy at Disney who had the most delightful accent. Even when he gave me my nickname (Mickey Kraus – get it?), it came off as a term of endearment. His main catch phrase that we all adopted was “Lift your game” (when said with the accent makes it sound more like Leeft yoah gaime).
And so we did — it became the phrase that we chided each other with when someone wasn’t performing to their ability or something didn’t go as planned.
But our ability to “lift our game” was predicated on one very important fact — that the right people were working in the division. We couldn’t operate at maximum efficiency if we didn’t have the right team.
2. Another CEO I worked for was famous for saying, “Mike, it’s all about the People. People People People.” His point being that nothing else matters — without the right people, you don’t have the best operation you can.
I remember looking to fill a position for a special events manager and I was interviewing this woman (who was definitely qualified on paper) and at the end of the interview, I absolutely loved her. But she was overqualified. However, working in a start-up means that the more people you have that can wear different hats, the more efficient your business becomes. So we hired her because she was the right fit for the company. What we got was an employee who not only could do the job she was assigned to, but we funneled additional responsibilities to her that she took on and excelled at.
So what does all this have to do with the fact that Meijer is going to reevaluate all 4,500 of its store managers? It’s about People, people, people and Meijer’s desire to “lift their game.” And I applaud them.
THE REAL WORLD RETIALING TAKEAWAY
Meijer’s desire to become more competitive stems from their recognition that it all comes down to the people. Too many companies plug along and promote people for reasons like seniority, tenure, relationships, etc. At Disney, I watched sub-standard people get promoted left and right — not a successful way to run a company.
Ever read a book called Good to Great? It’s a good read. One of the key takeaways is that you need to get the right people on the bus and then get them into the right seat. The example with the woman above ties directly to this thought — we definitely got the right person on the bus and then she got to sit in several seats before we ultimately decided which one best suited her skill set.