When selecting new managers, look to your existing colleagues first – the grass is not always greener on the other side.
The Bible’s exhortation “not to covet our neighbours’ wives” may not seem immediately relevant to the pages of Retail Week.
However, I’d suggest that it provides an important perspective for us as leaders of retail businesses.
Our success stems from the behaviours of our frontline staff. These colleagues are our ambassadors. They know our customers better than anyone. Let’s cherish and nurture them.
An ongoing challenge for retail leaders is to identify future talent to lead an organisation’s progression.
I believe that, in more cases than not, the answer lies with the staff we already have.
Yet too often when recruiting for managerial roles, we look covetously at what’s available elsewhere. We find ourselves dazzled by the new and exciting.
Potential hires with impressive company names on their CVs may make established colleagues seem rather pedestrian. But, if we’re not careful, we can end up taking our existing colleagues for granted.
It’s a temptation I seek to avoid. Of course, people who want to work with you will make their experience sound as good as it can be. So at least on paper, they may appear the better option.
“Internal candidates already know a business, its culture and its customers, whereas external recruits have to learn about the business mode”
Leo McKee, Brighthouse
There are times when an external hire can give a valuable fresh perspective. But this shouldn’t be the norm.
At BrightHouse, we strive for an 80-20 matrix, where four out of five appointments should be internal.
Internal candidates already know a business, its culture and its customers, whereas external recruits have to learn about the business model and how it operates.
Managers who have worked their way up through the business already have that in-depth understanding.
Our colleagues in our stores have confidence that, with hard work and application, they can progress within the organisation. Our retail director was once a deputy store manager. Our new HR director is an internal promotion.
I believe that empathy comes through as they embark on their management roles.
Carving out a promotion pathway
In encouraging progression from within, we are far from alone. Many of today’s top retailer executives have practical experience of life on the shopfloor.
That’s not to say that an internal promotion pathway looks after itself.
“We owe it to our colleagues to ensure they have the opportunity we had to grow within the business”
Leo McKee, Brighthouse
It is essential to recognise, and have planned development for, new skills such colleagues will have to acquire.
For example, stepping up from a store manager to an area or regional manager role requires new capabilities such as managing from a distance.
Ultimately, we owe it to our colleagues to ensure they have the opportunity we had to grow within the business.
Our job is to identify those people with the knowledge, skills and attitude to step up through the organisation, and then help them do it.
I am convinced that doing this helps achieve a more engaged, committed workforce, and one which is confident that they work for a company that believes in them.
- Leo McKee is chief executive of BrightHouse