Crazy F'in Retail

A Better Way To Develop Top Talent 👨‍🏫

February 16, 2020 Brennan Decker / Alice Fontanos Season 1 Episode 3
Crazy F'in Retail
A Better Way To Develop Top Talent 👨‍🏫
Crazy F'in Retail
A Better Way To Develop Top Talent 👨‍🏫
Feb 16, 2020 Season 1 Episode 3
Brennan Decker / Alice Fontanos

Alice and Brennan discuss the Harvard Business Review article "A Better Way to Develop Top Talent" by Margaret Rogers (Published January 2020)

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Show Notes Transcript

Alice and Brennan discuss the Harvard Business Review article "A Better Way to Develop Top Talent" by Margaret Rogers (Published January 2020)

Link to article:

Support the show (

spk_0:   0:02
retail is crazy. Your leadership doesn't have to. This is crazy f in retail with Brennan and Alice. So

spk_1:   0:20
welcome to another episode of crazy fuckin retail. Two weeks ago, we talked about toxic employees and you know how not to let him into your business, how to avoid him and how to coach him. Last week we talked about having the learner mindset and entering Lerner mode. And so this week we have a great article, a better way to develop and retain top talent. You know, Alice and I, we just thought it would be a natural berg natural progression into this topic. So, Alice, you want to kick us off?

spk_0:   0:59
Sure. Um, says Brennan said, Our article is from Harvard Business Review, and we're gonna be talking about a better way to develop and retain top talent. And, um, when we ended last week's episode, I talked about you and the environment you create. So this definitely goes hand in hand. And what wiles ring that are this article, I think the very first point that a hit it's talks about start by asking more questions to gain insights on the employees you always want to hear how your employees are feeling in the work environment and what we could do to make it better. At the end of the day, the higher and higher you get in your role has nothing to do with you. But it has everything to do with your team and all those that work under our store managers and our peers. So a few good tips that the article really talks about is what parts of your job are most interesting and rewarding. What makes them feel good? What makes the clock tick right? And I think it's a great way to identify what they really enjoy about the job on the flip side, or what they don't like about their job, right, because at the end of the day, Happy employees creates an amazing culture and in retail, in turn, Gert creates great customer service. What are some of the questions that you ask your employees? Brennan.

spk_1:   2:28
No, that's a good question, Alice. Before I start there, though, I want to just say this before you do anything in this pot that we're about to talk about it, this podcast, or implement any of the ideas from the article you know, it doesn't matter how many books you've read, articles you've read podcast you've listened to. If you have not created a culture or environment of your store in your store, that's positive. Where there's high trust and that team members want to be and look forward to being, you know, as a leader, you have to you have to create the aspirational environment, right? You have to create that place where customers walk in our team members walking and they're excited to be there. They look forward to going to work. No, I know every day is not gonna be perfect. Every day is not gonna be great. But as leaders, you have to create an environment that people aspire to create within their four walls. Because when you do that, then people say, Wow, I want to build this also, does that make sense? So once you've done that and a CZ long as you have trust and as long as your team members trust you and you built relationships and whatnot, then you start asking the questions. My one of mine favorites is just simple. What do you love about your job or about this? What you hate about this. But most importantly, what would you change? Let's say I had a magic wand and you could wave it over whatever you wanted to. What would you change and how would you change it, you know, because I want to hear about solutions and then I want to. Once we identify that, I want to help them implement it. You know, that's one. And then, obviously the other is, Where do you want to be in a year, what his level up looks like for you? Where do you want to go? And you know whether it's whether it's somewhere. Maybe they're like we talked about another podcast. Maybe they're getting their degree in a certain area. And I just helped him apply the pieces of their degree, too, this door or to the business. Or maybe they want to do more in their existing department. Or maybe they want to go to another department, you know? But I think a year out when you talk about that time, right timeframe. You can do anything in a year, right? We're not learning to be brain surgeons. You can do anything in a year. So once you get that out the way. Then you just start helping get them to where they want to go. What do you do, Alice?

spk_0:   5:09
You know, I just wanted to add One thing is, it's always good for us to ask our employees the question. Sometimes they're not confident enough to come and say, Hey, Brennan, I want more. Hey, Brennan, I want to do this. Hey, Brennan, you know what? I don't agree with you on some of these things, but what about this way? It's already hard for some of our employees to be able to do that. So making sure that we, as leaders, consistently check in with our employees, get to know them. Do you know them? You know, do you really, truly know them? Do you know what they want in life? Do they do you know what? You know? Um, what their goals are, but I think it really comes from us. Try having the best intentions and wanting to make them better, that we should consistently touch base with our employees and ask them what they want out of this. Right. Um, you know, I always tell my managers, you know, you spend more time with me than you do at home. You know what else? Store manager. We'd be working maybe 44 to 50 hours a week. We have leaders that work under us. They both. Y'all were 40 hours. They literally spend more time with us than they do at home. Right? So there's gotta be a purpose. And there's gotta be something they want, you know? Ah, lot of employees don't want to just clock in a clock out and say All right, well, that's it. If that's what we have as leaders. Probably not the best leaders, but every leader that I've had, they always want more. And they're always scared to ask me, you know, So, as a great leader, you've got to be able to ask the right questions, you know, and follow up with our leaders and say, Hey, man, what can I do better? What can I do better for you? What can I do for you today? What can I make better for you and your family or your team? Or you know what? What do you think we could D'oh! So you know, just asking the right questions to our employees are is key

spk_1:   7:06
Absolutely. I mean, I couldn't agree more. I think that, you know, if if I look at this at this article and I think about, you know, two of the key points that it has for me, that I replicable too, from my perspective to retail. So one is obviously asking questions to gain insights and that would that would go on to help custom tailor the development plan to your employees and then to is create more on the job opportunities. I think that that's one of the biggest Mrs for a lot of our store managers, including myself, when I was a store manager and even as even district, an area manager or any level are you walk, How many opportunities to make someone better Hominy learning moments Did you walk past today and they'll say I'm none. I did the did the check in right. I gave him the training when they started their shift. I gave him the training at the end of the shift. So none interesting. What about that time? Well, let's start here. What? You know, I know you're really successful in this in program A. You're really successful in that. What's your expectation there because the district's expectation is here. But yours is way above that. What's your expectation there? Okay, so that's the expectation. Well, for for you to get there, right? How do you get there? And it come back to the probably something about hiring or the culture they created. And then you'd say, Well, you know, Johnny, the guy that you gave that check in coaching to in the end of shift coaching, too. Johnny, I saw Johnny while we were talking. He didn't do what you just said. You expect him to do my Oh, okay. Yeah, that's that's one example of ah, learning moment. Right. Let's go over there and let's go. Coach Johnny, right? Don't miss that, All right? Just because you're successful and you're one of the top performers and some key performance indicator doesn't mean that every single person on a team is pulling the same direction, so don't miss those opportunities, right? There's other opportunities, right? Well, oh, man. Alice, I'm you know, I love what I do. I love where I work, but, um, you know, I'm going to school for this, and and I don't know if that really applies toe. So what I'm doing now and well, I think a learning moment could be, Well, let's

spk_0:   9:50
talk about Let's educate us. Talk about that.

spk_1:   9:54
You know, I know you're going for digital marketing right where you're going from marketing, right, and I know that what you're really focused on us is digital marketing. But did you Did you know that you know that that loyalty program that you signed the customers up for that? Actually, we have a personalization strategy behind there, and that gets them. That's the digital marketing team with our brand actually focuses on those loyal customers. Let's talk about their experience. Let's let's think about some of the things that you're learning in school and how you can take that to the oh, the loyalty the loyal customers experience. And then let's figure out how we can understand them and then maybe help the whole team get better. Maybe you can educate the entire team on how they can, how how what they do with the register connects back to the bigger picture of our marketing strategy. Would you be up for that? Would you be up for that, Alan, Right? I think. What What do you think, Alice? Do you Do you see those learning moment as an opportunity that we we unfortunately walked by Because we're quote unquote too busy?

spk_0:   11:06
Yes. You know, I you know, in the scope of retail, it's it could be fast pace when it's not fast paced than it slowed down. And we don't have enough coverage, and we have so many task to do. But, you know, creating those moments is huge. Not just for that employees before the culture of your business. You know, our last episode We're talking about the learning mode, right? And it starts with you and being ableto reach out and ask for help and say I'm struggling here, but I want to get better, right? We got to create those opportunities for employees, and too many times I've done it to saying, You know what? I have so much on my plate, you know, I'll just go see tomorrow. And I realized I'm robbing their ability to learn right when you learn something is not gonna you're not gonna get really, really good at it right away. You know, I you know this terrible to say. I don't know how to ride a bike and my age. I don't know how to ride a bike, but if I were to go and learn how to ride a bike right now, I'm gonna fall. Hence, why don't try to learn how to ride a bike. But those were critical learning experience that I will need. And I know riding a bicycle and being a leader is completely different. But you gotta fail to get back up and learn from those failures that it is so crucial for your team and for your business to really give them those opportunities. You've gotta let them fail, right? I know. About a year ago, I had an, um You know, I thought at that time an amazing candidate to take over a very, very, very small store. My boss and I don't know I'm like, but no, I believe in this person. This person could do it. Oh, my gosh. He's the fast, You know, it's only a small store. Totally could do it. And my boss said, You know what? I will support your decision. Then about seven months later, I'm like, Oh, well, you were right. But I completely learned from that right Sometimes you have to allow them to fail. And given that safe space that we talked about last week where you're like, you know what? I already knew the outcome. But I wanted you to learn it. I can't be there. Toe always called all you or I'm not gonna always be around to give you that feedback. But you gotta allow them to learn and to fail and say we'll never gonna do that again. What did you learn from it? Right? Those are critical learnings that you're gonna forever hold in your little you know, your leadership tool belt that you're like. You know what? I identify those traits right then and there, and I'm not gonna do it again. It's so crucial to make the time. And when we think about time, it's not about an hour. Two hours, it's just 10 minutes. It's a quick conversation. All right. What do you think, Brennan?

spk_1:   13:59
No, that that's That's really, really great feedback. Um, I think that reading this article just I love how it is. It rolls out its lays out development from so many different perspectives. And one of the key pieces in here is where it talks about the level of control employees have over their growth should also very right. I think it's, I mean, for our listeners that have kids, right? I have, Ah, have a five year old and I have an eight year old. And, you know, the five year old we obviously asked when we go out to eat, you know? So what do you What do you want to eat today, Right? What do you want? Right. And now the five year old. You know, we might give a little more direction like this. Okay? This is gonna take Forever Ridge. And he's not. He doesn't. He wants. There's all these options. Do you want butter noodles, or do you want spaghetti and meatballs? That's the two options, right? Or maybe the eight year old he gets toe, create more, be more selective, and and pick what he wants to order off of whatever menu he wants, right? And then maybe you get a new adult, right? And then you're talking about how you want the state cooked or how you What side you what you want on it? What, you don't want on it. All right? The more experienced people become, and the more time the more times that they show their successful in that task, the more freedom you give him and the more control over their learning experience. I think that you provide right so that high performer you might approach them with, What do you want to do? Right. But maybe the person that's Ah, that's, um maybe been there for 3 to 6 months and is it has knows how to do it. But maybe they're not a high performer yet. They still have room to grow. They still maybe they're inconsistent. You know, That's more like, um, here's what we need to do How do you want to do it? But here's the options. Maybe that day one person is, here's what we need to do and here's how we're gonna do it All right. I think that's a really critical place because you can read an article like this where it talks about a better way to develop and retain top talent and just think, Oh my God, let me go talk to every single appointment. Let me talk to every single employee and find out what they want and left. Let them. Let's just make something for them. And you know what? That sounds cool. Right? But we all in the retail understand that people need some level of structure, especially at first. So while I often talk about coloring outside the lines, you know, in the first the beginning days and their first that new hire, they don't even know what the lines are. They don't even know what the paper is or how to color. So you have to provide them structure, right? And and then you just back off and back off and back off, give more space and more space. And as they continue to deliver and deliver deliver, they get more. I think they get more control over their their development and then the regular feedback. I mean, as a store manager. You know, I think that we've probably both come up with a lot of great development plans in the past. You look, here's what you're gonna do. Um, no, actually, here's where I know you want to be. Ah ah, And manager in training. Right. So let's do this and this and this and this and this is what you're gonna do this week and then week to you're gonna do this. And then we threw you out of this. But if you don't follow up and provide regular feedback on where they're at and where the opportunities are, you can plan as much as you want. It's not gonna work. I mean, this article I can't stress enough that our listeners please goto hp arda or go. I think you get three free articles a month. Um, or you can subscribe. And this is definitely one you want to read because it lays it out in 12345 different steps on how to create a development. Uh, how to develop your team. So, um what I missed Alice. What am I missing?

spk_0:   18:15
You know, one thing I do want to add with the regular feedback and number one you got identify how your employees wants to take feedback. Do some people want to be called out in front of everybody? I'm kind of like that. I'm a big power anchor. I want to be at the top. And the moment I see somebody at the bottom, you see myself at the bottom. That motivates me. If my boss calls me out in front of me and say, Alice, you're at the bottom getting cool. You got up like I don't That's enough. You don't even need to say anything already. Got it? You know, don't even say anything. That's what type of feedback, right? That's how I like it. I like it. Very direct. Very straightforward, very blunt. Sometimes they don't hurt my feelings. Right. But then you also have some employees that are like, You know what? When you put me on blast like that, that does not motivate me. That makes me not wanna work for you, right? Some people just want you to coach them in private. Tell me what I'm good at in front of everybody. But don't embarrass me in front of other people. You might pulling me aside. You know, some people are like that. Some people, when they're number one, don't want eat a plaster all over the place. Great. Everybody's a little bit different And identifying how they take feedbacks Gotta be huge. And let me tell you, providing somebody feedback is the most valuable aspect of this entire process about retaining top talent, creating a learning environment. Feedback is so crucial but before you even provide free. But you gotta set the expectation. How are you gonna give anybody feedback when you never even told him what the job entails? Hey, Brennan. I want youto you know what you're in today From 10 to 2 our days, about $2000. I want you to about 500 bucks. You know, I want you to sell this much in accessories. I want you to get this task done. When there's no customers, you've got to set clear expectations and then every 30 minutes to an hour, provide them be back, work together, you know, But you gotta be able to set some expectations so you can give that baby back. And I think a lot of our managers struggle with that. Like, you know what? They've been here for six months out there. You know what they're doing here? Go, go, go, go, go, Go do your stuff. And then when they struggle, we struggle to give them be back because you already know units at the expectation, you know, Um, but another thing is also when you set expectations and you're providing feedback and God, they're not turning the corner as fast as you want. It's okay. Create that environment where being a learner is okay, and failing at it is okay. But you're just gonna learn from the failures, right? But as a leader, you gotta be able to see that if you're too busy focusing on some task and you don't even watch the employees struggle, shame on us. Right. But we gotta give him that space where we could set expectations, let them do it and then observe so you could provide them be back so they get better. Do you agree with that, Brennan?

spk_1:   21:25
100%. I think that one of the I think any leaders biggest opportunity, especially a new leader, is the do they know where they stand, right? I mean, so often so often whether we're a store manager and we were off on a day and then, you know, maybe the results from where they needed to be. And we asked the assistant manager Hey, what happened? Oh, man. You know, it was it was a tough day. But we missed it by a boo boo. And because of this person, or because this person wasn't, you know, I had some real challenges with this person wasn't Dem Dem A wiener wasn't bringing out what they needed to bring out the stock room. And then the next question I always ask is Do they know?

spk_0:   22:14
Oh, yeah, of course

spk_1:   22:14
they know, Of course you know. So you told him. Tell me about how that conversation sounded because that's where you can usually get in. And I guess, help identify. That's the gift, right? That you can give your team members or your leaders is is helping them understand that, you know, maybe maybe we didn't do a good enough job of letting that person No. Like you said, What? The expectation is, um, providing feedback in the moment. Um, right when it happens, I think I think that's huge, I think. And then I think that's usually one of the biggest missing components of this coaching and development process. Um, I think that, you know, after reading this article, um, on howto develop and retain top talent, I think it's really easy to look at some of these questions. What parts of your job are most interested in rewarding? What do you find most challenged right now? What did you short and long term career goals. All right, I think it's really easy to read something like this and then go focus all of your effort on the top 1% of your team members and giving them the real high level development. But what I would challenge everyone to do is ask everyone. Ask everyone from this associate that works one shift a week to your top performer that works. That works during your peak times. Ask him all because whether it's a if it's a top performer, great job. You've done a phenomenal job setting that person, that for success putting the round peg in a round hole. But if it's a underperformer, right or someone that you might have the perception of not being fully engaged, maybe it's because you're trying to put the round peg in the square hole. And so I think that, you know, every single step that this article outlines is critical. But when we're asking more questions to gain insights on employees, that's step one. I would just challenged or managers or challenge anybody to dig deeper. I think you talked about the onion before. Dig deeper, peel back the layers, the gift the truth. The core of what they want is not on the surface. Ask. I wrote a book the coaching have. It's a great book it talks about and what else and what else, Right? So what part of your job is more what parts of your job are most interesting and rewarding? Okay, nice. What else? What else? What else? Right. And just keep digging deep. That's a really basic and simple way to dig deeper. But it works. Just don't accept the first answer, because the first answer is going to be what they think you want to hear. And that's how you get round pegs and square holes and see turnover or under performances. But when you match that employees with what they want to do and what the what they're passionate around, then you're going to unlock that 1%. So I guess to you, Alice, and what else

spk_0:   25:48
you know, that 1% doesn't happen overnight. You know, um, I'm just saying about you know, in the past, we were that 1% Hence we got promoted, you know, But Brennan, even through our career and do store to store to store, we've had tons of failures. I think I've had some tough conversations. I went home upset, but with every failure that we had, we had that safe space where our boss understood. Probably probably got in trouble, maybe, and saying Don't do it again. But we make sure it doesn't happen again. Right? But that 1% doesn't happen overnight. It's about what you did do invest in these people. And, you know, um, actually, my husband gave me an analogy that finding great talent is like panning for gold. Um, he talked about, you know, when you when you're panning gold, you use a pan and you shift through all the dirt and the crap, and then you find this tiny, tiny speck of gold, and it's like interviewing rate. Sometimes you don't get the best. You're not gonna find the best person right away. But when you do, you gotta invest in them and you gotta put them in different, difficult situations. You gotta give them learning moments. You gotta ask the right questions, and you just have to be patient back. They have the potential to become the 1% but it comes from failures and successes and letting them grow and challenging them to be in a different position. Toe learn other experiences, you know? But it takes time. And, you know, all I could think of is just be patient. Just be patient. Just slow down and invest in them and say, Oh, well, they're not great at this. God, I told him one time, but it's okay. You know, um, it takes more than one time and one conversation for somebody get better. You know, Um but it's gonna take time, and I think that's the last point that I want to hit. It's about time. Make the time to provide feedback, make the time for your team, Make the time to, you know, help them understand that they are our most important portion of our business. It's because of them that we're running a successful store. Or was, you know, a successful district or organization is our people. And in retail, sometimes we get into a habit of Oh my God, I don't have a lot of labor, so I don't have time. Sorry. I got all these other things to Dio. Sorry. You know what? You could go home. Don't want to talk to you. I got all these other things to do. We It doesn't matter what kind of role you're in. There will never be enough time in a day for you to get everything done. That's okay. But we gotta make some time to have a conversation with our team to provide feedback right away. Said expect eight. I'm so sorry. Said expectations provide feedback that it doesn't have to be an hour long conversation. You don't have to be in the stock room to do it. Yeah, you don't, right. We could have an easy conversation on the sales floor. Maybe the moment they clock in, you know? Hey, you know what? You left in a rush yesterday, so I didn't get to give you some feedback on how you did yesterday. I asked you to do the shoe. Whoa. I asked you to Some shoe forms, man. I found about 10 shoe forms. Didn't do you missed it. What happened? Like oh, you know, I got busy with customers. Be like, Hey, you know what it seems like managing your time is something that you know, we got to get better up. So today's a new day. What can we do differently to change that today, right? It doesn't even have to be right then and there. It could be the next day. It could be 10 minutes. It doesn't have to be on our long to our long three are long conversation. But providing feedback to our team to our peers is so critical to ensuring that were consistently developing our talent and creating that 1% that we talked about few episodes ago about having that rock star within your team.

spk_1:   30:13
Yeah, I know a lot of great points, a lot of great points, and, um, the cool thing about people and the cool thing about being a manager is that you don't have to get lucky and find a gold nugget, right? You can turn that normal stone into gold through investing through creating, learning to embracing the learning moments to providing feedbacks feedback to asking questions right you can create. You can help get anyone. Regardless of how they come in. You can get them to that top 1% through investing in them, and that's that's the power of manager. That's the power of leadership. So, um, that that's all I got. Alice and, um Do you have anything you want to add before we hop off?

spk_0:   31:06
No, That was it. Another wonderful podcast. Thank you for listening to another episode of crazy F in retail. Like what you heard today. Subscribe and leave us a review on the podcast platform of your choice.