276 CEOs – Creating Great-Performing Store Directors
By Rick Moss
In the 19th study produced by the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council, researchers at Franklin Covey sought to “unlock the secrets” of great performing supermarket store management teams. In its report, and in a presentation made in the Grand Ballroom at McCormick Place during the third day of this year’s FMI Show, the Council listed “the Four Management Practices that are always found in great-performing stores but are uncommon in non-existent in lesser-performing stores.”
Ray Stewart, executive vice president, Hy-Vee, and one of the study advisors and present on Tuesday, put it this way, “We have 276 CEOs. A store director as a CEO can do more for the company than anyone else.”
In his brief overview of the extensive study findings, Bob Whitman, president and CEO of Franklin Covey, first outlined 3 key outcomes great performing managers always deliver: achieving superior financial performance relative to the given situation; earning the loyalty of customers; and earning the loyalty of store-level employees.
Covey then explained that they saw four performance conditions essential to achieving greatness:
- Clarity and commitment in the company’s overall strategic direction;
- A focus on the drivers that will move the organization directly to those goals;
- The necessary motivation that propels goal achievement, and;
- A “continual cadence of accountability” throughout the organization.
Among the numerous insights drawn from the research, Mr. Whitman emphasized that successful companies are able to recognize great performance versus giving too much credit to those who benefit from a great location and need only to “cruise on autopilot” to achieve acceptable numbers. “It’s important to look at the hand they’ve been dealt,” he recommended, and to evaluate performance “against the sales potential of a store.”
Other participants in the study effort were present for a panel discussion, moderated by Bill Bishop, president of Willard Bishop (and a RetailWire BrainTrust panelist). Asked to explain the motivation behind the study, Suzanne Wade, president & CEO, SAFD Retail Division at HEB, described the “incredible challenge” faced by store managers every day in just dealing with the complexities in “getting it all done,” let alone excelling. So, she explained, when they looked at high-achieving store leaders, they saw a need to “unlock their secrets” for the betterment of the whole.
Bill McEwan, president & CEO of Sobeys, termed it a “challenge of consistency”. He saw the need to understand what great performing stores look like and recognize the “DNA” that was inherent in the greatest store managers. He declared the study a success in that they “learned about behavior and competencies behind the scenes that animate and inspire great performance.”
All panelists reiterated the need for the head office to establish an environment for store-level management teams that stresses simple clarity of direction, simple processes, and accountability.
A summary of the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council North America’s study, Getting to Great: Mapping Management Practices that Drive Great Store Performance, is being made available for free on their Web site: www.ccrrc.org. Plans are also in place to provide retailers with an online self-evaluation survey and a workbook program at a later date.
Moderator’s Comment: How can executive management “drive great performance” in their store management teams? If clarity of strategic direction is the
key driver, how can that be best practiced and communicated to store-level workers?
Sobey’s very articulate President & CEO Bill McEwan summed it up nicely. “Now that we know what works at store level, we need to ask how we can make
sure middle and top management remove the bureaucracy and get out of the way to liberate great performance at store level.” –
Rick Moss – Moderator