Leading from the back(room)
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Retail Contrarian, the blog of the Dynamic Experiences Group.
Most of the time I write about leading from the floor, but there are times you need to be in the back. Here are some tips and reminders for how to be a better leader from the backroom.
1. Avoid the backroom! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Of course, sometimes we just have to work in the office, but that should be the exception and not the rule. Be sure you choose the right times when you’re in the back instead of on the floor leading and coaching.
2. Let your staff know what you’ll be doing in the back. This simple action lets your staff know that you’re not just hanging out in the back playing solitaire while they work the floor. It really makes a big difference in how your staff perceives your absence from the floor.
3. Let the staff know if and when they can interrupt you. One day I was working in the back, and when I came out I was told I had missed a huge rush. They may have been so busy that they missed some sales. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why nobody came to get me. I eventually realized that it wasn’t the staff’s fault. It was mine, for not telling them they could and should.
4. Ease your way back in to the floor. Leaders need to avoid "throwing on the cape" before walking out on the floor. It’s annoying when a manager walks out from the back and asks if people have been helped. You know the staff wants to reply, "Duh. If you were on the floor you would know." Even worse is when the manager walks out and starts asking customers if they’ve been helped.
Yes, we’re wired to immediately start running the floor when we come out from the back. The problem is, when you do this it sends the wrong message to your team.
Trust your team. They can run the floor without you — and if they can’t, then what are you doing in the backroom? When you walk out, just ask your employees, "What customer can I help?" It’s as easy as that.
What tips would you have for managing floor leadership and backroom chores? Which are the most critical mentioned in the article?