Kathie York, CSQE
Chief Wordsmith and
[Here’s the audio, if you’d like to listen.]
A few years ago, I watched a video about Walmart’s company strategies.
No matter what you think of it, Walmart is thriving.
(I don’t shop there. I didn’t appreciate the bait-and-switch from ‘Made in America’ goods.)
As supervisors (or parents!), we can learn from this retail giant in this business area:
Clear communication is the key
I have a master’s degree in project management, and remember our professors drilling this idea into us during the two years we met with them:
“It doesn’t matter what else you get right.
If you don’t communicate well, your project is in trouble.”
With this in mind, one strategy jumped out at me in the Walmart film:
The managers in the video were good communicators
We also need to communicate well if we’re a small shop with two employees.
Even if we are a small shop with no employees.
Because the customer is always there.
One of Walmart’s interesting methods pops an executive into a store.
They visit anonymously, checking it out.
If there is a problem (or something is done particularly well), it is addressed.
Here’s an example:
One store outsold every other location’s inventory of a specific item.
We’re talking worldwide.
The visiting manager discovered unique p-l-a-c-e-m-e-n-t was the key.
The product stood out … and went out in customers’ shopping carts.
This no-cost way to boost sales was communicated to all the stores.
Leaders at Walmart are not afraid to ask,
“How did you do this?”
“Why do you do it this way?”
They know great ideas come from the in-the-trenches workers at their stores.
Let’s dump the platitudes
Walmart managers don’t think in these ‘never’/‘always’ terms:
“We’ve never done it that way.”
(Did you just cringe?)
– or –
“We’ve always done it this way.”
We shouldn’t go there, either, but it’s easy to slip into this mindset.
We’ve figured out the best way to < fill in the blank>.
Our team needs to listen to us.
It’s hard to argue with success.
When was the last time we incorporated a suggestion from our rank and file?
Two listening examples from my world
When I taught high school biology and zoology, some of the best ideas (and the biggest changes in my lesson plans) came from my students.
Sometimes, they came from the most surprising students!
They usually had good points. And I typically changed something.
Nowadays, my editors and proofers have a knack for asking, “Did you mean…?” when I’m absolutely, positively, 100% sure one of my documents is ready to go.
They usually have good points. And I typically change something.
(or – in both cases – I explain why I don’t)
NOT another 2020 vision cliché (you are welcome!)
We have settled into our new-decade-of-2020 routines by now.
We are clickin’ along and getting things done.
But we can still take advantage of improved methods for most of the year.
Here are three questions to ask ourselves as managers or owners:
“Do I listen to staff, vendors, and family?”
“Do I at least consider their suggestions?”
“Do I communicate, or do I just … t-a-l-k?”
Staff. Vendors. Family.
All three are excellent sources of ‘fresh pair of eyes’ ideas.
Wrapping it up
Let’s communicate strategically with the folks we see regularly. (Check out my Titanic post on strategic management. It’s not what you think!)
We can learn a whole bunch of good stuff from our staff, those vendors who may know about exclusive deals coming up, or our family members who may see us heading in a bad direction.
The Walmart managers in the video understood: the best ideas don’t always come from management. From you and me.
Let’s all memorize:
“Sometimes, the best ideas come from wwaayy beyond my desk.”
Repeat as needed.
Join the Conversation
It’s your turn! Please select one of these discussion topics, or bring your own.
Tell us about a
• Way you reward employees for offering suggestions.
• Boss who mentored you and incorporated your idea(s).
• Unique method you use to communicate with your team.
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Let’s all learn from each other
Thanks for stopping by!
I look forward to talking with you about your next writing project.
Click here to email me and start the conversation: Kathie@KathieYork.com
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