Manager Unfairly Perceived as Negative
A dedicated, professional Store Manager who is passionate about his/her business wants to contribute to the organization. They do that, primarily, by operating their store or business unit in a proper and profitable manner. They generally comply with all company policies and procedures; they offer excellent customer service and they recruit and retain high caliber associates. Shouldn’t this Manager be encouraged to contribute on issues that affect the store and the company?To really learn about field operations, retail executives need to nurture their relationships with Store Managers. Many Store Managers have a lot of valuable information to offer the organization. They are rarely asked to contribute but often offer it anyway. And that is where the problem starts.
Most people would answer yes to this question. However, relatively few Store Managers are asked for their opinion on issues affecting a retailer. Even when they are, asked, their responses are rarely taken into consideration when making decisions. Instead a “negative” Manager is discovered. S/he was asked for an opinion and the opinion, however realistic, however honest, was deemed to be the opinion of a negative person.
Take into account the fact that Store Managers are not necessarily experienced workplace politicians. They seldom work with others who are on the same level on the org chart. They are in charge and do not really have to be political. Perhaps they have never been exposed to politics in the workplace. Good for them. That is one area where Store Managers have an advantage over the 9-5, M-F population.
This does not mean that they are not capable of delivering their opinion tactfully but only that they express it with the goal of contributing, assisting, bettering the company. They do so without fear of reprisal because that just would not make sense, would it? They do not necessarily stop to think that if they mention that there is a problem with buying, inventory management, procedures, or anything for that matter that they will be seen as negative or that someone at Head Office is going to be reprimanded and that person will now perceive him/her as negative. Many retail careers are derailed because a Store Manager was labeled as negative. And it stays with them. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “He is a good Manager, but he is very negative.” It is unfair, to say the least.
This problem deserves attention. Things are different at store level. Before condemning a passionate Store Manager who wants to tell you how it really is in the field, think about the motivation behind it. It is not political. Think it through and you may find that the Store Manager just wants to do his/her part to help make the company better. What can be wrong with that? If they really did not care they probably would not be talking in the first place. If they were the type who just wanted to complain you would likely see that in the store results and the caliber of people surrounding him/her.