In the retail sector, we’re pretty good about holding our store managers accountable.  We crank out all kinds of objectives and measurements to make sure that each location can ‘hold its own’ as a separate business unit … and heaven help the Store Manager who isn’t up to snuff!

But are we just as diligent in holding District Managers accountable?  Generally speaking, the answer is “No”.

When a district or region is under-performing compared to others, retailers aren’t nearly as quick to assess and address the impact of the territory manager.  Whether it’s because that role is perceived more as a supportive function than one of direct responsibility or we simply don’t establish and collect the necessary metrics to complete a proper territory evaluation, somehow the DM involved isn’t always held to task.  It’s time to correct that situation.

Now we’re not advocating that you go out tomorrow and ‘lower the boom’ on your DM’s.  They play a critical role in the success of your organization and their job is definitely not an easy one.  Such an important position, however, must be objectively reviewed on a regular basis.  Good performance must be recognized and poor results must be immediately addressed.

When stores are not hitting their assigned targets, the staff and managers are not always entirely to blame.  There are some fundamental basics beyond employee diligence, effort and attitude that have an impact on results.  For example, how does staff turnover compare with the rest of the company?  What emphasis is placed on consistent recruiting efforts?  Do employees receive regular and relevant training?  How is their compliance with company procedures and standards?

These are some of the areas where District Managers can and must focus significant and specific attention.  Where they are found lacking, poor store performance is sure to follow.  So don’t let things deteriorate.  Include these responsibilities in your DM evaluations and demand improvements as soon as deficiencies are identified.

Every position in your organization makes a substantial contribution to overall results.  If it didn’t, you would have eliminated it (hopefully!) a long time ago.  Therefore, it’s only fair that each one is held accountable for its results. 

Reward your people for their achievements at every opportunity … and establish an action plan for anyone who isn’t cutting it.  These are a few of the critical ingredients for long-term success.  Ignore them at your peril!

We’ve trained thousands of District Managers over the years.  What’s amazes us is that very few had ever had any training on how to do the job of a DM.  What also amazes us is that very few had a system in place that clearly defined objectives for success and a process for evaluating their performance.

What amazes us even more though is how critical the DM position is to driving results in the territory.  There are thousands of DMs out there working hard every day.  Give them the support they need to succeed … and measure them to ensure they are delivering the results you need.

Kevin Graff is the main guy behind all things Graff Retail. A renowned retail expert, Kevin is recognized in the retail industry as a speaker, author and expert trainer. Kevin's main passion is to help retailers drive staff performance.

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