This is a test…

[dropcap size=small]Q[/dropcap]uite a few years ago, while living in Georgia, I worked for a manager who got less out of more than anyone I’ve ever known. He had a staff that could have lifted the company to great heights. Unfortunately for his employees and the owners of the company, he was more interested in “controlling” his staff than using them to their greatest effect.

I won’t give you his name — incredibly, he’s still in charge — but he once told me he was “too busy to hire help.” And although he demanded that new hires come with considerable subject matter expertise, he never let them use it. He rarely met with staff because he didn’t value their input — it was a burden.

This guy had all the answers … or so he thought.

Working there was stifling, but what’s worse is this manager is not alone. There are lots more like him, and few realize what a terrible job they’re doing.

Are you one of those managers? Here’s a test:

  1. Have you had a full staff meeting in the last month to discuss big picture issues like store layout, inventory, marketing and promotions? Did you offer an agenda several days in advance of the meeting, so employees could adequately prepare? Did every employee have a chance to contribute during the meeting?
  2. Have you given an employee the opportunity to execute on one of his or her ideas in the past 60 days?
  3. Have you created an opportunity for an employee to advance his skills and expertise outside the store in the past six months — perhaps by attending a seminar or workshop or gaining certification of some kind?
  4. Did every employee who left within the past year get an exit interview?
  5. If you answered “No” to any of those questions, you have some changes to make. You’re not the manager you could be and it’s costing you money … I guarantee it.

Not to be impersonal, but employees are assets, and any manager not maximizing the resources available to him is holding the business back and stunting the careers and development of the unfortunate persons reporting to him. It’s bad for people and bad for business.

If you’re doing a good job of hiring, you need to leverage and develop your staff to get the most out of them.

That means more than just letting them put baits on a peg, dip minnows out of the bait tank and lock the door on the way out. Anyone can do those things. You didn’t need to interview candidates for those tasks. If an applicant could find your store, he could do those things.

You need real help, meaningful help. You need people with ideas and motivation. You need people with ambition and passion.

Not every employee in every retail tackle store has those qualities, but they should. There’s really no reason to hire anyone without them. In today’s economy, it’s an employer’s market, and ours is an industry that a lot of people are passionate about. If you can afford to pay a reasonable wage, quality candidates should line up to come work for you.

You might as well get the most out of them.

If you’re hiring right, you’re getting people who can do much, much more than the basics of maintaining a retail store. Let them, empower them, help them help you.

And if you truly can’t get more out of your staff, maybe you need new staff … or a better manager.

A rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s be that tide.