Step back and feedback: An owner’s road to leadership

by Evan Weselake

At the Alberta Gift Fair we talked about numerous ways to clarify expectations and build motivation and focus. One thing was written down by everyone! The simple (yet sophisticated) idea that your role is to step back and give feedback.

The idea of stepping back applies to you as a leader for a couple of reasons. First, you must stop taking on each problem. Each time you step in and solve a problem for your staff it teaches them. It teaches them that they do not have to solve, they do not have to think (that much) and removes responsibility. (Yes, you are ultimately responsible and I know you want things to be right). But really your role as leader/owner is to establish the expectations. To clearly name the outcomes/goals everyone aims for and key criteria in reaching them.

If you solve for them, if you tell them what to do, then accountability goes out the window and you’ll never have a day off. Stepping back is a longer road and leads to a better place.

The second part of stepping back is perspective. It is the owner’s role to see the forest, not the trees. To see how any given challenge, opportunity or behaviour fits with the bigger plan.

Ask yourself every day, “How does this [behaviour/solution] fit with what we want the store to be? How does it fit with ‘who’ we want the store to be?”

That perspective leads us to feedback. It is your role to connect actions to outcomes. As outlined in our seminar, if you want staff to be motivated then your task is to:

  • Find things they are doing right (however small)
  • Name it specifically (so they know what to do again)
  • Tell them the outcome of that positive action (connect it)

Feedback works because everyone wants to get better. Because nothing feels better than getting better, and most of the work our staff do does not create feedback by itself. So we do it.

This concept of stepping back and feedback is tough. It means you have to slow down and observe. It means you have to not be the doer or the solver but rather be the person who sees where things could go. You play a bigger role – that’s how engagement, focus and the business will improve.

Evan Weselake is an eloquent speaker and facilitator, conducting more than 1,200 workshops and keynotes in the past decade. As a coach and consultant, he has worked with clients in retail, oil and gas, health care, the financial sector, service sectors, academics and the hospitality industry.

Evan was a Retail Solutions Seminars presenter at the recent Fall 2017 Alberta Gift Fair.