Hardware Retailing

AUG 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | August 2017 44 "The best team building happens from job shadowing someone else and seeing the world from their point of view," she says. "That builds the connection, understanding and empathy for other employees." Promote Activities Outside of Work Some of the most effective team building happens outside of planned activities, and even outside of work. Finding ways to get employees to eat together, such as a pitch-in meal, is a simple but powerful way to build a team. "The best events are those that just sprout up, those that the employees plan on their own and that happen outside of work," White says. It might be a group going to the beach together, or a movie. "That's when they can let their true personalities come out and get to know each other and enjoy being with each other. Get your employees to feel comfortable being together, and you'll start to build a team." When promoting activities outside of normal working hours, make sure you are paying employees for any mandatory function. And make sure they don't feel pressured to be a part of an after-work function if it's an informal gathering where they are not getting paid. Beware of Team Killers As you work on building a team, be on the lookout for those attitudes that can sabotage your efforts. Ego is a primary culprit. There may be those who feel they are self-sufficient and have all the answers, so they don't need a team. The antidote is to encourage them to see the bigger picture. Just as harmful are the naysayers—those who are always criticizing the company, other team members or company activities. Stop negative attitudes early before they permeate the entire group, which can happen quickly. When White hears a naysayer, she doesn't call them out in front of the entire group. Rather, she will talk to them privately and ask them to tell her more about what is bothering them. "It could be that they just need to talk through the situation and don't know how to express how they're feeling about it," she says. "I don't put the person on the spot, as that might drive them further into their negative attitude, but I don't ignore it, as it might influence other people." Model From the Top Teams are stronger when employees realize that everyone, even the leadership, will help out when needed. HPM is a family business that dates back five generations. Michael Fujimoto is the current CEO and his son, Jason, is president. Michael's father, Robert—Bobby—is retired but is still a visible presence at the company. Each of those family members is never far removed from the day-to-day operations and the people who make it happen. "There are several occasions where I've spotted Bobby Fujimoto (now in his 90s) outside in the parking lot, picking up trash and putting away shopping carts," says White. "During the big tool sale we recently had at the store, Jason Fujimoto stood at the front and greeted every customer who walked in the door. If your team can see their president wants to be a part of the team, that's the biggest impact they can make." By building better teams, Tracie White at HPM hopes employees across all departments of the company will have better communication with each other.

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