Hardware Retailing

MAY 2018

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 | May 2018 174 Trust Your Employees It may be both a flaw and a strength, but Schaefer admits she and her husband are both very trusting people. "I know that can get you into trouble with some people, but at the same time, because we are trusting, we've been able to work with some cool people throughout the years," she says. Trust is a critical characteristic of a leader. If you can't trust those you've hired, then you might need to rethink why you've hired them. If you do have that trust, then you can make tremendous progress in your business. "There's a little bit of vulnerability involved," she says. "You can't teach trust, but as a leader it's an important trait. If you can hold on to that trust, then magical things can happen." The best example Schaefer can point to is the challenge of expanding a business to multiple locations. Many business owners struggle with opening the second location because they want to be in two places at once. They've either not found an employee fit to run the second location, or they're unwilling to relinquish control to someone else. However, learning to trust an employee to make critical decisions will free up your time. That attitude shines through in Schaefer's decision-making process. While she and her husband are ultimately in charge of the business, they are always seeking input from their leadership team. "There's not always one easy way to solve a problem," she says. "And some people assume that the boss is going to come down from on high and dictate what is going to be done. But I truly believe work is a collaborative effort." She wants her leadership team to have input on matters that affect the entire company, just as she expects their support for the final decision that is made. One of the reasons Schaefer can put so much trust in her team is that she's been careful to develop their skills. Most of her leaders come from within the company, so they usually have hands-on experience with many parts of the operation. Managers receive leadership training at an off-site program offered by their co-op. There are also monthly management meetings that include a leadership training component. For employees who aspire to move up in the company, Schaefer will put together an individualized development plan that shows the steps they need to complete and the skills they need to acquire to reach their goal. Become a Stellar Motivator Supporting the communities surrounding her stores is something Schaefer does every day, so it's no surprise that her first exposure to business leadership was through nonprofit organizations. Schaefer's employees embrace a set of core values that forms the foundation to their approach to customer service.

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