retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

For the past few years, hardly any sports team has posted a run of success to equal basketball’s Golden State Warriors. Eric Housen has had a big hand in that, though he has never played a minute.

Housen is director of team operations for the Warriors, charged with countless small, yet essential details. His duties range from overseeing the team’s travel needs to setting up locker rooms with the right equipment, stopping the occasional fight and even buying the exact snacks required by each member of the team.

A recent profile on Housen in the New York Times detailed the wide range of duties and absurd hours his job requires.

Housen does it all knowing the million details of his job make it easier somehow for millionaire athletes like Stephan Curry and Kevin Durant to guide the team to a championship.

Most employees don’t see their efforts translate into anything as straightforward as wins and losses or championships on a basketball court, but that doesn’t mean they see their jobs as anything less important than Housen’s. Retail jobs and those that support them are hardly glamorous, but the folks doing it recognize their importance and their purpose.

We’ve see that play out this year in areas hard hit by hurricanes or wildfires. Somehow stores stay open, staffers come to work and products get on the shelves. And we’ve seen the importance of these efforts in bringing both essential products and a feeling of normalcy to hard hit areas.

The value of those efforts might mean more to staffers than we might think possible. Inc. magazine had a recent article on the importance of meaning and connection to employees at all levels. As the article detailed, purpose and connection - between team members and with the larger community - can mean more than all the culture-raising efforts companies usually attempt.

And the implications can be measured.

The power of employee engagement was the subject of a recent study from the Coca-Cola Retail Research Council focusing on convenience stores. The study - available here - was able to show how engagement both with shoppers and other staff leads to improved sales, profits and customer loyalty.

What’s more, those same efforts lead to improved employee satisfaction and lower turnover. And as the report found, the key to building all this success frequently comes down to improved communication throughout the organization especially from each level of management to their subordinates. (Full disclosure: I serve as research director to the Coca-Cola Retail Research Council.)

In other words, by reinforcing the importance of front line jobs, we help our companies, our communities and even our bottom lines. That’s a winning combination that even the Golden State Warriors might find enviable.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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