Delegation at its’ Finest :)

I have been an assistant manager at Dollar Tree, Inc. for about 1 year now, and boy, have I learned A LOT about delegation.  Before my promotion, I was a sales associate/cashier for about 2 years, so I know what it’s like to be given a ton of projects to work on during my shifts, while the assistant managers sit in the office all day.  It wasn’t until I became an assistant that things started to make sense to me and I realized how my assumptions about the managers were not accurate at all.  I felt as though it was my duty to pass this information on to the current and future cashiers of Dollar Tree, Inc.

Let’s talk about the start of my career as an assistant manager.  After all of my trainings and such, I was told that I had to delegate and assign each associate his/her tasks and have him/her complete them by the end of their shift.

 I took a step back and found myself constantly giving workers projects to work on, ensuring that the associates follow the store’s rules and regulations in the Associate Handbook (especially dress code and cell phone policy), and making sure they are busy at all times. Yes, these are all great things to do if one is a manager, but these are “textbook” guidelines.  The jobs I’d assign would never be executed correctly, or I’d be given the excuse of “I never got to it.” There was always a lack of communication between the management team and the associates, and I felt like they did not care about anything except about making money.  The hierarchical triangle was drilled into their heads–there was a divide between the managers and the associates which led to the lack of unity, support, and teamwork.  It finally hit me–my associates were beginning to feel the same way as I did when I was in their shoes!  Was it too late to change their perception of Dollar Tree, Inc. and reconstruct their idea of work?  I told myself that there was only one way to find out!

After careful thought, I decided to talk to the store manager about holding morning meetings before we opened our doors–this would help the management team of Dollar Tree, Inc. properly communicate with the associates in regards to the company’s daily goals and ways of reaching those goals.  This also gives associates the chance to voice their opinions and give feedback to the action plans the management team follows in order to keep a smile on our customers’ faces and to increase maximum sales.

When discussing work-related tasks, I would try my best to create this team-based environment, where every employee would be an equally qualified player, from the cashiers to the store manager.  I began to really explain our purpose and the reasoning behind all of the tasks assigned to the associates.  It’s a good idea to have one’s employees aware of why they do what they do because they will then take their jobs seriously and live up to higher standards. I would sometimes talk to my associates about my merchandising plan so that they know why I gave them those projects to complete.  For those employees who were more experienced, I would actually ask for their opinions and feedback after addressing a specific goal that I am trying to achieve.  I want them to understand that I value their thoughts and ideas!  Next on the agenda was to thoroughly go over the time-consuming office-related jobs that the managers had to take care of.  I wanted to inform all of the associates/cashiers that the management team handles the majority of tasks that tend to be behind-the-scenes.  It may seem like we’re sitting in the office all day long, but we’re in fact submitting the store deliveries, handling cash deposit slips, creating next week’s schedule, etc.  However, the management team cannot run the store on its own, we need our cashiers to work just as hard in order to achieve success at Dollar Tree, Inc.

I observed the progress of all the employees, and I’d realized that everyone had developed a sense of respect for one another and for the store itself.  Sales associates are now working diligently with assistant managers and vise versa.  The associates now have a deeper knowledge of the company and its’ purpose (its’ “why” factor).  More importantly, they now feel as if they play a vital role in both improving Dollar Tree, Inc.’s sales and its’ reputation as a whole.  It is safe to say that the employees’ work ethic was revamped for the better! 🙂

As Susan R. Komives states in her book, Exploring Leadership, a good leader is someone who delegates and involves others in the group’s decisions and actions.  I would advise other leaders to take this into consideration–it is very important to listen to your members’ feedback and concerns.  Make them feel heard and establish a comfortable environment where it is easy for one to speak his/her mind (in moderation, of course).

According to the “How to Enchant Your Employees” article, it is also important to praise one’s successes.  One must remember to give credit to an entire team as opposed to leaning towards individual praise–this way, the team’s success can help motivate all of the employees to work harder, can give workers a clear idea of what the company’s expectations are, and can remind them that they work for a winning company!

In addition, a good leader must depict an “I want you” image for his/her hired employees.  Knowing that you are valued and appreciated for all of your hard work makes an employee want to go to work the next day.  If a team leader shows such great respect, he/she will definitely see respect being given right back.

Lastly, have your members feel empowered to conquer anything they put their minds to.  Avoid shutting ideas down as well as creating a filter when brainstorming.  Just as the “Becoming the Linchpin” article mentions, it is essential for an organization/company to have an infinite number of choices–endless degrees of freedom.  Give your employees the ability to think outside the box, to find their ways without the assistance of a map, and to embrace the lack of stability and structure in order to discover the unimaginable.

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