Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors
August 25, 2016  |  ByNAW Staff
NAW-The Mini-Huddle Culture

Author Jim Ambrose says Fundamental 3 in 5 Fundamentals for the Wholesale Distribution Branch Manager, Second Edition is called “Team Building and Problem Solving” and it’s all about the power of the people engaged in the branch business to solve problems on their own. The mini-huddle concept is a quick and easy tool for branch leaders to use to get people engaged and aligned with the total business activity.

It is essential for branch managers to create an environment where employees feel responsible for the total branch performance and a culture that encourages proactive problem solving by pulling together the right people that touch the process and work out the improvement.

Here is how you begin to create the mini-huddle culture in your business. Think about your business. If your business is perfect, it

  • has all the right inventory at all the right times
  • has inside salespeople who have all the right answers for customers
  • always has the exact market-level price
  • delivers products just when customers expect them
  • has knowledgeable outside salespeople focusing 100% of their time and effort on only the right accounts
  • spends exactly the right amount to maximize profitability.

If this were your business, you would dominate if not completely own the market. You probably are not there. So how do you energize branch employees to focus on constant improvement, problem solving, issue resolution, and performance improvement?

You could do what many mediocre managers do and give them a lecture about it. Tell them that you see a need for improvement and that you must all work harder at solving problems. You certainly can try changing people’s behavior by lecture method, but a better approach is to work on changing the culture. Make problem solving and product improvement a way of life for your total branch team.

Don’t be the heroic manager. Lead by developing branch employees to find solutions with and without you. Help them become leaders and build performance teams and problem-solving teams within your branch. This is one of the most critical leadership roles for the successful branch manager.

There are six steps along this journey:

  1. Develop a vision. You must constantly communicate this vision and lead by example at all times.
  2. Share the decision-making and problem-solving process. Involve only the people closest to the outcome of the decision through functional and cross-functional process teams and instant huddles.
  3. Be aware of what is going on around you in the branch. Give on-the-spot feedback on performance if it is good, and provide coaching immediately if it is not.
  4. Stay engaged in all of the processes.
  5. Be the boss when the situation requires direct or immediate action.
  6. Establish a feedback process to evaluate your leadership effectiveness and assess your professional growth.
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