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Change within the large chain: look internally for managerial talent.

If we expect to still be in business in 1995 we have no choice but to face the problem of retail management now. This isn't anything's just a lot more complex today. It's also a lot riskier. One of the new breed of large stores can lose more in one year than the average supermarket grossed in 1970!

It's somewhat analogous to the airline business. The old, small DC-3 was a very forgiving airplane. But the new widebody jets are very critical...they must be flown with a great deal more care and by a much more sophisticated crew.

We are speaking of evolution, not revolution. Managers of these superstores will evolve the same as the stores evolved. They will be a new breed of managers who have apprenticed in the smaller stores, been trained in marketing as well as management information systems, and been given more formal managerial education. But where do you find this breed of "supermen"? And after you find them, how do you turn them on and keep them turned on?

First, in finding them, I believe that in most cases you already have them. Clearly, the manager of the future will come from a combination of internal and external sources, but let's never overlook the tremendous source of people available from within our own companies.

Our company has not been successful in college recruiting for highly talented college graduates who have no experience in our business, but we have been very successful in identifying bright young people within our organization and providing them with the opportunity and the financial support to complete their college education as well as graduate study.

The overwhelming majority of our current management team is home grown and a product of these internal education programs. I encourage you to carefully study the opportunities available in this resource.

After you find these highly talented individuals, next comes the major challenge of getting them and keeping them motivated. If we are to have good managers and motivated people to work in our stores, we must make the challenge crystal clear...we must help them to understand and feel the thrill of accomplishment and contribution. And finally, we must never forget to recognize and encourage excellence at every level of our organizations.

Granted, this is easier said than done because in order to prepare our companies for the future, many organizations will require major changes in their attitudes. More importantly, companies won't change until the attitude of top management adjusts to these changes.

Like all change, many of these suggested methods fly in the face of tradition. There will be many that either don't want to change or do not see the need to.

I recommend close and careful study of the findings of the research on the emerging role of the manager in the larger store. Each day millions of individuals read the financial pages of their newspapers. They all evaluate and make decisions based on their own interpretation of what they have read. The same is true of this study. Some will disregard it, some will err, and some will prosper by it. But only those who heed and who dare the rigors and frustrations of change and its impact will reap the full benefits.

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Author:Maraska, Al
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Jan 1, 1985
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