By Phil Lempert, RDBA CEO
Do you believe that? You should, because one of the major keys to your success is having a good relationship – and enjoying good communications - with your boss. Too often I hear about people at all levels in the retail workplace not getting the credit they believe they should for their accomplishments. Most of the time, to quote John Gray’s classic guide for effective communication, the problem is that people communicate in different languages as he explains in his best seller “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.”
The issue is not just between the different sexes, it’s that each of us have a different communication and listening style; and make decisions differently. To get your boss and your peers to understand you and your role as a retail dietitian you must come to the realization that communication is about the other person, not about you. Observe how others communicate. Are they verbose? Succinct? Under time pressure? Relaxed? Easily stressed? Do they prefer detailed in-depth reports or a one-page of highlights and results? Don’t be afraid to ask them what works best for them, how they would like you to communicate with them and how often. Understanding how they communicate will give you the clues you need to talk the same language as they do.
Next, find out what is important to your boss and top management, and be sure to align your efforts and programs to meet their top priorities and goals and how they evaluate success. What is your boss focused on? Make sure there is a clear link between his or her priorities and what you are communicating. Ask them directly what are their expectations of you. Remember that they hired you to make a difference and want you to succeed.
Effective communication is critical for your career advancement. You’ll gain greater visibility within your organization, greater influence, more respect and have more opportunities for advancement. Think of it as managing your message upward.
Retail dietitians are passionate about the work they do and helping people lead better healthier lives; and sometimes communicating those accomplishments to others, who don’t have the same passion (or understanding), may serve up responses that make you feel under valued and even angry.
As the retailer’s health and wellness advocate, you are in a very important and powerful position – be sure to highlight to your higher-ups your results, not just your activities. Giving them a list of what you are doing – how many people attend your store tours, how many newspaper interviews you are doing, how many schools you have visited - isn’t nearly as powerful as showing them how your efforts have increased sales, brought new customers to your store, or increased basket size for better-for-you products.
To be an effective retail dietitian and leader in your organization you have to be a strong communicator both with your shoppers and with your own management.