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Goldman Sachs: could it be you? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alixe MacRae   

ImageThe crash-and-burn resignation of a Goldman Sachs employee was big news just the other week. While some may say he was naïve; the stock tumbled after the incident was made public. So how do you (as the CEO of your independent furniture, mattress and appliance store) control expectations in the reality of today's marketplace?

How can you ensure you are not the next front page story? When even the venerable Canadian Tire finds itself in the centre of a price-fixing scandal; every retailer should realize that he, too, is vulnerable - whether he's an independent or a senior manager for one of the majors.

Here's a simple ten-step process to staying out of trouble:

Never promise something that is not in your company's best interest. If "greed is good" state it. If the client rules; engrave it. If employee's lifestyle is paramount; live it.

Ensure every new employee knows what you stand for; good or bad. They must be willing and able to defend it. It will be part of who they are; what they epitomize. They must believe to be able to deliver.

Don't be simple; your employees are smarter than you think. Be honest with them and they'll be loyal to you. Never underestimate the people who actually deliver the product. They know your motives; maybe better than you do.

Leave platitudes in the garbage. Don't say your return policy is hassle free; when it's complicated. Never promise the lowest price; it's a trap you'll never win. Trumpet your real strengths.

Keep all employees/associates in the loop. Lack of communication is lack of faith. If you lack faith; so will all of your team. They are your family and your key support. If you can't trust someone; fire that person. It's much cheaper than a loss of reputation.

Stay true to your mantra. Don't waffle. Sears Canada now calls HR "business capability." As I previously commented this is equivalent to referring to water-boarding as aqua therapy.

Reward your team on the basis of achieving the stated goal. If customer satisfaction is paramount; use retention. If employee lifestyle is important; use turnover. If "greed-is-good" use only the bottom line.

Promote your team on the same basis. The he or she who attains the goals wins the next step up the ladder. Be clear; be direct; be Margaret Thatcher. Be a true bitch when needed.

Be the leader your team expects. If you believe; be passionate. If you don't believe; quit. You are the face of the company; you may not be Steve Jobs or Lee Iacocca but you are essence of your company.

Never, never, ever lie. Someone will always catch you. You'll be the next victim and you won't know it until it hits.

Above all else, don't be stupid. Protect your brand. For when you do, you also protect your business.

Alixe MacRae is one of this country's best known merchandisers, having held senior positions at a variety of well-known Canadian retailers including Stoney Creek Furniture, Sears Canada and The Bay. She now owns Concierge Relocation (, a company specializing in move management, especially for dramatically downsizing seniors and their overwhelmed children.

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