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Five Winning Strategies: A New Mindset for Assessing Talent

What’s working for retail brands and why?

At Herbert Mines Associates, we are excited to see that there has been positive momentum for retail in the first six months of 2018.   As Hal Reiter, our Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, aptly said late last year, “retail isn’t dying, it is just changing form”. 

Operating as strategic thought-partners for over 40 years, we have a unique vantage point from which to witness this unprecedented acceleration in the pace of change.  As we are uniquely privileged to observe the organizations that are paving a new path, we have found that these companies:

1.       Accept that retail is CHANGING

2.       Anticipate the CONTINUATION of change

3.       ADAPT accordingly

We understand how this attitude of Acceptance, Anticipation, and Adoption applies to talent. Companies operating with a winning mindsetrecognize the nuance of assessing talent in these five new and profound ways:

-   Look for the Retail “DNA”

Within high growth scenarios, the ideal candidate has a combination of the right training plus the right “DNA”.  We find that the most important “DNA” for a high growth retail leader is the ability to be a fast-learner, entrepreneurial, commercial, agile, nimble, decisive, fact-based, and courageous.  

-   Test on Culture & Character 

Beyond assessing experience and track-record, understanding company culture is more critical than ever.  Beyond the specific experience profile and functional acumen and in a landscape where retailers win based on innovation, speed and flexibility, personal and character attributes differentiate order-makers vs. order-takers. Winners have inspiring personal leadership, communicate passion and serve as an effective brand steward, both internally and externally.

-   Identify the Innovator

When looking within larger organizations for talent, look for those with the disruptive mindsets. These individuals may not have entrepreneurial / high growth experience, but those with who combine fundamental training with a change-agent mindset are better suited for long-term, high-growth leadership roles. 

-   Place the Long Bet

Typically, senior executives have either maintained high growth at larger companies OR helped high growth in smaller concepts. Those who have gained best-in-class training AND led high-growth are highly sought after. Therefore, organizations should consider “untested” talent for these leadership roles, individuals who may not have owned end-to-end responsibility but have the relevant experience to piece it all together. 

-   Hire the Risk-Taker

The right candidates, particularly in retail, no longer see the world in ‘black and white’.  They think and act like the customer and find alternative solutions beyond the constraints of traditional channels (i.e. lease terms, buy online return in-store).  The new Retail Leader is someone who is comfortable taking risks and confident in leading others whilst doing so.  

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