CHICAGO — Supermarket companies that tend to promote managers from within should take care to remain receptive to business concepts and practices generated outside their companies, said panelists at the Food Marketing Institute Show here last week.
“There are of lot of advantages to coming up through the ranks,” said Rajiv Lal, a professor of retailing at Harvard Business School. “But at the same time, you want to have a culture where you are open to ideas from the outside.”
He even suggested it might be advantageous for retailers from different classes of trade to consider trading store managers among each other to help develop more well-rounded individuals.
Russell “Tres” Lund, chairman and chief executive officer, Lund Food Holdings, Minneapolis, said his company reached a point where it needed to bring in management help from outside.
At the same time, he said it is important for new hires to know they have an opportunity to move up in the ranks.
“I think it is a good practice for people when they start with us to know there are opportunities,” he said.
“I think the biggest challenge in talent development is recognition by senior management that real competitive advantage will come from investing in your people,” he said.
Jane Knaack-Esbeck, vice president of human resources and administration at Hy Vee, West Des Moines, Iowa, said careful hiring of new applicants and conducting regular performance reviews can help senior management focus more time on developing future leaders from the company's best performers, rather than wasting time disciplining the “bottom 20%” of employees that are underperformers.
“If you hire right, you don't have as many of those 20% to worry about,” she said.