You report to a strong, successful leader. What are some of the strengths necessary in your position to be successful?
My role involves working cross functionally with numerous business groups across the organization and this definitely requires political agility. People often have preconceptions about the LP department that are not always easy to overcome. Our team truly believes in supporting the enterprise beyond our direct accountability for inventory shrink and safety. Identifying where there may be interdependencies with other departments and leveraging our resources to assist with their initiatives helps to break down silo’s and forge strong relationships across the enterprise.
Another strength necessary in my role, and across every role within the organization, is the ability to embrace change. With many new corporate initiatives on the horizon it’s important to keep an open mind and not only embrace change but also help to foster a change mentality within our own department. Having an entire team open to change inspires creativity and innovation.
What are some of the expectations that your boss has of you?
A primary expectation of my role is to collaborate with functional business groups responsible for new initiatives and become familiar with rollouts that will impact the organization in the near and long term. As part of that collaboration I am expected to (1) determine how our team can integrate and identify solutions to support corporate initiatives and (2) identify how those initiatives will impact inventory shrink / safety and develop strategies to mitigate.
My role also involves the creation and delivery of processes to the field and store teams. A fundamental expectation is that I look for ways to improve efficiencies and streamline processes. I search for every possible way to make our field and store teams job easier and more effective.
Identifying ways to improve efficiencies has been simplified by a tool that Lowe’s rolled out last year called “Connections.” This online tool allows employees to stay connected to what is going on within the organization and with each other. It provides them with an open forum to share thoughts, ideas and to provide feedback. It also allows us to solicit input and perform online focus groups. This has been an exceptional resource to help us identify what works, what doesn’t and helps to identify ways that we can improve upon processes. Our store teams truly have a venue to shape decisions and processes for the entire organization.
Beyond just his expectation for me, Claude has one basic expectation for everyone within our department. That is to strive for solutions that will further enhance the shopping experience for the 99% of our legitimate customers. We have found that by doing this we are able to more easily weed out the 1% who may have questionable intentions. A good example of this would be our returns platform that was built around the premise of providing excellent customer service while being extremely efficient at reducing fraudulent refunds.
Do you feel like you have the autonomy and/or authority to implement your boss’ strategy and vision?
Absolutely. Claude Verville makes this very easy because his strategic vision aligns perfectly with enterprise initiatives. He takes time to educate his directors so that we have a thorough understanding of these initiatives and we collaborate as a team to ensure that everyone’s assignments or projects are working to support this vision. As a result, he trusts every direct report with the autonomy to make good business decisions, represent our department appropriately and implement solutions in support of this vision.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
Initially the most difficult part was getting plugged in with all of the various groups and departments throughout the organization responsible for developing and executing corporate change initiatives. I thought that I was pretty well connected being based out of the corporate office in my prior role as a Divisional Director. As I transitioned into this role I immediately realized how much of the corporate environment I had not yet been exposed to. As I developed some initial partnerships I quickly began to get linked in. Many groups who previously may not have thought to include our department in a discussion will now reach out and provide us with a seat at the table.
How do you manage your boss?
I don’t think there is anything more important than communication. With all of the competing demands for his time I try to identify where my projects/initiatives rank on his global list of priorities and schedule time with him accordingly. This way he is able to dedicate sufficient time to topics that need his attention and / or require his support.
Is it important that your style of management or leadership compliments your boss’?
I think that leadership styles can be distinctly different but still complement each other very well. A positive and productive relationship can be formed as long as there is a mutual level of respect for each other’s contributions and approach to the business. More important is that your leadership style fits the needs of the role and personalities of those you lead and that you have the ability to adapt that style based on the needs of the individual and/or situation.
With that said, there is also the potential for distinctly different leadership styles to create conflict. If the head of your department has a collaborative approach and his subordinate is all about command and control then this certainly could create friction and/or jeopardize relationships within the department or partnerships with other groups. It is important to always keep in mind that you are the face of your department to those you are interacting with and you must always represent your department and your boss appropriately.
What do you like best about your position?
Collaborating with groups across the business and being at the forefront of change within the organization. This opens the doors for innovative thinking to identify solutions to challenges faced not only within Lowe’s but the retail industry as whole.
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
I think I would have to choose time travel. As technology advances and continues to alter consumer shopping habits and expectations it will be fascinating to see where we are 5, 10 and 20 years down the road. The face of retail, and subsequently our industry, will change over the course of the next several years. I can’t wait to see how it will be transformed 20 years from now.
What is on your iPod?
Thanks to iCloud I have several Apple devices that share the same apps. I have to mention the Lowe’s App, not because I work for Lowe’s but because it is packed full of excellent features for anyone involved in a home improvement “DIY” project. It’s intuitive and really makes shopping online simple. It also has one of the best QR, Barcode and Microsoft Tag readers available. I use “Numbers” for spreadsheets and “Docs to Go” for all other documents, PDF files, etc. I really enjoy the “Splashtop” application to access computers on my network. Being a frequent traveler I have several apps that come in handy, Garmin, Airport Remote and Starbucks. For social networking I have apps for LinkedIn and Facebook. For fun I have the CBS Sports app and a Chess game.
What is the title of the best book you ever read / movie you ever saw? Why?
“Gone in 60 Seconds.” Because classic mustangs are awesome, specifically the ’67 Shelby.