The aim of this report is to analyse the typical day-to-day decisions managers encounter and to outline the key theories managing a successful business involves through the method of a semi-structured interview.
Peacocks is one of the largest high-street stores of the UK. Known as the best value for money fashion retailer and always delivering outstanding customer service, by investing in their employees, communicating clearly and listening to one another as well as putting the customers at the heart of the business, allows Peacocks to ensure it remains ahead of its competition. The speed and enthusiasm of the colleagues gives the business an edge over its competitors. Which suggests that people are peacocks biggest assets. Daily targets ensure their employees reach their full potential. These missions and aims provide the company with motivation for future success and allows employees to strive to be the best value for money fashion retailer.
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The marketing strategy Peacocks uses is accessible to all employees as this allows for the team to identify what part of the strategy wheel they are using and allows them access to where the company is doing well and others where there may be room for improvement. This shows that Peacocks managers are successful at managing people. For example honesty is the best policy, by allowing all employees to access what part of the sales strategy is performing well and others maybe not so well allows employers to build up some sort of rapport with employees, it also allows the employees to trust their employers that their jobs are secure especially in the current economic climate. Other aspects which suggest that peacocks are successful are the company's consistency; all employees are treated in a comparable way without favourites or discrimination. Also the employers respect all employees and take into consideration the different capabilities and skills of their people. Not only this but, Peacocks ensures inclusion in all of its stores and stresses the importance of taking all views into consideration.
By conducting an interview with Richard Kirk, the Group Chief Executive, it is clear that good managerial skills are a necessity to ensure the success of such a large retail organisation. Managing people is one of these. He believes that one of the biggest strengths of the Peacocks Company is the manager's ability to train employees. For instance training enhances confidence, commitment and motivation which as a result are of benefit to the company and can result in a bigger turnover. It allows for recognition, greater responsibility and pay-improvements, as well as this personal satisfaction, achievement and enhanced career prospects all of which improve availability and quality of staff. According to Mr Kirk the employees are Peacocks biggest asset and without this training the employees would be unable to meet the needs of the company and themselves. Not only is training of use to employees but also to the managers and directors, For example it rewards them with more control over their employees and commitment rather than compliance. This comes under relation to McGregor's theory Y, whereby managers create conditions so that people can reach their full potential and achieve such goals.
Richard is Group CEO and was appointed Chief Executive of Peacocks in 1996. He joined as a non-executive director in 1995 and led both the management buy-out of the company in April 1997, its successful stock market flotation in December 1999 before taking the company private again in February 2006. Prior to joining Peacocks he was managing director of Iceland, having played a key role in the Company's development since he joined in 1997. Previous to this he held various roles at Woolworths.
Not only is Richard a manager he is also a leader, by this he is able to exert influence over other people and inspires, motivates and directs their activities to achieve organisational goals. The employees of Peacocks stores are rewarded and well-motivated which shows the leadership skills. In terms of theoretical leadership, leadership as the art of compliance stands out most to the way Peacocks operates, described by Munson as being "the ability to handle men so as to achieve the most with the least friction and the greatest co-operation", again highlighting the importance of team work within the Peacocks team to meet the goals and get the work done. Whilst observing the CEO it is evident that he, himself is contingent leader and uses the best style of leadership to fit with the situation.
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With leadership comes power, Richard is able to reward his employees and if needs be withhold rewards which suggests that he is an effective leader and as a result an effective manager. He is a specialist in the marketing department and therefore is likely to keep up to date with the latest developments in this field. From the interview it is clear that MR Kirk is a task orientated and relationship orientated leader for example he focuses on getting the job done as quickly and effectively as possible, by assigning different people to different tasks ensures all goals are met at a fast pace and to the best ability of the staff. At the same time he is keen on developing relationships with all; colleagues, employees and customers. He also tries to motivate employees to achieve the highest level by setting challenging goals and expecting them to be met which suggests his type of leadership is achievement orientated behaviour. Trust and confidence is what seems to stand out with Richard, he is keen on helping employees to understand the business strategy, helping employees understand how they can contribute to achieving key business objectives and shares information with employees on how the company is performing. (Lamb, McKee, 2004).
Decision making is another important trait that successful managers do well. For example employing the right people, Peacocks has initiated 'Best Store, Best People' as one of its strategies. This is to ensure that all employees are working to the same goals: to deliver excellent customer service and to maximise productivity thus ensures the greatest profit available. Managers make many decisions within one day, retail vision is one of these, for instance what aspects of the stores the directors decide to promote, how long the store stays open on a day-to day basis, a good decision is able to improve the company's performance and in return make the most profit that it can but at the same time stay ahead of its competition.
Managers also make decisions in response to opportunities; expansion of stores could be a suggestion. In the last 12 months they have opened 40 new stores throughout the UK and will continue to grow in 2011. Culture would need to be taken into account to avoid the same mistakes that Nike made. As well as decisions in relation to opportunity there are those in relation to threats. Peacocks managers have to decide how to respond to threats from their competitors such as cheaper prices, better promotions, and more value for money.
Being in a successful managerial role provides Richard Kirk with the ability to minimise the possibilities of things going wrong; by hiring the right people for the job, and having well-trained teams available if problems were to arise. Marketing is according to Richard the most important aspect of his strategy wheel he stresses the importance of the marketing mix in terms of promoting stock, he suggested that Peacocks could change one aspect to attract a different target market or promote their stock differently to different segments in terms of age, gender, location, income and interests, although the company already does try to attract a range of ages and genders and also promote stock to suit the season as it is a fashion retailer, it needs to ensure it remains a fashion retailer and doesn't move away from that. More importantly it seemed to the Peacocks Group was its relationship marketing; they aim to treat each customer as individuals and build up rapport with customers through episodes. They aim to then strengthen these relationships through financial benefits; offering discounts and vouchers to students and employees for example. Deeper relationships can then be formed from frequent contact, the customers need is continual. Peacocks also offer a range of quality according to Richard Kirk which again brings customers back time and time again, they also subsidise charity merchandise for example offering race for life merchandise which suggests that they support local charities.
This now leads us to ethics and values within the Peacocks Group they seek to do the right thing, for example if products appear to be faulty they are taken off the shop floor for the health and safety of the customers, again suggesting that they position the customers at the heart of their business. All employees act with integrity and practice and promote ethics, in this sense if they witness any unethical dilemma's they are encouraged to report and discourage such matters, such as theft amongst other colleagues.
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Ethical decisions the company makes are fair and in the interest of the stakeholders, they pay people doing the same job the same pay regardless of ability. Peacocks states that they try to act as fair as possible towards its employees and customers, this gives the impression that they would not dismiss employees without fair judgement and treat people with respect, also they wouldn't make employees redundant if the company is not doing so well. They use logical judgements in the everyday decision making.
They appear to take the stakeholder perspective; by this they make decisions in the interests of everyone who has a stake in the business for example, shareholders, employees, customers and the community, etc. Not only this, but Peacocks are members of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX). This involves working with suppliers all over the world. Where some countries do not have the legal and cultural framework meaning that there is ethical and cultural dilemma's that the Peacocks group simply cannot dismiss overnight. They go beyond a simple customer/supplier relationship investing in training and partnerships with local suppliers.
They also take a hands-on approach to making sure that their provision of work and livelihoods make a positive contribution to the social and financial development of the communities with which they trade. By this they ensure that employment is chosen freely, working conditions are safe and hygienic, child labour will never be conducted, no discrimination is practiced and no harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed. All of these factors together compile to make Peacocks an ethical establishment.
Richard believes in doing the right thing at the right time and if threats from competitors throw an unexpected decision it is his role as CEO to make it and he needs to ensure it is the right one for example if the company's competitors lower prices he has the decision to lower his company's prices to win over the consumers or face the possibility of losing capital to his competitors by not lowering prices. Although Richard wants to capitalise the most profit possible he believes doing good for a great number of people is more important. This is known as utilitarianism, whilst making the most profit he wants to maintain the trust, motivation and loyalty of his workers, he wants to keep customers at the heart of his business with low prices and quality products in order to keep them loyal and returning to his stores so therefore these decisions are key to the success of such a large retail organisation.
Being such a successful and effective manager is a great responsibility and can take a great deal of time to ensure you run a team to the ability that the company requires therefore it involves hard work, determination, motivation and a lot of effort on the behalf of the manager. This can be very time consuming and often result in difficulty for the manager to relax or have any social time.
This now brings us onto the strength of being able to remain a successful manager and leader whilst at the same time maintaining a social life outside of the company. For instance Richard makes sure he takes time off for family commitments and time to de-stress from work related matters. As well as the manager he ensures his employees maintain a social life outside of the work environment for example holding employee nights out and social gatherings. This allows the team to develop relationships with both the manager and each other allowing friendships to be formed, however Kirk does stress that he has a firm hold over employees and doesn't allow them to let these relationships and friendships to intervene with work commitments and the company's environment. This shows successful managerial skills as he encourages his employees to unwind but at the same time not to lose focus on the given goal and aims whilst in the company's environmental structure. (Don't mix business and pleasure) this keeps employees loyal to Richard and provides them with a sense of belonging. They know where in the company they stand. Kirk also suggests extra activities such as cycling as it allows for freedom and takes his focus away from the company.
In conclusion the role of a manager is one that is not to be taken lightly, it requires a lot of hard work and commitment, however this doesn't necessarily mean that it is impossible and with the right training and skills is an enjoyable role and it doesn't mean you have to cut of social links as they can provide you with a focus which is not that of the business allowing for a healthy relationship between employees and employers. The success and efficiency of the manager can relate to personality traits of the individual and their ability to motivate other people and give them a sense of direction. The marketing mix can play a huge part in the success of a company and how that company decides to promote one product from another. However by conducting this interview it is evident that a successful manager would not be that without the help of employees and customers, for instance without the loyalty both these stakeholder's provides the manager would face great difficulty in running an efficient team and delivering excellent customer service which keeps the customers service to the company, increasing its revenue and capital.
MR Kirk has shown that you can be a great leader and successful manager and mix these with a social life to lead a team to achieve organisational goals. The stereotype of a successful manager is not necessarily one that has to be fulfilled.
My interview questions
Where do you see sales trending in the next 12-24 months?
What is the best use for cash on the company's balance sheet? How does the company plan to raise capital in order to fund future growth?
Who are the emerging competitors in the industry in which you operate?
What part of the business if any is giving you the most trouble now?
How close is Wall Street in terms of estimating your company's earnings results?
What part of the business do you think is being ignored that has more upside potential than Wall Street is giving it?
Do you have any plans to advance or promote your company's stock further? How?
How many decisions do you have to make a day?
Do you face any problems in day-day decision making? What are these?
What are your responsibilities in your current post?
How long have you been in this position?
Can you describe a typical working day?
How did you achieve this position?
Did you study business and management at college/university?
Have you received any management training in your current/previous post?
How do you keep up to date with the latest management techniques?
What, in your opinion, is the most important management technique you use regularly?
How would you describe the role of a manager in general?
How has your job changed in the last couple of years?
How do you see your job changing in the next couple of years?
Who are you responsible to?
Do you take part in any leisure activities?
How do you deal with stress?
What do you regard as the most important aspect of the managerial role?
Do you think the marketing mix has any real influence over any decisions you make in terms of marketing your stock?
Notes form the interview
First impressions: smart, friendly, cool calm and collected (doesn't appear stressed, rushed or bossy) looked up upon by his employees and other colleagues. Seems to really have a passion for his job
The interview: tends to drift away from the main question but answers other questions with the information he gives (this is good as it is a semi-structured interview, and some of the questions allow for greater scope which means that Richard will be likely to discuss topics I may not have thought of) Takes his time to answer the questions and explains what he means, he talks about his personal life and how it helps him to deal with stresses that being a manager can bring. Kirk makes sure he doesn't get interrupted by having a P.A to deal with any queries this helps to speed the interview as he has to deal with a lot of queries on a day-to day basis so it's good that the interview runs smoothly without any interruptions which seems very professional.
As the interview develops Richard appears to relax more and isn't as formal, comes across as Mr nice, laughing and joking definitely doesn't seem disorganised and knows what he's talking about. Doesn't hesitate to answer any of my questions or twist them around to make the company appear better than it is. He seems to like talking to people and being very sociable as he often makes trips to the stores to check each stores performance, he also develops relationships with his employees. Also very ethical believes in doing the right thing and it seems as though he likes to do the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people ( utilitarianism) he looks after employees as well as customers and suppliers and investors.
Overall: Mr Kirk was pleased he could help me with my questions and report, happy to have his company analysed and discussed. In my personal opinion after spending an hour and half or so conducting my interview I believe he gave an honest interpretation and analysis of the Peacocks Group and answered my questions as honest and to the best of his ability that he possibly could and is a successful manager and an effective leader.