Most support departments are cost-centers not profit-centers. They take resources and capital from the company to support the brand and customers. Supervisors and managers in support areas are concerned with controlling costs and reducing them whenever possible, staying within budget or below. There is a fair amount of technical training to ensure that people in the support department understand how to access reports, provide information and data, pick and pack accurately and safely, and the metrics are closely watched. Unlike a store, if someone falls short of a goal it’s hard for someone else in the support department to overachieve and make it up.
But in addition to being a supervisor for your support team you often play another role; business partner to other departments you don’t report to but must work well with in order to be fully functioning operation. This means you also need skills and strategies that help you build strong, productive relationships outside of your area as much as you need to lead your own team. And you are watched. Support Leaders, due to their constant interaction with other departments and cross-functional teams are often interacting with the highest level of senior management. Being able to present with cogent thoughts and have a comprehensive view of the goal becomes much more important. Regardless of your own level of authority, you often find yourself calling meeting with people much more senior than you.
Sometimes it gets even trickier. You are called into a meeting where you don’t own the agenda but have been asked to participate. Perhaps you have expertise from your area that’s needed. Maybe someone worked with you on another project and thought your insights were valuable. Whatever the case, as a Support Leader, your Leadership Presence can either be strengthened or eroded based on how you interact in a meeting or full-blown cross-functional team.
There are many other uniquenesses of leading a support team. We’ll talk about them later. For now, what do you think some of those differences are? Tweet your thoughts to us @mohrretail or share them here. Thanks for reading.