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Dave Lewis must manage

Retail giant Tesco has been in the media spotlight after a spectacular turnaround in fortunes in recent years.  The third largest retailer in the world is battling a changing retail landscape as well as a profit mis-reporting scandal that has seen its share price halve.

The media is having a morale-destroying heyday with the company. All the advice I have read about helping Tesco appears to ignore their key asset: 500,000 thousand employees.

New CEO, Dave Lewis, is reported to have emailed staff asking for their ideas on things the company can do to fix the troubled retailer. You may ask employees for advice, but the frontline also require some clear declarative statement of direction before the ship runs right onto the rocks.

Does Lewis know how to manage 500,000 employees?  Not many leaders do. Leadership is all about engaging and encouraging employees that the future will be better.  But management makes it happen. The employees of Tesco need their management team to clarify their work and integrate it, ensuring all divisions are well aligned and working seamlessly together to get today’s work done efficiently and effectively.

There is obviously the key step of steadying the ship at retail giant Tesco with the right strategy, but more immediately, now is the time to step in and lead and manage the situation.

First, right the ship: have immediate management reassure their employees and get on with engaging their shoppers. Plunging morale without strong counter arguments from all levels of management is a recipe for disaster. It won’t be enough. Energizing the workforce gives senior management time to develop the new strategy and then implement it.

Next, Dave Lewis needs to take a long hard look at the entire business: its structure, operations, defining key roles and accountabilities. Finally, he must identify the people he needs to implement it. A good way to test the resilience of a company is the health of the manager/subordinate relationship in the organization. This is the relationship that binds polyester together and gets stuff done through thick and thin. How good is the management team at Tesco? Only time will tell.

There is a lot of gas left in Tesco’s tank. It is a great company going through difficult times. Effective CEO management is the only way it will return to its former glory.

Nick Forrest

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