Alan focuses on the importance of team spirit a key foundation of Sir Terry Leahy's success

It is said that if a day passes without learning something new about retailing, then you are not in the race. So what can we in the independent sector learn from the forthcoming retirement of Sir Terry Leahy, the quiet Liverpudlian who has transformed Tesco into a global retail titan?

Commentators asked analysts and competitors for their views, but I asked a female Tesco employee. What is the one basic factor, the fundamental philosophy underlying all the company's internal management and employee culture, which makes the company tick, and how does it affect the people who work in its 4,811 stores? The answer it's a team thing.

This raises the question is there a team ethos in your store? The priority given to 'the team' in Tesco would appear to the outsider to be of greater importance than it is in its competing giants, where the personality of the chief in head office is often the driver behind the corporate mission. Sir Terry is known for his total absorption in his business to the exclusion of small talk and any cult of personality.

When young people apply for a job in his company they are asked at interview about teamwork and invited to discuss their views on it. You could argue that this is an everyday interview question, but the initial emphasis placed on it is revealing.

Once in the job, during and beyond the induction process team spirit and its importance in every nook and cranny of the organisation is seen to be as important as clocking in on time.

Induction processes in independent c-stores differ greatly no two will be the same but it would not be a surprise to find there are many instances where there is no formal introduction to the business beyond some brief training in merchandising, shelf replenishment and operating the till. Learn from Tesco.

Alan Toft

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