Why is the heart of the matter

Working as a business coach in the Luxury fashion industry for the past 10 years, I have had access to the good, the bad and the plain ugly. However, apart from the media hype what is the real story about management in the fashion industry? How is it that they achieve and maintain such high levels of performance in such a demanding environment?

How, What and Why

Fierce competition within the luxury industry to retain the best talent as well as changing business models from retail to online sales, have had a direct impact on employee engagement. Many major luxury brands struggle to hold on to talented individuals who are lured away by financial promises and the need to fulfil their development goals. Integrated talent management processes designed to attract, develop, motivate and retain the most talented employees enable organisations to remain productive, however what else can be implemented to continuously deliver performance outcomes whilst satisfying the individual need for contribution and recognition?

In my coaching experience, I see that managers, who are required to deliver performance outcomes, are used to talking about them in terms of tangible deliverables that can be measured – the WHAT and the HOW.  They are used to explaining WHAT their teams have to do and HOW they have to do it but all too often WHY they are doing it is ignored. Leaders know why they do what they do but do the people who work in their teams share the same vision?

From a coaching standpoint the HOW looks into the way we reach our goals, the processes we use to move ahead: strategies, results, number of calls, clients visited and so on. It’s the stuff that makes the business look good. Most teams are able to speak about these, but the reason WHY they have to deliver remains elusive. The reason being that the WHY addresses the individual, not the organisation or the business outcomes.  When coaching addresses WHY an individual is considered as an important asset within their organisation, business unit or team, great things can start to happen in terms of performance and resuslts.

I versus the WE

The underlying theory of a people focused management is “by identifying people’s strengths and weaknesses against a given position, we can coach and develop people to improve their performance.”

It stems from the belief that “the right people and the right behaviours in the organisation” are key drivers for ongoing performance, and the idea that is reinforced is “the organisation is a place for people to fulfil their potential and become successful.”

One of my clients, a global fashion brand, decided to implement this approach and encourage more coaching within its management ranks. Though there had been talk for many months, it was only when the CEO strongly encouraged his management team to dedicate at leat 30% of their time to coaching and development by linking their performance appraisals to their coaching abilities did thing begin to change. Their goal was to spend a few hours every week to talk and discuss with their teams about new ways to improve the business. For some managers that meant unplugging from their day to day operations, spending time getting to know their employees. A huge management difference for some! The long term results of a more people-focused approach are significant. Deloitte conducted research on the performance cultures within global organisations and they show that organisations with a strong coaching and development culture perform better than their peers in terms of:


46% more likely to be the first to market

Time to Market 

34% better response to customer needs


26% more likely to deliver quality products

Skills for the future 

58% better prepared to meet future demand


17% more likely to be market share leader

So as we can see, profit increases when people are placed at the forefront of the performance culture, not the other way round.

While we may be bedazzled by the products the luxury industry creates and get caught up in the hype of a few fashion directors, it’s the WHY that drives the passion of every single individual, creating a high performing brand. Luxury brands who have tended to forget that have seen their profits slip and lost their best talent to brands who consider people to be valuable assets rather than liabilities on a balance sheet.

To learn more please visit www.thebusinessofpeoplebook.com and www.thebusinessofpeople.com.au

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Comments to: Shirley Soodeen, Business Coach Luxury Fashion
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  • May 17, 2015

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