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Rally your troops in creative ways

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Furniture retailers took a hit in 2009 when the economy fizzled. As competitors scraped to survive, Art Van Furniture—a Michigan-based regional chain—hired Kim Yost as CEO to help it weather the storm.

Yost hit the ground running. Within weeks of joining the firm, he challenged his employees to set a sales record on the day after Christmas. Even though the country was in the midst of a severe recession, a rejuvenated sales force came through and attained Yost’s goal.

Yost rallied the troops in creative ways. Using the company’s internal TV network, he arranged for a film crew to follow him as he hoisted a big sign with the word “RECESSION” into a Dumpster.

The dramatic gesture worked so well in galvanizing his employees that Yost expanded the use of the company’s TV network. He provides newsy updates, announces sales promotions and shares his growth strategy on the internal network.

“We have over 100 50-inch flat-panel television screens across our organization,” he says. “We are now able to broadcast all of our daily happenings in real time throughout our corporate office, our distribution network and our 50 stores.”

Yost publishes an annual “game book” that lays out Art Van’s business plan for the year ahead. It describes specific initiatives and priorities, and each year’s booklet has a different theme. Examples of recent themes include Clarity of Purpose, The Next Level and Act Now.

— Adapted from “8 Leadership Tactics From a CEO Who Orchestrated a Successful Turn­­around,” Dale Buss, www.chiefexecutive.net.

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