Print & Embroidery Shop Leadership

As the leader of an apparel decoration shop, you are not only the captain of the ship itself but of the crew on it.  When they signed up it was because something about your vision and values resonated with them. They saw the potential for success in themselves and in your shop, and they will continually seek guidance from you to achieve it.  It’s not always smooth sailing in a demanding industry that requires constant monitoring of pricing, revenue, competitors, deadlines and productivity, but building a successful business not only depends on its profitability. Your ability to attract, lead and retain great staff is fundamental.   

So captain, my captain are you on this voyage to be ‘like a boss’ or as a leader who inspires innovation, creativity, growth and excellence?  If you strive to be an effective leader, kudos to you – let’s explore some of the key attributes to take onboard.



To inspire greatness in your team show them the way.  A healthy level of self awareness and strength of character is needed to consistently match your actions to your words.  It takes courage to own your mistakes, initiate change, discipline staff or to take an unpopular action for the betterment of your business.  But being fair and consistent is key to gaining the respect of your team and your customers.  



Share your shop’s vision and mission to give your team a sense of purpose beyond the daily grind.  Don’t take it for granted that they will just ‘get it’ or figure it out.  Striving to be the biggest or most lucrative shop is what every shop owner wants.  If you want to compel your team and customers to join your cause you’ll need to craft a vision that they can identify with and believe in.

Being a visionary also means looking ahead for opportunities to grow and improve your shop.  Whether it’s marketing strategies, equipment advancements, software solutions or a new service to offer your customers, you’ll need your finger on the pulse to take your shop to new heights.



Nothing breaks the tension of a stressful day better than a good belly laugh.  Finding the funny side eases stress and can break up the monotony of repetitive tasks.  If you can demonstrate a good sense humor you will appear more approachable and create a fun working environment.  So spread a little a joy now and then – enthusiasm is contagious!



Being a good listener is a great skill in business and in life.  Listening intently, being present and maintaining eye contact shows respect.  Be sensitive to the morale of your team and to the disposition of individuals who may be facing a personal or work issue.  If there’s cause for concern, talk to them about it.  Sometimes people just want to be heard, other times taking the time to listen reveals a chance to lend support or encouragement before the problem magnifies. 



You’ve assembled a dream team so now you can relax and just let them do their thing, right?  Not if you want to retain good staff long-term.  Have regular discussions with each team member about their progress, goals and development.  Ask how you can make their job more enjoyable or efficient.  Then provide opportunities to enrich their role and nurture their talents.  If you don’t, that great employee could become bored and look elsewhere.

Encourage curiosity in other areas of the business by offering cross-training so that:-

  • The team will gain a new appreciation for the expertise of their fellow team members;
  • You won’t be up shirt creek without a paddle if a key staff member is sick, resigns or goes on vacation;
  • You have a more unified and engaged team.

And don’t just limit the learning to the factory, look into tradeshows, seminars, webinars, workshops or courses that will benefit your staff and your business.    



Recognising good work when you see it shows your team that you value their contribution and take notice of their efforts.  Be generous with worthy praise and show your appreciation for great work.  Rewards don’t have to cost the earth, it’s more what the gesture represents.  Get creative with thoughtful rewards such as:-

  • A card with some kind words;
  • Concert, movie or sports game tickets;
  • A jar of compliments or a lucky dip to draw from;
  • Host a team meeting in a local park or cafe;
  • Organise a bake-off to raise money for a local charity;
  • A candy jar;
  • Surprise the team with cupcakes or a box of donuts;
  • Make or grab them a nice coffee or fresh juice;
  • Throw a BBQ lunch;
  • Remember their birthday or their work anniversary;
  • Share their achievement with the team in a staff meeting;
  • Take everyone out on a fun excursion such as bowling (a hit with the DecoNetwork team), putt putt, rock climbing, etc.



Policies and procedures are important in running a tight ship, but don’t be a tyrant with them.  When someone suggests or tries a different approach, give them the opportunity to explain the deviation and be open to their ideas.  Your methods may be tried and tested, but the ‘my way or the highway’ approach will leave your staff feeling devalued.  If they doubt your faith in their abilities, it may discourage potentially brilliant time and money saving ideas.  Empower your tribe by encouraging creativity, proactivity and innovation.   



Being a source of positivity helps to tackle problems quickly rather than getting caught up in counterproductive negativity.  In a busy print or embroidery shop mistakes and delays are bound to happen and it’s easy to start playing the blame game.  But if you can demonstrate a sense of optimism in the face of a challenge, others will follow your lead.  Remind your team of the bigger picture and the importance of focussing on a solution.  As they say try to ‘always look on the bright side of life’.

from DecoNetwork Blog

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