“Lidl is like my second family” Maria, Store Manager
Maria is originally from Latvia and joined Lidl in Ireland before moving to the UK, where she is now managing her second store.
What were you doing before you joined Lidl?
I was a Deputy Store Manager for another retailer before moving to Lidl in Dublin, back in 2013. Then, about a year later, I decided to move to the UK, so I applied for a transfer and within a couple of months I was working in London. I was promoted to Store Manager in 2016.
And what does the role of Store Manager involve?
As well as the day-to-day management responsibilities, I look at the store’s key performance indicators (KPIs), liaise with the Regional Distribution Centre and work on the Head Office system. I’m responsible for planning and implementing things in order for my store to succeed - from hiring the people, to looking for new solutions to improve or ease our workload. Everything is in my hands.
And how about the support you get from your team?
It’s a two-way thing. I believe that the support I give them, they return to me. We look after each other. I always tell my staff that everything is possible and that we're here to support one another. If they come to me with an issue, I accommodate it to the best of my ability. At the same time, if I'm struggling or trying to reach a target, the team are very understanding and always give 100%. I believe this is key to success, because without working as a team, there can be no success. My job is very complex. You need to know everything, but at the same time have balance. Obviously we’re all human and we have our ups and downs but if you know there's someone there to support you and back you up, it makes a real difference.
What about the challenges, or any achievements you’re proud of?
Challenges are there all the time. But as long as we're there for each other too, as I said, you can avoid any crises. In terms of my personal achievements, I think taking on board every experience that I’ve had from the two different countries that I’ve worked in is my greatest one. I'm also proud of taking staff from other stores who maybe didn't succeed before, but turned out to be completely amazing in my store. As for the store I'm currently in, it’s never performed better since it opened 10 years ago. We hit our targets on KPIs, productivity, staff performance and even the store’s appearance.
What qualities would somebody need to do the job that you do?
You cannot just be a manager. You have to be a leader. Sometimes you need to be hands-on, sometimes you have to be a mother, or a brother, or a sister. But most of all you have to be a leader. People have to follow, to come with you and not be afraid of you. Your team need to respect you. So, someone who's born a leader, rather than just a manager is going to succeed.
So what has made you stay at Lidl?
I don’t see myself sitting behind a desk and working with numbers or in a quiet environment. I would definitely get bored very easily. It’s a cliché, but I do like challenges. I like to solve the puzzle so that the challenges are not challenges any more. I like being active and having the opportunity to help people, I also like the security of the job and the opportunity to progress my career. I feel comfortable and confident and I’m not worried about my position in these times of job insecurity. There’s the satisfaction you feel when you manage to achieve what you planned or when you manage to progress someone from Customer Assistant to Shift Manager level.
How’s the training and development?
The training and development is great - I've been on a lot of courses. Just recently, one of my friends asked me about a work situation and a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have known the answer but I remembered a couple of courses I'd been on and realised I picked up a lot of useful information, even if, at the time, I didn't think it was valuable.
So what does the future hold for Maria?
Lidl is like my second family, and I definitely want to progress in the company. I also want to pass on my experience and, more importantly, help the people just starting out on the Lidl journey, to guide them through, because it can be tough sometimes. In terms of my personal ambition, my next goal is Area Manager - but I need to learn how to drive first!
Finally, what four words would you use to describe Lidl?
Fantastic experience, personal development.