Q: I get the sense that some of my sales teams out in the stores are beginning to feel a bit twitchy and looking to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. I want to retain my best sales people and would like my area managers to really get to know their teams so that they feel valued. Any tips?

A: Here's a great thought courtesy of James Timpson, the inspirational leader of the cobblers chain. When he gets his area managers together he gives each a questionnaire concerning one member of their team and asks a range of questions from what their partner's name is to what their favourite music is and what they would most like for their birthday.

That certainly seems to be the gold standard in being close to your people.

Even if you don't choose this approach, it's worth considering how close you are to your area managers.
In my experience, culture starts at the top and the standards you set will be noticed by them. If you start building incentive schemes into your appraisal systems, you will certainly get your area managers' undivided attention and you are less likely to lose your high performers.

Q: I have just sent an email to a supplier, which was written in anger and frustration at their demands. Pressing the send button with a great flourish made me feel good for a few seconds but now I'm sincerely regretting it. Help!

A: My mum used to say: "Least said, soonest mended." There are no cases I have come across when an angry email response sent on an impulse has helped. Putting a grumpy email into the drafts folder for 24 hours will improve your judgement and allow you time to reflect on the importance of the relationship you might be about to jeopardise. Things usually look better after a good night's sleep.

Emails are no different from all other types of communication. Don't respond when feeling stressed, as stress often leads to poor decision making.

You may also discover there are facts behind the offending email that you were unaware of, and your response may make you look like a fool; worse ­ an ignorant fool in your own area of expertise.
If in 24 hours you still feel a response is needed, why not pick up the phone? You are much more likely to get an outcome that satisfies both you and the email sender. And it leaves no traces.

If you have a question for Sue, email her at sue@mountstevensexecutivecoaching.com.