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Quiz: What Retail Store Matches Your Project Management Style?

April 25, 2017    |     by Julie Huntley     |     Project Management, project manager     
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Brand is in the eye of the beholder.

How we perceive a company shapes how we interact with it.

This may be most true for retail stores. We choose to spend our time and money in stores based on what they sell, how they sell it, and how they make us feel. Project management is similar in that a team responds to its leader’s “brand.” Your leadership style shapes how your team sees you and its work.

So, just as a retail store’s success hinges on its brand, your team’s effectiveness emanates from your project management style. What does your style convey?


Forget frills. Walmart prides itself on low prices. Your project management style may be similar to Walmart if you focus on your budget. Cost-conscious, you weigh every expense and spend only what’s necessary so that you can pass the savings along to your client.

Holding the line accordingly may require you to be direct. You might tell others what to do based on what needs to be done to finish the project within budget. This type of “directive” leadership management style can work under tight deadlines or with inexperienced team members, but it doesn’t foster long-term development or productivity, according to an International Project Management Association (IPMA) article on project management leadership styles.


Like Walmart, IKEA offers low prices. But it is also known for reliability and innovation. IKEA matches your project management style if you always strive to increase efficiency. For example, you use hacks, like for improving meeting management and avoiding project budget overrun.

Under this approach, your leadership style could be defined as “empowering” based on the IPMA article. An empowering project manager “gives team members authority and tools to do their jobs” and helps them learn skills to develop professionally and to accomplish project goals. Think of providing the direction for assembling furniture and then leaving it to your team to do so.


Meant for the “creative-minded,” Anthropologie caters to affluent women who are “too busy enjoying life to be governed by the latest trends,” according to the lifestyle brand’s website. This purveyor of women’s apparel, accessories, and products such as home furniture and décor focuses on its customers.

Forgoing advertising to the masses like TV commercials, Anthropologie converses with customers individually through means like social media and apps, a Mental Floss article on stylish facts about Anthropologie notes.

Your project management style may resemble Anthropologie if you continuously solicit input and manage expectations to improve client retention. Your leadership style may be deemed “coaching” if you manage your team similarly, coaxing your team members’ best efforts from them by communicating with them consistently, according to the IPMA article.

The Home Depot

The Home Depot is all about the tools. Are you? A “facilitating” project manager simply organizes and dispenses information. He or she does little directing him- or herself. Like The Home Depot, he or she relies on do-it-yourselfers.

You may be the Home Depot of project managers if you provide your team the tools and information it needs and then get out of its way. If this is true, then, like the retailer, you must give your team plenty to use so that it can complete any project. For example, you may want to provide your team with project management software that allows it to easily develop estimates, track open items, and manage budgets. The more tools your team can choose from, the better its work will be and the more successful projects will end up being.


Fewer choices. Larger quantities. That’s Costco.

Your project management style may be like Costco if your profit margins are robust and your overhead is low. You maximize value by delivering quality projects with good service. You keep projects on time and within budget while pleasing clients through integrated project management that addresses each aspect of the work. Like Costco, you efficiently supply the goods that customers demand by managing costs throughout the production and delivery processes. There’s a lot to love in your project management style.


The Nordstrom brand has become synonymous with customer service. It has done so by focusing on the details.

For example, Nordstrom employees are taught never to point to where something is but to walk you there instead. They also are trained to walk around the counter to give you the items you purchased, Shopify writes.

You may be like Nordstrom if you live in the details. Do you track every open item? Do you know who’s working on it? And when it’s due? Perhaps you monitor projects through resource management software that enables you to shift tasks from overburdened resources to those who have the available capacity so that you don’t impair the customer’s experience (i.e. you deliver the project on time and meet the client’s expectations).


Target spares nothing when it comes to presentation. It is so intentional in the design of its sleek, stylish ads and limited-edition merchandise from high-end designers that customers forget that Target is a discount store.

But Target also brings substance to its style by treating employees and customers well, maintaining a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for everyone. This fosters loyalty among employees and customers alike.

Does your project management style mirror Target’s approach to business? Are you approachable? And responsive? To employees and clients alike? If not, perhaps you could learn a thing or two from this popular retailer.

Best Buy

Best Buy is to technology what The Home Depot is to tools. You can get just about anything.

Best Buy offers a selection of product types at a range of prices. From the cheapest accessory to the most expensive in-home theater system, you can buy whatever you need.

You may bring a comparable range of skills and breadth of abilities to project management, along with a passion for technology. Maybe you use creative management software to help your team access files and manage tasks from anywhere.

Unlike these popular stores, you may not be trying to draw masses of consumers through your doors. But you may be able to replicate their success on a smaller scale by applying the same deliberate approach to your employees, projects, and customers.

What retail store matches your project management style?

Tell us which retailer you most closely resemble. If you don’t see it here, please feel free to add it to our list.

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