What Can I Do to Become a Better Retail Manager?

By T Sears

March 6, 2020

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Leading a retail sales team takes patience and flexibility. Not only are you dealing with the public on a daily basis, but you may be working with employees with limited employment experience. Managing people of different ages and skill sets will take a great deal of your time and focus.

Be a Leader

Mirror the skills you’d like your team members to exhibit. If you have a customer struggling to locate something, walk them to the item and make sure they have what they need before you step away. People bringing in returns may require special handling. Sometimes providing terrific customer service means letting people share a longer story than you have time for. Be an active listener. Let your team members watch you handle a difficult or unhappy customer. Remember that you are always teaching your team members, no matter how tough your job gets.

Embrace New Technology

Change can be hard for some people. If your team has members that struggle to learn new technology or customers who get unhappy when the store checkout process changes, you have the chance to shine. Changing technologies will suit some but may leave others behind. Of course, your team members will need to learn to use the latest tools available in the facility. By demonstrating that these changes will enhance their ability to do their jobs, you can reduce the resistance you have to face.

Do Research

Making sure that your team is successful will require some study on your part. For example, many retail managers now need to lead people who are much older than themselves. Reading up on generational work habits, communication patterns, and overall work expectations can make connecting with these employees easier. Factors for the business you work for, such as building and maintaining market share in a world that has embraced on-line shopping, can help you lead a team that provides magnetizing customer service. Reading some of the top rated books on retail management can provide you with great insights on how you can improve your skills as a retail manager.

Use Smart Delegation

You may have employees that are eager to learn and willing to go the extra mile. Make sure to encourage these employees to build a deep knowledge of the products sold by the company. If they demonstrate a willingness to learn, you can start delegating more responsibility to them. It’s important to note that these employees are not your competition. A well-trained and responsible team member can be the person who allows you to take a vacation or stay home with a sick family member. If you delegate and that person drops the ball, you know what they can handle and what they will choose to avoid. All of this information can help you develop your team for the best results for the business.

Focus on Organization

The retail space needs to be inviting, tidy, well-lit and unique. When you’re working in a space, use any downtime to organize the space. Whether that means refolding rumpled clothing on a display table or straightening things on a hanger, let your team see you focusing on these simple steps. If you run a restaurant, take around a pitcher of water or a pot of coffee. If you’re selling stationary, tidy the shelves and check the card displays to make sure each card has the proper envelope. The power of online shopping is that it allows customers to look at only one thing at a time. In sticks-and-bricks retail, you can successfully display a range of objects, but only if the display is well-organized and attractive.

It’s All About the Details

Each of your employees is a unique individual. Some may be punctual at the start of their shift but stretch their breaks. Others may struggle with being constantly late but work very hard once they arrive. Each of these employees brings something to the team and has areas they need to improve. Rather than trying to be an enforcer, think of yourself as a coach. Praise in public and try to promote improvement ideas in private. The late employee may be dealing with a difficult transportation issue, waiting on a babysitter or coming over after class. The employee who needs a longer break may be struggling with a personal issue or a health challenge. You may need to be flexible, but without open communication, you won’t know what’s causing the problem. Once the problem is defined, celebrate small improvements to let your employees know that you’re pulling for them and their success.

Managing people isn’t easy. Every person on your team will face challenges and struggles. To provide your employees with the right kind of support, focus on empathy and communication. Be aware of their goals and help them hit those targets or encourage them to focus on your goals for them as they get started in their retail careers. Your goal should always be their success.

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I’m The Corporate Fixer and my mission is to help people become more self-aware so that they can lead from a place of authenticity and self-acceptance.

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