2020 has been an eye-opening year. The impact of Coronavirus on the retail sector has been significant, and the outbreak has highlighted many gaps between what business owners are currently doing, and what they need to be doing in order to succeed. And one of the biggest gaps has been found in management. Here are 6 things owners are doing wrong when it comes to managing a team of retail workers, with handy advice and simple recommendations for adapting your management strategy:
Not Forecasting Labour Demand
Foot traffic and in-store demand vary constantly. Major calendar events, for example, can affect how busy your store is, along with day-to-day factors such as standard working hours and school times. And while there will always be unexpected ebbs and flows, generally it’s possible to use historical data sets to forecast demand to a pretty accurate degree. Yet many business owners appear to be failing to do this.
The risk of not forecasting is that some employees will be left feeling overworked, while others will feel underutilised, creating an unsatisfied workforce that’s tricky to manage. Instead, managers should be placing greater focus on analysing traffic patterns, investing in necessary tools, and creating schedules that place the right people, in the right place, at the right time to facilitate suitable sales coverage.
Failing to Communicate Effectively
Communication is everything. After all, it’s very difficult - if not impossible - to properly manage a team of retail workers if you aren’t able to communicate your expectations or listen to feedback. And communication is even more important if you’re operating stores across different locations. Placing communication at the heart of your management approach is key to a great management strategy.
Digital tools can help. These tools allow you to share important updates and store communications in the cloud for employees to access from anywhere, at any time, avoiding critical updates falling through the cracks. Good communication works to keep staff involved, it keeps them in the loop, and it keeps them better connected to the core business and the big picture; essential for workforce satisfaction.
Treating Staff as ‘Staff’
Business owners are busy. Of course they are. And it’s normal to want to focus on the core business, with workforce management taking a back seat. But the truth is that your team of retail workers aren’t just there to restock shelves and handle payments; they are an extension of your core business, and in managing them as such, it may be possible to maximise potential to boost sales, revenue, and profits.
When customers shop online, they have many types of content that help to guide the buyer journey. In-store, however, your content is your people. These are the ones who have influence over the buyer decision, so managing your team in a way that enables them to do so effectively is crucial. Managers should understand how vital their team is, creating opportunities for training and upskilling as needed.
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes that business owners are making is that they’re quite happy to be staying still. While this can help a business to survive, it doesn’t really do much to help it thrive. In terms of managing a team of retail workers, owners should always be looking for ways to squeeze even more value from the workforce, motivating teams to better themselves for both their careers, and the store.
A powerful way to manage a team is to not only consider the team as a whole, but also as individuals. Managers should be working to schedule regular 1-to-1 meetings to set performance goals, discuss these goals, track progress, and adapt as needed. Good management means motivating, encouraging, and pushing teams to achieve their full potential, which can have a significant impact on the business.
Rewarding in Private
There’s an old saying - ‘train in private, reward in public’ - and that rings true when it comes to managing a team of retail workers. Managing employees is not always easy, especially when you’re a business owner in a position of great authority, but it can be easier when you have employee-level support; when you have the backing of key team members who can help you to manage effectively and efficiently.
A great tactic is to publicly reward those who follow instruction; who go above and beyond, utilise the tools and technologies that they are expected to, and demonstrate high levels of performance. Make an example of these individuals, reward and praise them in front of the team, and use them as influencers. Use these key people as motivators to encourage others to follow the same protocols and procedures.
Looking Outwards, Not Inwards
If you’re struggling to manage your team of retail workers, it’s very easy to look outwards; to ask questions such as ‘why won’t my team do what I need them to do?’ But great managers also look inwards; they look at themselves. They ask questions like ‘how can I improve my management approach to better motivate my team and boost performance?’ Sometimes, managing your team is about you.
Research suggests that more than half of all managers haven’t received any specific management training. To best manage a team of retail workers, business owners may want to consider building, developing, and honing their own leadership skills, giving them the knowledge to lead with confidence. Training managers to lead forms a strong foundation on which to manage a successful, thriving team.
Continuing to Adapt
There’s a common misconception that developing a management strategy is a one-time thing. It’s not. Managing a team of retail workers to achieve their best and bring the most value to the business means staying on your toes and being ready to adapt your approach as necessary. The retail landscape really is at a critical turning point, and it’s essential that business owners stay up-to-date with evolving trends and ensure they’re prepared to change their management tactics in line with the future environment.