A good retail manager needs to wear many hats, without compromising any part of their role. They must be capable of running an efficient store, scheduling employees, enforcing company policies and more. A combination of transferable, hard and soft skills are necessary for a successful retail management career.
Hitting sales targets and keeping your team motivated are two of the most important parts of a retail manager job. Your success as a retail manager largely depends on the effectiveness of your employees. Your team needs to be clear about their:
It’s up to you as a retail manager to communicate what’s expected and provide the necessary support to help your team reach their full potential. Your job is to be firm but fair, by providing both constructive criticism and praise, as appropriate.
Demonstrating excellent leadership skills is essential for being a good retail manager. However, this is only part of the requirements to fulfill such a diverse role. Given that the range of skills is so broad, we’ve put together a list of 15 tips that’ll help you excel in your retail management role:
- Focus on goals
- Be data driven
- Embrace new technology
- Value and save time
- Take the lead
- Show genuine interest
- Match the praise to the effort
- Become comfortable with delegation
- Get stuck in
- Keep calm under pressure
- Practice decisiveness
- Create a problem-solving atmosphere
- Mentor your team
- Show confidence when resolving conflict
- Promote open communication
1. Focus on goals
As a retail manager, you’ll have sales targets to meet. These targets will form the basis of setting goals for your team. You need to keep your eye on the prize of meeting your sales objectives in order to continue to encourage your team.
You’ll also need to set achievable and realistic goals for your team. To incentivize your employees, these goals should be tied to a reward system. One way to set up these goals is through Deputy’s Newsfeed and tasking feature. This allows you to receive notifications when a goal has been achieved. Your employees will be able to clearly track how their contributions are impacting the business. Do the following to increase the chance of getting your team’s buy-in when setting goals:
- Discuss the goals with your employees (preferably on a one-to-one basis)
- Set out how progress will be measured
- Discuss how you’ll support your employees to reach their goals
- Review goals and progress at specified intervals
2. Be data-driven
Data plays an increasingly important role in the success of retailers. Reliable data will inform you about whether you’re achieving your goals. Assessing your progress should be done by interpreting information gathered from different systems like:
Ideally, your systems will integrate seamlessly to provide a true picture of whether you’re meeting your objectives.
3. Embrace new technology
Adopting new technology can be daunting. However, there’s no escaping that it’ll be difficult to be a good retail manager without taking advantage of the latest technology.
Utilizing the right technology will make your job as a retail manager run smoother. You’ll be able to spend less time on routine tasks and dedicate more attention to your team and to customers. The following are only a few of the tasks that are made easier by using technology:
- Inventory management
- Sales tracking
- Employee scheduling
4. Value and save time
The appropriate use of technology is one way that you can save time as a retail manager. In addition, you’ll require top-notch organizational and planning skills to make effective use of all the hours of the day. The pace of retail can be very fast, so the ability to organize the time to fit everything in and to handle the unexpected is crucial.
Learning to value and maximize time will help you to:
- Experience less stress
- Cut-off unnecessary tasks
- Get more quality work done
5. Take the lead
Achieving your goals will be easier if you display the type of leadership skills that gives your team confidence. You should be a role model to your team by displaying qualities like:
On the more practical side, a good retail manager will always try to bring out the best in their team by:
- Providing training
- Creating a team environment
- Identifying developmental opportunities
6. Show genuine interest
Your team members are more than employees. They have a life outside of work, therefore, make them feel valued as people, by showing interest. Simple questions around their weekend can spark up a conversation and show your team that you care about them as individuals.
Discussing life outside of work can also give you valuable insight when it comes to managing schedules. If you know that an employee is studying or has school-aged children, you’ll be aware of the types of hours to avoid.
There needs to be a healthy balance between taking an interest and giving the impression that you’re best friends with your employees. The right position will enable you to keep your team’s respect, without compromising your professionalism.
7. Match the praise to the effort
Retail turnover is notorious for being one of the highest when compared to other industries. A good retail manager is well aware that dedicated employees are hard to come by. A simple way to keep your employees motivated is to say “thank you.”
Matching the praise to the scale of effort helps reinforce your employees’ desires to go above and beyond for your organization. Deliberately seek out ways that they’ve improved before pointing out areas of development. If possible, show gratitude to your team when they’ve finished their shifts. A sincere “thank you for your contribution today” will go a long way in helping your team feel appreciated.
8. Become comfortable with delegation
It can be tempting to attempt to do everything yourself when you’re a retail manager. A reluctance to delegate can originate from thinking that:
- No one else is qualified to do the tasks
- Things will get done quicker by doing it yourself
Assigning tasks to your team members is a good way of showing that you trust them. You’re in the best position to judge who has the aptitude for particular jobs, so use this knowledge for task allocation. Giving your team the chance to take on additional responsibilities will develop both their skills and their confidence.
9. Get stuck in
The other side of the delegating coin is a belief that a retail manager no longer has to do certain tasks. While it’s true that the bulk of your time should be spent on high-level work, you should always be prepared to roll-up your sleeves and get stuck in if the need arises.
You’ll gain little respect if, rather than ‘putting your hands to the plow’ all you do is give orders. For example, if you’re short on morning employees to accept deliveries or to clean the store, it’s time to step in to help.
A good retail manager knows when to delegate and to pitch in.
10. Keep calm under pressure
Dealing with consumers comes with the added advantage (or disadvantage) that anything can happen. Whether it’s a disgruntled customer who becomes aggressive or frustrated shoppers waiting in line, your team will take your cue as to the best way to respond.
The pressure in retail doesn’t only come from dealing with customers. Internal team issues can also cause anxiety. What happens when most of your team have called-out? How do you deal with replacing employees at short notice, especially if your store falls within a predictive scheduling jurisdiction?
To be a good retail manager, you’ll need to always be prepared for the unexpected. Your employees are looking to you for guidance and reassurance when things go wrong, so demonstrate that you’re confident in your ability to handle difficult situations.
11. Practice decisiveness
This point is somewhat linked to the previous tip. To be a good retail manager, you’ll need to make quick assessments of situations and make a decision in the best interest of your store and team. Being decisive under pressure is a skill that’ll improve as you face more challenging situations.
12. Create a problem-solving atmosphere
No one person has all the answers. As a retail manager, there may be some ideas that you haven’t thought of. Your employees are your eyes and ears on the shop floor, so they’ll have opinions about how things can be improved.
Nurture an atmosphere where your team feels comfortable making suggestions about better ways to do things. Take every contribution seriously by talking over pros and cons and referring appropriate suggestions to head office. This approach will help to empower employees as they’ll feel they are in a position to make a real difference to the company.
13. Mentor your team
There’s a chance that some employees will want to progress in the retail industry. Were there people who took the time to guide you during your career? If so, it’s time to pay it forward to your team members. A good retail manager will identify employees that will make great leaders and mentor them to fulfill their potential.
Take the time to pass on the knowledge that you’ve gathered to help your employees avoid potential pitfalls. Where it’s challenging to find the time to mentor all of your team, consider matching more experienced workers with newer employees to develop a mentor-mentee relationship.
14. Show confidence when resolving conflict
A good retail manager doesn’t shy away from handling conflict. A fast-paced and high-stress retail environment can create tension between the team. You’ll need to identify and diffuse potential conflicts before things get out of hand. It’s your job to get to the bottom of disagreements by identifying the source of your employees discontent.
Give each employee who’s involved in the conflict the chance to air their grievances separately. Make it clear that you’ll be divulging what was discussed to the other parties in order to reach a fair conclusion. All employees should have the right of reply to the other team member’s version. After you’ve conducted your investigation, it’s up to you to come up with a fair solution to restore order to your team.
15. Promote open communication
Your ability to effectively get your point across and listen to your team will be vital to becoming a good retail manager. You’ll also need to be comfortable and confident communicating with different stakeholders in your business, for example, customers and your own manager.
Take your communication skills up a level by encouraging your team to communicate with you, instead of allowing issues to build-up. Be prepared to listen to your employees even when what they’re saying isn’t palatable. Where employees are encouraged to speak their minds in a respectful way, the chance of conflict is reduced. You’ll need to be open to hearing both positive and negative experiences to provide a better working environment.
Take the communication lead by keeping employees informed about developments in your business. This is especially important if you’re part of a chain. News travels at the speed of light with social media. You’ll want to avoid a situation where your team finds out about something that affects them online before you’ve informed them. Communicate changes in a timely manner so that your employees have enough time to adjust.
There are many facets of being a good retail manager. As well as all the tips above, you’ll need to be resilient to handle everything that can be thrown at you in a day. No two days in retail are the same, so, flexibility and mental strength are also key to adapting and being successful in your role. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in the retail management game for some time, these tips will help you to become a better retail manager for the success of your team and store.
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