The skills that help someone get promoted to a management role, or the skills that an entrepreneur uses to build and run a successful business, are often skills that are tied specifically to their profession. In the retail industry, people who are great in sales, or have exceptional merchandising skills, often find themselves promoted into a position of management. Those skills are definitely valuable to a retail manager, but they are not necessarily the skills that help them be effective in leading, managing, and developing people.
This is a very common problem. It happens in all types of industries, but it is especially frequent in retail. It almost seems counter-intuitive: if someone is really good at interacting with customers in a retail setting, why wouldn’t those skills translate well to being a leader of people? Because leadership requires a very different set of skills than those of a good salesperson or merchandiser.
Leading people is challenging, even for someone who might be described as “a born leader.” Are good leaders born that way? Sure, some are, but developing leadership skills is something that can be learned. Leadership is influence; it is finding a way through all the messiness of individuals’ emotions, attitudes, and opinions to form a cohesive team. Leadership is the ability to bring together a diverse workforce with different ideas, experiences, and opinions, as well as different ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds, and leverage that diversity into an innovative, high performing team. Leadership requires the ability to manage conflict, come to resolutions, and the skills to pull the best performance out of everyone on the team.
People don’t quit companies; people quit people. A company is only as strong as the weakest member of the team. How effective are your managers? Are they good at communicating with their people? Do they ask for, and get, honest feedback? How would the employees rate the boss? There is always a need for development. A good leader knows that their most important responsibility is to keep learning, growing, and developing their own skills as a leader
Your reputation precedes you. We all have had an experience at some point in our careers of working for a great boss, and on the flip side, working for a not-so-great boss. At Retail Level Up™, we see the direct impact of the varying degrees of leadership skills on a retail manager’s ability to attract and retain the best employees. Here’s a great example: there are two Verizon stores three miles apart. Verizon store A is in a highly trafficked and visible location, has easy parking and access, and is a large, bright space. Verizon store B is located in an area that is not as easy to get to, has a much less desirable parking situation, a much smaller space, and is not as attractive inside. These two stores are owned & operated by the same company. With all the negatives Verizon store B has, they have significantly higher volume than Verizon store A. Customer surveys reveal Verizon store B’s employees were described as “helpful”, “professional”, “happy”. Surveys of customers who had visited Verizon store A did not include these kinds of positive qualities.
Though these two stores are owned and operated by the same company, with the same standards of procedures and processes, and though store A had many advantages over store B, store B still beat store A’s performance, consistently. Why? Because store B’s manager has better skills in leading, managing, and developing people, and with those better leadership skills, store manager B is able to attract and retain great employees who in turn deliver a consistently great customer experience.
What can be done? Retail Level Up™ has some great solutions to help retailers with people development. Our online, on-demand training programs pinpoint the basic skills that anyone in a management position needs. The training programs are perfect for someone who is new to a management role, someone who wants to become a manager, or someone who is already a manager but needs some guidance in how to fine tune their leadership skills.
Retail Level Up™ also offers coaching. If you would like to invest in yourself to get ready for that next level of management, or if you are an owner or a manager and want to invest in your people so they are the very best they can possibly be, hiring a coach is a great benefit. Providing coaching to your key management sends a strong message that the company is committed to the growth and development of its most valuable asset: its people.
The retail industry is going through some big changes. This is the perfect time to get back to basics, because retail is all about people: how well you engage with people, how well you interact with people, and how well you are able to influence them.
Brick-and-mortar retail is here to stay. The companies that focus on the importance of great leadership and people skills, will be the success stories of tomorrow. It’s time to level up!
Retail Level Up provides coaching, training, and consulting services to individuals and teams. Visit www.retaillevelup.com to learn more and to schedule a free consultation.