Retail Week: Become A Better Retail Manager With 5 Simple Steps


There’s no question that effective managers within the workplace are incredibly important.

Unfortunately, managers don’t always possess the “soft skills” necessary to reach their full potential. This rings especially true when it comes to retail – a field with a traditionally high turnover, which is in part due to the high influx of entry level candidates that it attracts, who often are only looking for short-term employment. While many organizations strive to provide adequate management training, much of the role is dependant on an individual’s own attitude and standards.

Being a retail manager can be a challenging yet incredibly rewarding experience. But one things for sure: Everyone benefits when you have a good relationship with those you manage. Whether you are, or ever hope to take on a managerial position in retail, it’s necessary to reflect on how you conduct yourself as a manager. At times, it can be challenging to take charge of and motivate younger sales associates. This is partially due to the nature of shorter employment terms and lower paying wages in the field. However, in any organization, supervising employees with a varied range of skill sets also gives you opportunity to build a strong team. Which will in turn, help them build their resumes while improving your daily operation.

Once you’ve mastered a few management do’s and don’ts, your team will not only improve, but your job will become more enjoyable than you ever thought! These 5 tips will not only bring you success in your retail career in terms of increased sales, but in your relationships with the people who surround you every day.

1. Don’t Criticize

After his arrest, Al Capone, a notorious gangster, seemed to believe that he was a victim or circumstance. His true belief was that throughout life, he had selflessly helped people and done little wrong – despite being most violent criminals in American history.

Rarely do offenders accept full responsibility for their actions – and this is hardly surprisingly. Each of us has a deeply rooted psychological need justify our actions to feel good about ourselves; it’s inherent in our human nature. That means that the moment another person places us in a negative light, we can’t help but react defensively.

Criticising employees will never produce desired results, regardless of how necessary it may seem. If convicted criminals can sit in jail with a convincing belief that their predicament is someone else’s fault, chances are your coworkers aren’t going to be all that responsive when you call out their lackluster sales techniques. People will generally respond to criticism by refusing to accept responsibility and subconsciously shift the blame to someone or something else.

Ultimately, It’s always more effective to reward good behaviour than it is to condemn bad behaviour. Of course, when it comes to addressing actions that should result in termination, it’s a different story. However, in a day to day setting, once you’ve outlined the employee’s role and responsibilities, making the switch to positive reinforcement will generate a better response from those you are managing and motivate them to work even harder for you. It’s a simple – yet effective – rule to follow.

2. Express Appreciation

Each of us wants to feel appreciated. It’s just as important in our professional lives as it is in our personal lives. Shows of appreciation don’t happen nearly enough in the workplace, where a simple “thank you” can go a long way. You shouldn’t thank your team just because it’s a nice thing to do; it also motivates employees to work harder and be more productive.

In Glassdoor’s Employee Appreciation Survey, it was revealed how appreciated employees feel by employers and what really motivates them at work. The survey found that 53% of employees would stay at their company longer if they felt more appreciation from their boss and 81% said they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work.

This information is important because it reminds managers that by simply expressing appreciation, you can keep talented workers happy and committed to your organization. Most employees in the workforce just want to feel valued, be involved in decision making processes, do interesting work and have a purpose. Keeping this in mind and applying it practice is the key to keeping happy and skilled employees within your organization.

3. If You’re Wrong, Admit It

Oftentimes, managers believe that by admitting fault, you reveal your incompetence as a leader. In reality, admitting weakness can actually help enhance your authority. Here’s why: When you own up to your mistakes, you seem more human to those who work under you. We all make mistakes, and pretending that you don’t draws a divide between you and your employees. When you humanize yourself, employees won’t separate themselves from you simply because you’re the boss. This, in turn, will assert your credibility, which naturally gives you more authority.

Seeing vulnerability in a manger is almost refreshing and subconsciously gives you the respect from employees you otherwise might have not gotten. Furthermore, if you’re an employee who has made a mistake, a manager’s self-criticism will help you remember the correct protocol much better than criticism from another employee will. Admittance of mistakes thus works in each one’s favour.

4. Ask Questions Instead Of Giving Orders

Barking commands at people is never an effective way to get things done – at least not in the long term. “Effective leaders ask questions instead of giving orders,” wrote Dale Carnegie nearly 80 years ago in his iconic book How to Win Friends and Influence People, but too few of today’s bosses are following his advice.

The thing is, both you and your staff know that you’re in charge. You don’t need to solidify that already known fact by relentlessly bossing people around. Regardless, the best way to get anyone to do what you want is to ask for it in a way that suggests they have the option. People are generally more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued. For example, even if it’s in your employee’s job description to keep your retail space looking neat, asking “Do you mind organizing that display table?” will elicit a much more positive response than “Go over and organize that table.”

Following this piece of advice also gives your staff the opportunity to be self-directed and encourages cooperation instead of rebellion. Brash orders can instill resentment, even if they are given to correct a bad situation. For example, instead of telling an employee to ring people through cash quicker because there’s a long line, ask them if there’s anything you can do to help speed the process!

5. Help Fix Mistakes

The best way to address an employee’s mistake is by giving them the opportunity to save face. Nobody likes messing up, and having a conversation in which you can work with someone to restore quality performance and customer service is incredibly effective. Simply criticizing an employee can make them feel defeated, but encouraging them to improve in certain areas and being understanding of their mistakes can be hugely motivating.

Consider providing an explanation on how they should handle similar situations in the future. Make faults seem easy to correct, and create an environment where the employee will be happy about suggestions for improvement by engaging this type of dialogue with all of your coworkers. In this conversation,mentioning the employee’s value to the team as well as your willingness to provide support can go a long way and speed up their improvement as well.

By reaching the end of this article, there’s no question that you’ve already become a better retail manager. If you follow these few key rules, you’ll notice a huge difference in the way your employees respond to you, and ultimately the benefit it they will bring to your work environment.