Retail Leadership - Are Your Associates Really Engaged?

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As a retail manager, you probably secretly believe your rank and file associates are never going think of themselves as part of a real team.
They'll never be engaged.
While it's true not every associate will be an enthusiastic contributor, leaders should be concerned if most of them aren't engaged in the success of the store.
A store manager doesn't control pay and benefits, but there are things within the manager's control that can make a big difference.
These 7 steps will go a long way towards creating a more effective team.
Make sure every associate (and manager for that matter) understands why they are there.
Don't resort to the overused phrase about "great customer service!" Of course you provide great customer service; but, your real job is to sell stuff and bring in money.
Customer service is a big part of how you do that, but selling stuff is why the store exists and how you get paid.
Listen to your associates! They have thoughts and ideas that can be very beneficial.
Good leaders understand they don't have all the answers and their subordinates can have very valuable input.
Not every idea is going to be a good one, but if you don't give each one a fair hearing, you'll miss the pearl.
There's an added benefit too.
One of the most important motivators in the workplace is a feeling that the worker is a valued part of the team.
Treat associates as adults and listen to what they say.
That may sound silly, but I know a store manager who once said he considered himself a baby sitter! What kind of a message is that sending to the employees? 4.
Recognize that part-time associates are just as important as full-time associates.
While they don't get paid as much or receive the same benefits, they are critical to the company's success.
There should be no difference in the way a manager treats part-time and full-time employees.
Be careful with the schedule.
For some reason many store managers seem to think that it's okay for an associate to go home at 10:00 at night, then magically reappear at 7:00 the next morning, wide awake and ready to smile at the customer.
Is it really necessary, or just convenient for you? 6.
Plan ahead.
Why is it so difficult to schedule more than a week in advance? While some store managers do this, many don't.
As leaders we sometimes become completely consumed by our jobs and there is even some twisted level of pride in working ourselves until we drop.
But, that isn't healthy for associates any more than it is for managers.
Remember, your associates have lives outside the store and they might like to plan ahead.
Wouldn't it be better if the schedule didn't change that often? Yes, people get sick and have other emergencies and events that make them unavailable, but a more stable schedule makes those issues easier to deal with.
Don't default to "the customer is always right.
" Blasphemy you say! Consider this.
An unhappy customer may or may not return to your store.
If they don't, you lose sales and some income.
That's bad, but there are other customers and chances are, the loss of one customer is not that significant.
On the other hand, losing a good associate is very costly and they are hard to replace.
Also, when the associates know their manager will support them, they'll work harder to support that manager, which means more sales and happier customers.
Start with step one tomorrow and then keep going through the entire list.
You'll experience a definite improvement in your associate's engagement.
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