Retail managers are some of the most overworked people in any industry. These employees end up wearing a lot of hats as duties get shuffled around in the store. From filling in for cashiers to doing inventory and ordering, as well as being the face of the business for any customer who has a problem, the retail manager barely has time to do what they are meant to be doing – that is, leading an effective retail team.
Managing retail employees can be a challenge, primarily because the industry is largely built on a revolving door of short-term employees who don’t often move beyond entry-level positions. Learning how to effectively manage these teams when they are constantly in a state of flux can be difficult. However, there are many ways that retail managers can have a positive impact on the entire team using the tools they have on hand.
One of those tools is your POS. The ERPLY system offers several very powerful ways to effectively assign, track, and manage employee duties, which can be very helpful for keeping everyone on task. Here are some ways to use ERPLY ineffective management techniques.
One of the biggest issues that many retail employees face is that they don’t know what they should be working towards. When the immediate needs of customers or stocking are taken care of, they often find themselves wondering, “Now what?” This leads to customers complaining that employees are “just standing around”, and lost productivity time. One way that managers can better lead the team is by setting goals for everyone. Studies have shown that having goals makes people 50% more productive.
In the ERPLY system, there are several ways to help employees work towards goals. One is to create a commissions program, in which employees can earn more money for completing a certain number of sales. The POS allows you and the employee to monitor their commissions, which gives them a way to feel as though they are gaining ground, and gives you a way to easily watch their progress.
This is done through the time clock function in ERPLY. Once an employee is clocked in, the system will then collect their sales data in the commission’s report, so that it’s very easy to immediately see how much they’ve earned in commissions at any given time. This can be motivating for them, and also helps you ensure that goals are being met.
Another way that ERPLY can be helpful for this is by allowing you to easily identify both your top and bottom performers in a given time frame. You can easily reward top performers for going above and beyond, and identify who may need more coaching to get their sales up in the following month.
Encourage Familiarity with Products
One of the biggest problems that many retail teams have is that they can’t answer basic customer questions about the products. They’ve been trained to stock products, inventory them, sell them – but they haven’t been trained on what the products can do for customers, or how to answer the most popular questions that customers ask. Make a point of getting your team familiar with products that you sell. If you have a huge inventory of different items, create teams that each cover specific areas of the store, and make sure that everyone knows who is on each team so they can direct customers to the right team member.
One way to create teams with specific knowledge of your stock is to utilize the user permissions feature of ERPLY. For example, you can give users permission to do stocktaking for certain products or certain product groups. You can also set up user groups, and add employees to a group that has permissions for a specific product or product group. Create an employee group that does stocktaking for Men’s Fashion, while another does stocktaking for Children’s Shoes, for example. Now you have specialized groups that have intimate knowledge of specific products.
In the ERPLY system, you are able to name new groups anything you like, and add any employee to the group. Then you create a specific username and password for that group, and they have access to the specific permissions you give the group.
Another great bonus of ERPLY is that it can be used on mobile tablets. This means that your employees can break away from their workstations and actually be among the products and customers, without being away from the system. Employees can easily look up information, track their assignments or sales, and still be exploring the products to gain familiarity.
Other Retail Management Tips
In addition to using your POS to help you better manage employees’ goals, actions, and knowledge, there are many ways that managers can use psychology and emotional intelligence to be better leaders. Just about any manager with a few days of training could make sure that all the tasks on a shift are done. But it takes a true leader to go beyond the tasks and start leading the people on the team. Here are some other management tips that do just that:
Create Weekly Coaching Sessions
One way to be a more effective manager is to think of yourself more as a coach rather than a boss. Coaches are there to help athletes develop their skills and become better at what they do. Coaches offer strategic plays that use their athletes’ strengths to their best advantage. In other words, coaches are always looking at strengths and positives, not at weaknesses and failures. Having a weekly meeting with each team member to help them focus on their strengths and improve those strengths can be a valuable way to build even stronger teams.
You can also focus on coaching in the moment, by pulling employees aside when you notice ways that they aren’t utilizing their strengths to their best advantage and reminding them of how they can achieve tasks using those strengths. Just be sure to do this in private, which leads to our next tip.
Train in Private, Compliment in Public
No one likes to be corrected in front of other people, and that’s one of the many ways that retail managers can alienate employees. By training employees how to perform tasks more effectively in private, you’re giving them permission to learn without the judgment of others getting in the way. And by complimenting them in public when you notice employees doing a great job, you’re making sure that everyone knows they are part of the team. Feeling like they are part of a team that sticks together is one way to help stop the revolving door of turnovers in an industry like retail.
Share Information in All Directions
One thing that frustrates retail employees is that they often have no real idea of what is going on in the company. They only see the results of company decisions, not the decision-making process. The problem is that it’s hard for employees to feel valued as part of a team, and it’s hard for them to back up a decision with passion and information if they weren’t there during the making of that decision. It also doesn’t encourage them to speak up and share information on their end of things. Good managers encourage a culture where information is shared up, down, and peer-to-peer. When everyone is kept in the loop about what is going on, it’s easier to offer customers the best help available. It’s also easier to keep everyone feeling like they are on the same side.
Create Rewards for Above and Beyond Behavior
While many employers treat commissions for sales as a reward program, most employees don’t see it that way. To them, this is money earned for the job they were hired to do, and it doesn’t give them the incentive to go above and beyond their typical duties. Create other rewards for great customer service, efficiency, creative ideas, completing extra training, or other goals that you have for your employees. The key is to make sure that the rewards are tied to measurable goals so that employees feel that they can actually work towards and achieve these rewards. Free lunches, gift cards for cleaning services, or paid time off, are great examples of rewards to offer in exchange for excellent work.
Eliminate Me vs. Them Feelings Right Away
When new employees join your team, there is always a period of “me vs. them” mentality. The new person doesn’t feel like they are really part of the company yet, and the team doesn’t really feel like the new person is either. One way to eliminate this kind of thinking immediately is to implement a buddy system, wherein a more experienced employee is tasked with some aspects of training or encouraging the new crew member. It’s important that you work on finding common ground between your new crew member and your existing team as soon as you can so that they can start working together more efficiently.
Eliminate Resistance to Change
In retail, change is what drives the entire industry. From evolving customer needs to emerging trends to new competitors, there will always be a change in this industry. However, people are often naturally resistant to change, and retail employees may not always manage the transition very well. It is up to the manager to anticipate change and start eliminating that resistance before the problems arise. Lead your group through some problem solving when new things don’t work the way old systems did. Encourage new ideas and listen to your employees when they offer solutions. Those solutions may not work, but by giving employees a chance to be part of the solution, you help them feel as though they are tackling the problems with you, rather than being attacked by the problems themselves.
Hold Everyone Accountable for Their Time
One of the most important resources a manager has is time. With dozens of tasks to complete every day, hundreds or thousands of customers to serve, and very little time to handle things if something goes wrong, managers are always in a battle with the clock. They must be able to handle interruptions, eliminate all time wasters, and know how to prioritize so that everything gets done when it’s supposed to. However, employees are not on the same clock as the manager. They only know that they need to be in their spot, doing the same tasks they always do, for a certain number of hours.
In order to keep the ship moving, managers must hold employees accountable for their time. Everyone must be held to the same standard, even entry-level part-timers. Be sure that your team knows that time is valuable and that your company has expectations for the time they spend on the clock. It isn’t just about performing tasks, but about how they contribute to the overall operations of the business.
Erply includes a built-in timeclock in the POS. Managers can track employee time through the timeclock report in the back office, and employees can see their own hours in the POS.
Combining POS and Leadership Skills for Effective Managers
Of all the tips listed in this article, none is more important than another. It takes both practical leadership, utilizing your POS and other tools, as well as emotional leadership, utilizing psychology and empathy, to effectively lead a team. It is true that ERPLY can help you better manage your team through streamlined time clocks, easier onboarding, better scheduling, and more accountability.
It is also true that employees who feel like they are part of a team, and a valued part at that, are more likely to feel satisfied with their job. This, in turn, leads to employees that stick around longer, which allows you to boost your team’s experience and serve customers better.
The best managers know that at the end of the day, using both practical tools and good coaching skills are the keys to being an effective team leader. Combine all these tips for great leadership that builds and manages a team, instead of simply assigning a boss to oversee employees.
Erply provides built-in employee management tools, including the ability to create sales goals and award commissions:
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