Retail store managers wear many hats. Arguably the most important is that of people manager. A store manager is essentially the team coach (minus the whistle and Gatorade).
One of the key responsibilities of a coach is to give feedback to improve team performance. However, given the constant demands of running a store and serving customers on a daily basis, delivering effective feedback in a timely manner can be a challenge for novice and experienced store managers alike.
The three tips below will help you up your game as a coach—propelling your store team’s performance and delighting customers in the process.
1. Flex to Your Associates’ Style
Flexibility is arguably the most important requirement for effective coaching in the retail environment. Each associate on your team has their own unique personality and style, which means they’ll respond differently to various types of feedback. Savvy managers flex their coaching style to match each associate’s particular disposition.
Pay attention to what makes each member of your team tick and adjust accordingly. Bold and confident, Kate is thick-skinned and responds best to a straight shot of direct feedback. More introverted and sensitive, Justin benefits from a softer touch. Connecting with him on a personal level opens the door to a constructive conversation.
Store associates are going to be more comfortable in an environment where coaching is individualized and delivered with thoughtfulness. And flexing to each associate’s style gets you better buy in, which in turn delivers better store results.
2. Leverage Data to Get Specific
No reputable scientist would publish a paper based on casual observations alone; yet we often ask retail managers to coach their teams based solely on anecdotal observations. Adding data to your tool kit can help bring coaching and development to the next level.
Performance metrics (by individual or team) reveal a more complete picture of how and when your people shine, and where they need support. When Maria’s on the sales floor, transactions per hour are well above average, yet basket size lags the district’s average. Perhaps she’d benefit from coaching on adding on items. A quick conversation might do the trick, or even better, some specific skill development on solution selling. Dwayne tends to log a smaller number of transactions per hour, but his average order size is through the roof compared with his peers. You might consider coaching him on how to balance multiple customers.
With a clear picture of each associate’s strengths and weaknesses, based on both observations and data, you can deliver tailored feedback to drive better in-store experiences.
3. Make It Real-Time
Timing is everything. The more immediate the feedback, the better. Perhaps you observe Gaby missing the opportunity to engage with a customer who clearly has a question. Take her aside as soon as possible to reinforce the importance of picking up on those non-verbal cues. Or let’s say you see Justin struggling to closing a sale. Step in with an assist in the moment, turning the potential lost transaction into a learning opportunity for Justin and a positive experience for the customer.
But let’s face it. As a store manager, you can’t be everywhere at once. That’s where store data can back you up. Store metrics give you insights on performance in every shift, even when you’re not working alongside associates on the sales floor, allowing you to follow up promptly and address issues before they become endemic.
Access to real-time (or nearly real-time) data can automate the feedback process and empower store associates to take ownership of their own improvement. When associates can view their own performance objectively and compare it to their peers, they’re empowered to take charge of their own development, coming to you for specific feedback instead of waiting for the next one-on-one meeting. Sometimes the best coaching happens without you doing all the legwork!
Move Forward with Feedback
Using data-driven feedback to coach your retail team elevates your store management game and fosters culture of performance. The impact of the right words delivered at the right time, supported by data, cannot be overstated. So put on that coach’s hat, and get ready to raise the playing field.