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June 2016
Lead to Succeed By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

These five tips for stronger employee management can work for your full-time and seasonal staff members.

There is a saying in life that the “days are busy but the years are short” and when it comes to retail, this is absolutely the truth.

After all, how often have years flown by and you’ve looked back only to regret how you managed your employees or other store responsibilities you had hoped to improve?

With employees essentially your brand ambassadors, there is no better time than now to work toward making their roles stronger while strengthening your own employee management skills as well.

To help, consider these five tips:

Evaluate Your Current Employee Situation

Ask yourself this straightforward question … and give yourself an honest answer. Are you satisfied with the performance of your employees?

While it is possible some employees will likely stand out among others for their positive attributes, it’s also likely many others will stand out for just the opposite reasons.

Keeping this in mind, analyze your entire staff and identify the strengths, weaknesses and windows of opportunities that you would like to improve.

This first step can help lead you to the many others that will follow as you begin your journey to strengthen your employee team.

Create an Employee Evaluation Checklist

When analyzing your employees and their performances, it’s important to be consistent in evaluating each employee against the same criteria.

Keeping this in mind, having a checklist — or evaluation form — to work off of can help you review each individual employee with the same standards and expectations as all others.

Ranking skills and store responsibilities on a scale of 1 to 5 provides a good baseline, with 1 being poor performance, 2 offering below average, 3 identifying average, 4 recognized as above average and 5 being outstanding.

As you begin to create your checklist, consider including points that range from store operations to customer service to merchandising and marketing to social media.

Any and all responsibilities in your store should be included, as well as other key details such as being on time to work.

Schedule One-on-One Reviews

Once your checklist is completed and your evaluations have been filled out, it’s important to schedule a one-on-one review with each employee to deliver your findings.

Additionally, take this opportunity to discuss their strengths and weaknesses as well as communicate store goals, expectations, employee responsibilities and more.

You should allow for time that would welcome your employee to share their own thoughts, whether it’s in direct response to your review or about their employment or store concerns in general.

Finally, make sure your tone is positive while also enforcing the standards you have set for your business.

At the very least, these should be done annually. Ideally, however, these would be completed quarterly or bi-annually.

With seasonal garden center employees, the timeframe may be different, but make sure you still find the time for such reviews and are consistent.

Deliver an All-Store Team Meeting

Meeting, pow-wow, group building event … you get the idea.

Whatever the vibe is for your store, create a time that brings everyone together when the store is not open for business. During this experience, you should formally roll out store expectations — particularly if this is something you have never previously done. To help, introducing an employee manual is a great idea.

For those less interested in a formal manual, consider a “10 best” list that shares the 10 things your store absolutely wants to see from every employee … then post this list in a common area that employees will see it and be reminded of it every time they work (away from customers, of course).

The main goal — no matter what path you choose to take here — is to create a team morale that is positive and uplifting while offering employees leadership and direction for them to follow while working in your store.

Teamwork should be emphasized, as well, and any sales goals that you have in place should also be identified.

Speaking of which …

Set Daily Sales Goals

When managing employees, it’s vital to offer goals that employees can easily access and understand.
Saying “We want to have our best year yet!” sounds great, but it doesn’t offer clear direction on how to do this.

Combining this annual goal with daily goals can help you reach your expectations.

Using your point of sale and other data from previous sales years, identify daily sales goals that your employees are aware of.

Additionally, set other goals each day that may include merchandising a specific area, sending out customer thank you notes and managing store operations in general.

Combined, these daily goals will help make for productive days and ultimately, help you reach the big picture goals you have in place for your business.

A Final Thought

When leading employees, be sure to consider the leadership experience that they are experiencing.

In other words … are you the manager that can help them achieve great things?

Pausing to reflect on your own leadership can help you better understand some of your employee behaviors.

Keeping this in mind, aim to shape your own leadership in a direction that you and your employees can both be proud of.

As a result?

Your store, employees and yourself will benefit … helping to increase sales and create a more dynamic working environment.

It’s a win-win that begins with management, follows with employees and ends with a great store experience.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the founder of Retail Minded, co-founder of the Independent Retailer Conference and a regular contributor to Forbes.com. She is also the author of the book “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business.” She can be reached at [email protected]


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