Most first time retail managers don’t know what they don’t know…now this might sound obvious but its true.
For those of us that have been around the block a few times and have been manageing for quite a while its easy to forget how it feels to be freshly promoted and now fully responsible to run a store. It can be overwhelming learning how to manage lead and execute all at the same time. There are many skills that a first time manager needs to master really fast.
To provide the best coaching to a brand new manager or someone that is early on in their career its important that we go back in time and remember the feelings that we had when we were promoted to our first management role and the challenges we faced when trying to manage, get the job done and provide guidance to a team while ensuring that our boss and customers were happy. It can be exhausting and rewarding at the same time. And sometimes a few words of advice can make all the difference.
So what does every first time manager need to know?
If I could go back in time to my younger self this is the advice I would have given myself.
- Nothing is ever complete, meaning that your role as a manager is to be constantly improving yourself your teams performance and the experience of each and every customer. Being a leader in retail is a very exciting career and one that will provide lots of room to grow, make mistakes and improvement. People are predictable and so are shopping habbits but if you think that you will be able to perfect everything and finish everything on your todo list…think again. Because we work with people and it is not a static job things dont always go to plan. Don’t let this frustrate you…your team and customers will feel it. Even though there are patterns and things that are reoccuring someone will always throw a challenge at you and how you deal with it matters.
- Be intentially happy all the time. You set the mood with your team and customers. Even though your company may have its own values and mission statements you must have your own that alligns with it. What do you want to be known for? Positive happy optimistic people create a contagious culture of the same. Think about it and really consider what you will be know for. You can’t be good at everything and you don’t need to be. But you are contributing to the company culture in every interaction and conversation you have. So what are you portraying to your team, peers and customers? Are you conciously thinking about this?
- Write things down get it out of your head. If you are not great at admin like most retail managers get better at it. Use your outlook or somekind of calender and be disciplined with it. Having everything in your head takes up brainspace and does not help you help your team.
- Stop making lots of todo lists everywhere. Make one and keep adding to it. I use a piece of paper that I can move week to week in my agenda and then I never miss anything that requires me to complete. I used to make lots of lists weekly and then start over again now I have one list that I keep adding to. Once the page is checked off I throw it out and then keep going.
- Hire the best. This is a no brainer but most first time managers are not the best at assessing talent. Dont hire based on who you like, hire on what will drive your business. Ask for help if you need to develop this skill. Interviewing and assessing takes experience and the more support you get here the faster you will achieve success. We all know this but again it takes experience to learn this. If there is someone on your larger team have them provide feedback and interview candidates with you.
- Don’t do everything yourself…this is a BIG one. When your to do list is getting to long. Pause take a break and think about who on your team has the potential to complete it for you. Notice how I said POTENTIAL…they may not have completed it already but this could be a learning opportunity for your team to take on some responsibility and take some workload off your shoulders.
- Make sure you know what you boss thinks is mission ciritcal. This can help you know what you should prioritize.
- Don’t spend time recreating the tools and resources that are provided to you by the company you work for. Spend time executing, following up and training your team on the standards. Too many times new managers think they can make things better. You can by providing feedback to your supervisor and then get to work on what is expected of you.
- Learn to ask not tell. It’s easy to tell people what to do and guess what they usually will do it. However if you can learn to ask more questions guide and coach you will be much more effective. The biggest mistake that first time managers make is they use their position to get things done. Make sure this is not you or any leader on your team.
There is allot to learn as a new manager and even if you have years of experience as a retail leader the people you work with constantly change. There will never be a shortage of people to train, develop and follow up on.
But guess what this is the rewarding work of being a retail manager…