During my first year as a manager, a colleague once commented to me, “You know that you’re what they talk about at the dinner table.” I was clueless as to what she meant, so she elaborated. “Your employees,” my co-worker explained. “Whether they have a good day or a bad day at work, your name is the one that comes up in the conversation.”
As a manager or store owner, you have the power and the ability to shape the kind of job, situation, and even the type of days your employees have – good, bad, stressful, enjoyable, horrible – you are an influencer. Given that you want your store to be the best and to do this, you want the best people working for you, how do you create the best work environment – one that fosters and cultivates great employees? The formula isn’t rocket science but it does take time, consistency and commitment. Read on to discover the ingredients for a great work culture!
Tap the resources at your fingertips. Your employees are your greatest resource to help you understand the numbers. Yes, you can pull reports on inventory sold and dollars spent, but your staff can tell you what a customer thought about a product, the pros and cons they mentioned, what drew them in or maybe pushed them away from a purchase. You want to regularly talk with your employees about what they think about products and displays, what they’re hearing and seeing, not just what they’re selling.
Additionally, your team is a great sounding board when you’re thinking about implementing something new or need to get creative and innovative with a new product, process or policy. Getting their input not only helps you with your job, but it lets your employees know that you value their expertise, their experiences and their opinions. Plus, it gives them ownership of whatever change is about to happen – and ownership is a great way to ensure the successful adoption of change.
Connect and communicate with your team. Talking with your team and engaging them tells them that you care, not just about the group as a whole but about each individual. Getting to know your employees also gives insight on what makes your people tick. The more you know a person, the more you’ll know how to motivate them, what’s important to them, how they like to be appreciated, and you can tailor your behaviors and actions to fit these different needs. For example, some employees like monetary rewards; others just appreciate public recognition while others just need to know that they are valued. Just like a family, the rules, processes and policies may be the same, but the people are all different – and the more you know about a person, the better equipped you’ll be to give them what they want and need.
Set clear boundaries, limits and expectations. Regardless of the employee, everyone likes to know where they stand. So, communicate clearly and effectively on expectations, guidelines, policies or procedures, and rules for accomplishing tasks. On that note, conduct regular training sessions, not just when you introduce new processes or products, but as refreshers along the way. After all, everyone responds better when they know what’s expected. Don’t make your store a stressful place by keeping employees continually guessing.
Empowerment. This term is tossed around a lot but what exactly does it mean? As an employer, you want to give your team the ability and the power to make decisions, plan work and tasks, engage in two-way communication and help to create the right kind of company and environment. Empowerment means freedom but also trust and confidence that you’ve hired the right people for the job. If people feel they have the power to make a positive difference, then that’s what they’ll do. If they feel like order takers or just a small cog in the wheel, then that’s the output you’ll get.
Teamwork. There are some companies where everyone works individually but that is a rarity these days – and retail is not one of them. Encourage your staff to work as a team, to learn from each other’s strengths, and help with weaknesses. As a manager, you need to provide opportunities for team building activities (you can work this into training sessions and weekly meetings), but also create reward programs and bonuses that celebrate and cultivate teamwork. You don’t need to do everything based on the group, but definitely promote and encourage the positive benefits of working together.
Appreciation and Positivity. So often, people are unhappy in their jobs because they don’t feel valued or appreciated. As a manager, you want to praise and compliment employees on jobs well done. This not only makes your staff member feel good about themselves and their job, but it inspires other members to strive to accomplish similar results – and garner appreciation and praise from you as well. Many managers choose to be reactive, only addressing tasks done incorrectly, but offering proactive praise can create a feeling of goodwill, a positive environment and encourage the type of behavior and activities you want at your company.
As the manager, you have the ability and the power to shape the work environment around you. Whether it’s negativity, stress and unhappiness or confidence, satisfaction and strong team spirit, you dictate what type of culture you cultivate. Make sure it’s the right one — for your company, your success, and your employees.
~ The Baby Pibu™ Team