Retail Career Obstacle: Cannot Build An Effective Team

#Retail Career Obstacle: Cannot Build An Effective Team

On my list of Top 3 disheartening phrases I heard last week was “I just need to hire some bodies”. These words are the kiss of death for a store’s productivity and profitability.

I have previously referenced a quote by Eric Ryan that I think is fabulous “Mediocre hires are like empty calories. They make you bigger, but less healthy.” This is incredibly true of field teams and something that I am constantly managing with my Store Managers when I am in the field. I have implemented Stay Interviews in our business to be able to identify common areas of opportunity on teams through feedback and dialogue with each and every team member in each store. What this does is show where the breakdown in development is occurring and what possible complications this team/store is facing. But even before the Stay Interviews take place you can identify that a team is at risk by simply seeing their key performance indicators.

-Do they or do they not hit their daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual goals?
-Do they or do they not achieve the company conversion goals?
-Do they or do they not achieve the company Average $ Sale goals?
-Do they or do they not achieve the company Customer Experience standard?
-Do they or do they not live up to the company visual and store aesthetics standards?
-Do they or do they not display a high level of genuine, honest communication?

If you are answering “they do not” more than “they do” that is a clear sign that the store is in distress. That the Store Manager is not leading an aligned or healthy team. And yes…unfortunately…there are retail Store Managers that are just hiring “bodies” to fill the schedule with or they are disengaged and they have ceased communicating and leading the team. Either way, the consequences of not building a team can be costly in many ways to a store/district/region/company.

Here are some additional signs that a store is filled with disengaged “bodies”:
-Store Manager primarily uses the phrase “I” or “My”
-Everyone is participating in gossip that separates the team
-Store Manager shows clear signs of favoritism
-The support staff contacts the DM/RM for direction instead (this is a two-part issue: (1) The SM isn’t communicating clearly and (2) The team members don’t view the SM as a resource that can be trusted
-The Store Manager only works with the same team members week after week
-Store Manager is challenged with dealing with conflict
-The Store Manager has a high turn on their team
-The Store Manager generally relies on applicants as opposed to recruiting to find candidates/talent
-Excuses, excuses, excuses abound…”the weather is too hot/too cold”, “our customers are frugal”, “the mall wasn’t busy”

A broken team – a team that doesn’t deliver results – a team that does not work within the Company Values and Culture expectations is the Store Manager’s (or Department Manager’s) issue to own.

When a team is effective and working together to the common goal of successful results you will see:
-A Store Manager that supports his/her team’s growth & development
-The team speaks in “we” and “us”
-Team team consistently delivers results that are in-line with goals (regardless of outside circumstances)
-The team consistently celebrates results and successes
-The Store Manager can articulate everyone’s strengths/weaknesses and where they are in the development process
-The Store Manager is always visit-ready and will not feel uncomfortable letting the DM conduct a store visit with one of their support team members
-The team and manager’s messages are aligned when they speak to the business
-The customer experience is consistently exceeding the expectation of the customer
-Team works within the Company Vision and Values – always

Just because the Store Manager does not possess the ability to build a team does not mean they are failures. They, likely, could use some support in this area.

Some things that may cause this area to be challenges are:
-The Store Manager is overwhelmed
-The Store Manager needs development in recruiting and interviewing
-They have lost control of their team and are unable to regain leadership
-They believe that keeping information to themselves is job security (oy vey!)

Here are some resources for building/rebuilding a team

From Rice: 12 Ways To Build An Effective Team

From Entrepreneur: 3 Ingredients For Building Effective Teams

From Inc.: 5 Steps To Creating Really Effective Teams

Some of my previous posts on team and what employees need from their leaders to be engaged and productive:

Why Good People Quit In #Retail (And What Compels Them To Stay)

70% of Employee Quit Their Job Everyday (But They Still Keep Showing Up For Work)

Poor Performing Teams In #Retail (And How To Make Them Stronger)

Dynamics of Highly Productive Teams

#Retail Hiring – Signs That You Need To Put The Candidate on the “No” Pile

#Retail Interviewing For Job Fit & Culture Fit

All of this being said – it is MUCH easier to build an effective team as you start your hiring process than it is to fix a team that is broken. But the only way you can achieve success it to build a cohesive, committed team who is dedicated to delivering great results and finding ways to do that, instead of finding excuses as to why they cannot. The challenge is to acknowledge the culture that actually exists and implement change to improve it. It’s difficult but it can be done.

If/when you hear anyone on your team speak about “bodies” you need to coach them. It is a waste of time and energy to hire bodies into your business. Bodies won’t deliver great customer experiences. Bodies won’t care if you make your day or not. Bodies won’t support a great workplace culture. Bodies won’t make the team better…just bigger.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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