Retail Career Obstacle: Unwilling To Self-Develop

Retail Career Obstacle: Unwilling To Self-Develop


With the New Year quickly approaching I thought I would cover some topics that are opportunities in retail as professional resolutions for 2016. The first topic I wrote about was #Retail Career Obstacle: Defensiveness. Now I want to cover another growth hurdle I have encountered in my career: Self-Development.

I am obsessed with self-development because retail, generally, doesn’t have a great track record with training and development or truly investing in the future growth of their employees. Typically, we are hired into roles because we possess the skills needed to positively impact the job description and the competencies that the company feels are relevant to the role. We receive operational training on compliance and policies and that’s it, most of the time. Then the people who stand out and excel in that role are given opportunities for growth. If you are lucky and have a great leader they will frequently speak with you about your areas of awesomeness and those areas that they see you need support with and they will help set you up on a learning plan through partnership with them to grow those competencies.

However, it has, mostly, been an industry that, in order to learn new competencies you have to be passionate about self-development, seeking mentors, building relationships, and proactively seeking performance feedback. To do this effectively you must be able to identify your strengths and leverage those daily for productivity. You also need to be able identify and articulate your professional opportunity areas, and put a develop plan into practice to discover how to build these opportunities into strengths.

I have met amazing team members who are uncompromising in their pursuit of being great. They ask smart, driven questions constantly. They look for solutions and are open to learning all the time. They take any defeat personally but it galvanizes them to reinvent their approach, find additional resources to help them understand the topic and deliver greatness. Who doesn’t love this person!? They are inspiring and tenacious in their approach to business and relentless in delivering results that always exceed expectations.

Then we have the person that is either (a) unwilling, resistant, and/or just plain stubborn about developing skills for growth and improvement or (b) is overwhelmed by the process and doesn’t know where to start. Here are possible causes for this perceived resistance to investing in their professional growth:

-They resist change, even when faced with an opportunity to overcome an obstacle
-They have a narrow interest in one area of the business
-They lack any professional curiosity
-They have little or no desire to grow in retail
-They don’t build strong work relationships to partner for help
-It is reasonable to assume that some possess a level of arrogance
-They don’t know understand how to, and are unmotivated to, develop a learning strategy for themselves
-They are defensive
-They don’t like their job

Here are some additional possibilities why people may be disinclined to self-develop:

-They cross their fingers and hope all works out (Hope is not a strategy)
-They prefer the ” this is how I’ve always done it”
-They are too busy or “stressed” to learn anything new
-They are content in their role and have no professional aspirations

Being disinterested in, or unwilling to take responsibility for, self-development can stall your career growth in retail. People will view you as one-dimensional and not worth investing their time in to coach important competencies. This would be a tragedy if you simply are lost as to how to begin the process of self-development.

If you have the desire but lack the knowledge to start seeking self-development – you need to have that conversation with your supervisor so they can support your learning and growth.

In the interim, here are some articles that, hopefully, can get you started:

From Skills You Need: Personal Development

From Wake Forest University: Develop Your Professional Self

From Inc.: 12 Ways To Attack Any Challenge

From MBA Crystal Ball: 50 Self Improvement Tips for Success at Work and in Life

If you choose to sit and wait for someone to create a strength and weakness list for you and then create an all-inclusive action plan around developing our weaknesses, complete with each and every tool needed to develop these skills, you will not accomplish much. But if you sit down and objectively reflect on your personal performance and list out your strengths and weaknesses, determine which you can work on, personally, and your course of action.Then bring your list to your supervisor and let them know what you believe you need support with, I assure you, you will get the time and attention invested in your growth.

Retail is an amazing industry, full of challenge and opportunity for those who are capable of keeping themselves engaged, motivated, focused on their professional growth, and those who have a commitment to personal learning. When you invest in yourself, you will absolutely be seen as someone worth investing in.


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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