Retail: are your line managers allowed to coach? Four tips to empower your frontline managers
Friday 13 June 2014
How empowered are your frontline managers? These line managers and their teams are key to delivering a consistent customer experience and have an important impact on your bottom line. Yet, in many retail organisations, the scope of their role is inflexible and often subject to the changing demands of the area managers and head office.
Research has shown that if you allow the frontline managers more freedom, strong financial returns can be generated (McKinsey: Unlocking the potential of your frontline managers). For example, one convenience retailer managed to reduce employee hours whilst increasing sales by 10%. Success does depend on good systems and processes first being in place. This, in turn, frees up time for your line managers to communicate the company direction and increase the level of structured and ad-hoc workplace coaching.
Reduce administration tasks
Good systems and processes need to be established from the outset. Line managers need to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time on the shopfloor. By reviewing the time-consuming tasks in your retail outlets, you might identify a more efficient way of providing the desired customer experience.
Make every team member feel valued
This is not about a manager paying lip service and rolling out a series of clichés. Rather, it is about every employee having a clear understanding of how important they are individually to delivering the customer experience and how their personal behaviour can impact on the organisation’s overall performance.
Embedding a supportive, learning culture throughout the organisation
Initially, significant work might have to be done to change entrenched attitudes and inflexible work practices. However, personal development should be regarded as the norm – and for team members to naturally support and develop each other. Without this type of positive environment, it is unlikely that frontline managers will be able to coach their staff effectively and the business realise results.
Train your managers to be effective coaches
A sheep-dip approach to development is unlikely to work. Your line managers will need a regular ongoing coaching programme themselves so that they in turn become confident coaches. Your managers need to be clear about what good performance looks like and to be prepared to have tough, open conversations with their direct reports to address underperformance, if required.
Supported by a good area manager and effective company wide structures, frontline managers can be empowered to make a sustainable, real difference to the customer experience and in turn the bottom line.
If you would like to talk about improving the effectiveness of your retail line managers, please do get in touch. We would be pleased to hear from you.