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  • Writer's pictureJerry James

4 ways to maximize retail staff productivity

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

Many factors come into play for helping maximize staff productivity. These 4 tips will go a long way in making your organization successful.

Productivity is a metric that every store leader wants to increase. The end goal is to maximize productivity, which will ultimately lead to increased sales and overall store success. In this post, we will give you 4 tips for making your team more productive.

This entire post will focus on the most important aspect of retail management and that is the front-line customer-facing team. These are the folks that are in front of customers daily, driving the customer’s experience as well as driving sales.

During the past two years, the retail environment has been in chaos. Retailers did not know how to run a business in the middle of a pandemic. (This is not a dig, as NO ONE could have seen that coming.) Some pivoted and did the best they could, whereas others did not, causing employees to be uninspired and unmotivated. Not a good combination for success. Each store leader should ask themselves this question when less than desirable staff performance is happening.

  1. Do you have the right people in place? Speaking from experience, of managing during the pandemic. Leaders and employees saw the true character of the folks they were working alongside with. There were a lot of people who took advantage of the situation. This allowed some employees to take advantage of their peers and leadership. It also allowed for leadership to take advantage of front-line associates. It was a huge learning experience. Looking at your team, do you have the right people in place?

  2. Are you investing enough in them? Trust me. $13 an hour is not inspiring any employee to go above and beyond. Having a pizza party is one thing, but how is that motivating your team? Investing in your team, and utilizing the 4 tips listed below will get a positive response. Let’s take a closer look.

Why is productivity important in retail? For retailers, in-store productivity is one of the most important metrics. It determines customer service levels, how fast tasks are completed, how many transactions take place, and how many products are sold. However, unlike other industries, there are a lot more factors that influence productivity and efficiency in the retail environment.

Training – Having employees understand products and services is good, but in today’s retail environment more is needed to be successful. The ultimate training focus should be on driving a great customer experience, not looking at each customer in terms of money spent, but engaging with the customer. Leaders and front-end teams need the training to become better listeners and problem solvers. I used to tell my managers, anyone can know the widgets (products), our job is to ensure that our employees are armed with the knowledge to make the customer's experience a great one! Spend your time developing great customer service behaviors among your front-line team. The results will be amazing!

Prioritize – As we all know, retail is a chaotic, ever-changing work environment. All leaders and front-line associates have walked in the door with a plan for the day, only for that to go out the window 5 minutes after hitting the floor. Being able to prioritize the most important tasks for the day will allow you and your team to stay focused while driving sales and that world-class customer service experience. I used to challenge my leaders with this. If you are doing a task or working with an employee and you get interrupted to help a customer or to take care of another situation, how quickly do you get back to the task that you were doing before that happened? Interruptions will happen, it’s how you get back to the original task that will show results. Having your task prioritized will help with this.

Systems – Understanding that routines and creating behaviors are essential to increase staff productivity. A quick example would be single-tasking. During certain times of the day (stores' busiest hours) employees are focused on one thing, driving a great customer service experience. The objective of single-tasking is to limit distractions by focusing on one thing only. Many systems will help your team stay productive. Utilize roles and routines to help define these systems.

Feedback – I think this is an area that all retail leaders can improve. During the past couple of years of managing employees during the pandemic, I feel like we have lost our way of giving productive feedback. This has played a major role in retailers losing the confidence of their employees. Let’s take a quick look at some feedback opportunities.

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  1. Positive feedback is a lost art. I know that I have struggled with it from time to time. Why is that you might ask? Too many managers will offer great feedback and then follow that up with a but statement. You know, the great job on completing that report, however, next time can you do it in a different format as this was hard to read? If you are offering positive feedback the goal should be that the employee or manager leaves feeling like they did something well. I had a district leader who was great with a great job, but a communication style. It defeats the purpose of “positive” feedback. It does not inspire confidence. or motivate.

  2. Constructive feedback is key to growing and becoming a better leader or employee. This feedback should be thought out with the following in mind. You want to give feedback in a non-negative way that will help the employee grow and learn from the experience. It should be more of a coaching discussion.

  3. Performance management discussions are essential. Many leaders are not comfortable giving this type of feedback, however, I feel that you are doing a disservice to your employees and your team if you don’t address this type of feedback. The quickest way to lose the confidence of your team is to not address performance feedback. This type of feedback needs to be timely and to improve the employee’s performance. This takes place when the leaders define the employee’s role, and help the employee optimize their performance by utilizing SMART goals. Develop the employee’s skills needed to be successful and to maximize strengths. Schedule follow-up feedback to praise or course correct when needed.

There is no one size fits all productivity solution in today’s retail environment. Your store ultimately needs to run as efficiently and smoothly as possible to meet sales goals and deliver a great working environment for your team, while providing the best customer service possible. If you put the 4 tips discussed in place, then you and your staff will maximize productivity while more importantly being happier in the workplace.



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