3 Quick Tips for Becoming a Successful Retail Manager

Dave Cherrie
December 8, 2020

Managing a retail store may have its challenges, but some managers excel while others simply… manage.

Managing a retail store may have its challenges, but some managers excel while others simply… manage. So what’s the difference? What factors differentiate a rockstar retail manager from one who simply shows up to talk to unsatisfied customers? We gathered 3 key tips for becoming a successful retail manager.

1. Build a team you can delegate to

Chris Hawkins, a specialist at fitsmallbusiness.com, says, “If your store runs as good or better when you are not there, then you’ve done your job.” Delegation is more than just telling your team to do the jobs you don’t want to do yourself. It’s about finding the right people for the right jobs to maximize everyone’s time and effort. This means training each of your employees with the skills they need, then having them put those skills to use right away. If Ted completes a training module on Monday, shadow him for that task on Tuesday. When you delegate to your team, they shouldn’t just feel that you’re passing off work. Instead, they should feel confident that you trust them to do it.

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2. Data is your friend

Hawkins again: “Share results, good, bad, and ugly. Your employees will feel more invested in what you’re trying to accomplish.” Sometimes your employees may seem like they’re just there to put in minimal effort and collect their paychecks. But there’s a reason for that. Investment. If your team doesn’t feel invested in the success of the store, they won’t put much effort into it.

The answer isn’t a simple raise. You have to show your employees that they’re part of what you want to accomplish. You must throw back the curtain and trust them with the inner workings of the business. That’s where data comes in. It’s important to share your store’s successes— and failures— with your team. Show them the numbers. It will help spark ideas on how to improve, and recognition for successes is essential anyway.

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3. Keep your head

Panicking under pressure is more common than you might think. Sometimes a rush just hits when everything else is going wrong, creating a perfect storm of circumstances. In those moments it’s easy to fold, hide in the office, or get angry. But think of it this way: If you do have a rush, it means you’re doing something right. Customers are in the store. Your “perfect storm” is your opportunity to convert that traffic into an incredibly profitable shift.

More importantly, your team will be looking to you for calm, decisive leadership, especially in those situations. If you stay calm, they’ll stay calm. Conversely, if you freak out, your employees will respond in a number of ways— panic, defeat, disrespect, anger— but none of those ways will be positive or productive.

Be careful, in those moments, of careless comments about “how busy we are,” or how you “can’t wait until break time.” Instead, offer encouragement to your stressed employees. “You got this. Good job.” It’s a simple way to convey a sense of clearheadedness and control in a chaotic situation.

Management is a crucial role in any retail operation. Whether you’re planning to stay in your management role long term or you’re aiming for higher offices, the post is a valuable opportunity to show your strengths.

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