Highly Successful Retail Managers (HSRM’s) excel at, and believe strongly in, information sharing. It is part of the management style we discussed earlier.
HSRM’s stress that sharing information, continuously, is the best way to coach people.
Of course, sometimes the coaching has to be more formal with time set aside for conversations on particular subjects.
But, for the most part, HSRM’s find that their general style of sharing information doubles as coaching.
Using every conversation to coach your people has a remarkable effect.
Employees are picking up information as you speak and they can determine, for themselves, if this is something that they can use for their own betterment.
Remember, HSRM’s have high quality people working for them and those individuals have been given a lot of autonomy by the HSRM so they often know what they need to pick up from a conversation.
If the HSRM doubts that the information is being understood properly then they can be more specific.
It is not always necessary to point out a deficiency when an information sharing conversation will have a more positive effect. It works.
The key word is share. Information is a great thing to share. People the world over need information in order to perform well.
The more information we get, within reason, the better we are able to perform.
If you do not share non-confidential information it may be because you are concerned that:
The employees cannot handle the information.
You could be correct about this, depending on the situation.
Perhaps the employee is new or there is some other reason but you need to take it upon yourself to make sure that, at some point, the employees can handle the information you have to share.
The employees may end up knowing too much.
Take the approach that they can never know too much if it helps them do their job and look after the best interests of the company.
A HSRM is confident that sharing non-confidential information is not going to jeopardize their position.
Surrounding themselves with employees who have extensive knowledge and information is what HSRM’s strive for.
If the employees happen to know more than the manager, so much the better! Maybe you can learn something from them, too.
You don’t want to take the time – the great deal of time you must invest – to share.
If this is the case, you cannot be successful.
Keeping information to yourself simply increases your workload and stress level and does nothing to further the cause or develop employees.
We have established that information sharing is a great way of providing coaching. But more structured coaching sessions are also very useful.
Sometimes we need to talk with an associate to tell them what we have observed and how they might be able to do better next time.
Remember…taking a positive approach yields more positive results.
Employee ‘A’ was observed talking to a customer, following most of the steps of the selling process and ended up selling an item to the customer.
The observer, or coach, noticed that she did not ask open ended questions to determine the customers’ needs.
The interaction between the customer and the associate was pleasant and resulted in a sale, but it might have been a bigger sale, including more items – impacting a host of KPI’s including Sales Per Hour, Average Sale Per Customer and Average Units Per Transaction, etc.
The coaching conversation must serve to:
- Congratulate the employee for the sale
- Acknowledge what steps were done well
- Have the employee identify what she could have done to make the sale even better
The actual conversation might go something like this…
“A, can I speak with you for a moment?
I noticed that you just made a sale to that customer. I saw you greet him when he came in and you were spending time showing him some jackets.
What was he buying the jacket for? Did he need pants/shirt/tie/shoes for the occasion/activity?”
This is when A will realize that she did not know the answers and she will realize that she did not know because she did not ask.
The customer would very likely have disclosed the information when asked.
This is the perfect time to coach A on what she might have asked to get the answers she needed to make add-on sales.
You should be able to expect ‘A’ to do better next time. If she doesn’t, you’ll have to deal with it again. Eventually, she gets better or she faces consequences.
More formal coaching sessions are often used when the HSRM wants to coach with a particular outcome in mind.
This type of coaching is reserved for times when an employee really does need some help, or some additional information or skill development, and coaching on the fly is not expected to produce the desired results.
In these cases, you should let the employee know that you have scheduled some time to sit down and discuss their performance.
Tell the employee enough to ensure they are not frightened about meeting with you – possibly thinking they are going to be reprimanded or even fired!
Coaching is not supposed to frighten people. If your coaching sessions make people afraid to talk to you…you may be doing something wrong.
Coaching is a good, positive thing. Disciplinary discussions are not called coaching sessions or performance evaluations.
When you do sit down and talk to the employee:
- Offer praise for anything that they are doing well
- Ask questions to determine if there is some reason for their difficulties – you may learn that there is some obstacle which you can remove
- Let them know, in as much detail as possible, what you have observed
- Offer suggestions
- Ask the employee to summarize the discussion and what they will do differently going forward
Coaching is something that never stops, no matter how good your team gets.
World Champion athletes who are at their peak performance levels didn’t get there without a coach.
And they can’t hope to stay in the game for long without their coach’s help.