A recent report from Deakin Co. and Deloitte Access Economics has found that there is a massive gap between business investment in recruitment relative to the investment in formal training. Australian businesses spend $7.5 billion each year on recruitment, but only $4.5 billion on training. That’s a staggering $2.5 billion training gap over 12 months. What makes this worse is the research also uncovered that by 2030, two-thirds of jobs in Australia will be “soft-skill intensive”.
In my opinion, it is these “soft-skills” that are sadly lacking when it comes to retail and the ability of store managers to get the best out of their people. Over the past 25 years, I have delivered training courses to thousands of front line managers and the biggest skills lacking are their ability to communicate effectively, motivate and hold their teams accountable.
These skills are rarely taught at school or university, and although some managers innately have these skills, most managers need training to learn these critical skills. I have talked before about the challenges associated with promoting team members based on their success in their current role, which has often little to do with managing and leading a team.
The research clearly shows that Australian businesses are more focussed on recruiting (hopefully the right people), yet stop short when it comes to investing in their people by training them. I understand that retailers need to heavily invest in new technology to keep pace with their competition, however the best way to utilise new technology is also to invest in people skills at the same time. Not doing this is short sighted and will lead to performance issues down the track.
One very important “soft-skill” area that most managers need help with, is in how to provide effective feedback on the job. All too often I see team members offering at best average service, under the nose of their manager, yet nothing is said. The reason for this is two-fold, managers either are completely unaware their team members aren’t performing to the required level, or if they do, they don’t know how to give feedback to get the team member back on track.
Having recently completed a very successful training program for my longest client, the Beechworth Bakeries, where we combined training the frontline team with training the supervisors how to coach their team back on the job. Added to this, I spent a few hours helping the supervisors put in place the coaching on the job which has resulted in an immediate uplift in sales – an increase of 8% on their average sale compared to last year.
An increase in sales is just one of the benefits, an increase in loyalty card sign ups and an overall improvement in customer service have also been achieved.
This training is all about giving the supervisors more “soft-skills” and these skills can’t be learnt by watching a video or reading a book!
Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.