What are some of the Big Issues in 2016? – It’s always about the people

5144677794_f2c1ae6e10_oRetail in 2016 is going to be as challenging as ever, we have just seen the sad decline of Dick Smith and Laura Ashley and there will be more this year I’m sure. So enough of the positive stuff, what challenges do you need to focus on to have your best year ever?

According to recent research out of the UK the top three priorities for retail managers is cost control (75% of managers agreed), improving productivity (61%) and managing performance (60%). Priorities 2 and 3 directly relate to people however controlling costs is a lot to do with ensuring your people follow the right procedures in the first place.

Assuming your challenges would be similar, what can you do about improving productivity and managing performance? Well according to the research the biggest factor holding back productivity is the quality of leadership. And within that, a number of managers found that they weren’t empowered to make decisions and had to pass them up the chain of command. This dramatically slows down decision making and also frustrates customers and staff.

If you want your managers to perform at their best, please empower them – give them guidelines, make them accountable and watch them shine. Delegate tasks and responsibilities, it’s what they want – to be challenged and learn new skills.

Another frustration managers found that holds back productivity and people performance was company culture. I have blogged numerous times about the importance of having the right culture and ways you can achieve this. Culture is something you can’t change overnight, but when you get this right, productivity and performance will soar.

Culture comes from the top, so if you are serious about changing your culture you as the owner or franchisee have to lead this. To quote the famous Beechworth Baker, Tom O’Toole, Culture is caught, it’s not taught.

Other areas that will need a sharp focus is recruiting the right staff with close to 60% of the managers surveyed believing this to be very important. Improving employee engagement at 47% was also an important factor, which was backed up by the Engaged Marketing survey carried out last year.

So it’s another year where retailers need to focus on their people – recruiting the best, training them, empowering and following up to provide consequences – both positive and identifying ways to improve.

There is no escaping, retail is a people business and to have the best you have to work with them constantly. It takes time, but the results are well worth the time invested as top performers help grow your business a lot more than the average staff will.

If you need help upskilling your managers on how to recruit the best people or how they can better manage performance, just send me an email and I’d be happy to discuss your challenges.

Roger SimpsonRoger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” 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.