The employees of a retail store are at the front lines, working one-on-one with customers. In order for a store to succeed, each and every employee needs to be on the same page when it comes to providing excellent service to customers. An extremely important part of the equation is having motivated employees. Lack of motivation can be an issue for retail employees, and new employees in particular. As a retail owner, you need to make sure that your new hires are motivated to hit the ground running. Here are a few ways you can help motivate employees at your store.
Give Clear Job Descriptions: A prime reason why many new employees lack motivation is a lack of information about what they’re supposed to be doing. Don’t just give your new workers a list of responsibilities and call it a day. Take the time to carefully explain the tasks associated with each job, and be willing to answer questions. When your employees know they’re doing what they need to do, they’ll approach their work with much more confidence.
Give Meaningful Tasks: Retail is an industry known for drudgery, and that’s something you’ll need to constantly fight to keep your employees motivated. Every task needs to be meaningful, and for the most part, that means explaining how each step helps the store do better. If there’s a particular way you want to stock shelves, for instance, tell your employees why that method is more efficient or more customer-friendly. They’ll be glad to hear that their work is making a difference.
Encourage Mentoring: Pair your new employees with others who have been doing the job for a while and know the ropes already. The best mentors are often workers who’ve been at your store for more than a few months but less than a year. At that stage, they’re familiar enough with job tasks to be effective teachers, but they still remember what it was like to be new. Of course, you’ll also want to take personalities into account when pairing new hires with mentors.
Create Community: Remember, a community is in essence a collection of individuals. Don’t require your new workers to leave their personalities at the door when they come to work. Instead, encourage them to bring in their outside interests and use their unique strengths to their advantage. Do that for everyone, and you’ll foster a welcoming community that keeps your new employees comfortable and motivated.
Supervise, Don’t Stifle: Hands-on management is great. Having to get your hands on everything is not so much. New and old employees alike need to know that they’re given some autonomy, and they need space to develop the job skills that will make them better workers down the road. If you give them that space, they’ll start to believe that you trust them, and there’s no better way to build motivation than that.
Encourage Innovation: Even if you think of yourself or your core management team as your “idea people,” a surprising number of great ideas come from the employees on the front lines. Often, someone who’s new to the store will bring a fresh perspective that can help you run your business more efficiently or serve your customers more effectively. Don’t ignore those ideas just because they’ve come from people who haven’t been around long. Encourage the innovators, and they’ll approach their jobs with a renewed sense of purpose.
Recognize Success: Believe it or not, constructive praise is actually better than financial incentives when it comes to building motivation. Studies have shown that managers who consistently recognize their most productive employees get the most out of their businesses. Make your expectations clear and reward your best people when those expectations are met. That way, your other employees will be able to see themselves getting that recognition as well.
Get Input, and Respond: As the saying goes, communication is a two-way street. As you set clear expectations and tasks for your new employees, you also need to listen and respond to their questions and concerns. When you say you’ll take something into consideration, don’t just file it away and forget about it. Consider every word of employee feedback carefully, and even if you don’t act on it, follow up with the employee to explain why you made the decision you made.
Show Faith in Your Team: It’s one thing to say that you trust your team. It’s another thing to actually do it. Give your employees, even relatively new ones, a degree of autonomy and the opportunity to work on projects independently. If they fail, encourage them and help them get better. As frustrating as it can be from a management perspective, it’s the only way to prove that you really do trust your employees and build up their fragile self-esteem.