People: The shopkeepers of today
Select any retail business, and you are most likely to discover a culture of colleague collaboration, trust and respect. However, retail has a chequered history of human resource management and interpersonal approaches, to say the least. Even in the best run businesses today there is still plenty of scope for further innovation and disruption to the traditional personnel models.
Overall, there is a growing appreciation of colleagues at every level of organisations, being driven by the new wave of retailers who have a different outlook on how to manage their employees, to nurture loyalty and productivity. And from the evolution of many HR departments who are now introducing different cultures into the traditional retail sector.
An appreciation of the shop floor employee
Regarding shop personnel there is also a new awareness of the importance of human interactions with the customer. The outpouring of warmth towards ‘key workers’ and those essential to the fabric of society during the COVID crisis, has been echoed to various degrees by retail boards, and their reaction towards their own ‘key-workers.’ Those colleagues who kept shops open and stocked in the most difficult of circumstances, and those who kept the brand light shining, even in the most desperate of corporate environments.
For some retailers, the current bar for shop colleague management is set very low, the practices a product of years of personnel neglect and cost-cutting. This does mean, however, that significant gains can be made just from firstly re-establishing good levels of communication with teams and individuals. The setting up of feedback sessions, team building workshops and individual mentoring can go along way to achieving normal relations.
The evolution of the HR function
A good HR team, of which there are many, strives to know and understand their colleagues through personal interaction. It is the restrictions to their own resourcing and time availability, that usually limits the level of understanding and empathy.
In head office and in shops, career paths should be the result of consultation and not just internal hierarchies, retirements, and maternity leaves. Good people are adaptable and respond to new responsibilities. Good people bring ideas and enthusiasm to new positions of trust. But good people need to be discovered, through being asked about their ambitions, passions and innovative ideas for themselves and the business.
The new role of governance
Beyond the role of HR , the balance and equality within the organisational structure are key to instilling a successful ‘people culture.’ It is important that every function and team, at every level, are valued as part of the wider corporate approach. What is believed and demonstrated at the top table, for better or worse, usually sets the standards further down the business. The board must be enlightened as to the importance of diversity within the employees of a business.
The improved engagement and mutual appreciation is of course a two-way process. But it is rarely the case that a genuine and considered investment in people is not returned with a positive impact on productivity and profit. It is rare for colleague focused initiatives, at individual and team levels, not to contribute to a happier working environment. This is always a good place to start for efficiency and productivity.
Your ‘retail people strategy’ project…
If you want to start the ‘retail people strategy’ ball rolling, please get in touch. I would be happy to share with you some typical project templates, schedules, costs, and case studies.
Please get in touch to discuss further your particular needs.
In the meantime…
If you’d like to read my book first to understand where I’m coming from, then that’s an excellent idea.
It is hot off the press for 2022.
Available for sustainable POD (print on demand) through Amazon or any of the usual book retailers.
In the book you will find 75 action plans and 100 retail best practice insights. They may guide you in assessing your current weaknesses and opportunities.
I hope also that the sections on how to flourish in the ‘The life and times of the Essential Retailer’ how to evolve ‘Agile Organisations’ and excel in ‘Astute Strategies’ may also be a source of inspiration and guidance.
Please enjoy some extracts…