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To grow your bottom line, focus on your front line...

Our retail leaders and Managers are being left behind in career development despite the belief by CEO's and Executives that they have great internal programs to support their front line and most important people.

When did our Retail CEO's and Executives stop developing our future retail leaders?

In a recent survey I conducted with my retail leader network which spans 4 countries (Canada, USA, Australia, NZ) I cannot say that I was totally surprised by the results but must say, actions and behaviours need to change.

* Participants of this survey represent the following categories, Fashion, Electronics, Furniture, Jewellery, Food and Beverage, Shoes and Auto.

The success of a retail organization is largely determined by the front line leadership and store teams. The development programs that they have access too and also the contact they have with the key Executive team is crucial to their development and ultimately the success of each location or region. Also, growth is best when it comes from within yet unfortunately the internal talent is being left behind and then various excuses are being made as to why locations or regions fail.

Here are 6 questions and results from my survey that outline opportunities for CEO's and Key Executives. These issues must be addressed as they will dramatically improve their retail companies.

Q: Do you currently have a detailed 3-5 year career development plan?

61% of retail managers and District managers do not currently have career development plans. This should be of immediate concern to any retail executive as I am sure they believe that all of their team members these days have development plans. Succession should be a key strategy for growth and to combat turnover and understanding and developing internal talent for the future must be a high priority.

* Action - CEO's, ask to see the plans of all your team members!

Q: What is most important to you? Salary/Pay, Stability or Career Development.

58% of the respondents stated that career development is the most important factor in their current role. Managers are looking for companies to develop their skills and provide opportunities for growth.

Q: Would you relocate cities for your career?

65% responded that YES they would relocate cities for career opportunities. When coupled with the last question and response it is clear to see that when people have great development, companies can grow quickly and successfully by leveraging internal talent.

* Action - CEO's, look within when recruiting and growing your business, the best talent can be right under your nose!

Q: In terms of performance incentives, what do you believe drives peak performance?

88% of the retail leaders confirm that a combination of both a team incentive and personal incentive delivers the greatest results. Building a great incentive program that rewards superior results and also drives the right behaviours can be tricky. A poorly constructed program can be detrimental to your business, be careful.

* Action - CEO's, do you have the right incentive programs in place for your teams?

Q: In your company do members of the other departments visit the stores or regularly work on the front line to understand the business better?

This achieved a resounding 83% NO! When did Executives and other departments stop visiting stores and understanding the needs of the teams on the front line? This is not a COVID we can't travel issue this has been unfortunately happening for some time. It is imperative that all departments have regular field trips to help understand the business and customer habits better and also build greater relationships with the frontline teams.

Q: How often do you have access to external guest speakers at company meetings?

40% Never and 43% Once per year!! One of the best development tools you can provide your teams is to expose them to external speakers. Having the same message delivered by an outside expert or guest speaker can be the difference to solidifying the message or "here we go again". Managers and leaders love hearing and having access to external guests, this is a perfect way to enhance performance.

* Action - CEO's, invest in external guests for your teams and drive engagement.

Retail can be and has been a rewarding career choice for a majority of the population and we as leaders must encourage and develop the future leaders to ensure its success. Please take note of the information in this survey and challenge your self, your teams and your company to ensure that you are doing everything possible to have a healthy and successful frontline team.

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