Summer 2016
Be a Better Leader By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

5 Tips for stronger employee management

There is a saying in life that the “days are busy but the years are short,” and when it comes to retail, this is absolutely the truth. After all, how often have years flown by and you’ve looked back only to regret how you managed your employees or other store responsibilities you had hoped to improve?

With employees essentially your brand ambassadors, there’s no better time than now to work towards making their roles stronger and your employee management strengthen, as well. To help, consider these five tips:

Evaluate the situation

While it’s possible some employees will likely stand out among others for their positive attributes, it’s also likely many others will stand out for just the opposite of reasons. Keeping this in mind, analyze your entire staff and identify the strengths, weaknesses and windows of opportunities that you would like to improve. This first step can help lead you to the many others that will follow as you begin your journey to strengthen your employee team.

Create an employee evaluation checklist

When you’re analyzing your employees and their performance, it’s important to be consistent in evaluating each employee against the same criteria. Keeping this in mind, having a checklist — or evaluation form — to work off of can help you review each individual employee with the same standards and expectations as all others. Ranking skills and store responsibilities on a scale of 1 to 5 provides a good baseline.

As you begin to create your checklist, consider including points that range from store operations to customer service to merchandising and marketing to social media. Any and all responsibilities in your store should be included, as well as other key details such as being on time to work.

Schedule one-on-one reviews

Once your checklist is completed and your evaluations have been filled out, it’s important to schedule a one-on-one review with each employee to deliver your findings. Additionally, take this opportunity to discuss their strengths and weaknesses as well as communicate store goals, expectations, employee responsibilities and more. You should allow for time that would welcome your employee to share their own thoughts, whether it’s in direct response to your review or about their employment or store concerns in general. Finally, make sure your tone if positive while also enforcing the standards you have set for your business. At the very least, these should be done annually. Ideally, however, these would be completed quarterly or bi-annually.

Deliver an all-store team meeting

Whatever the vibe is for your store, create a time that brings everyone together when the store is not open for business. During this experience, you should formally roll out store expectations — particularly if this is something you have never previously done. To help, introducing an employee manual is a great idea. For those less interested in a formal manual, consider a “10 best” list that shares the 10 things your store absolutely wants to see from every employee, then post this list in a common area that employees will see it and be reminded of it every time they work (away from customers, of course). The main goal — no matter what path you choose to take here — is to create a team morale that is positive and uplifting while offering employees leadership and direction for them to follow while working in your store. Teamwork should be emphasized, as well, and any sales goals that you have in place should also be identified.

Set daily sales goals

It’s vital to offer goals that employees can easily access and understand. Saying “we want to have our best year yet” sounds great, but it doesn’t offer clear direction on how to do this. Combining this annual goal with daily goals can help you reach your expectations. Using point of sale and other data from previous sales years, identify daily sales goals that your employees are aware of. Additionally, set other goals each day that may include merchandising a specific area, sending out customer thank you notes and managing store operations in general. Combined, these daily goals will help make for productive days and ultimately, help you reach the big picture goals you have in place for your business.

A final thought

When leading employees, be sure to consider the leadership experience that they are experiencing. Are you being the manager that can help them achieve great things?

Pausing to reflect on your own leadership can help you better understand some of your employee behaviors. Keeping this in mind, aim to shape your own leadership in a direction that you and your employees can both be proud of. As a result, your store, employees and yourself will benefit, helping to increase sales and create a more dynamic working environment. It’s a win-win that begins with management, follows with employees and ends with a great store experience.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the founder and publisher of Retail Minded, as well as the co-founder of the Independent Retailer Conference. She is the author of "Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business" from McGraw-Hill and writes a regular column for Forbes. Visit, or follow @RetailMinded on Twitter and

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