Spring 2010
How do you motivate your staff to be as interested in your business as you are?

Try as you might, sometimes you just can’t do it all. A motivated, invested staff is key to the success of your gift store.

Ed Butler of The Butler Group

Ed Butler of The Butler Group


No one is as interested in your business as you are. However, employees can become highly motivated to help your business succeed. Make sure you hire staff members who are a good fit with your company’s culture. Motivating employees starts with open and personal communication about where you would like to see the business go. Do you have business goals? The clearer your goals the better. If you do not have goals, you should ask your employees to help you formulate some. They can be monetary, life style, community-oriented or anything that you might want your business to achieve.

Once the goals are established, solicit your employees’ help in creating a list of the steps needed to arrive at your goal. It is very important to listen to the input from your employees. People will not commit unless they feel that they are heard. Once the list is created ask your employees to prioritize the list with you. Resist the temptation to interject your own priorities before they have the chance to give their thoughts. Solicit volunteers to take responsibility for each step. Consider posting visual collaterals in your stock room as a constant reminder of your store’s goals. Follow up with regular conversations about the company’s progress and give kudos to each person for his or her contribution.

When you respect the staff, value their contribution and let it show, they will become loyal and devoted to you and your business.

Marc Rice of Fox Premier Sales

Marc Rice of Fox Premier Sales


Motivated staffers will either make or break your business, which is why motivating your staff is so imperative. Motivating sales people, especially, is a continual process. Why? Because sales people deal with rejection every day.

Here are some ideas:

  • Share the big picture/the objective/the task at hand. Whatever the objective or task may be, your staff needs to know about it and how they can work to accomplish it. Make sure your staff knows how the big picture will affect them, and what they need to do to make it happen.
  • Set individual goals that aren’t too complicated or too difficult to achieve, and that are in line with the store’s overall goal. Throughout the process, monitor the work of employees and track their progress. Keep your staff informed as to where they are and how much is left to be done to reach the goal.
  • Give rewards. Rewards or gifts for achieving goals are great motivational tools. They don’t have to be big or expensive, but they could be personalized or specific to each staff member. Find out the likes and needs of your staffers and tailor these rewards to hit their “hot” buttons.
  • Give recognition. Praise and recognition are the best. People love to be recognized for their achievements. Find ways to recognize outstanding performances.
  • Do their job. The saying “don’t ask your people to do anything that you wouldn’t do” is true. That having been said—do their job! Spend some time working side by side with your staff. Let them know you can do their job, and that you’re willing to do their job. Working side by side is a great way to get to know your people and a great way to impart advice as well.

Motivation is not an easy thing to accomplish. For some it may come easier than others. It is a work in progress. Get to know your people, ‘work with them. After all, you hired them so you had to see some good qualities. Good motivation will insure the good qualities are utilized correctly.

Gail Markert of Markert Group Consulting

Gail Markert of Markert Group Consulting


Employees are most likely to care about employers who in turn care about them. Engaged employees have a voice in the business and feel appreciated and recognized for their contributions. When the work environment is conducive, employees can solve problems easily and are motivated to help the business succeed.

One of the most significant things you can do is to model the behavior you would like to see from your staff. Nothing turns an employee off faster than a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. Evaluate your company culture, communication and leadership style and make any needed improvements.

In a small business, the company culture is normally established by the owner, so you set the tone. If your employees are not “on board,” polish up your leadership skills so you can elicit desired behaviors. Luckily, there are hundreds of books, blogs and online resources on leadership and optimizing workplace results. As a manger, it’s important to be a lifelong learner. Your willingness to learn and improve your own skills will be helpful to you and inspiring to your staff as well.

Kelly Gunn of SnapRetail

Kelly Gunn of SnapRetail


Building a passionate, motivated staff completely depends on how you decide to approach it. Most people have the desire to be part of a team—what they need is a leader who creates an environment for them to succeed. As that leader, it is up to you to set the tone. The way you approach your business and your willingness to empower those around you is critical to your overall success.

You are the most powerful person in the store—not merely because you happen to be signing the paychecks, but because you have the ability to craft a culture. Ask yourself: “Do I really enjoy coming to work?” If the answer is no, odds are your staff is very excited about the idea either. By building an environment thriving on positivity, collaborative thinking and creative input you’re making it possible for your staff to contribute to your overall vision of where you want your business to be. When your employees are a part of that vision, they develop a natural interest in the success of the business. They are no longer along for the ride, they’re a part of the driving force.

Benno Duenkelsbuehler of reALIGN For Results

Benno Duenkelsbuehler of reALIGN For Results

Leaders lead, and if you’re revved up about your business and your customers, those you lead will be as well. So it’s about leadership.

Of course a host of factors—hiring right, training, pay, communication, and other management practices—all play a part in developing staff engagement, but it is the overriding element of leadership that separates good retailers from great retailers. I believe that “employees come to you because of a job, and they quit because of a boss” – in other words, team members become interested in your business and perform at the highest level because they respect you, they feel validated and challenged by you, and because they’re learning something from you (or the person who directly supervises them). Treat your staff with the same respect and enthusiasm with which you treat, and want them to treat your customer, and they will return the favor.

Having visible, passionate leadership that can articulate your brand promise and infuse an understanding of that brand promise throughout your store. Get that right and you will find that a lot of behaviors in the organization start to line up behind it.

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