Closing the Gap in Retail Employee Performance

Managing and leading retail team members has its challenges – especially when your employees aren’t meeting expectations or performance targets.  Whether it is due to a lack of experience, personal relationships, or a fear of failure, many retail managers struggle with performance management.

But the bottom line is that poor performance ultimately impacts the employee, the store and the company.   Therefore it makes sense to address these issues as quickly as possible.  You can make a good beginning by focusing on the core reasons for the performance issue.  In most cases, the problem can be traced to one of core areas.  Once you know the issue you can make a plan for remediation.

Knowledge Gap

Whether it is a sales problem or operational deficiency, many times a performance issue can be attributed to a lack of knowledge.  If the retail employee is experiencing a knowledge gap because they are new to the company, have recently started in a new role or they do not have the experience or education to do the work, then you should focus on providing training so that you can provide the employee with the tools they need to win.  This could include teaming the employee with an experienced co-worker, utilizing on-line retail training courses, manufacturer’s rep. or manuals to bridge the knowledge gap.

Skills Gap

Sometimes team members have the knowledge to do the job, but lack the practical skills to be successful.  This could include retail selling skills, time management skills, or operational skills.  The key to solving a skill problem is providing feedback, coaching and mentoring.  Show your team member how to complete the activity, provide a positive example, inspect what you expect and then coach them as needed.  If you have several employees – particularly retail managers – who are struggling with their skills, another opportunity for improvement and practice is enrolling them in a retail management training seminar.

Gap in Ability

If you have provided the training and coaching that your employee needs and they are still struggling to perform, you may have a team member who simply is incapable of doing the job successfully.  You likely have two options in this situation – either find a suitable position within the company or encourage the team member to leave.  The employee probably knows that they are not a good fit for their job and they are very likely to be unhappy.  Often a simple and honest conversation is all it takes to help the employee move on to a different career.

Gap in Motivation

If the employee has the knowledge, skill, and ability to be successful then their motivation is likely the issue.  Motivation gaps are the most difficult issues to handle because while you can create a motivational environment, you can’t make someone do what they don’t want to do.  Most people are motivated by rewards, reasons, responsibility and their relationships with others.  Find their motivating factors and then address them.  But if the employee does not make the decision to perform, then you will need to make the hard decision to terminate them. 

Analyze the problem and Take Action

You can count on thing when dealing with a retail employee’s performance gap…It will not improve unless you and the team member take action.  Do yourself and the team member a favor by identifying the issues, providing solutions and having honest conversations.