Retail Leadership and Motivation Or 9 Ways to Keep Great Retail Employees

As a leader you do everything you can to ensure that you are hiring great team members.  This includes following great retail hiring practices, utilizing proven interviewing techniques and following up on reference checks.  Now that you have hired that great team member, how do you make sure that your time and effort have paid off?

Leading through proper motivation is one of the most important things any retail manager can do to ensure the success of their business.  With that in mind, here are 9 best practices for retail leaders.

1.        Implement more than competitive pay plans – Highly skilled employees know that they are in-demand.  If they think they can earn more for doing the same work at a competitor they will consider leaving and you will lose your investment.  Therefore you need to make sure your compensation plans reward high performers.  This serves to help retain your leaders and motivate the laggards. 


2.       Effective scheduling – For many people, the hardest part of a retail career is the long hours.  Help your team members deal with this stress by writing schedules at least 2 weeks in advance, giving them regular days off and – since no one wants to be working alone during high traffic periods – schedule to meet the demands of the foot traffic. 


3.       Provide ongoing learning opportunities – You best employees usually want to improve on their past results.  So when you provide them with ongoing retail training programs they will respond by giving you increased loyalty and increased results.


4.       Promote a positive work environment – We know that employees like to gossip and it is natural to develop deeper relationships with some coworkers rather than others.  But when a manager acts on these tendencies it is the employees who suffer and ultimately they will quit because of the bad work environment. 


5.       Constantly focus on improvement – Nothing is more frustrating than working with a customer only to find that the point-of-sale system is broken or that inventory is out of stock.  Great workers are attracted to companies that focus on efficiency while listening to employees input on how to improve the business.

6.       Create a career path – Your best employees do not want to be stuck in a rut.  Show them how they can grow with your company through earning pay increases, increases in responsibility and increased training opportunities 


7.       Know what motivates your people – Some team members are money motivated, others are motivated by responsibility or by the feeling working on a team provides them.  As a leader, you need to be able to execute on many strategies for motivating your team members and you do that by getting to know your employees well.

8.       Provide additional rewards – besides providing your team members with a competitive pay plan, you should provide additional rewards that are tied to performance.  In many cases the cost of these rewards is nominal and it can include thing like a preferred parking spot, free lunch once a month, a monthly gym membership or flexible hours.

9.       Create a recognition program – Whether it is a simple “thank-you,” an award plaque or a bonus for a job well done, one of the most effective tools you have is your recognition program.  Every great employee wants to know that their efforts are appreciated.   So make sure you reinforce great behavior so you can expect even better results down the road.

–          David Goodwin is the Principal of the Retail Advocacy Group.  As a 30 year veteran of the retail industry he has hired, trained, and performance managed thousands of retail sales representatives and retail managers.  You can learn more about instructor-led, e-learning, and other training solutions for retailers at