How to be a flexible yet practical retail employer

How to be a flexible yet practical employer

Have individuals' preferences trumped your organization's needs? For example, is there inappropriate store support and coverage? Or, are there structural weaknesses that hurt team effectiveness and clear accountability? Here are two ways to address those challenges:

1. Appropriate store support and coverage

How to be a flexible yet practical retail employerWe must design the staff schedules to meet each department’s needs. This sounds simple but often we lose sight of the priorities when trying to adjust for individuals’ preferences. 

Common signs that you may not be staffing for your business’s needs:

  • Receiving and stocking shifts don’t reflect delivery times or allow easy access to the sales floor.
  • On some days the work doesn’t get done when needed because you’re trying to work around someone’s school schedule or other personal needs.
  • Managers and support staff aren’t available during peak evening and weekend hours to help out and resolve problems because they’ve all chosen to work Monday-Friday 8-4. 

2. Structural weaknesses: team effectiveness and clear accountability

Marketplace expectations and operational realities require highly functioning, well-integrated teams, but do we accidentally sacrifice team health for individual preferences?  A productive team needs to brainstorm, plan, monitor progress and celebrate its achievements together. 

Often however, we have integral players absent from their team because they’re reporting to someone else who isn’t directly related to their core area of work. There could be personality or historical reasons for this arrangement but, no matter the root cause, these work-around structures impair the functioning of the team and organization.

Some signs that you may have structural weaknesses caused by individual preferences:

  • A key manager left and now all her direct reports are reporting to the general manager because they don’t like the new replacement department manager.
  • A long-term employee is reporting to the store manager because of his tenure not because of how his position fits into the structure.
  • A department manager felt pressured to pay someone a higher wage so she invented a promoted position to justify a pay increase.

Sometimes unresolved personnel issues seep into our organizational structure and weaken us from the inside out.  This can happen gradually over time without us even noticing.

We need our teams fully engaged and all working on similar activities and responsibilities together in order to be effective and successful.  Unaligned or fragmented teams hold our organizations back and can lead to an unsatisfying, inefficient and dysfunctional work environment for everyone. 

Your store has complex needs and big visions and goals.  We create our staffing systems to help us build the organizational clarity, capacity and alignment necessary to accomplish our routine work and to reach our long-term goals together.  All employees value a clear organizational structure, even when they may be asking for special accommodation. Our role as leaders is to ensure that we are always keeping the organization’s needs in focus. 

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