5 Tips for Effective Employee Coordination in the Retail Industry

For retail, you must engage customers, assess their needs, demonstrate your product, make a suitable recommendation, and close the sale. It’s a simple process, but it’s usually not done by one person. Instead, you have a team, each filling one or several roles.

Finding good people at their job will be enough for this to work, right? Not exactly!

You need to complete the sales process in that exact manner. This means that your team members rely on one another, working in succession, often even relying on the work of their predecessors.

This is why employee coordination is so important. Here’s how you can improve it!

1. Define roles and responsibilities

According to Price’s law of productivity, only a handful of people do most of the work in any organization. How is this possible in practice? Don’t their bosses and supervisors notice that they’re not actively working?

Well, most people aren’t actively saying they don’t want to work. Instead, they use tricks like delegating their tasks to others, slacking in group projects, and avoiding responsibility. This way, some of their tasks are getting done, and they always seem like they’re participating. Without a closer inspection, it’s tough to tell when they’re slacking.

Some retail businesses avoid this by assigning individual quotas or having performance pay (or bonuses). This system is not ideal since it may breed a more hostile sales environment. Also, while it makes the most sense in the retail industry, not every employee holds a sales title (even in retail). This means that not everyone’s performance is measurable this way.

The key thing is that you clearly define roles and assign responsibilities from day one. This way, it’s harder for bad employees to hide behind their more productive coworkers or avoid responsibility. The sooner you get this done, the better

Everyone should know their job, but they should also know other people’s jobs. This way, you’re also creating an accountability system. If someone slacks, their coworkers will notice and think less of them. If it impacts their work, they might even say something about it (or report it).

While defining roles, make sure to describe how different roles are interconnected. This will help communication and coordination. 

2. Make a better schedule with a software

There are a lot of tasks you cannot complete without some previous work getting done first. For instance, you can’t sell products before you talk to your strategic vendors and prepare the storage/transportation. 

Since retail processes are often complex, you might need some help. The simplest way to handle this issue is with the help of retail employee scheduling software

To automate this, you need to establish basic scheduling parameters. For instance, you need to:

  • Figure out staffing needs
  • Consider employee availability
  • Find an effective way to communicate the schedule

All of this is a lot easier when you already have a tool. For instance, you can track employee availability in real-time. When there are changes to the schedule, the change will be public and available for everyone to see. People affected by the alteration will even receive a notification.

One more thing that’s better with software is the reporting. With uniform reporting, you have an easier job tracking the efficiency of your schedule over a longer period. In other words, you get more effective analytical capabilities. 

Sometimes, the initial schedule only appears excellent on paper. However, it starts falling short once you try to implement it. This way, you can get a more realistic reference point, leading to a more realistic schedule. Making an unrealistic schedule will ensure that your efficiency is always low. 

A tool provides more than the means to make a schedule. It gives you the quickest, most effective way of making adjustments

3. Invest in onboarding, training, and development

Even if you make a perfect team, you must change its composition sooner or later. People go on leave and have to be replaced. They leave your company, retire, quit, or get injured, which forces them to stay away from work. What will happen when you have to bring in a new person?

With the right onboarding, training, and development, you can ensure that new hires fit in and that the old employees adjust to these new members of your team. 

Onboarding can be made easier, but you can’t make it automatic. Sure, you can amass all the necessary learning materials onto a single platform, but you also need a strong mentorship program and the right company mindset.

Remember that your tools are constantly going to change. This is why you must ensure your training can keep up with this. 

Also, while you are looking to hire the best people you can, the truth is that you probably won’t be hiring experts right away. You can, however, improve your screening process and groom them for these advanced positions.

There’s nothing better for your team’s coordination than molding them to work together. 

The key to driving the spirit of cooperation and making people willing to self-improve lies in providing them with intrinsic motivation. By investing time and effort into progressing their career, you will make them engage far more. This will make them more willing to cooperate with their coworkers and make coordination a minor issue. 

4. Choose better communication tools

Coordination is impossible without proper communication. Modern retail relies on online communication, so picking the right app is the first step. After all, promoting effective communication is one of the best ways to improve your corporate management.

The problem with this is that all the obvious answers (messaging apps your employees already use) are also in private use. In other words, if they use their Messenger for work, how will they shift through dozens of messages from friends and family members and those few messages they’ve received from their coworkers?

To avoid this, you want something single-purpose they’re not using for anything else. We’re talking about a platform like Slack instead of tools like Skype or Viber. 

DMs are not the only available tool of communication. A scheduling tool that we previously discussed is a perfect example of this. If you’re using a collaboration tool, you can communicate through comments, to-do lists, and uploaded content just as effectively.

You also want to have a video conferencing tool. Whether you use Zoom or Google Meets, it’s best to pick one and stick to it. Why? Because you want your team to get accustomed to it. Even if not finding the right button in a minute is minor, you don’t want to go through it for every meeting. Once your team learns how to use the tool, you keep it, even if something else is slightly better. This isn’t always the case, but it can be a rule with communication tools. 

Remember that you’re not just looking at communication between individual employees. You also need to tend to inter-departmental discourse. The simplest way to do this is with an elaborate reporting system. Here, you’ll need uniformity, as well. 

5. Create a positive work environment

A positive work environment is one of the most important aspects of coordination. The problem is that in retail, everything is performance-driven. This means you may choose people who perform well regardless of how well they work with others.

Later on, due to their excellent performance, you may promote them and put them in charge over their coworkers (who they haven’t treated that well while they were equal). This breeds a hostile work environment and creates so many problems. 

Sure, we’re not trying to sugarcoat anything or present things in a manner that will lead you to believe that performance doesn’t matter. You’re in retail, and your sales are everything. We’re just indicating that you need to pay attention to factors other than performance and consider them when promoting and hiring people.

There are some types of employees that you shouldn’t have on your team. The problem is that they won’t necessarily underperform. Instead, they’ll make the rest of your team to underperform, and the net outcome will be even worse. 

One of the things you could do is praise team results rather than focus too much on individual performance. In other words, celebrate milestones an entire team achieves rather than promote individual employees’ accomplishments.

Most importantly, provide support but do so within reasonable boundaries. You can understand why their sales plummeted this month or their performance was suboptimal. However, you don’t want this to happen too often. While being compassionate is nothing wrong, some of your employees might abuse your good side.  

Coordination is just as important as everyone doing their job

To achieve coordination, you need to be clear and transparent about what you expect from your team. You also need to make better schedules; with the right tool, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Setting the preferred tool for communication is generally a good idea. Finally, try to make your work environment as positive as possible. 

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    Abelino Silva. Seeker of the truth. Purveyor of facts. Mongrel to the deceitful. All that, and mostly a blogger who enjoys acknowledging others that publish great content. Say hello 🙂

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