Getting promoted is, of course, the aim for most of us in retail management. Moving up or on to a different store is an exciting yet daunting time as you deal with people, either for the first time, or for the first time as their store manager. The first few weeks will be crucial, so take our advice and make the most of first impressions…
It might not come as a surprise to you that the first few weeks on the job are extremely important and you want to make a good first impression. But how do you make your mark without stepping on toes?
Don’t rush in
No matter how much you might want to get stuck in and make the sweeping changes you’ve been thinking about, sometimes it’s best to take a step back and review the situation before barging in. People don’t generally like change and changing too much too soon may well throw the most confident of staff members. In addition, immediately criticizing a lot of current working practices and processes in one go can really demoralize the staff. Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and that you can afford to give this transition the time it needs.
The team is your first priority
You may have many urgent objectives to complete in your new role, but don’t forget who will be putting your plan into action at ground level.
Of course, it would be unrealistic to aim for a team that worships the ground you walk on, but if you haven’t taken enough care in winning your staff over to your side, to get them at least to like you, your work will be a lot harder.
Get face-to-face asap
This especially applies to managers moving to a new store. Don’t rely on gossip from the departing manager or the current management team. Make sure that you take time to get to know each member of your team, meeting one-on-one ideally, in order to get a fuller picture of their role in the business, their thoughts on the store, their priorities and even if they have any suggestions for improvements to the current systems.
Don’t let things that you’ve heard about a particular employee cloud your judgement too much. Sometimes a staff member who underperformed for the previous manager will blossom under your leadership. Team members who were perceived as uncooperative or demotivated might just need a slightly different approach. A little investment of time in your people now can save a lot of work later on.
Don’t let the rumour mill start
When you start with a new store or company, you have a chance to start afresh and get a clear, consistent message to your team right from the word go. Make sure you don’t waste this chance by letting rumours about what you might and might not be planning spiral out of control. Call a team meeting, introduce yourself and outline your background, your priorities and your plans. Take questions at the end of the session and make sure you end on a positive note.
Make a clean break with the past
Just like when you start a new relationship, it isn’t a great idea to keep bringing up your ex and especially don’t compare your new store to your old one in front of staff members.
The important thing to remember is that this is now your store, your project and your priority. The focus must be on moving forward. In the same spirit, don’t let anyone, including yourself, speak ill of your predecessor. No matter what mistakes they might have made or the state they left the store in, complaining or criticizing their work and allowing others to do so will only foster negativity throughout the team.
Concentrate on the future, build on previous successes and don’t dwell on the failures of the past.
Bear in mind that you really don’t need to do everything yourself. Make relationships with other departments, be it HR, merchandising or buying. Being a manager doesn’t just mean upping your workload, but using the resources and support available to you in order to complete tasks. The earlier you start to build these relationships, the easier your job will become in a shorter space of time.
Don’t expect too much too soon
Don’t expect to start winning big victories immediately. Although it is good for morale in general to get a few early successes under your belt, bear in mind that you’re dealing with new people and a new environment, so things might move a bit slower than you’re used to. Try not to get frustrated with your team and keep a sense of perspective. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.