How to Make It as a New Retail Manager
Running a retail store isn’t easy, and inexperienced, untested managers tend to make plenty of rookie mistakes. There is no shortage of difficulties in learning to cope with the additional responsibilities of being a manager, but the two biggest challenges may be time management and learning how to delegate effectively. New retail managers may lack the experience out of the gate to properly manage multiple priorities and respond to the new problems that crop up on a daily basis. These new challenges can make a manager feel overwhelmed and stressed, potentially leading to a (hopefully) short-term sales hit for their store.
Ideally, new managers would receive training prior to their promotion. The reality, though, is that many retailers don’t offer much in the way of structured management training, leaving new managers to fend for themselves, essentially. One strategy for avoiding this predicament is to get more involved in the daily operations of the store before applying for that first management position.
One problem many new managers immediately face is becoming the boss to coworkers who previously were peers. Long-standing friendships may complicate matters further. For new managers to retain friendships with their former peers, both parties need to recognize that business relationships and friendships must be separately maintained. Sometimes, lingering friendships can lead managers to lose their ability to effectively manage their team, because they cannot differentiate business relationships from personal ones. One potential result of this type of workplace relationship is that some employees might not take direction from a manager.
This is not to say that friendships can’t exist between managers and employees. In fact, many managers maintain excellent relationships with their employees.
When issues do arise — such as coworkers who complain about the new manager or who refuse to complete assigned tasks — a direct approach is recommended. Talk to the former coworker to clear the air and determine the source of the conflict. This tactic will also help set a tone that establishes the new manager’s credibility.
New managers sometimes lose their credibility when they don’t deal with sensitive or difficult situations quickly, or if they try to overexert their newfound authority. Furthermore, inexperienced managers are often reluctant to make difficult decisions and, as a result, they wait too long, allowing problems to fester and grow. It’s important to understand that even a wrong decision is better than no decision at all — as long as the new manager doesn’t repeat that particular mistake.
Even the best-prepared candidates will encounter unforeseen situations. For that reason, new managers need to be patient and give themselves room to grow into their new set of responsibilities.
Don’t expect to learn everything in a few days or even weeks. The typical learning curve for a new manager is at least six months. It takes time to become comfortable in a new managerial role.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, either. Listen carefully to advice and suggestions, and be patient. You will make mistakes — how you recover from those mistakes makes the difference.