4 tips for coaching your team over busy periods

Coaching your retail team over busy periods

As the person responsible for  the development and growth of your team, juggling the busiest time of the year with your responsibilities as a manager and coaching teams can be a real challenge, and it is easy for things to start to slip.

We can all agree that, regardless of your industry, surviving (and thriving) at work this Christmas period is a stress that will be weighing on a lot of people.

Whether it’s the stress of preparing for the festive season, finding time to plan for next year, or just trying to get work complete this side of Christmas, the November-December period can be the cause of a lot of stress and anxiety for a number of people.

According to HuffPost, December is the month where the largest increase in work-related stress is recorded.

This often means that ensuring you make time to coach and develop your team is absolutely vital to ensuring that your team is providing a great customer experience, and that they feel supported to do it.

After-all, we know that an established coaching framework can help teams improve their performance by as much as 41%.

So how do you ensure you keep on top of it all?

Here are our top 3 tips to keep your team engaged, on task and feeling supported over the busy season.

Image credit: gpointstudio

Run a Daily Standup

The daily Standup meeting was first developed as part of the Agile framework to help developers manage their workload, and to allow them to quickly adapt to change while working towards a common goal.

You’ll probably already be doing something along these lines every morning with your team – discussing things like; sales targets for the day, any daily tasks and operational duties.

Following the format of a standup meeting is a great way to structure your mornings, save time with fewer meetings, reduce roadblocks and keep your entire team aligned to your common goals.

Start with a 10-15minute full team meeting and work have each person answer these three questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What are you going to do today?
  • What things are blocking your progress?

Image credit: wayhomestudio

Just-in-Time Feedback

You might not get the opportunity to pull each of your team members into a weekly one-on-one session during peak trade or busy times of the year. That’s why it’s important to find opportunities to provide feedback and coaching throughout the day and provide ‘just-in-time’ feedback.

This means that you are providing meaningful feedback about your team member’s performance, directly after their interaction with a customer.

Just-in-time feedback gives your team encouragement, and guidance as soon as they need it. The theory behind this approach is that it’s better to offer less feedback more regularly.

In fact, we cover the importance of regular feedback and coaching in our Leading Others programme because we know that just-in-time feedback helps to:

  • Identify problems with skill or behaviour quicker
  • Immediately reinforce positive behaviours
  • Reduce the need for lengthy performance reviews
  • Sever the link between performance and remuneration

These conversations are also less formal and should be viewed as two-way conversations. This gives employees space to share new ideas and give feedback back to their managers and the company.

This type of open dialogue and collaboration is a great driver of innovation.

Image credit: drobotdean

Encourage Peer-Mentoring

As your workload starts to increase, you may find that there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done!

It could also mean that you simply might not be able to get around all your team members to provide the feedback and coaching they require.

So what’s the solution?

Your team!

There are a number of benefits of peer-mentoring including; improving team morale, increasing retention, speeding up onboarding and, of course, saving you time.

Pair up the more experienced members of your team up with the newest members, and encourage peer-to-peer coaching. This is a super powerful way to transfer the knowledge of your best team members to the new guys and free some of your time up throughout the day.

The 1, 2, 3 Technique

This technique is about creating small practical steps to change behaviour. It can be as short as only a minute but can be highly effective when done well. Here are the steps:

1. Approach with your observation

Timing is everything. After you’ve observed them, it’s important that you provide the feedback as soon as possible. Ideally, you should do it immediately after for relevance and higher impact, but it’s not always possible. Just make sure you’re discreet and try to pull your team member aside. Never do it in front of the customer!

If we take our scenario as an example, it would be something along these lines: “Hi John, I was observing your interaction with that customer and I noticed you didn’t suggest product XYZ, which would have been perfect for that customer given they purchased ABC.”

2. Set the benchmark

This is about setting the bar. There may be company policies or requirements to be met. Sometimes is just simply a commitment to the standards that came out of a team meeting. When you deliver it, stick to the facts. It may be something like “As we discussed during training/our last meeting, the company standard is that you always need to attempt to offer a complimentary product to your customer, where appropriate”.

3. Tell them what you want them to do

Set the expectation for next time and agree on what specifically you want to see them doing. It’s important that they commit to it. In the same way, you must follow through and commend or provide feedback according to the new behaviour. Consistency is the key to success. You can say something along these lines: “So with your next customer, remember to offer a complimentary product based on the needs you uncovered during your interaction with them.

"Surely, you’re bound to have a broad range of expertise among your team, so here are a couple of super effective strategies you can implement to take advantage of that. Remember, teaching is two-fold: it cements the “teacher’s” learning by sharing their knowledge; on the other hand, it reinforces the learning for the “trainee” as it puts into context.

Want to see how your training stacks up? Take our retail training assessment.

In Summary

Remember, although it is easy to let your usual daily routine and coaching activities slip to the side when it starts getting busy over this peak trade time, you are the single most impactful tool in increasing your team’s performance!

Remember, by ensuring you maintain a great coaching routine, you could increase the performance of your team by as much as 42% – so don’t let your coaching fall by the wayside!

Change it up, run your morning training sessions, get on the floor and coach ‘just in time’ and utilise the talent you have in the team – You’ll thank us for it later.

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