One of my talented regulars on my staff just put in her two-week notice. She is leaving me for a new full-time job teaching art.
JUST A JOB (?)
As much as I love my job and my business and the difference we make in other peoples' lives, I know where Retail Sales Clerk sits on the hierarchy of employment. Unless you're in management or ownership, it is a job, not a career.
When my employee told me what she would be doing next, I gave her a standing ovation. I could not be happier for her. It is a huge step up for her in many ways. Sure, I will miss her and I'll have to find a way to replace her. But in the long run this is a great opportunity for her and a chance for me to bring in some new blood with new energy and ideas, too.
The only real question I had was more internal... Had I helped to prepare her for this next step?
Had I helped her hone and practice skills that would be helpful working with others? Had I helped her hone and practice skills for teaching? (Education is one of our Core Values). Had I helped her hone and practice skills for dealing with conflict? Had I helped her hone and practice skills for finding creative solutions to all kinds of problems?
I believe it is my responsibility as an employer to help my employees prepare not just for working specifically at my store but also for what may come next. Maybe it is a management job. Maybe it is a new career. Maybe it is a new role. Maybe it is to stay home and raise a family. Maybe it is simply to be better than they were last week, last month, or last year. Personal growth is not just an idea. It is part of the culture.
INVEST IN YOUR ASSETS
Some retailers look at their employees as their biggest expense. But when Customer Service is your one true advantage over your competitors, your employees are instead your biggest asset. Properly invested, that asset can give you incredible growth.
Training - whether it is done in group settings, one-on-one, by videos or online - is the most valuable and least utilized tool you have in your Retail Tool Kit.
Bob Negen of Whizbang Training is a big fan of videos. Short, simple, raw videos of your best teacher (you?) teaching one technique or skill at a time. No fancy production necessary. Just someone with a smartphone taping you being you.
I'm a big fan of the monthly Staff Meeting. I choose a grand theme and goal for each year and plan step-by-step trainings to reach that goal.
Maybe you do your best work one-on-one or your staff size is such that anything else wouldn't make sense. That's great. Just take the time and keep investing.
Remember, though, that you aren't just preparing them for the job. You are preparing them for life. Take that approach and it changes the way you invest and the rewards you reap.
PS Here is one of the rewards you might not think about. When employees move on from my store, my reputation goes with them. If they lack the skills, it reflects poorly on me. But when they rock the house, it makes me look like a star, too, and raises the esteem people have of our business.