When you coach a store team, you build players who can self-correct. A coach watches the store and gives feedback to employees at least once a shift – if not more often. First, a coach in a store will recognize when an employee is struggling and make adjustments. Secondly, a coach analyzes interactions with customers to see if employees need more product knowledge or a more (or less) aggressive sales technique. Then, a coach provides feedback, encouragement and advice to the team to improve job performance. Finally, a coach sees his (or her) role as improving the team that delivers a great customer experience. Not delivering the customer experience himself.
Here are six important ways to transition from manager to coach:
1) Be in a position to notice.
Then take the time to coach. Make time in your schedule to watch the team as they complete their work and interact with customers. Accept that part of your role is to observe, analyze and thoughtfully advise your team. Do not jump in and do it for them – that’s what a Team Captain does.
2) Provide timely feedback.
Give feedback the same day an observation occurs. It should never come later unless there is real research you need to do. Feedback is most effective when it is occurs immediately after the event.
3) Be specific.
People cannot make the necessary adjustments with generalities. For example, an employee who hears “make more effective suggestions for customers” will struggle to improve. Conversely, someone who hears “when making a suggestion for a product, take it from the shelf and place it in the customer’s hands” will know what to do differently next time.
4) Be consistent.
First make sure your standards are uniform and predictable. Then make sure every manager is in alignment so that employees understand the standards. Nothing is more frustrating for an employee than hearing two different messages from two different managers.
5) Be fair.
There is a difference between “treat everyone the same” and “treat everyone fairly.” It is the definition of an inspiring leader. Leaders draw the best out of individual players by challenging each one to reach their personal best. That cannot be done by treating everyone the same. You must understand their motivations and skills. Then you can build a plan that brings out their best.
6) Follow up.
Consistently evaluate the team and recognize when they are creating new habits or slipping into old ones. It is a good way to set a tone of accountability.
Most managers who are unhappy with their career progress struggle in this area. When they learn to coach a store team, instead of managing them, is when their career takes off.