I’ve often drawn comparisons between running a business and coaching a sports team. While business measures in profit and sports teams measure in scores, the important thing is that a measurement of performance and an outcome is taking place. Both must keep their customers – or for a sports team its fans – happy, especially for those who may decide to shop elsewhere (some fans aren’t always committed for life!), and both need to rely on their staff or personnel to get the results they want.
I often find that relating a business situation back to a sporting one resonates well with some owners. They often can’t see the point of something that relates to their business until it is portrayed in a language that they can understand as a fan or sports coach themselves.
As such, I’ve identified a number of comparisons from the sporting world that help illustrate the best areas to work on with your staff. Here are seven of them I’d like to share with you today:
- Set clear expectations: Wide receivers score touchdowns; strikers score goals and batters round the bases. Sales staff need their targets too. Clearly define the expectations for the role of each employee, including sales targets, customer service standards, and job duties. Let them know what you expect from them and provide the necessary resources and training to help them meet these expectations.
- Provide regular feedback: Athletes gets pointers from the coach, and you need to constructively give regular feedback to your employees on their performance. Praise employees who are doing well and offer guidance to those who could do better. Identify areas where they can improve and provide specific actions they can take to improve.
- Encourage teamwork: Find a sports team where one person does everything, and you’ll see a team that won’t win. Retail is a fast-paced industry and workloads can be overwhelming. Encouraging teamwork can make a big difference. Foster a culture of collaboration, where employees are willing to help each other out during high-volume periods.
- Invest in training: A successful sports team puts more time into training than playing. This isn’t possible in retail, but providing continuous training to your employees is critical in any industry, and especially important in a retail environment. Invest in ongoing training for your staff so they can keep up with the latest trends, technology, and customer service techniques.
- Celebrate successes: Your team needs their victories and trophy moments too. Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to stay with a company long-term. Celebrate employee successes, reward your team on reaching sales targets, and acknowledge their hard work. This creates a positive work environment and motivates your employees to achieve more.
- Build relationships: On-field results are best when the players know and trust each other well. Getting to know your employees, and having them know each other on a personal level, can help create a positive work environment too. Engage in casual conversation, take an interest in their hobbies, and ask them about their families. Building positive relationships with employees can help create a sense of community and a better dynamic in the workplace.
- Lead by example: After a poor start to the season culminating in a 4-0 loss, new Manchester United manager Eric Ten Hag dragged the entire team out for a punishing early morning run the next day. But Ten Hag didn’t just punish the team, he put himself through the run as well, earning huge respect from a squad of stars who had been bickering like prima donnas. Needless to say, they turned their season around. Being a good manager is about setting the right example. Lead by example, be present, and provide guidance when it is needed. Show your team what is required to be a successful retail employee by being prepared to do it yourself.