With the holiday season is in full swing, the new year will be here before you know it. For store leaders, getting people on board and committed to new initiatives will be critical to setting the stage for a successful year ahead.

Now’s the time to be thinking about communicating new directives and making sure key messages about goals, the brand, and priorities are consistently embraced and applied across the store. As a store manager, one of your main challenges can be communicating multiple initiatives to your staff. Many times these initiatives are imposed by the district managers or others outside the store. So this discussion involves not only letting the associates know what is a priority or expectation but also ensuring that you get their commitment to fully supporting and achieving goals related to that initiative.

It’s important to note that commitment is different than agreement. While associates may not always agree with a new initiative or goal, their commitment to fully supporting it is critical to achieving results.

Sometimes this process is done one-on-one. But when it’s handled in a group meeting—such as a national meeting where there might be a range of associate experience, performance, and passion for the new goal—the dynamics can change. Managing a group meeting effectively will often determine if the general agreement and nodding during the meeting actually turns into renewed motivation and behavior that you can see play out on the floor with customers. If it’s not done skillfully, the communication may fall flat or, worse, end up de-motivating those who don’t fully understand or agree with the new priorities or goals.

Ultimately, this process is about motivating associates to do their best and ensuring these new initiatives gain traction to get the results you’re expecting.

For many retail managers, motivating others is seen as energizing them through pep talks or rallies during morning store meetings. They think about motivation as input. But the most successful retail managers have found that motivation is really an outcome. When your team feels they have the ability to do whatever it takes, they’re more confident. When they use their skills and knowledge successfully, the outcome is that they come to work looking for ways to do it again. In other words, they’re motivated.

Done well, these meetings not only build associates’ motivation and confidence, they also give the store manager added insight into where to focus on-floor coaching, based on individual reactions to the messages.

Evaluating Your Store Managers

Given the amount of change in retail and the shifting of priorities, this is an ongoing process and key competency for every store manager. As you think about your critical priorities and initiatives for the year ahead, here are some key questions to think about in terms of evaluating your store managers’ skills, knowledge, and abilities to consistently motivate and get commitment from their teams:

Do our store managers…

  • See motivation as an outcome of associates feeling confidence that they have the ability to do whatever it takes and use their skills and knowledge successfully?
  • Have a retail-focused discussion strategy that they use to motivate a team with a range of styles?
  • Apply effective communication skills and tools to engage associates in the process and get commitment to goals?
  • Use insights from their discussions to plan for future coaching and development?

Store managers need not only the strategies and skills but the practice and guidance to get this right. It’s too important to the success of the store’s key initiatives—and the year’s results.

Are your store managers prepared to launch a successful year ahead? Check out our flexible Retail Store Leadership program options, which make it easy to get them the retail-specific skills and practice they need to create immediate and ongoing impact.


About Michael Patrick

Michael held positions in retail management, merchandising, and human resources before joining MOHR Retail’s predecessor in 1986. In 1990 he purchased the retail division of that firm to form today’s MOHR Retail. Michael holds true to his retail roots by delivering learning that changes behavior—providing both immediate and lasting business impact. In addition to facilitating MOHR Retail training programs, he offers executive-level coaching in one-on-one sessions dealing with critical strategic issues such as succession strategies and executive team development. The author of “The New Negotiation Mindset: Guarantee A Bigger Slice,” Michael is a longstanding member of NRF as well as ISA: The Association of Learning Providers. He has a B.A. from San Diego State University, completed Master’s level work at Arizona State University, and lives with his family in New Jersey.