Over the last few weeks, at least four retailers have introduced themselves to us by talking about their core values. While values and mission statements have always been around, for many there seems to be a renewed sense of importance in connecting core values with learning and development initiatives. These retailers want to make sure their values are clearly aligned and linked to the training they provide associates and leaders.

I think there are a number of reasons for this emphasis. For starters, competency models and requirements are continually changing and being refined. But values are constant. They’re what the retailer stands for. Industry and product knowledge are always important, but when you consider what really drives day-to-day actions, behaviors and decisions, it comes down to values. In a volatile, complex world, values are the unwavering guidepost.

This is a trend that’s being driven not just by the retailers themselves but by their employees and customers, too.

As we discussed in a previous post, the most successful retailers are hiring not just for skills and knowledge but for fit, and for good reason. Recent research from Bersin by Deloitte shows that the companies “attracting the best people, delivering greater customer service and innovating better…are focused on mission, culture and leadership.” Bottom line, people want to work for companies that know what they stand for and, specifically, those with strong values that align with the employee’s’ own personal values.

And what about the customers? Regardless of whether or not the values are posted publicly, when people live by them, customers see it—and that can make a huge difference in terms of their loyalty and satisfaction. In fact, of the respondents in a Corporate Executive Board study who said they had a brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason—”far and away the largest driver.”

Core Values and Your Retail Training Initiatives

You’ve got a carefully crafted values statement. But it takes more than just words on paper for the values to come alive. So how do you make sure everyone lives by them?

Incorporating them into your training is a good first step. For best results, the training needs to be highly relevant to the everyday realities your participants are facing in the fast-paced, ever-changing world of today’s retail environment.

Just as critical, start with leadership training. Whether they’re leading in the stores, from a distance (as in the case of multiunit managers) or within the home office, your leaders set the tone. They need to embody the values and know how to hire and coach to them.

The retailers we’ve been talking to are right: core values matter now more than ever. To make sure the core values you develop, talk about and profess are really exhibited, make sure your training strategies are tightly aligned with them.

How are you connecting your mission and values with your learning and development initiatives? Share in the comments, or tweet us @mohrretail.


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.