The impact of coaching on performance in the retail sector

Discover the key methods for effective coaching in the retail sector. Learn more about how coaching can drive performance for your business.

Coaching is essential to employee development. It allows managers to provide the support that can help employees to reach their professional goals.

Workers who report to managers who coach are 40% more engaged than their coworkers and are more likely to be high performers. 

For retailers, your workforce is more valuable than ever. Employment trends like 'the great resignation' have impacted the availability of staff, especially for flexible retail businesses. Managers must use coaching to improve employee experience and minimise ever-growing staff churn.

What is coaching?

Coaching can be described in many ways, but essentially it is a continual conversation between a manager and an employee.

“Coaching takes a holistic view of the individual: work, corporate values, personal needs, and career development are made to work in synergy, not against one another.” British Journal of Administrative Management

Coaching is a method of maximising the potential of every team member. You can use coaching to set clear expectations, teach skills, provide feedback, create development plans and support the motivation and wellbeing of employees. This is important to keep staff engaged in a sector like retail, where coaching improves retention and overall company growth

One size doesn't fit all

Every employee can benefit from coaching; however, it's important that the approach is customised to an individual’s needs.

Environment, job role, and an employee’s unique challenges will all affect the type of coaching conversation required. For example, retail employees are split across head office, stores, and distribution centres. Therefore, coaching conversations will likely vary depending on an employee’s environment and responsibilities.

Additionally, all individuals are motivated and driven by varying factors and wellbeing is impacted by different circumstances for different people. These will naturally influence the breadth of conversation and this should be embraced, as one size will never fit all. 

Discover how retail managers can become great coaches. Learn more about OpenBlend's coaching frameworks.

The 3 things managers need to consider to improve their coaching

Getting coaching right is key for overall success, and every manager can learn to be an effective coach.

The conversations that managers have with their employees can have long-lasting performance benefits, in fact, the one-to-one conversation is the single most important productivity tool a manager has. 

Each manager should consider the following:

  1. Frequency of conversation

The frequency of coaching conversations will vary depending on your employee's needs.

For example, a new starter may want more one-to-one time with their manager. In contrast, a well-established, experienced employee would only need a manager's support for specific tasks, such as a new project. 

There could be a middle ground, too. An individual might benefit from coaching, but have clear goals and actions they need to achieve before their next coaching session. 

Getting consistency and frequency right will unlock the long-term benefits of coaching

  1. Breadth of content

Coaching conversations in the workplace should address employee needs. They should enable discussions that go beyond just business objectives.

Coaching is an opportunity to address personal needs, like wellbeing, motivations, and feedback, in addition to performance deliverables. You can achieve this by creating an agenda beforehand and openly discussing what’s beneficial for both parties.

With today's workforce, it's important to encourage an agenda, but this should be led by the employee. It's the employee’s one-to-one and therefore should contain what they need to discuss to drive them forward and to ensure they are highly engaged. If not, employees will leave your business when they're not engaged, so it's important that your coaching is as relevant as possible. 

  1. Effectiveness

Effectiveness refers to the ability to achieve the desired outcome from your coaching conversation. 

You need at least a structure, an agenda and owned actions to ensure a successful coaching conversation. You can achieve this using a coaching framework such as the GROW model, taking accountability for actions, signing off tasks, reviewing wins, setting timescales for tasks, and scheduling the next session accordingly. 

What is the GROW coaching model?

GROW puts the coaching process into four stages:

  • Goal: Where do you want to be?
  • Reality: Where are you right now?
  • Options: What can we do?
  • Way forward: What are we going to do?

Great managers have great conversations

Retailers typically employ dynamic workforces. They require responsive and agile management to be the most effective, especially as generational gaps widen.

And as retailers are under pressure to modernise their product offering, they must also modernise the way they speak to employees.

Retail managers must embrace coaching as a method of connecting, engaging, and retaining their employees. If you don't, it can have a serious impact on employee turnover, and ultimately affect your retail performance.

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