How to develop your staff

Staff members have as great an impact on a store’s success as the products on the shelves. Making sure your team is working to the best of its ability has never been more important. Whether it’s minimising mistakes, completing tasks to a higher standard or to a shorter timetable, or upselling products to customers, there are always ways in which people can improve themselves. 

With the rise in minimum wage, retailers have even greater reason to ensure their teams are working effectively. 

“It’s not easy, but it’s about everyone working on everything in the store,” says Bay Bashir, from Go Local Belle Vue Convenience in Middlesbrough. “It’s about building the best relationship you can with each of them.” 

Communication is key for helping to improve your staff’s workload. If they feel they can come to you with ideas or problems, then you will be in a better position to talk to them about areas for improvement and encourage them to think about the store as a business rather than a job. 

“If it was really quiet one day, we can think about why that was the case, what we did, what the weather was like and whether there were people on the street,” says Ketul Desai, from Londis Leiston in Suffolk. “You get them thinking about things like you do.” 

Retailers are looking to get staff members to think about the impact they can have on other members of the team and the business itself. 

“Things we’re going to focus on include store standards, gap analysis, late arrival at work and days off,” says Harj Dhasee, from Village Stores in Mickleton, Gloucestershire. “We’re trying to build a way of getting people to understand what’s going on in the business and what happens when they don’t do what they need to do. It’s about empowering them to think.” 

Incentivise your staff

Bay Bashir from Go Local Belle Vue Convenience in Middlesbrough

Bay Bashir spends most of his store investment on his staff because he can’t be at all his stores in Middlesbrough at once and he recognises that they need to be on top of their game selling to customers. 

“They are the front line and we’re always looking for ways to innovate with our staff,” he says. “In every part of the store, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. We look at each occasion, learn from it and see what we can do better next time.” 

Bashir finds that incentives are a great way to encourage staff to sell more. 

He recently worked with Imperial Tobacco to offer a £150 voucher to the store which got the most sales. This resulted in a 60% uplift in sales of the product. “You’ve got to keep the competition within a time constraint. If it goes on too long, it starts to drag. Four weeks is usually the best amount of time if I want to the staff to be encouraged.” 

Give staff a diary

Ketul Desai from Londis Leiston in Suffolk

Ketul Desai, from Londis Leiston in Suffolk, keeps a diary where he writes down anything he does that went well or badly. This enables him to analyse how he’s done things and how he can do it better next time. He now encourages his staff members to do the same, which has helped him identify inefficiencies and areas where he can lend support. 

“The diary is purely for business – what was good, what was a low point? I can spot check their diaries to make sure they’ve made a note of this or that,” he says. “If a time was so busy they felt overwhelmed, we can find out about that and provide help – maybe by bringing in extra staff or opening up another counter. 

“Now they feel they’re getting much more work done and their workload is better. They’re not waiting for someone to tell us, they’re noting it down and then they know what to do the next time.” 

Find action plans

Dave Hiscutt from Londis Westham Road in Weymouth, Dorset

For Dave Hiscutt, of Londis Westham Road in Weymouth, Dorset, the risk of a negative-minded worker requires intervention. “If there is a bad apple we need to deal with that clearly and decisively, because if you have 10 members of staff and one isn’t doing what they’re supposed to do, that brings them down and can almost turn cancerous across the team.” 

Hiscutt works from a place of understanding when dealing with negative team members. “It’s not about shouting at someone, it’s about understanding what’s causing the issues. No one goes to work to do a bad job, there’s normally an underlying reason,” he says. 

He also uses quarterly appraisals to see how his staff are doing. “We try to sit down every three months or so and come out with a proper, measurable action plan, but not one with any massive leaps, either, because we want them to be achievable.” 

Empower your team

Harj Dhasee from Village Stores in Mickleton, Gloucestershire

Harj Dhasee has a young team at his Village Stores in Mickleton, Gloucestershire. But rather than bringing in an experienced supervisor, he has worked to empower his team, offering direction, assigning responsibilities and making them think about the store in a different way. He is offering bonuses as well if they hit certain targets. 

“We’ve divvied up jobs between the four of them and empower them to run their aspect of the store,” he says. “No one is in charge of anyone else. The seniority rotates, and my store manager from my other site comes in twice a week to work with everyone. 

“We focus on the daily take and daily wastage and what that means. We want to think about what makes a good day or a quiet day, and what they did on those days. Dictating is easy, but you can’t always have someone here to dictate all the time. So we need the team to think together.”

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