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Last year at a forum organised by the Retail Institute, New Zealand’s top retail CEO’s agreed that well trained supervisors and managers are key to retail success and improving productivity in the retail sector.
Retail managers’ are vital to store performance. They set the tone for the store; they monitor, manage and magnify the behaviour of all store staff; and they need to be capable of creating the right customer experience in a variety of settings.
A 2009 survey by McKinsey and Company revealed that retail companies which successfully empower their frontline managers show significant increases in productivity and financial returns over those that don’t. Empowered managers are those that can confidently and safely make decisions, anticipate problems and coach their direct reports, rather than simply following and giving orders and solving day to day problems.
McKinsey and Company demonstrated that frontline managers require high levels of skill development to effectively perform their jobs. However, they get considerably less training and support than floor staff:
“while frontline employees receive extensive training and development, their managers—who may have had no previous experience leading others—do not. At all levels, executives believe that the little training they do receive fails to prepare them to take on leadership roles successfully”
This picture is consistent with the experience of the Retail Institute in New Zealand. 90 % of trainees signed on by retailers for formally recognised training programmes are shop floor staff, learning basic retailing and customer service skills. The percentage of supervisors and managers engaged in training is much less than Retail Institute would expect.
John Meeuwsen, CEO of the Retail Institute notes that “The level of communication skills – language, literacy AND numeracy skills - required for any business in today’s world has increased markedly, not only in terms of the ability to improve teamwork and the clarity of internal communications but also to empower store management to confidently manage stores to better meet the needs of locals and the increasing expectations of customers for ‘an experience’ ”
John Albertson, CEO of the New Zealand Retails Association agrees that there is a need for training at this level. “Many supervisors and managers are shop floor staff that have been promoted internally because of their excellent customer service or selling skills. Just because someone is a good salesperson, doesn’t necessarily make them a good manager. Training can help managers improve their management skills and keep up with changing retail trends.”
Retail Institute believes that the key to long term productivity and success is having strategically minded “thinking managers and supervisors”. Over the next few months, Retail Institute will be doing everything it can to encourage employers to support their supervisors and managers in developing their skills. It now has a complete range of training products for middle managers which will enable staff to progress from the shop floor to senior positions and which are formally recognised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority – see below for a description.
Retail Institute will be approaching the CEO’s of New Zealand’s 160 or so chains and individual owner-operators to promote take up of the training available. With government support, these products are cost efficient and provide support to individual trainees according to need at localities throughout New Zealand. “This campaign is to help business owners understand the benefits of empowering their frontline managers’, says Retail Institute Marketing Manager Emily Stevenson.
Frontline Management Programmes Available
Retail Institute has worked with the industry to specify the content of two training programmes designed to develop the skills of retail supervisors and managers. Those who satisfactorily complete these programmes will gain formal recognition by gaining the National Certificate in Retail (Level 3) and the National Certificate in Retail (Level 4).
The programmes are modular, workplace based and skills learnt are directly reinforced on the job. The programmes are self-paced so supervisors and managers can work the programmes around their commitments. The programmes cover the following topics:
The National Certificate in Retail (Level 3)
The National Certificate in Retail (Level 3) is the supervisory level certificate for the retail industry. It is suitable for most retailers in a supervisory position or those who have completed the National Certificate in Retail (Level 2) and want to progress to the next level. The qualification covers:
The National Certificate in Retail (Level 4)
The National Certificate in Retail (Level 4) is the management qualification for the retail industry. It is ideal for retail managers or supervisors, or experienced retail staff aspiring to become managers or supervisors. It is also designed for anyone who has completed the National Certificate in Retail (Level 3) and wants to step up to the next skill level. The programme contains two compulsory modules and two elective modules and comes with a supporting DVD.
The compulsory modules are:
The elective modules are (choose two):
The Retail Institute is New Zealand's Industry Training Organisation for everyone working in retail. We work with the industry to improve productivity through developing qualifications and training materials for retailers.