10 Ways To Survive Working In Retail Management Without Losing Your Mind


Working in any type of service job can easily be equated to hating your job, but it all doesn’t have to be a horror story. Any job can be rewarding if you really do enjoy it. (If you don’t, I’d say run for the hills.) This is what I have learned working in retail management and I can truly say that I love what I do, mostly in part to watching the progress of the associates and my peers.

1. Don’t worry about how others perceive you.

In any large retail store, you will have a management staff that consists of very different individuals with very different working styles. Learn your style and embrace it, run with it, and don’t try to be someone that you are not. If you are a stickler for the rules, be that. If you are a people developer, be that. If you are all about driving results and making money, be that. If you are the bitch, fine, be that. Be a boss ass bitch. Every team cannot function without every role and over time, you will all learn from each other and be well rounded as a team.

2. Stick to your guns, don’t be a pushover.

Don’t make exceptions for that one person that just doesn’t want to work weekends, because then everyone will be off on weekends and you get to run from the registers to the fitting rooms and onto the sales floor of your lovely 2 story store for 8 hours a day 6+ days a week and you will hate your life. Don’t pick favorites, you absolutely must treat everyone the same, even if you really like that kid and feel a little bit bad. He’s coming in on the weekend with everyone else.

3. Always be available, no matter what.

As much as I’d love to eat my lunch on my actual lunch break and you want to continually ask me work related questions while I have a Subway sandwich half way down my throat. I am going to answer your questions. Whether you need help with your schedule, your pay, your department, how you can grow in the company or even something happening at home that is causing you stress. Be available, be approachable and help them come to their own solution. Don’t do the work for them, but show them how to get there on their own. Soon you will get a real lunch break.

4. Keep your integrity.

I cannot stress this enough. It takes one wrong step, one slip up, one mistake for you to lose your whole staff. Practice what you preach and always stand by your word. Don’t take on more than you can chew and know when to ask for help.

5. The customer is not always right, but realize when you are in the wrong.

No store runs like a well-oiled machine and you will encounter some interesting customers on a daily basis. Know your information and the proper policies and procedures for your store and make sure your staff knows it like the back of their hands. Stand your ground but know when to back down and just return the pants, one happy customer equals a return customer and 20 people in line that won’t murder you when you clock out. But always tell your associate why you let it slide and how to handle a difficult transaction in the future. Know when to pick your battles, it will save you time — and in retail, time is money.

6. Do what you say you are going to do.

If you say you are going to do something, you better do it. Whether it be giving someone performance feedback, teaching them how to merchandise, or something simple like help them clean in their department, don’t say you will unless you absolutely will. If you don’t, you may as well count that as a loss. They may not say anything, but they never forget. You have just made yourself unreliable. Why will they work for you if you can’t even do what you said you would? Integrity lost.

7. Make a difference.

If you see something in your store that you don’t like, change it. You never have to settle for what is laid out in front of you. Question authority, if you see a better or more efficient way to do something, speak your mind. Work doesn’t have to be miserable, make it exciting and worthwhile. Retail may not be a dream job but it can be a great place to gain many job skills and a great place to grow. Whether you want to get into fashion, human resources, and management or just gain people and team building skills, you can learn so much and take that on to another endeavor. It really is up to you.

8. Help others grow.

Sure, the vast majority of people work in retail for shits and giggles, to pay for school or just for extra cash. I was the same. I had a full time job that paid the bills but picked up retail to pay for a trip I wanted to take. It just so happened that I enjoyed the retail company I worked for and left my full time job to stay in retail. Usually it’s the other way around, but when you find a company willing to invest in you, you make the changes you see fit. Retail can be rewarding if you make it that way, it can be challenging and thought provoking. Do for your staff what your management did for you, teach them everything you know to the point that one day they are taking your job right from under you. That will show how well you do your job, not the zeros on your paycheck (hell, if you have both, that’s a bonus).

9. Set clear expectations.

Think back to when you were a sales associate. What did you see in your management? What were your expectations of them? Be clear about what you expect from your sales staff but also find out what their expectations of you are. Without that, you are in and out of work without any real goals besides making tons of money. Sure, that is the end goal but there is a lot that needs to happen in order to get there.

10. Actually enjoy your job.

If for one second, you absolutely despise your job, quit. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and just quit. I guarantee you, the excuse of not having money and being able to support yourself just isn’t a good one. I’ve been there. I quit a job that I hated with no money or savings to my name and hit rock bottom, but I found my way and was happier and stronger for it. No one likes a Debbie Downer at work. It’s all peaches and crème that you hate this job, but I don’t care to spend my day listening to that. So if it’s not for you, don’t try to force it, you will be miserable.

featured image – High Fidelity