Turning Retail Supervisors into Performance Coaches

Retail Sales Training

Turning Retail Supervisors into Performance Coaches

High performing retail organisations know that shop floor Supervisors and Managers are the key to drive sales and performance. But many Supervisors are not developed and supported in their role, particularly people management skills.

What do followers expect from a Supervisor? According to John Adair in his book Develop your Leadership Skills, “People expect their Leaders to help them to achieve the common task to build the synergy of teamwork and to respond to individuals and meet their needs”. In other words, what followers require of today’s Supervisors, is ‘adult to adult’ interaction that develops people.

All too frequently, however, Retail Supervisors are appointed because of their ability to perform the tasks their followers are actually required to do, not their ability to manage and develop others. This often results in a Supervisory style similar to a strict parent, where Supervisors organise tasks, tell their reports what to do, police whether they did it, provide discipline when things are not done correctly and control performance through fear of such discipline!

Such practices in supervisory style are clearly unproductive in the long term because they create a culture where people only perform if they are being ‘parented’. Unsurprisingly, this approach also results in followers acting like children, i.e. Not taking responsibility – because they didn’t have to, weren’t directed to or weren’t sure they were allowed to!


In order to become more effective and have a positive impact on followers’ behaviours, skills, and performance, Retail Supervisors, therefore, need to:

• Coach, train and help people learn

• Motivate others

• Consult, rather than tell – ask questions and listen effectively

• Provide clear direction and regular feedback

• Include the team in decisions that affect them (as appropriate)

• Provide relevant information, regularly

• Lead from the front (an inclusive ‘pull’ rather than aggressive ‘push’ style)

• Demonstrate ‘can do’ – appropriate energy, enthusiasm, and positivity

• Help people realise their potential to perform


So how can you develop Supervisors to make the transition from ‘Task Manager’ to ‘People Manager’ in the fast moving retail environment? The answer is through developing your Retail Supervisors to become Performance Coaches in 3 simple steps:

1. Train them to become Shop Floor Trainers –  By up-skilling your Supervisors to deliver well structured, interactive Sales and Service skills training, short (20minute) sessions on the shop floor, your Supervisors will start to have a significant impact on performance, as well as transforming their relationship with their teams through greater visibility.

2. Train them to observe and assess Shop Floor performance – By observing their direct reports every month and rating their performance against clear, relevant, structured performance criteria, your Supervisors will be able to identify their top performers and those individuals who need more help and support to deliver great Sales and Service results.

3. Train them to give effective, meaningful feedback in real-time – Observation without feedback is meaningless, so by training your Supervisors to deliver real-time feedback in a meaningful, effective way using a 3 point technique, they can genuinely start to transform performance by raising awareness and providing clear direction on what is required.


At OMT Global, we work within global retailers throughout the world. Contact us to discuss your business needs and how we can help you improve your retail sales and services.

Paula Nugent

With over 25 years’ experience in Learning and Development in Retail, Financial Services and Customer Services in Ireland and the UK, Paula has held a number of Consultant and Management roles. She has extensive experience in the fields of consultancy, learning design, facilitation and coaching and prides herself on a partnership approach with clients. Paula has expertise across a broad range of individual, organisational and team development interventions, and is highly skilled in bringing objectives and goals to life through creative, authentic and engaging design and facilitation. Paula specialises in programme development in the areas of Leadership and Management Development and Retail Service and Sales skills and behaviours.

Talk to us about how we can help you and your organisation