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Building Trust in Retail Leadership

Over the last year, MOHR Retail has supported our clients through some challenging times as they continually strive to strengthen trust in the retail environment, particularly against the backdrop of an increase in Organized Retail Crime (ORC) and violence in the workplace. We have hosted two webinars on the topic with retail executives and industry experts in loss prevention, asset protection, crisis prevention, and learning and development, representing grocery, hardware, big box, and boutique retail stores as well as retail consulting firms.

All of our panelists emphasized just how important your leaders are when it comes to building trust and safety in the workplace. Attracting, developing, and retaining teams with a commitment to service excellence starts with leaders who listen, communicate effectively, encourage input, and, through their own actions and behavior, inspire greater confidence and engagement.

When we talk about leaders, when mean all leaders — from your executives to your multiunit field leaders to the front-line store leaders. To create a culture of trust and increase customer and associate loyalty, leaders at all levels must model the organization’s mission and values in all interactions.

The other critical factor is the human factor. To increase trust, leaders need to understand where people are emotionally today, and that’s a big shift from retail leadership mantras of the past. It used to be common for retail leaders to operate by a set of principles that advocated separation of the personal and the professional: “Don’t bring your personal life to work.” Check your emotional baggage at the front door.” “Always keep your personal feelings to yourself and don’t share with your work teams.”

Times have changed. We now understand that not only is it unrealistic to expect someone to completely “turn off” who they are when they get to work, it’s also ultimately counter-productive, particularly in a human-to-human industry like retail. We need people to feel comfortable contributing their whole self and bringing all of their unique talents to their work. And in terms of trust, the leaders who are authentic and real are the ones who will be able to connect with their associates and teams on a human level. These highly effective retail leaders respect the fact that we all have lives outside of work.

From the front line to the C-suite, no one is immune to the demands of having to perform at work while dealing with myriad other personal pressures, from taking care of aging parents or a sick partner to worrying about the prices of rent and groceries to juggling childcare issues. Mental health concerns and the need for greater empathy are front and center in today’s culture and they should be in the workplace as well. After all, we spend one-third of our lives at work. That is more time than we spend on any other single activity, including family events, vacation, and even sleep.

The question I want to leave you with this month is this: What are your leaders doing to encourage their associates and teams to bring their whole selves to work, to create an environment where people feel safe bringing up issues, having the tough conversations, and knowing their input is heard and respected? Trust is built every single day in the workplace, and it is just as easily chipped away. It all starts with your leaders.

Read on for more on the business impact and some key strategies for increasing trust in retail leadership.

Mary Beth Garcia, CEO

P.S. Learn how our Building Trust program empowers retail leaders to create a culture of trust and engagement.

P.S.S. Key takeaways from our first webinar can be found here. A white paper highlighting insights and takeaways from our second webinar will be published shortly, so be sure to follow us on social media for updates.

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2024 Public Workshops: Enrolling Now!

Retail Store Leadership (RSL)

8 virtual sessions held weekly

12:00-2:00 PM ET

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  • May 14 – July 2, 2024

Retail Multiunit Leadership (RML)

5 virtual sessions held weekly

1:00-4:30 PM ET

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  • Sept.10 – Oct. 8, 2024

Store Support Leadership (SSL)

8 virtual sessions held weekly

2:00-4:00 PM ET

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  • Oct. 1 – Nov. 19, 2024
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Winning Big at LEAP HR: Retail

Last month, the MOHR Retail team attended LEAP HR: Retail, where we served as a partner at this prominent meeting for HR leaders working exclusively within the retail sector. Congratulations to the winner of our booth drawing, Meyori Brown, Corporate Human Resources Manager at Books-a-Million, pictured here with Matt Brown, MOHR Retail Director, Business Development and Client Success. Meyori won a complimentary Everything Workplace DiSC Survey and one-hour coaching call to debrief her results.

What retail events are you attending this year? Let us know!

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