Working Up to Retail Management

Posted by in Retail

Retail jobs may start out with a low hourly wage, long hours on your feet and dealing with difficult customers, but they do have their rewards--flexible hours, working in an exciting industry and opportunity to move up. Because of the work environment and wage rates, turnover is high. Retail workers who stick around long enough with a good performance record can work their way up into management positions.

Management often taps top retail employees to move into supervisory positions, putting them on a track to upper management. A promotion is a boost in confidence and pay. The skills that make a retail clerk successful are different from those of a successful manager.

Most retail supervisors and managers are “working” managers, meaning they are out on the floor with retail staff, interacting with customers, selling merchandise, ringing up sales and filling in down-time straightening stock. The skills they used when part of the staff are the same they need to fulfill this part of the job. But managers are also responsible for the performance of their sales team and for the overall performance of the department. An article in Careerealism pointed out skills and traits necessary for a successful transition from staff to management.

A winning personality is important in beauty pageants and retail management. Managers have to gain the confidence of their team, be personable, approachable and willing to listen. 

One of the toughest parts of transitioning to a management position is putting some distance between yourself and the rest of the team. This means moving from being one of the gang to someone in a position of leadership and authority.  It’s tough to hang out after work and then have to discipline one of the staff the next morning for some policy violation.  In order to assume responsibility for the team you may have to lose some close friendships.

Management is all about getting things done through others. Tasks like taking inventory, ordering merchandise, gathering sales data, preparing reports and preparing weekly schedules are now your responsibility. This can take more time and depend on winning the cooperation of your sales team. The ability to train and communicate clearly is important for developing team members’ skills. Managers don’t do all the work themselves. Part of the job is to hire the best employees, train and motivate them, and manage the sales process to meet department and company sales goals.

In Retail, you can rise through the ranks and make it to the top without a college degree. Much of what you need to know can be learned on the job. In some companies or executive level positions, a degree or certification can be a plus. Retail offers the opportunity to cross-train in many different disciplines. The more experience you have as a generalist, the more promotable you are.

Every career has its downside, and retail is no exception. Most retail stores are open 24/7, requiring a member of management to be available. Managers are often on call on weekends and evenings, even if their day ends at 5 p.m. Large retailers can have outlets across the country. If you want to move up, you may have to move out.  The next opportunity up the ladder could be across the country. Those not willing to make the move can miss out on a promotion.

Retail sales is the type of job that you can leave at the end of the day. A move to management changes all that.  With a new title and pay raise comes added responsibility and expectations. Make sure the rewards outweigh the costs for yourself and your career goals.

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