Are Your C-Store Managers Getting the Training They Need?

You know you have to train new associates walking in off the street. They don’t know how you run your stores and probably have limited experience in any type of work environment. Just getting new associates to show up on time and in uniform is something of an accomplishment.

But you expect more of your managers. They have more work experience and perhaps a better education. There’s something about a newly hired manager that sets them apart from a newly hired associate. The temptation could be to hurry them through training because they’ve seen this stuff before.

Or have they?

Most managers or supervisors get their position because they did well at an associate level. Oftentimes they moved into the role with little instruction on their new duties. Perhaps they then come to your company and, since they’ve been a manager before, you assume they know how to be a manager.

That’s not necessarily true. There are some fundamental differences between managing and being an associate. As an associate you’re expected to have a good attitude, serve customers, and perform other tasks as assigned and under direction.

A manager must be able to perform as an exceptional associate, but a great deal more as well. It’s up to a manager to be looking down the road and understand what needs to be done now as well as in the future and allocate limited resources to get those tasks done in the most efficient and expedient manner. A manager must think. But even that is not enough, for a manager who understands what needs to be done must then assign those tasks to a person in a way that makes the person want to do them. Conflicts and issues inevitably come up, and a manger must have the people sense to handle those issues without being off putting.

That goes for dealing with customers even more. If a customer issue comes to a manger, it is by definition something more difficult than an associate would handle. A manager must be able to deal with that customer in a way that works for both the customer and is in keeping with the policies of the store.

It’s asking a lot.

So, what training is necessary for a manger to be able to fill these roles? Firstly, a manager should receive all of the training that an associate would get since they often perform associate duties as well as instruct and supervise associates in their roles.

Managers must also be trained in areas such as:

Being a Role Model

One of the more difficult concepts for new managers to grasp is that they must set the example for their subordinates. It is not enough to tell someone to follow a particular course of action, a manger must prove by their own actions what is important. A manager who says one thing and does another will quickly lose effectiveness.

This must be pointed out to new managers, as well as the need to establish authority and create distance without being overbearing. It’s not a trait that comes naturally to most people without instruction.

Communication Skills

Not only must a manger know what to do, they must be able to convey concisely what needs to be done, and in a way that motivates an associate to willingly and effectively comply.

Operations

Associates come in for their shift, sell what’s on the shelves, and leave when their time is up. It’s up to a manger to ensure associates are trained, schedule shifts, make sure there was product to sell, that the store was cleaned, maintenance done, inspections completed and reports filed. They need to be instructed on how to do all of these things.

Finance

Managers must be able to handle money once it leaves the drawer including making deposits, reading reports and monitoring budgets.

Problem Solving

The essence of management is problem solving. Associates not showing up, stock not on hand and angry customers must all be dealt with in a manner that reinforces the company’s goals.

Interviewing

Your managers man the gates to your business. To get the best people they need to know what to be looking for in an associate and what to be cautious of. They need to know how to ask questions that will reveal a candidate, while avoiding those that are inappropriate or prohibited by law. None of these techniques are intuitive, they must be taught.

Leading and Motivating a Team

Even managers who know policies and procedures can fail if they don’t know how to motivate their team. They need to master that way of acting, communicating and giving instruction that makes associates want to succeed at their job. Some people come by leadership traits naturally, but most do not. And, as the military has been showing for decades, leadership can be taught.

Time Management

So much to do, so little time. The successful manger must first know the techniques of managing their own time before they’ll be effective in managing the time of others.

Your front line mangers more than anyone else in your company determine how your customers see your business and, ultimately, how successful you are. It pays to give them the training they need to do their job.

Fortunately, it has never been easier or less expensive to deliver quality training. Online systems put the creation, delivery, and tracking of quality training within the reach of any size business. Don’t let your competitors realize this before you do.

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