Despite the fact that more than 4.3 million Americans work in retail, the task of finding a sales associate when you most need one still seems impossible. The retail industry is an industry that has two distinct sides. For shoppers, retail is a time to check out your favorite stores and walk out with a car-full of new clothes, shoes, and accessories. However, for those that work in retail, the word conjures up memories of unpredictable schedules, rude customers, and long days on their feet. For many years my only relationship with retail was as a shopper, but during the summer of 2016 that all changed. Like most college students, I was looking for a summer job and soon found myself behind the register at Old Navy. During the second day of training, my manager said that he had some other work to do, so to keep us busy, he instructed myself and the other trainee to go onto the sales floor. Not knowing what to do, I walked around the store folding tee shirts, hanging up pants, and re-organizing displays. Later a customer approached me with a pair of shoes in hand and said “You work here right? I was wondering if you could look in the back to see if you all have these in a size 6.” I sat there like a deer making eye contact with headlights as I was unsure where my manager was, how to check inventory, nor where the “back” even was. I quickly pulled myself together and calmly replied “No, Sorry, I don’t work here” and walked away.
As I reflect on situations like these, there is one word that comes to mind. Training. More specifically a lack of training as was demonstrated in my Old Navy example. Throughout the semester in my Management Course, we have been introduced to the wide range of benefits that result from employee training and development. With seemingly endless benefits, it would seem that employee and human capital development would be at the forefront of every organization’s mind, right? Well, surprisingly, this isn’t the case, and author Victor Lipman is here to tell us why. In his article entitled “Why Employee Development Is Important, Neglected And Can Cost You Talent” he outlines three main reasons that companies fail to prioritize employee development.
The first reason for our neglecting of employee development is our tendency to focus on the “here and now.” This was present in my Old Navy example when my manager suddenly took off to go handle an issue with customers.
The second reason to which Lipman credits this neglect is the lack of action and intensity put into training programs. He notes that often times trainers simply go through the motions. This lack of gusto and seriousness when training is a major component in the lack of results from certain training programs. This lack of seriousness was shown by my manager when he decided to send us onto the sales floor without having completed our training.
According to Lipman, the final reason is that there is simply not enough time. Organizations prioritize the completion of daily tasks over the long-term development of their employees. This was demonstrated by my manager’s inability to both train us, and deal with other situations at the same time.
As we enter the job market and begin to take on managerial roles, it is vital that we fully equip our employees with the skills they will need to be successful in their role. Training is extremely vital in all workplaces and can be a strong way to combat employee turnover. The next you start a new job be sure to ask questions and actively seek out the appropriate training so that if you are ever asked for a size 6, you’ll know exactly where to find it!