A Simple Foundation to Surviving the Retail Holiday Season (companion article for Nov. wk 1)

Our first episode of our full length video and podcast series was very intentional.

It is week 1 of Q4…. and in retail speak – the countdown clock has started and it CANNOT be shut down!

This week, Edward navigates us through a topic that is extremely important… probably the ONE topic that impacts all other topics that will follow this month (and in subsequent months, to boot): HOW TO SURVIVE THIS TIME OF YEAR.

There basics that are always covered by your employer… but for all of us in the ‘know’, many times those talks go in one ear and out the other because they feel forced, rehearsed, required to be had and they are just talking points on a piece of paper.

This written companion to the video and podcast for this week will cover the main discussion points Carrie and Edward dig into:

  1. Making a List and Checking it Twice (and twice and twice again…)
  2. Dress for Success, Dress the Part and Be Prepared
  3. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
  4. Self-Care and Safety

First, a quick summary of Edward’s story (for the full story, head to YouTube HERE to watch, or listen on our Podcast Page HERE!)

The “Ed Show” (from Edward):

My first year as a supervisor in retail, I was so driven to be noticed, and to be successful, that I turned it into the “Ed Show”. Not only was it all about ME, it was about ME doing it ALL. My team was not engaged, my peers and bosses let it go on… and I experienced the hardest Holiday Season in my career, because I refused to do it any differently than what I believed (at the time) was the right way. I didn’t delegate, I didn’t prepare, I didn’t slow down and I didn’t take care of myself or my team the way I should have… it was not a good season. But it WAS a season that taught me what type of a supervisor I SHOULDN’T be during Holiday…

Edward’s story is a relatively common one for people who enter new roles right before Holiday, or have BIG GOALS for their careers with a specific company (or in the retail industry in general). Many people know that Holiday can make or break a year, or a career. And that pressure can cause you to approach the Holiday Season in ways that are not always the smartest, healthiest or easiest.

Let’s dig in…

Topic #1: Making a List and Checking it Twice:

Being prepared as you go into the most chaotic shopping season of the year is crucial. Not only as a supervisor, but also as an hourly employee. Whether it is a list, or a framework, or some sort of structure that you set to your day, it is very important to find a simple method to give yourself something to fall back on… something you CAN CONTROL. Once you get derailed, it is easy to fall into the habit of negatively reflecting on how that ONE thing ruined your day. Having a list or a structure gives you a way to pull yourself back from that reaction; it helps you get your train back on track and headed towards feeling more accomplished in your shift/day. Here is a quick list of a few methods you could use to keep yourself grounded and on track (if hourly or supervisory):

  • BOTH: Short physical to-do list (LIMIT TO TOP 3 or 5 things for the day/shift)
  • BOTH: Note on phone (iNotes) of your to-dos
  • SUPERVISOR: Create structure and give structure when new hourlies arrive for shift
  • SUPERVISOR: Review ‘list’ at lunch/dinner and reprioritize
  • BOTH: Reference the list when interacting… reprioritize as needed and give gratitude as it is completed
  • SUPERVISOR: Toss list at end of the day, move anything that wasn’t completed (and HONESTLY ask if it is NEEDED)

Topic #2: Dress for Success, Dress the Part and Be Prepared

Long hours, more days worked a week… AAARGH! This season can be BRUTAL… and while many employees enjoy the added $$$ in their paychecks, it is downright EXHAUSTING (both physically and mentally). One pitfall we can experience is letting that exhaustion creep into how we show up for work… to the point where a customer or peer says “Are you alright? You don’t look so good…” or you answer a peer or supervisor who asks for help with a “uh, NO, I can’t do that right now”.

How do YOU anticipate needing to be ready for anything? Is your Holiday Season wardrobe ready? IS YOUR SHOE GAME READY? Are you recognizing what your store, your team or your supervisor MIGHT need from you and preparing yourself to be able to step up for them when they need it? Below are a few reminders to keep in mind when thinking about this topic and applying it to yourself and your role:

  • Wardrobe
  • Shoes
  • Seasonally appropriate accessories (old stores get cold, friends! Docks lose heat outside bay doors, y’all!)
  • Knowing what potential assignments require (Asked to help processing? GLOVES. Asked to cover a break for someone helping with customer pickup? Is it curbside? Do you need a coat or reflective vest? Etc.)
  • Show your team you’re ready to help them by showing up VISIBLY READY TO HELP.

Topic #3: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Slow? Steady? Yeeeeah, not exactly two words associated with the Holiday Season in the retail industry. BUT, what this topic is meant to get you thinking about is SLOWING DOWN enough to notice the little things… BIG WINS aren’t always made from BIG RISKS, but more often achieved by the little things… small, basic habits, skills and achievements that, strung together, create MASSIVE successes. MJ scored a total of 32,292 points in his career… super impressive. And most people remember him most for his dunks: those BIG, SHOWY and BREATHTAKING moves that he was able to wow us with helped him stand out as a superstar… BUT… in any given season, if you look at his stats? Almost 2/3rds of his points came from jump-shots. He had (usually) DOUBLE the number of layups as dunks. Knowing that DUNKS get you noticed is great in retail. However, focusing on finding a DUNK can quickly turn into the ‘Ed Show.’ The basics, like layups, often are what will win the total season.

Moving too fast that you don’t recognize the need of a peer, team member or even supervisor can often hurt more than help… no matter how urgent you perceive the reason you are running past them. Even if you cannot stay long, quickly recognizing the need and committing to come back to it is important.

Beyond people, this also applies to your store environment. Don’t walk past that spill of water… it could be YOU (or a co-worker or a customer) who gets injured on it! Clean it, or notify someone to handle it.

SLOW DOWN. If you can’t notice what is important, you might miss the thing that helps you, your team or your store succeed!

Topic #4: Self-Care and Safety

It might sound so basic it doesn’t need mentioning, but you have to take care of yourself. And no amount of ‘but I’m scheduled so many hours’, ‘I don’t have enough time to get it all done’, or ‘they ask so much from so few, it’s impossible’ reactions should stop you from understanding YOU NEED TO BE HEALTHY AND PROTECT YOURSELF (in terms of health and safety). It is a non-negotiable.

Note: asking for 10 extra breaks, because you don’t want to handle the customer challenges that keep popping up and driving you mad, is not self care. BUT, as a supervisor, if you notice someone has had a particularly ROUGH string of interactions… gifting an extra break to allow them to decompress IS.

As a leader, you HAVE to recognize when your team members are ignoring the signs. You need to do this also as a peer. We all get caught up in the chaos… we begin reacting poorly when we push too hard, go too far and don’t stop to replenish our cups. When we are empty, WE ARE EMPTY.

Learn your triggers, know yourself, create a few easy and quick self-care rituals that you can do at work or at home.

This topic is CRUCIAL for both hourly and supervisory employees.

You can’t succeed if you’re not there.

Take care of yourself and each other!

Again, these might seem like basic topics, but they are forgotten very easily once the season (and customer traffic) skyrockets… once the shifts get longer, the days in a row before another day off increase and the weeks blend into each other.

Focus on these 4 topics and you can set yourself (and subsequently your team) up for success AND SURVIVAL!

Look for our FIRST MONTHLY GRATITUDE BONUS video/podcast and article. This will be a recurring feature for us at Stand Up Retail and we can’t wait to share it with you all!

See you next week when our topic is: HOW TO MAXIMIZE TEACHABLE MOMENTS in Q4 (as an hourly or supervisory employee).

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