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Constructive Criticism in Retail Management

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When placed in the position of authority, there is a tendency by some to make sure that everyone knows who the boss is. Unfortunately, there may have been a few too many bad bosses that you personally have had to be your role models. Many of them barked orders, criticized errors, and were very stingy with their praise. Even if the job gets done, these bosses do not produce optimal results because they are not creating optimal attitudes within the workplace.

When working in retail, it is important to be very careful about how you go about getting things done because there is a stronger chance that your behavior will be observed by the final consumer. The opinion of that final consumer matters greatly to the success level of your business.

Retail assistant jobs are what makes the first real level that you are given a responsibility for producing results. Before you start exerting your authority to the team members, keep in mind that you have your position because you are more experienced and more qualified than the lower level team members. It is your job to help guide these members by focusing on being constructive rather than destructive. Constructive criticism is best handled by thinking first about how you would want someone to tell you the message you are about to convey. What would you rather hear?

''Why are you putting these colors together? What is it about sorting these racks by item that you don't understand? The shirts go with the shirts, the pants go with the pants, and the dresses go with the dresses. Should I get my five-year-old to come explain it to you?''


''I see you're working hard, but I must not have explained myself properly. I need these racks sorted with the pants, shirts and dresses all separated. If you have time to sort out the colors within those groups, that's fine. Let me know if you need help.''

You might get results with both statements, but which do you think will promote more efficiency and cooperation? The person with a retail assistant job should be grateful for the responsibility and work to prove them as an effective manager by focusing on using constructive and positive language whenever possible.

If you prove yourself as an assistant, then retail management jobs will soon be within your grasp. Now you are not only leading the lower level employees, but you are also responsible for being the role model to the people in the retail assistant jobs. At the same time you will be assessed by those with the executive retail jobs who may be the ones deciding your future promotion. If you want to be an effective and successful leader, then it is imperative that you learn excellent communication skills in promoting an efficient retail establishment. The people below you will make mistakes, and those mistakes will reflect on you. The following tips on giving constructive criticism can help get you started in the right direction.

1: Take an inventory of the situation.

Look at what is being done as compared to what the expectations were. Were the expectations not made clear enough?

Consider the other responsibilities of the person given the task? Are they overwhelmed? Just because one person was able to handle multiple tasks with proficiency, do not expect everyone else to automatically be well equipped to do the same.

What is your mood? Make sure that you do not take negative feelings out on others, especially ones who did nothing to create them.

2: Approach with the word CONSTRUCTIVE as your goal above CRITICISM.

You are not going to win a victory by making someone feel stupid or inept. Everyone responds to kindness better than meanness. However, you still must be firm and communicate that you are not a push over.

If you allow the other person to first explain what they were doing or understood about the job, then you will be more equipped to help them understand what is actually expected of them.

3: Be very careful to criticize the actions or results and not the person.

By using your position to belittle the person will only make you look like a bully or a tyrant. Neither is going to instill hard work or loyalty.

By criticizing the results, you make it less personal.

4: Do not forget praise.

A person must hear ten positive comments to counteract the impact of one negative comment. Try to catch your team doing something right and praise them for it. Things they do right:
  • Being helpful to customers
  • Avoiding being caught up in gossip when other employees are distracted by it
  • Having a cash drawer come out right
  • Being helpful to other team members
  • Taking initiative in getting things done
  • Having good ideas
  • Showing up to work on time or early
  • Accepting criticism graciously
5: When someone is clearly violating expectations, take them aside to discuss it privately.

It is never acceptable to chastise a team member in public, especially in the presence of customers. I assure you that every time you do that, you will be looked at as a jerk and people will secretly root for the person you are chastising, even if they were wrong.

Simply tell the person that you need to have a word with them in private and calmly explain what they did that what is violation of what expectation.

Mastering the art of constructive criticism will take retail assistant jobs and turn them into retail management jobs. Creating a peaceful and productive environment as you lead others to effectively communicate expectations will get the attention of the upper level management and help to qualify you for any executive retail jobs you may desire.
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