Should Store Managers be Flexible?

This month we are talking about the core competencies of a retail store manager. So the first question is did you do your homework from last week?


The run industry wanted to explore what this means by creating a session at the first-ever Run Congress. This session was titled: Deal Breakers - Attributes Needed for Store Managers Success and Setting Expectations. What does it mean for the owner, what does it look like for brands, and what do managers think? This week we will look at the brand's (vendor) view of what these competencies need to be for a retail store manager. The top 7 core competencies were as follows in order of importance…


1. Leadership: Organizing and influencing people to believe in a vision while creating a

sense of purpose and direction.

2. Problem-solving: Defining, analyzing, and diagnosing key components of a problem to

formulate a solution.

3. Flexibility: Readily modifying responding and adapting to change with minimal resistance.

4. Continuous Learning: Taking the initiative to regularly learn new concepts, technologies, and or methods.

5. Employee Development/Coaching: Facilitating, supporting, and contributing to the

professional growth of others.

6. Customer Focus: Anticipating, meeting, and/or exceeding customer needs, wants and


7. Conflict Management: Understanding, addressing, and resolving conflict constructively.


The most common single word for someone viewing a situation from an outsider’s perspective is “observer.” And many vendors in the room asked to participate in this activity took the lens of “the observer.” What was not asked of this group after they created this list was what percentage of their answers were influenced by their viewpoint. So how objective were they being to the retail store manager's core competencies?  


Now, some of the vendors represented for this exercise had been store managers before, yet out of all the 25 core competencies, flexibility was ranked #3 in importance over interpersonal skills and personal accountability. Not that either is right or wrong. The curiosity comes as to what vendors are thinking about when it comes to the retail store manager.


If flexibility is the priority, there could be potential conflict when vendors and retail managers are interacting.  


Knowing what flexibility is defined as let's get curious. For example, what if a sales rep has a scheduled clinic at a store and shows up during a busy rush? The store manager is in the middle of having a coaching conversation with a staff member, and there is little room to modify or change with minimal resistance. How should the sales rep act? 


Get curious about your answer. Who needs to be flexible? Why do you think this? What would be another way of seeing this? How can conflict arise with an expectation that is set versus letting go of what the retail manager “should” be good at?


Food for thought.  


Next week we will look at the owner's view of the retail store manager.


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