Managers often tell me that they coach by leading by example. That's great in theory, but how do you know the staff is watching? How does the employee know what to look for? How do you know they learned it?
I'm all for leading by example. It's a vital part of leadership. Employees are more likely to do what you do and not just what you say, and if a leader isn't willing to do what is expected in the store, how important is it anyway?
Still, leading by example is not a coaching tool. Teaching by example is. The difference is that the manager is engaging the employee in the process, and transferring knowledge while demonstrating expected behaviors and actions.
Most people learn faster when they can first see how something is done. That's why teaching by example is a vital tool for employees learning how to engage customers and deliver a great sales experience.
Here are four tips for effectively teaching by example:
1. Teach in small increments. Rather than teach the entire process on how to sell a particular product, focus on one element such as how to get the customer to hold it or try it on.
2. Tell the employee in advance what to watch for. This a key success factor in teaching by example. Using the above example, you could say to the employee, "Watch how I take the widget off the shelf and hand it to her. I won't ask her if she wants to see it. I'll just hand it to her and she'll take it from me."
3. Confirm afterward that the employee saw and understands what you just taught. Ask the employee what she saw, and why it works. That second half is vital. You taught the how, and the employee needs to internalize the why.
4. Have the employee give you feedback. Tell the employee that after you're done with the customer that you want him/her to tell you what you did well, and what you could have done better. This way the person will be watching with a critical eye. In addition, you'll know by the feedback if he/she learned what you were teaching.
Of course you’ll want to have the employee demonstrate for you what they just learned. That’s when you shift from teacher to coach. And that's another post.
So let me ask, how well do you teach by example? Which of these tips can you apply to be an even better teacher?
Here’s how to use this post as a personal development tool.
First, have your entire management team read this post. Next, have the management team practice and roleplay teaching by example. Choose a specific scenario you want the team to improve in.
Finally, have each manager teach by example with at least one employee each day this week. You'll be amazed at how much more your management team has to teach, and how much faster your staff learns and applies it.
Doug Fleener, a proven retail and customer experience expert and speaker/consultant, helps companies dramatically improve their customer experience and their sales results. Visit the Dynamic Experiences Group website, or call Doug at 866-535-6331 to discuss how he can help you create extraordinary results. Learn about Doug's keynotes and workshops at DougFleener.com.
Join the number of stores that have immediately increased their sales with our new online training program Beyond the Add-On. The program can be taken on any tablet, smartphone, or computer. Details here.