7 Best Practices for Grocery Store Managers

a photo of a woman holding a full grocery bag

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No two management jobs are exactly alike, but there are some best practices that all effective grocery managers employ.

These actions and behaviors ensure that every manager supports their team and meets their goals.

Knowing that the retail industry is dealing with the labor shortage, we focus on best practices for grocery store managers that are especially applicable to newer managers or those still seeking to gain experience in their roles.

What are some best practices for grocery store managers?

Below is a collection of best practices that managers can use each and every day to boost productivity and engagement at the workplace.

Employee engagement is a must for employee retention, so it’s crucial that managers of all experience levels employ these best practices in their daily and weekly routines.

Because of the ongoing labor shortage, managers should be doing everything they can to retain their best team members. The tips presented here can help you do just that.

Here are 7 best practices for grocery store managers to follow:

1. Motivate and energize your employees

In an ideal world, your employees come to work because they enjoy the job and work environment; not just because they need the paycheck.

In today’s grocery labor shortage and competitive hiring market, it’s a necessity.

Effective managers take steps to create a workplace atmosphere that helps team members feel engaged and valued. When the team is fully engaged and motivated, you’ll notice better customer service, more initiative, and shorter turnaround times on tasks.

Most importantly, you’re more likely to hang on to those employees instead of losing them to turnover.

Tips for motivating employees

There are many, many ways to motivate employees. In some cases, you might use free gift cards for the employee who makes the fewest mistakes, for example, or sells the most product.

However, the most effective thing you can do is often the simplest: regularly let your employees know how much you value their time and effort.

If you want to level up your game, though, you can also adopt certain technologies that will help your employees – and your business.

For example, use a labor management platform that offers an employee mobile app. Mobile apps like the one TimeForge offers for free can increase employee engagement and satisfaction while helping your business run more smoothly. The app lets your staff easily check their time cards and work schedules, request time off, and communicate with management.

2. Support your employees’ health and well-being

After experiencing the pandemic, this might seem like a no-brainer, but we don’t just mean physical health. We mean overall health and well-being.

If your employees are struggling, they’re not performing at their best.

A lot of successful management practices essentially boil down to supporting the members on your team however you can. Whether you run a small independent shop or a 30-store chain, employees do best when they know their manager has their back.

You should always encourage your employees to share their concerns with you, whether they’re working parents, students, or full-time hires. After all, their troubles are your troubles; team members who are anxious, agitated, or have a poor attitude aren’t nearly as effective.

How managers can help

Managers have a great deal of influence, and they can use that to make their employees’ lives better. Instead of taking the position, “I had to do it the hard way, so they should, too,” try putting yourself in their shoes.

Think of real-world problems your employees have, like hostile customers, childcare needs, or night classes.

Then, think of steps you can take to support your employees’ needs, like handling complaints or swapping schedules around. (Or better yet, let employees swap shifts among themselves.)

These kinds of best practices in grocery store management help to build trust and create an environment people genuinely want to work in.

a photo of a grocery store cashier helping a couple checkout

Another thing you can do to reduce stress is to schedule employees fairly and make sure they know in advance when they’re scheduled to work. If you’re just getting started, you can use a free grocery store schedule template.

Though, we highly recommend switching to a labor management system when you can.

3. Create clear business objectives and instructions

An important leadership skill is just knowing what you’re leading your team toward. It’s also management best practice.

Whether you’re in a new position or have been a manager for some time, it’s a good idea to think about what you hope to achieve – both as a leader and as part of a team. Try to find clear, focused targets for your employees.

For example, exceeding last quarter’s profits or increasing customer satisfaction scores on surveys.

Once you have measurable goals, think about steps your team can take to achieve them.

  1. Hold meetings to discuss what you’d like workers to do and why.
  2. To get buy-in from your staff, ask them to propose ideas and suggestions of their own for getting the job done.
  3. Then, delegate tasks to specific workers and rotate the boring ones.

If you can, take turns doing some of the grunt work yourself every now and then. This helps you keep your team focused on what’s important. It also shows them that you’re a team player and can help lift morale.

Remember: good managers give employees shared goals and clear strategies that help improve your store.

4. Discuss problems and areas for improvement

As a manager, it’s natural to want to appear confident and in charge. However, you should never be above feedback and constructive ideas.

It’s okay to discuss things like your concerns about a lack of lunch customers or your worries about chronic shoplifters. Your team is out on the floor every day; they could have good suggestions for handling problems.

And even if they don’t, being open to suggestions is still a great best practice for grocery store managers.

There are a lot of benefits to working through problems together instead of trying to hide them. This can give employees the chance to suggest solutions you might not have thought of yourself.

Furthermore, it encourages better workplace communication. When you’re willing to talk about problems, your employees will feel more confident about coming to you with their own concerns (tip #2).

5. Play to your employees’ strengths

A Gallup poll surveyed over 80,000 managers to find the secret to success. Their research shows all good managers have the ability to play to their employees’ strengths.

What does this mean? It means grocery store managers should try to recognize where their employees excel and find ways to highlight and support their talents.

For example, a manager might notice that one retail worker does best with broad, big-picture tasks while another is great at detail-oriented tasks. They could then set the first worker to straighten up the store while asking the second one to handle an inventory count in the back room.

When you do this, you ensure that employees feel satisfied and do tasks properly.

6. Give clear, constructive feedback

Of course, a good manager also knows how to deal with the bad stuff. They recognize that employees aren’t mind readers. Often, there’s no way for a team member to know they need improvement if they aren’t told by someone with more experience.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you should constantly criticize your staff. Instead, the best feedback tends to be constructive in nature.

Regularly hold performance reviews where you go over employee history and discuss their performance. Call attention to good behavior and emphasize that you’d like to see that behavior again.

If you do notice any problems, specify why they’re an issue and offer a concrete way of fixing them.

For example, instead of criticizing a cashier for being late, try sitting down with them to understand why. Then, explain that being late for their shift puts an extra burden on their coworkers, and ask them to try to appear five minutes before their shift.

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7. Provide opportunities to grow

Best practices in grocery store management aren’t all just about ensuring smooth operations in the present. Being a good manager also means helping the members of your team reach their full potential and setting them up for future promotions and success.

Most companies do provide some mentorship programs and other opportunities to mid-level management.

However, make sure even seasonal and part-time employees are getting access to training and programs that will help them grow.

Why? Because when they leave your business, they should have positive things to say about the experience.

Remember: they’re likely going to share these things with their family, friends, and their contacts on social media at some point or another.

For regular employees, cross-training is an excellent way to not only protect and support the business but allow individuals to grow. Try to provide training, recommendations, and other valuable encouragement. This has all sorts of perks for your business.

It ensures smart, motivated people end up in positions where they can have a positive effect. It also provides employees with motivation to try hard at their job.

Takeaways: Best Practices for Grocery Store Managers

Ultimately, good management comes down to recognizing that your employees are valuable assets.

You want to keep the good ones, and you want them to be loyal and invested in the business. When you put yourself in their shoes, give them clear guideance, constructive feedback, and room to grow, you’re sure to do better than your competitors.

When you want to find more ways to improve your grocery management skills, TimeForge can help.

Our software has the tools you need to be the best manager possible, from increasing employee engagement and retention to tracking daily and weekly tasks.

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