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When you work in retail, you work in a team. Although the old saying of “there is no “I” in team” sound like a cliché, it stays true and is fundamental to the understanding of teamwork. Let’s explore how teamwork can improve your working environment, and your day to day job satisfaction.From the author:“Effective teams must ensure collaboration amongst employees with various expertise and experience. That's why being a team player is essential for seamless communication and collaboration within organisations. If you’ve experienced both positive and negative team experiences, you will understand the necessity for effective teamwork training, which is why you do not need to look further than this course to brush up your and your fellow colleagues' skills on how to be a team player. The course explores all the ways you can be a team player in the workplace.”
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Shelly works in the women’s clothing department. A client wants to buy a shirt which is on the shelf with a sale sign hanging above it. However the sale ended last week, and Steve has forgotten to take down the sign. Now Shelly needs to handle a very unhappy customer.
Teamwork is the combined actions of a group of people working together effectively to achieve a goal.
Teamwork is something you must work on, it does not just happen. The fact that you and your team members are not the same, makes your team’s potential stronger. Introverts and extroverts, men and woman, everyone brings their own strengths, weaknesses, skills, traits and experiences.
Great teams are made when everyone supports one another in achieving collective goals. The example you set, will motivate others to join in the effort.
Now let’s explore Shelly’s situation and how better teamwork would affect it. When we are truly engaged, and our communication with our co-workers is focused on achieving our common goals, it will lead to the following:
Better customer service If the sale sign was down, as it should have been, the client would not have been misinformed.
Increase productivity When each team member knows what their responsibility is and completes their tasks on time, the department's efficiency will increase.
Increased job satisfaction If Steve was properly informed about the effects of his responsibility of taking down the sale sign, they would have better comprehended the important part they play within the department team.
Happier team members Nobody wants to work in an unhappy environment. Working together as a team, knowing you can depend on your co-workers to work with you towards your common goal, will improve the team's general happiness.
Teamwork is the oil that makes a team work, but it does not just happen. It is something you consciously need to work on.
Communication Communicating openly and honestly will help to identify any obstacles that might be a problem. *Example: If the reason for the removal of the sale sign was explained, the urgency of taking the sign down could have been prioritized. *
Stay on schedule In a team, each team member has their role to play and duties to perform. Some duties depend on others. So, for all to do their work effectively, it is important to stay on schedule. *Example: If the sale sign was removed on schedule, Shelly would not have had to handle an unhappy client. *
No job is unimportant There are small and big actions that all work together to enable you and your team to achieve your goals. Even small jobs have an impact on you as a team achieving your goals. *Example: Removing the sale sign seems like a small task, but it communicates to the customer that the sale is over. *
Positive attitude The people around you, customers and your fellow co-workers, are directly influenced by your attitude. Example: If Shelly showed the anger she felt towards the co-worker who did not take off the sale sign, towards the customer, it would have made a bad situation even worse.
Go above and beyond Just sticking to your own duties, and not taking your team members into consideration, will end up hurting the team. Example: When Shelly came on duty and saw the sale sign was still there, she could have reminded the team member to remove the sign, they might have honestly just forgotten about the sign. Nobody is perfect.
Motivate and appreciate your co-worker Truly caring for your team members brings a team together. An easy way to show you care and appreciate your team members is to motivate them whenever you can. *Example: John saw Shelly handling the difficult client, and afterwards he praised her for how well she handled the situation. So, although it was not a very nice experience for Shelly, she feels better because her effort and the effective way she handled the situation was recognized. *
Key takeaway for being a better team player Compliment the positive things your co-workers do, especially if there are team members around you, so more people will become aware of the good things their co-workers are doing. You will be pleasantly surprised at the confidence and positive vibes your team will start to exhibit.
Communication is more than just words. Can you think of what other aspects form part of effective communication?
Listening Hearing someone speak and listening, are two different things. For effective communication you truly need to listen to your team member. That means taking into consideration more than just the words that come out of their mouth, but also the nonverbal communication cues like body language.
Speaking The practical action of how you utter your words is also part of communication. Keep these tips in mind to help you communicate your message clearly: Slow down, don’t speak too fast Pronounce your words clearly Use an appropriate volume
Empathy Having empathy towards someone means you connect with them by being understanding of the situation from their point of view. That means you must take into consideration their background, personality and current life circumstance. These factors influence our actions. Think of yourself, if your car broke down this morning, it does affect your emotions during the rest of the day. The same with your team members. Have empathy towards your co-workers.
Interruptions are inevitable, especially working in retail. Learn how you can plan your work day around this!
Two aspects of interruptions that are common in retail are the human aspect and self-management. Let’s explore these so you can understand how to better handle them and improve your teams’ teamwork.
Self-management Self-management sounds easy but knowing something and implementing it are two different things. You know interruptions will happen so let’s plan for them.
Try to schedule your day Because you work in a team, there are times when someone will need your advice or assistance. Think back to your own shift, what time of the day are these interruptions likely to happen? What's the primary reason for this interruption?
Having a scheduled time, and committing your full attention to each task, to making sure you are available to sort out problems efficiently will improve your team's effectiveness. Just remember to communicate this scheduled time to your team members so they know that you will be available and where you will be at that time.
Example: You know that between 16:00 and 17:00 your department is very busy. Be in front and visible for the customers and team members, so you can handle inquiries or requests faster.
Smaller chunks of work Breaking up your duties into smaller chunks will help you and your team to achieve more. The smaller chunks of work give you the ability to check off tasks completed and inform your team members more quickly that they can start on the next task, thus improving your team's efficiency. Completing smaller chunks of work will also help you to get back on track more quickly, after someone interrupts you. This improves your own effectiveness too.
The human aspect The human aspect includes all interactions made by colleagues, friends, or even strangers who need your attention at the moment for not work related issues. Even though you cannot always plan for those interruptions, There are some tactics you can learn and practice to better handle them when the moment will come. Press the 'Ok, I'm done' button to learn how you can react when you’re suddenly interrupted?
Scenario #3 Steve who was responsible for removing the sale sign, came to you this morning feeling embarrassed that he couldn't carry the ladder he needed to remove the sign. You ask him if he is feeling okay today. He tells you he sprained his ankle this morning. You help him carry the ladder. This simple act shows that you care about him and his health.
Example: It is rush hour and the cashier next to you needs to borrow your stapler. Speak clearly and in her direction, so that she hears what you say.
Avoiding distraction sometimes means having tough conversations. Think about your workplace. Is there someone that made it a habit to interrupt you during work? If so, try to initiate an honest and open conversation about how this behavior affects you. Don't be offensive. Use empathy and try to understand together why it happens and how you can solve it together. Example: When you notice the first sign of unnecessary chat, say, “I can't wait to hear about that but I’m in the middle of something right now—can I check back with you on my break?” or “would love to hear that but I’m swamped right now, can we talk after the shift?” This way, they know following up is on your to-do list, but that now’s not a good time.
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