With fast paced change and high employee turnover, retail is a unique sector. Learning and development in this dynamic landscape presents many challenges. Hear Roberta Guinzoni, HR Director at Flying Tiger Copenhagen, share her insights into what makes retail L&D successful. Find out how she keeps pace with change and why being experimental is essential.
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4 top tips for success in retail L&D… in 30 seconds
Don’t have time to listen or read now? Here are some top tips from Roberta:
- Stay connected to keep up: Establish a community of learners. Call on internal expertise. By bringing people together, you can respond at pace and with impact.
- Be radical and experiment: Retail is a dynamic business. Make your learning solutions dynamic too. Keep an open mind to experimentation so your people stay engaged.
- Think Netflix: Learn from social media and streaming services. Adapting with people’s online experiences will help you stay relevant and effective.
- Put experiences at the heart of retail L&D: Great learner experiences lead to great customer interactions on the sales floor. Create a chain of positive customer experiences in your organization.
1. Stay connected to keep up
Keeping up with the pace of change in retail is a challenge. If you spend months designing initiatives, when they’re finally delivered the retail landscape is completely altered. So how do you match this pace of change?
For Roberta, it’s all about making it happen through people, for people. She stays close to colleagues across all levels of the organization. This helps her deliver learning which meets the needs of her people and the business. It’s all about sharing knowledge and experience. Digital learning can be one solution. It reaches large numbers of people across the globe in a short timescale. But, as Roberta points out, it’s not always the best solution.
“We have so much knowledge inside of the organization… It’s all about using internal expertise. Providing sometimes small solutions, which don’t cost a fortune but make a difference for people. It could be lunch and learn, power hour, breakfast meetings. It’s all about making people connect.”
2. Be radical and experiment
Retail is a dynamic business. With a large number of younger people and high turnover in stores, grabbing and keeping people’s attention is vital. If retail L&D is going to be effective, it needs to be engaging.
Roberta sees innovation as the answer. From designing solutions to understanding the impact, innovation needs to happen throughout the L&D process. In Roberta’s experience, people often come to HR asking for more training. But formal training isn’t always what they need. The traditional approach of designing and delivering learning initiatives doesn’t work. It’s not only time consuming, but the results can often feel out of date and leave learners disengaged. Instead you need to focus on what you want to achieve, while keeping an open mind to experimentation. This will help you choose an approach that meets the needs of the business and its people.
“You have to be quite adventurous and progressive to do learning and development in retail. It’s a concept which is walking away a little bit from the more structured ways of talent and development. But in retail, you’ve got to take some risks and you have to be able to experiment.”
3. Think Netflix
From social media to streaming services, people’s online experiences are changing everything. It’s affecting their behavior and expectations in all areas of their lives. So, how can you respond to these changes?
If retail L&D is going to be effective, Roberta is clear that it needs to adapt with retail staff. Ask yourself: How can you respond faster to learning needs? Can you design retail elearning with a more modern look and feel? How can you enable greater knowledge sharing? We all need to challenge ourselves to learn from, and replicate, people’s online experiences. Explore how Netflix can influence your digital learning. Consider how approaches used in social media can help you develop your people. Use people engagement and internal communications skills. Retail L&D is no longer a standalone training function.
“You have to talk to someone who’s probably in their early twenties. Someone who is used to literally every single day using Facebook and Snapchat, and god knows how many other social media. So, you have to be able to reproduce this with digital learning.”
4. Put experiences at the heart of retail L&D
Customer experience is central to retail. And retail L&D is no different. Customer interactions don’t start and finish on the sales floor. They occur throughout the retail business.
Roberta sees her role as a facilitator of great customer experiences. Both her external and internal customers. Delivering effective learning and development solutions creates improved experiences for everyone. It goes much further than designing and delivering learning initiatives. It creates a chain of behavior. Great experiences inside the organization creates great customer service on the sales floor.
“It’s all about what our people, our customers feel and see. Both inside the shop floor, but also inside the organization. Because if you make people happy inside an organization, then they will serve our customers better on the shop floor.”
A quick recap
Faced with an ever-changing landscape, Roberta embraces the challenges retail presents. In fact, she points out how much fun you can have in retail L&D. She has four strategies for success. Stay connected to your organization. Be open to innovation. Keep people engaged. Focus on customer experiences. Want to find out more? Check out the full podcast.
To keep up with the pace of change in your organization, you can download our 2020 retail strategy toolkit.
With over nine years’ experience in retail L&D, Roberta has worked at Pandora and Walgreen Boots Alliance. Since joining Flying Tiger Copenhagen as HR Director, she has taken on a new accountability for talent and development.
You can find out more and get connected with Roberta on LinkedIn.
On Roberta’s reading list
Find out which books are Roberta’s must-reads for retail L&D success.
Each culture uses different learning approaches and communication styles. Living and working internationally, Roberta frequently uses this book for inspiration.
The 7 Habits are practical steps you can use to approach day to day L&D challenges. Roberta is a big fan and consults this book every time she designs a workshop.
Looking for more reading tips? Check out our top L&D books for 2020.
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Co-author: Anna Heather