Job Description for a Retail Sales Associate
It is generally expected that a sales associate in our retail store will realize that he or she is the face of the store. It is communication with the retail sales associate exactly that shapes to a large extent our customers’ experiences and impressions from buying from us. We recognize the value of this position, which is why we strongly commit to selecting appropriate retail sales associates and expect them to work with dedication.
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As a retail sales associate, you will:
- Approach our customers to offer your services and help find the products the customers are looking for;
- Explain to our customers the features of products and advise on whether the product is the optimal solution for a customer;
- Identify our customers’ needs and consult them on products that meet those needs the best;
- Provide customers with options, which is why you will be required to be aware of the full selection of products our store offers;
- Explain to our customers the differences among products, which is why you will be required to be familiar with the industry and have knowledge of current trends in fashion;
- Work in a team with other associates, which is why you will be required to demonstrate teamwork skills;
- Ensure that customer satisfaction is high, and customer loyalty is promoted;
- Promote the customer-centered model of service by addressing all the needs a customer may display or have;
- Maintain presentable appearance of products in assigned areas;
- Process payments.
- Occasionally perform additional tasks associated with maintaining the presentable appearance of the store’s selection and bringing items from the stockroom.
Your primary external responsibility will be communicating with clients. This part of the job requires sociability, knowledgeability, flexibility, and commitment to customer-centered service.
Your internal responsibilities will include working with other retail sales associates and managers, maintaining the area of the store assigned to you, and performing several additional tasks, such as processing payments.
Organizational Behavior Modification Plan
Major psychological theories suggest that behavior is a function of its consequences (Aronfreed, 2013), which means that behaviors can be modified by applying punishments and rewards. An organizational behavior modification (OBM) plan is essentially a course of action proposed on the basis of the reinforcement theory (Miner, 2015). Such a plan lists measures that need to be taken in the context of employee relations and management to modify certain behaviors in those employees. The proposed OBM plan recognizes four behaviors that are needed for successful performance of a retail sales associate and recommends how they can be achieved.
This category includes politeness, prioritizing the needs of a customer, and building a favorable image of the store among customers. A way to assess whether this behavior is adopted by sales associates is to analyze the dynamics of repeat customers and customer loyalty. A way to encourage this behavior is to establish rewards for employees who attract repeat customers and increase customer loyalty.
It is proposed to introduce a system of bonuses for sales associates for contributing to customer loyalty. When employees clearly see that their politeness, cheerfulness, respect, and attentiveness toward customers increase loyalty and subsequently increase their monetary reward, the employees are expected to further adhere to customer-centered behaviors.
This category includes displaying good knowledge of the store’s selection and striving for satisfying the customers’ needs with what is in stock in the store. A way to assess whether this behavior is adopted by sales associates is to analyze the dynamics of sales. A way to encourage this type of behavior among sales associates is to introduce a system of bonuses for increasing the level of sales. If employees clearly see that their promotion of the store’s products contributes to the growth of sales and subsequently to their monetary rewards, they are expected to be more willing to try to sell more.
This category includes willingness to collaborate with other sales associates, share experience, and express employee voice to the managements. A way to assess whether this behavior is adopted by sales associates is to collect feedback from them concerning internal collaboration. A way to encourage collaborative behaviors among employees is to include effective collaboration in the list of criteria for promotion. If sales associates want to be promoted and receive more responsibilities related to managing the store (and receive larger salaries), they should demonstrate that they are successful in dealing with their colleagues.
Retail sales associates should realize that there are areas in the store assigned to them for the purpose of maintaining a presentable appearance. If a certain area assigned to an associate does not look presentable (messy, items missing), the sales associate to whom the area was assigned should be punished for not complying with his or her responsibilities. It is proposed to introduce a system of fines or bonus deprivation for those sales associates whose areas are not properly maintained. It is expected that seeing how poor management of assigned areas decreases their monetary reward will make employees pay more attention to maintaining the presentable appearance of areas assigned to them.
Performance Standards and Criteria of Key Job Performance Behaviors
Four key job performance behaviors were previously identified (see Organizational Behavior Modification Plan), and in order to enforce the adopting of these behaviors, it is necessary to establish criteria for measuring whether the behaviors are exhibited (Zhu, 2014). In order to ensure that sales associates exhibit the customer-centered behavior, it is proposed to measure customer loyalty and, based on this, distribute bonuses among employees.
In order to ensure that sales associates exhibit sales-promoting behaviors, it is proposed to measure the level of sales and to connect individual sales to the efforts of a particular sales associate. Based on this measurement, bonuses will be distributed among employees. In order to ensure that sales associates exhibit the collaborative behavior, it is proposed to solicit employee voice and evaluate employee feedback. On the basis of feedback, employees who exercise the collaborative behavior, i.e. collaborate with their colleagues by sharing experience and contributing to the coordination of sales associates’ work, will receive an advantage in the process of promotion.
In order to ensure that sales associates exhibit the responsible behavior, it is proposed to regularly monitor the areas for which those associates are responsible and assess whether the presentable appearance in those areas is properly maintained. On the basis of this assessment, sales associates who fail to maintain proper appearance will be fined for incompliance with their job responsibilities. Therefore, the two major ways to measure whether employees exhibit the key job performance behaviors is to analyze the performance of the store and to collect feedback.
Also, methods should be proposed to effectively inform employees of the new performance standards. For this purpose, the employee relations and employee communications systems should be adjusted. First, employees should be informed of the new standards during an all-staff meeting. It is important that a human resources manager explains the new policies in an interpersonal communication session. Second, documents describing the new policies in detail should be distributed among employees so that sales associates could consult them and refer to them anytime.
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Feedback Plan and Positive Employee Behavior Reinforcement
It was previously established that soliciting employee voice for the purpose of evaluation (particularly, evaluation of collaborative behavior) is one of the aspects of the new employee policy. However, it should not be overlooked that feedback should be provided from the management to employees, too (Giacalone, & Rosenfeld, 2013).
The difference between evaluation and feedback is that the former is summative, i.e. it compares the performance to standards and calculates scores of how well an employee is doing, while the latter is formative, i.e. it provides recommendations on how the performance can be improved.
One of the ways to provide employees with feedback is to issue monthly performance reviews in which the performance of every employee would be individually evaluated, and the evaluation would be supplemented with recommendations on what aspects of performance should be revised. Also, it is possible to hold regular meetings in which a human resources manager will outline the areas in which employees have opportunities for growth. During these sessions, less attention will be paid to individual performances, but more attention will be paid to overall compliance with the store’s vision and strategic goals.
To reinforce positive behaviors among sales associates, it is recommended to introduce a system of bonuses and fines: the former will be given for increasing sales and improving customer satisfaction, and the latter will be imposed for irresponsible management of assigned areas of the store. Also, the mechanism of prioritizing engaging and collaborative sales associates for promotion is expected to contribute to the positive behavior reinforcement.
Legal and Ethical Issues
In implementing the proposed policies, several legal and ethical issues can be encountered. First, certain limitations exist in the employer’s ability to fine employees (Twomey, 2012). In order to address this issue, it is proposed to impose fines by subtracting certain amounts of money from employees’ bonuses, not from their salaries. The salary payments are negotiated and agreed upon during the hiring process, and the store is not authorized to reduce the approved salary, but what the store is authorized to do is to pay larger bonuses (for good performance) or smaller bonuses (for poor performance), and the latter mechanism will function as a system of fines.
Second, there is the ethical issue of providing individual performance feedback. During employee meetings, general performance and the staff’s compliance with the store’s vision and strategy will be discussed, but particular aspects of a particular sales associate’s performance may be too delicate to discuss during general meetings. The right of an employee to confidentiality should be respected, and it will be more ethical to provide individual performance reviews to each employee separately in the written form. Finally, the performance management system can be affected by ethical issues associated with soliciting employee voice.
Sales associates will be encouraged to provide feedback to the management, but there are situations, in which employees may not be willing to provide feedback explicitly, which is why a mechanism should be created for employees to communicate with managers confidentially. For example, if a sales associate is willing to complain about a fellow associate’s performance, he or she can approach a manager personally, and anonymity should be ensured.
Aronfreed, J. (2013). Conduct and conscience: The socialization of internalized control over behavior. New York, NY: Academic Press.
Giacalone, R. A., & Rosenfeld, P. (Eds.). (2013). Impression management in the organization. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Miner, J. B. (2015). Organizational behavior 1: Essential theories of motivation and leadership. New York, NY: Routledge.
Twomey, D. (2012). Labor & employment law: Text and cases (15th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
Zhu, J. (2014). Quantitative models for performance evaluation and benchmarking: Data envelopment analysis with spreadsheets (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Springer.