Permission to Dream: A Letter to Retailers

What if we lived in a world where the check-out clerk working at Foot Locker, the stockroom guy at Bloomingdales, or the Key Holder at the Gap felt like they were appreciated by their managers or superiors? Channels of communication could be open and safe and instead of the sole focus of the store being oriented around making sales goals there could instead be a focus on building the team to be extraordinary. What could be achieved through all of these changes?

Managers could use their position of authority to ask good questions. They could take the time to explore and understand each member of their team. How many of you have worked in retail and had a horrible boss, manager, or supervisor? If you haven’t personally I’m sure you know someone that has experienced the dehumanizing effects this cycle can impart. Instead of resigning to this current state I believe we could transform the front lines of retail into an empowering and transformative human experience for both the retail teams and the customers.

If retail sales associates felt empowered to give honest feedback and retail managers provided communication channels to receive constructive criticism about their job performances, what could be changed? But even more importantly, what if employees felt like their managers cared about them as humans?

If sales associates worked for more than a paycheck and weren’t spending their time thinking about clocking out and their plans for the few hours of freedom after work there would be a massive shift. The hours on the clock could stop being the punishment and instead be packed full of potential. Imagine what retail would look like if the sales associates felt like they had the permission to dream.

Retail could be a catalyst. The retail experience doesn’t have to be monotonous. Rather, retail jobs could be tools to gain insight into human behavior, hospitality, and business. I believe the retail experience can and should be a stepping stone to help people grow into something bigger.

When retail is allowed to dream it can be a launching pad for building strong neighborhoods, communities, and teams that can and will change the world.