When I joined the Flight Centre Travel Group as a novice travel consultant, I only planned to stay for 12 months.

I had been teaching for a few years and thought I would take a year off to try something different, something fun, hoping to get a couple of free holidays and then return to my ‘real’ job of teaching.

During my sixth month with Flight Centre, founding owner Geoff Harris took me out for a coffee during a store visit. This wasn’t unusual; it was probably the third coffee I had had with Geoff since starting. He asked me about what I wanted and where I saw my career. He was genuinely interested in me as a person.

He told me that he thought I had real leadership potential. ‘Me a leader!’ I thought. I had never considered that I could have a career in leadership. Geoff spoke of all the attributes he thought I had and believed I could have a bright future.

From that moment on, I was all in. 

Almost six months to the day, I became an assistant store manager and, soon after, a store manager. At the time, I didn’t know that Geoff had big plans for growing the business, and having leaders in place ready to step into roles would be crucial.

If it wasn’t for that conversation with Geoff, I don’t know how long I would have stayed before returning to teaching, my  ‘real career’.

This shift from job to career can be deliberate for some, and almost accidental for others. This is especially true in Retail, where that casual team member can spark a passion that is transformed into a retail leadership career.

How many future leaders do you have in your stores right now?

How do you give your team the opportunity and inspiration that might make them consider Retail as a career? Given the ongoing battle for talent, we must provide career paths for the people we already have. ‘Treat your talent pipeline like your supply chain‘ is valuable advice. You wouldn’t leave your supply chain to chance; the same applies to the talent pipeline.

Three ways to help a job become a career:

1. See training as an investment and not a cost.

A significant part of a career mindset is feeling like the business is invested in you. Create opportunities for your people to build their skills. Store visits are the greatest opportunity to develop your team and share resources and insights that have helped you on your leadership journey.

2. Consistently work on your succession plan.Spend time with your team (especially your assistant store managers and your casuals) and get to know them. What are their hope and dreams?  Have they considered a great career in Retail? What attributes do they have that would make them a great leader? What opportunities do you see for them in the future?

3. Ensure everyone feels part of the bigger picture. It is increasingly important for your team members to feel connected to the mission, vision, and values.

How does what your team does locally contribute to the regional, national, and even global mission? Support opportunities in other areas of the business – even if that means losing someone you value from your team to another area of the business.

You’re the best advert there is for a retail leadership career – what can you do today to create the leaders of tomorrow?


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