15 Employees From Retail Hell and What To Do About Them

angel and devil

Access My FREE 5-Part Retail Sales Training Email Course!

Updated June 5, 2023.

The most important assets any business has are its employees. 

In retail especially, the need to hire and train employees who are assets is doubly true because they not only stock the merchandise but also have to sell it.

Your store's success is directly linked to your employees' attitudes, behaviors, and abilities.

Sometimes you discover you’ve got a worker from hell.

You know, the Bitter Betty employee who looks like they sucked on a lemon.

They pour water on a customer's passion for a product causing the customer to leave empty-handed.

And worse, sometimes, they can be among your senior staff who should know better.

Take a look at the following employees from hell to discover how they might keep your store from increasing sales. 

The 15 Employees From Hell

1. 😏 The Know-It-All . No matter how you tell this person how you want something done, they always say they already do it that way, but they keep doing it wrong.

2. 😫 The Negative Nancy. Nothing is going right. No one is doing anything well. Everything is someone else's fault. They suck the exuberance out of living.

3. 👶 The Child. This one constantly lists what they will do, but they never get it done - unless you continually nag them. They always leave messes for others to clean up, and they are out the door at 5 pm regardless of whether they've finished or not...usually not.

4. 😶 The Zombie. These are the ones who think if their body shows up, that’s enough; that their job is just to be present for their shift. No effort, no engagement, no self-directed activity. They are bored from the moment they clock in.

5. 👨‍🎤 The Thief. Obviously, these are the ones who steal your merchandise.

6. 🤑 The Discounter. These people find a way to offer unauthorized discounts to customers to make sales. They’ll say they had to price-match or hide evidence of having used discount codes for customers who did not qualify for those discounts. They then compound their crime by bragging about their numbers, claiming they were generated because the customers like their service better.

7. 👹 The Lawyer. This demon does only what is in their job description instead of understanding that they must go with the flow.

8. 🕵️The Busybody. They love to know everyone’s business. And they gossip about everyone’s business to everyone... about their employers, other employees, and customers.

9. 😵 The Arguer. They never like how you do a task, a display, or a sale. They want to do it their way. They’ll argue to your face that you’re wrong. They’ll argue just to be right.

10. 👻 The Phantom. These are constantly texting or taking personal calls while ignoring your customers.

11. 😳 The Corpse. These are the ones with that deer-in-the-headlights expression when you ask them to do something. They look at you and smile without nodding or indicating they heard you. They just stand there. They'd rather be dead than be your employee.

12. 🤖 The Soulless Plodder. They take forever to clean, stack, organize or price something. They aim to stretch out a job for as long as possible, showing just enough progress to say they are getting it done.

13. 😑 The Despot. When the boss is away, they do everything except what they are supposed to do; in their eyes, they have free reign. They take long breaks, don't greet customers, or do the rest of their job. When they do deal with customers, they are short and rude and given enough freedom; they will close up early.

14. 👣 The Ninja. They are the ones who hide behind the rack, find things to do in the stockroom to keep them off the sales floor, or disappear as soon as someone enters their section. They would rather be stacking pants, re-pricing, or cleaning. They don't like to talk to anyone..., especially your customers.

15. 😜 The Distractor. These associates spend all their time preventing other employees from working. No one gets anything done...and that's fine with them.

What to Do

1. Hire better next time by:

  • Asking better questions about their self-direction.
  • Listening for their propensity to talk about others rather than themselves.
  • Looking for these behaviors in their mannerisms, eye contact, and voice inflection.
  • Learning how your Retail Personality plays with your employee's sales personalities and which ones are best suited to deal with which shopper personalities.

2. If you decide to keep them...train the hell out of them.

Using a sales management process, show them what you want, role-play the situations that get them in trouble, and tell them that you expect better.

3. Have a frank discussion about their behaviors and how you are feeling about their work. Highlights of these discussions can include:

  • Giving more black and white examples and less grey for them to abuse during your retail sales training.
  • Reminding them to curtail gossip from the start, saying you don’t like it on your sales floor.
  • Making sure they know their jobs are broad-based and not specific.
  • Letting them know arguing is never appropriate and that if you hear it, it is grounds for immediate dismissal.

4. You can also manage your crew better by:

  • Not being afraid to have corrective conversations with team members. You’re their boss, not their pal.
  • If an associate is going out of their way to avoid the job of selling, give them retail sales training, set performance metrics, and coach them. If there is no improvement within a few days, realize it’s not a skill issue but a will issue.
  • Take away perks like having coffee at the counter, chairs behind the counters, and anything that encourages creating a cozy clique of associates.

Remember to give them a chance to change.

Give them no more than a week before you have another discussion about their progress and include a written review. If training the hell out of them hasn’t worked, make yourself happy and fire them.

You aren’t doing anyone any favors by letting them cross over to the dark side when they step over your business’ threshold.

That’s because, in business, you can’t afford to compromise your success.

Sign up for SalesRX Now