Retail Management Training: Should You Recruit Gay Men As Employees?
By Bob Phibbs
It was at the the end of a day-long retail sales training program I was conducting with a group when one of the owners piped up, "What we need are some gay guys to sell our merchandise." I asked, "Why specifically gay men?"
She answered, "Because when we visited stores yesterday in the New York city, they were out and willing to tell anyone in a matter-of-fact way.
They were personable, fun, you just wanted to buy from them." I understood from her descriptions of several of these guys why she would want them to work for her.
Of course, for various reasons like EEOC commissions and how a sign would look in a shop window, we all know this isn't practical. And not all gay people are that personable - just like straight people.
What intrigued me about this comment was all the qualities she had attributed to gay men, were really true of the Expressive personality type.
Expressives tend to be extroverts who occasionally tend to make their private business public and sharing information without boundaries.
An opposite of the Analytical, the Expressive is the Grasshopper living for today. Expressives worry about being like everybody else instead of being recognized for their uniqueness. Again, their enthusiasm and energy are the spark plugs for your team. Their showiness can be compared to a Peacock.
Their enthusiasm can make them feel a bit invincible at times; and can overwhelm Analyticals who want just the facts.
Expressive personalities have to process externally while Driver and Analytical personalities don’t. The downside to an Expressives’ natural inclination to show multiple possibilities might require the customer to bring them back to the product the customer is considering, not all of the other possibilities.
Their natural enthusiasm can also inflate products’ benefits without devoting time to adequately explaining why.
Is that a gay thing? No.
It all stems from the basic Expressive personality. What this owner identified in the retail employee was the personality type that happened to be gay; not a gay person.
The Expressives I think are the most challenging of all the personalities. Their very energy is what keeps many from hiring them. Their creativity, individualism and self-assuredness can be threatening. And when you're trying to teach them a rigid process your Analtyical employees can easily take to, this personality will constantly challenge why they have to do it "that way." They will complain their creativity is being stifled - they feel like robots.
What we have to remember is the Expressive is the spark-plug to your crew. They are the one that adds color, excitement and fun.
Is that a gay thing? No, its an Expressive personality thing.
Should you recruit gay men to sell your merch? If they are Expressives - yes. If they are straight men who are Expressives - yes. If they are lesbians who are Expressives - yes. If they are straight women who are Expressives - yes.
You don't need a lot of Expressives on your sales floor but at least one keeps things interesting and fun for your crew and your customers. While their ability to start a lot of projects but finish few on their own will require your best retail management training skills, it's worth it.
Not sure which of the four personality styles are on your floor? Have them take the quiz.
Want to learn more about managing the four personality types and growing your sales by speaking to each's very different needs? Order a copy of my book.
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