If you didn’t attend the Retail Council of Canada’s HR Conference this year, you missed the best one ever!  We work with retailers, so joining a conference that is designed by retailers for retailers only makes sense for our team; plus, Kevin was moderating one of the best roundtable discussions with leaders from Home Depot, Town Shoes and Canadian Tire, so I just had to go and support our fearless leader! 

Outside of the eye-opening discussions about creating affirmative work environments for people who identify as trans and gender non-conforming, the other main take-away for me was at the very end of the day.  David Kincaid, Managing Partner and Founder of Level 5 Strategy Group spoke about Understanding Business and Retail Brand Strategy.  There was a twist on how it folds over into the Human Resources discipline, since this wasn’t a room filled with retail marketers and operators, rather packed with HR professionals from the biggest and best retailers across the country. 

I got the sense after listening to David speak that there is a real appetite amongst HR professionals to become more integrated with their counterparts in other parts of their retail organization.  This is a good thing and something the team at Graff can get excited about.  When talking retail training solutions, we predominantly work with the Store Operations Teams.  But, when it comes down to making a decision on implementing a training system or changing an existing program, quite often, the HR Team is looped into that decision and sometimes we see a disconnect between the goals of the two departments. 

Kevin has a client who often jokes and refers to his HR department as the “Sales Prevention Department”.  In fact, Kevin mentioned this to his roundtable leaders at the conference and while they saw the humour in the statement, the truth is they were all a bit disheartened by it as that is certainly not the way they want to be perceived.

The HR professionals that David Kincaid addressed in the room and the HR leaders that Kevin hosted during the roundtable session are not the same HR folks working in their silos from retail days of the past.  Their roles have shifted and grown and the culture has evolved.   These HR Teams are filled with business leaders who can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of their Ops and Marketing counterparts, and as David Kincaid showed, add health and vitality to a company to attract and retain customers…and isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?

Mary Gordon and Kim McCutcheon have been supporting retail front lines for as long as they can remember. A dynamic duo, Mary and Kim understand what it takes to make training work at store level and know how to inspire, coach and support retail teams in all of their training endeavours.

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