“Only 8.1% of All Retail Sales Are E-Commerce!”


How did that sound-bite strike you? The U.S. Census Bureau reported that E-Commerce sales in the second quarter of 2016 were 8.1% of total sales. That means that 92% of retail sales were through traditional retail sales channels and not over the internet, mobile device or online commerce system. Ask the people you work with what they think the percentage is. I am betting that you will hear a wide range of guesses like 50, 60, 70 and 80 percent. The actual number will surprise them because we all only hear the big headlines on digital sales growth.

I am not denying the digital evolution’s disruption in the marketplace. It is just that social media isn’t necessarily the end in itself for many businesses.  Facebook, Linkedin, digital advertising, website design and search engine optimization will drive traffic for you. Today’s workers, however, still need possess the skills to be an effective team member and be able to successfully engage co-workers with problem solving skills to create solutions to address customer needs and improve processes. Do have a digital plan but don’t overlook traditional skills.

Barnes and Noble CEO Leonard Riggio commenting recently on sales performance indicated that the bookseller “shot itself in the foot” by cutting store personnel and reducing inventory and that “The last place you take expenses out is on the sales floor ”.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, employers are having a tough time locating employees with those skills. Kate Davidson writes, “Those traits, often called soft skills, can make the difference between a standout employee and one who just gets by.”

I prefer to call them employability-success skills because these skills help someone get a job, but also move up the career ladder. They are not unique to a particular occupation or industry, but are required skills among all business sizes, utilized by the entry-level worker to executive suite. Across the world of work, people need to be capable communicators, team members, problem solvers and relationship builders.

So where do you start to move the needle on these critical employability success skill-sets:

  1. Conduct a needs analysis of your current workforce to inventory depth of strength of their employability-success skills.
  2. Make sure the management team possesses these skills and are role models for the rest of the organization.
  3. Utilize behavioral and situational interviewing to hire people with the selected skills.
  4. Integrate the employability-success skills into the performance management process to reinforce the required skill-sets and develop them where the need is identified.
  5. Evaluate project team performance not only for meeting deliverables, but also how the overall and individual team members performed on the employability-success skills dimensions.


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