Kohl’s: Where you expect Great… Management?


After working at Kohl’s for almost four years now, I have been able to experience several types of managers and observe which ones succeed and which ones find out they cannot handle the management life. At Kohl’s, there is a store manager, a manager for domestics (shoes, home, and seasonal), a manager for apparel, an human resources manager, and a truck/replenishment manager. Under these managers are hourly ones who have the same responsibility and power as the salary managers, but do not do as much of the office work. Along with the managers, there are “leads”. Leads are the ones who make sure each department is organized and set up correctly according to the corporate book and the managers above them. Leads, however, do not technically have a managerial role in the store, they are just in charge of the floor associates and can tell them what needs to be done.

The way that the managers at Kohl’s are tiered works out quite well part of the time. There is usually a salary manager and an hourly manager working at the same time during busy time periods to avoid one person being split up too much. One answers the manager assistance calls, the phone calls, and checks in on the department while the other does a project or office work. Along with making sure one person is not stretched out too much, the tiering helps make sure that the store’s appearance and layout is correct and appealing. A lead works on the majority of the layout with some help from an hourly manager to make the department follow the book and the department managers, plus the store manager, walk around to make sure it looks visually appealing and suggesting tweaks if necessary. This way everyone has their own project to work on when they’re at work and the customers are getting a visually appealing store along with great customer service.

However, the tiering of the managers’ responsibilities makes the floor and cashier associates very low on the totem pole. Sometimes it is unclear who we should go to when we have a question about an item or project. Other times it feels like we are very distant from our store manager because he is 85% of the time in his office doing computer work instead of interacting with us. Also, when he does come to talk to us, it is usually to tell us what we are doing wrong and ask us why we have not made the goals of the day yet even when it is very early in the day. Also, the scheduling of the managers almost always is never one that works. A majority of the time, only one manager is scheduled while they have a project and/or office work while they are supposed to be available to customers at the same time. This usually leaves the customer service interaction to suffer because the manager is stretched too thin to get to everything that needs to be attended to.

To help customer service satisfaction go up, the managers at my store tried telling us what we can and cannot do when we are at the register with customers to avoid calling a manager as much. This caused many problems in the store because of miscommunication. Our loss preventions and the store manager worked together to make a list of things that we can do for a customer without calling a manager or questioning the customer. This includes accepting expired coupons, lowering prices of products, and adjusting their previous purchases. However, they were not clear on the boundaries of these exceptions. Some managers will only allow week old coupons while others accept ones that are several months old. This variation just made us call a manager no matter what because we did not know what was accepted and what would look like a red flag to loss preventions on our associate number.

Do you think the tiering method is only good on paper? Or should there just be better communication?


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