Global fashion brand Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) has stitched diversity into the very fabric of the business, stating on its website, “Diversity and inclusion are key to our organization’s success.” Read More
A career in retail loss prevention is a professional path that can build the foundation for a great future, and take the ambitious individual in any number of directions. But it is still up to each of us to take responsibility for the development of our own careers. It’s not up to our company to do it for us, and it’s not up to our supervisors or anyone else. No one is going to hand us a pass that leads to the front of the line. Talent alone isn’t enough. It takes commitment, determination and a plan to get ahead—and stay there.
Professional development should be seen as a continuous process, and we should always be looking for ways to improve our performance. In order to maximize our potential, it is essential to maintain superior levels of professional competence by continually developing our skills, abilities, and base of knowledge. It’s no longer enough to have information; we must be able to effectively apply and share that information as well. It’s our responsibility to own and manage the process; driven by individual learning and developmental needs and carrying a personal signature for success.
Retail is an extremely competitive industry, and loss prevention has become an integral function of a successful retail model. In order to remain successful, we must be able to perform our duties with optimum efficiency, make sound judgments and interact appropriately with customers and colleagues. Our professional development must be characterized by strong problem-solving and decision making skills, a superior knowledge base, and an ability to effectively apply our knowledge and experience to the diverse situations that we face on a day-to-day basis.
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Here are some of the fundamental elements of an effective professional development plan:
- The ability to objectively reflect on our individual talents, skills, knowledge, and experiences. Everyone has areas where they can improve. Searching for developmental opportunities within ourselves is an essential aspect of self-improvement. Then devise a plan that keeps you moving in a positive and productive direction, addressing the learning and developmental needs that you have identified.
- An education is an investment that we make in ourselves. Structured training and development, such as loss prevention certification programs and continuing education, can help address opportunities for improvement and build areas of personal strength. Seek out different methods of learning in order to meet your identified needs and goals. Conferences, associations and other functions are good sources of information and tremendous networking opportunities.
- Learn the business of retail. As we step forward into a new age of loss prevention, the industry will become much more ingrained in every aspect of the retail industry. Our ability to adjust while determining how loss prevention best fits into the company strategy will help us ascertain how we can deliver the most value. Being “relevant” is no longer good enough—we have to be part of the solutions. We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone, expanding our skills, abilities, education, experience, and leadership roles. We have to be able to stay in front of the business; driving core processes and developing new tools while continuing to support the company direction. The way that we see things and the methods that we apply must evolve, and are an essential aspect of our personal and professional development. Mature as a business partner to build towards the future.
- Remain flexible and open-minded. Share ideas and opinions, but remain open to those of others. Work to improve or acquire additional non-technical knowledge (e.g., leadership, communication skills, presentation skills, etc.) that can help to prepare you for broader responsibilities when such opportunities arise. Develop your listening and observation skills as a path to learning. Growth is a process—not a position.
- Stay current with the news, trends, tools, technologies, events, and approaches that shape the future of loss prevention jobs. Identify the resources that can help you remain current and informed—then pay attention. The world won’t wait for you to catch up.
- A plan means nothing without action—take the steps to move forward. Complete the chosen activities and programs that you feel are necessary to help improve your learning and developmental objectives. Evaluate the results. Reflect on how well planned objectives have been achieved and any additional steps that may be necessary to reach your goals.
Professional relevance depends on the ability to continually upgrade our knowledge and skills. Professional security is no longer simply found in a job or in a company. True security is found by making yourself as marketable as you possibly can, and applying a well-rounded and well conceived plan to get there. Continuing education, training and skills development, lifelong learning activities, intellectual nourishment and exposure to new ideas, our own professional experience and our personal and professional networking opportunities all contribute to that plan.
A motivated and hard-working professional can explore a vast spectrum of opportunities and possible career choices in the world of loss prevention. As the industry has continued to evolve into a profession, our role continues to develop as well, taking a more global path with broader responsibilities and higher expectations.
A successful career in loss prevention requires that we embrace a global perspective of the profession. As we explore the possibilities, we must contrive a plan that best fits our personal skills, abilities, goals and objectives. Managing for success only works for us when we have defined what we consider success to be. Only you can make that decision. And only you can put that plan into action.
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