How to be a good ETL

Aug 7, 2018
hey everyone, I recently accepted an ETL Salesfloor position and want to get advice..

Target is changing in lots of ways and there's lots of low moral on the majority of the posts on this website. Therefore, I want brutally honestly advice on how to be a good ETL, be there for my team, help them with tasks without overstepping and generally making it an awesome work culture where people aren't dreading coming to work.
I know alot of the obvious ones but I'm sure everyone has had a wide variety of ETLs so what worked and what didn't?? what did they do that sucked?? what did you appreciate them doing/ not doing??
anything is welcome!!

Humble TL

Timers ,Please!
Apr 30, 2017
This is a small thing, but I’ve heard from my TMs that it makes them feel like they are part of something. Simply acknowledging TMs as you stroll through the store. Learn the names of your TMs. Say “hey linda how is it going”
If you see someone zoning, say “looks good, good job”
On a busy weekend go up to Sbux/food and say “ you guys kicked ass today”
Simple phrases and actions that don’t cost anything (pay roll, time, effort).
Mr. ETL please bring back common courtesy, genuine emotion and the human touch back. Its lacking, its on the back burner and We see less and less of it everyday.


Human Bean
Oct 28, 2015
The biggest complaint I have about SrTLs and above is that when they have a TLOD they're closing with, they're just the key carriers (it feels like, now this is just from a TM perspective). I feel like I never see the higher-up TLs that much, so seeing them on the floor even for a second and having a genuine status with them is a great thing. When I see my ETL and he stops to talk to me about how I've been doing for the day with specific questions, I feel like I'm getting supported and it makes me feel more positive than if I was just to get asked on walkie how I was doing. I like seeing my leaders setting examples for the rest of their team. I miss my old ETL-SF, but we're lucky to have him at our store just now as the ETL-GE. I have known my Sr-SLTL for 3 years now, and it frustrates me when he just does the walkie check-ins. It's easier, I understand, but when he's on the floor and throws a "Great job soyaxo" my way it makes me feel awesome and keeps me in good spirits as I move on to other tasks. When I hear from other TLs that my own TL was so pleased with something I did and was talking to leaders about it, it makes me feel accomplished.

Also, with Target moving toward "owning your area" I feel that it's important for leaders to verify that the TMs that work for them know more than just basic product information. I feel that it's now more important than ever to know more specific information like new merchandise, specific merchandise features, sales for the day or even past sales. Same thoughts as Logo with consistency. Set a standard and if someone reaches it, let them know. It will make them feel great and they will want to keep doing their best. If a TM is a good example for the team, let them help more with newer TMs, etc. Take the positives and make them even bigger.
Dec 2, 2017
Radio check in does not work. I've had too many TLs, TMs, and even ETLs hide carts to give the appearance of a job being done, but not actually get through the job.

Make sure the job they need to get through is reasonable and so are the expectations. Consistent unrealistic expectations have long term negative impacts. Have a TM switch to gradually less time consuming tasks the closer they get to the end of their shift. Zone a full section, zone an aisle, move to shooting outs, reshop or backstock. Theirs always something to do and the need will change, especially with callouts so you have to be flexible and know how to adapt and which TMs are best at adapting.

No STL likes it when a job is half done. Know how long things should take and what you need to prioritize to get the work done and what's going to suffer.

There will always be an opportunity in the store that needs love. Keep an eye out for that area.


Servant of 2 Masters
Feb 3, 2016
Your training will not be enough. Know that your first year, you will still be learning. Your training store will probably be well run with an established leadership team. Maintain a good relationship with your trainer so you have someone you can trust to go to for help.
Jul 31, 2017
Invest in the employees you have.

That starts at the beginning. No matter how big the workload that week, it's on you to make sure time gets set aside to give new TMs proper training. You can't really expect someone to eagerly jump on for backup when their training on a register lasted less than 10 minutes. And please teach everyone how to clear a call button and answer a phone. More than once if need be.

Don't assume the TM who's been there a year doesn't still want to learn new things. If you're given a chance to understand how other workcenters operate, you can use that to inform how you do your job - you'll know when you're creating extra work for someone else, and you'll be more understanding when another team's work starts spilling onto your own. Plus it gives you a little extra flexibility on those days everyone and their grandma has called out.

If you have a good employee, show them you value them. Acknowledge them on days when they're pulling more than their own weight, or working extra hard to leave the store in the best shape possible before the end of their shift. Speak to them directly on weeks you have to write them a lousy schedule, so they know you at least tried to take their needs into account and did the best you could. If they've been with you for a long time and proven their work ethic, don't give them attitude when they ask for a week-long vacation in April. Showing them you care about their well-being goes a long way.

I know turnover in retail is high, and you may be investing in an employee who ends up leaving. But if you don't invest in them at all, you're giving them no reason to stay. The target motto may be "everyone is replaceable" but there are serious costs to constantly needing to hire and train new people. And wouldn't you rather be the type of leader who's known for having his team's backs anyway?
Aug 12, 2018
Please don't micromanage or check in on people every 10-20 minutes. That pisses everyone off. Let the TMs know what you need done from the start and say you'll be walking later to catch up.
Walk the place and see whatsup, let designated TMs know if they are on the right track or not. If someone sucks, don't be walkie-ing their ass during the whole shift. Go up and talk to them privately. Nobody needs to know that HL-Domestics is shitty at zoning or hasn't finished their stray cart yet.

If you know a TM will be snagged by guests a lot or have other things to do (like in electronics), when you walk and they are free, ask about whatever. If they didn't zone yet, literally go to a single aisle and help them. It may sound stupid but doing a super small task like that will boost morale and they will be willing do more because you did some bitchwork with them.

Don't pretend you're better than anyone. If there is a spill near you, clean it up. Don't walkie for a TM to clean it when you're right there. Plenty of times, lazy ass ETLS will be standing in front of something and making a big deal, they don't even get the caution cone to put down. Clean that shit up fast instead of telling GSTL on 2, who then relays to TMs just to get no response, then have a cashier go to the spill with grocery just for GSTL to call backup during this bullshit. It is so unnecessary.

Have fun with your TMs, literally engaging in random small talk can let the barriers down. Respect it earned. Sometimes treating your TMs like normal people instead of subordinates goes a Looooooong way.

Be realistic. If you're asking a single TM to do 3 stray carts and 4 tubs in an hour then you are setting up many failures throughout the shift. Also don't be hounding your TMs to get things done FAST because they'll most likely be emptying their carts onto clearance end caps to try and appease you that night, just for you and them to be bitten in the ass the next day.

If possible, try to throw some shit in the breakroom once in a while or when you have led the team through a successful shift. TMs know that so much in bakery or whatever gets thrown away for what seems to be no reason. Rec out something and let them enjoy on their breaks.

That's all I got.

Rock Lobster

Executive Team Leader
Staff member
Jun 11, 2011
You can't make everything perfect all the time, focus on the most important things first that are vital to the store running, and work your way down.
You can't lead a store from an office, and most of the team will get annoyed quick with your questions. If you need to ask on the walkie how the truck is going, you obviously haven't been to receiving in a few hours.
Stay busy, you should be able to do work AND talk about things... its not that hard to work freight and discuss your plans for something.
Value your team leaders, they are the ones that are actually running the store and doing things. Keep them close and keep them motivated. If you have to get rid of one, it should be because you attempted everything you could to make them great and it just won't work. If you start throwing leaders under the bus, you are one of those classic ETLs that are in for 18 months, put the name of the TL they performance managed on the mantle for interviews, and left a mess in their wake. Too many STLs think they did a great job in their last role while someone else is cleaning up their mess.