May 19, 2015

My Comments on General Retail; Management and Leadership

So due to an agreement I signed- and professional integrity I am not going to discuss who my employer is, where I work for them or why. Let's just say I work in retail. A lot of people who watch this channel will probably sympathize with my comments.

While I enjoy my work sometimes, there are some critical issues plaguing the store that are worsening turnover and making employees unhappy. As for me- I need this job so I can't go anywhere.

The outright largest, most critical issue is understaffing and overworking. To save money and line more executive pockets, some companies, especially in retail, are cutting jobs at the bottom rung of the ladder and are demanding more from employees than what the job description said. This understaffing forces management to work with limited resources. It isn't necessarily management's fault that we have a lack of employees- and if it is, suits would be ignoring us and/or complicit.

This means that I have to cover three or more departments at once and deal with angry customers demanding immediate service. Often, I cover high traffic and high profit areas where customer inquiries are the highest- and somewhat related- where theft most occurs. Often, management will schedule one, or no employees- in these areas to cover multiple departments. Repeated incidents of this poor style of management will result in loss of valuable employees. There 'should' be someone in the departments I am covering; there 'should' be someone over in the department one or two sections over to handle the high customer traffic so that the company can make money. It won't happen when resources are cut.

The second largest critical issue is again related to a lack of resources and employees. Constantly, at least once an hour or more- I am pulled out of my department when I am the only one there to do the job of other employees. Sometimes this job is not what I signed up to do. Sometimes I have refused to do the pulled job because it is above my pay grade and I have no clue what I am doing. I think cross training is great- and I have no problems being pulled occasionally to other, deemed 'critical' projects. It happens- and I think employees should remain somewhat flexible, as should management. However, doing it multiple times per day shows a lack of resources and is breaking our backbone; figuratively and literally. This is not good for retaining employees. In addition- when I return to my department, I have to face the ramifications of management's folly- angry customers wondering where there product is and why it is not ready.

The third most critical issue is a lack of leadership. Often I see the best customer service coming from myself or other lower rung employees. This makes customers happy. However, this service is completely unrewarded from management. Engagement with employees is non-existent and this is a huge problem. It is great to feel appreciated by the company, but to lead by example and get your hands dirty instead of saying 'I got promoted, I don't have to deal with that anymore' will gain you immediate respect with your suboordinates. In one department, the supervisor of the area was assisting his employees in a critical function. For that I can respect that supervisor. Another example would be if a manager relagated themselves 10 minutes to checking customers out or helping load a product. I can respect such a manager. There is comraderie at least in my department, but there is no major focus, direction or teamwork coming from management. In a sense, they are 'managing' and not leading. Leading would reduce employee turnover, make the store run more smoothly- and ultimately make the company more money.

The fourth most critical issue is treating employees like garbage. I am 'mostly' free from this issue, but in a few particular departments employees are yelled at when they are already overwhelmed, understaffed, overworked  and have a lack of resources. They will leave within the next few weeks. Screaming that your underlings cannot put out more will not take the pressure off of you- it is going to make problems worse.

By overworking your employees, demanding more from them- providing no leadership, a lack of communication and interrupting getting their work done is causing high turnover, lower retention, lower morale, underappreciated employees and an overall harder work experience. Of course management- or corporate- doesn't give two shits what I have to say about the matter- but it is the truth.

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