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Leaning On Management To Improve

, , , , , , | Working | January 7, 2019

My former manager was absolutely obsessed with that loathed phrase, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean!”

Stop to take a drink of water? The phrase would be bellowed across the store.

Pause to retie that shoelace you keep tripping over? He’d storm over to you to snarl it in your ear as you struggled to balance on one foot.

Stumble over the edge of a display and have to grab a shelf to avoid falling? Crank it up to Volume 11!

Keep in mind, our place can only be kept so clean during business hours. So, short of randomly tugging a Clorox wipe out giving the front counter a cursory wipe, or someone grabbing a few go-backs as they go by, the line was completely worthless. Don’t get me wrong; we all pitched in and kept our store as straightened as we could while stocking products and assisting customers, but his obsession with the line was out of control.

But my manager wouldn’t hear a word against it. I finally got fed up and grabbed a disposable camera… or five… and was soon stalking my manager like a paparazzi after a supermodel. For five days that week, I filled my camera with instances of him “leaning” against random things. I learned that he was a, “Do as I say, not as I do,” kind of guy; I caught him spending ten to twenty minutes sometimes chatting with friends of his who wanted to catch up with him on the clock. It filled me with vindictive pleasure to get shots of him leaning but not cleaning.

The following week, I slipped into the breakroom and tacked Every. Single. Picture. to the Announcements pegboard. I wallpapered that cork board and the wall around it with pictures of my manager “leaning.” I hung a custom-made banner with my manager’s favorite line above them all.

Then I left it alone.

The manager came in at noon.

My photos and banner disappeared without fanfare.

The entire day was spent blissfully unbothered by my manager’s usual bellowing of the phrase. The day stretched to a week. Then a month. Six months later, I got a job somewhere else. I never again heard that phrase so much as whispered in that store.

I forget what it cost to get all that stuff made, but the final verdict was: “Worth it.”