Clear Expectations Produce Better Results

, , , , | Working | May 5, 2021

I have just arrived for my managing shift at the store where I work. My store manager and I go over a few details I need to know before she leaves for the day.

Store Manager: “Can you keep an eye on [New Hire]? I gave her a simple job of scanning for price tickets and she’s taken ages doing it. She’s a bit slow. I was hoping that all the tickets would have been put out before she goes home, but you’re going to have to do it.”

When I check on the new hire, I find that she has just finished scanning the section — two panels of small Christmas ornaments — and has sent it through to the office for printing.

New Hire: “Boy, that was a lot of work and took a long time. [Coworker] did her section really quickly; I hope I can get as fast as her one day.”

I reassure her that she will, with practice, and tell her it’s time to leave before heading to the office to print the tickets.

Store Manager: “I started the tickets for you. I’ll just grab a few things before I go. Can you come down and serve me once all the tickets are printed?”

I have to refill the ticket paper, just thinking that the manager didn’t add enough, and complete a couple of duties while waiting for it to complete. I am surprised at how many sheets have printed up, and then I notice that each item has up to a dozen copies of price tickets. I head to the service counter where the store manager is waiting to be checked out.

Store Manager: “There you are. I was just about to come find you. What took so long?”

Me: “This.”

I hold up the thick wad of paper.

Me: “What did you tell [New Hire] to do?”

Store Manager: “I just told her to scan every item for tickets. She was so slow at it.”

Me: “Well, that’s exactly what she did; she took you literally. You needed to say, ‘one of each design.’”

Store Manager: “She should have known that I meant one of every item.”

Me: “It’s exactly what she did: one of every item. How many times has she done tickets?”

Store Manager: “This was her first time, but she should have known what I meant. I’m going to have words with her; if she keeps up like this, she won’t last long.”

Me: “I’ll talk to her tomorrow.”

I had the chat, explaining how to ticket correctly just like I had done when I’d trained the [Store Manager] a few years before. I had been her senior but did not want the promotion and couldn’t see her sticking it out long. The new hire turned out to be one of our best workers. The store manager didn’t last long but I had already quit as I got sick of fixing her mistakes.

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Project Much?

, , , , , | Working | May 3, 2021

I have worked for several years as a graphic designer at a sign shop. As we start to become more successful and well-known around town, we end up needing a second graphic designer to help us keep up with demand.

After a few interviews, the boss hires someone he feels will be a good fit. I won’t lie; they’re a better designer than I am and can put together ideas and concepts I can’t even fathom. However, the trade-off is that they’re slow. They’ll end up spending an entire day on one (great-looking) project, while we have thirty or more orders coming in each day.

Still, I can do things more basically but much faster, so I figure it’s an even trade. However, for whatever reason, the other designer has taken an almost instant dislike to me and takes every opportunity to complain to the boss about anything and everything I do.

This makes for an uncomfortable work environment, and eventually, I end up leaving the job to pursue other career opportunities out-of-province. At this point, the boss wants to hire someone to replace me, but the other designer tells him that I always slacked off and that they can easily handle the workload themselves, as they’ve essentially been doing so already.

When I am back in town six months later, I run into the boss and he begs me to come back. It turns out that the other designer was unable to keep up with the workload, started hiding files and leaving customers hanging, and eventually went on stress leave because it was all too much for them to take. They never returned to the job after their stress leave ended. I agreed to return for a hefty pay increase, and the next time I saw the former designer out in public, they went out of their way to avoid eye contact with me.

It’s been six years now, I’m still working there, and I haven’t once had any issues with the workload.

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All Aboard The Lazy Train(ing)

, , , , , | Working | April 21, 2021

Everyone who works for me has to get their training sheets signed off before they get their full pay. It’s not my rule, but I admit that it works and it’s pretty simple — it takes a week at most.

We have a guy transfer over from another shop. I know they had problems with him, but we are desperate and it’s not like I’ve not dealt with difficult people before.

Employee: “Why is my pay so low? I was told it would be [higher amount]!”

Me: “It will be once you finish the training; it was all explained in the letter.”

Employee: “I’m not working for that!”

Me: “The training is a week. It isn’t even hard, just normal workday stuff.”

Employee: “Well, I’m not doing it!”

Me: “Okay, we will find someone else.”

I walk away. No training means no pay rise. Before I get round to making the call to replace him, I hear that he wants to do the training after all.

Me: “There are ten training sheets to sign off. Some we can just do with a quick run-through. Others may take a little longer to ensure you’re happy.”

I hand him the sign-off sheet.

Employee: “What is this?”

Me: “A sign-off sheet. Once you and I are happy that you understand the training given, we both sign.”

Employee: “You can’t make me sign that!”

Me: “No, but you won’t go any further without it. We’ve been through this already.”

Employee: “But I want the money.”

Me: “Do the training, then. Simple.”

He walked away from me. I let my boss know and he backed me up. I mentally prepared for another new starter when my boss called me in. He let me know that the new worker had claimed discrimination based on his race and the fact that he was the only person getting “less money than all the white people.” I explained to my boss that all [Employee] had to do was complete the training, but he made me take the day paid while they investigated anyway.

I came back the next day and the new guy was not there. Officially, he had quit. I wish I had been there for that conversation.

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I’m So Tired, I’m Shutting Down (Everything)

, , , , , | Working | April 17, 2021

Many years ago, my first job was in a factory. I was only eighteen on an apprenticeship and very nervous and meek. Unfortunately, my boss was working his way up the ladder and spent all his time on courses and brown-nosing, without supporting his team.

I was shoved into the night shift, alone for most of the night. I struggled from day one, my sleep was everywhere, I didn’t have anyone to train me, and I hated it. I made several requests to swap shifts and put many of them in emails. My boss basically told me to get on with it.

After several months, I was still struggling. I was losing weight and tired all the time. I would often fall asleep on my breaks.

One quiet shift, I slumped back and heard a dreadful noise; I had knocked into a door of an electrical cabinet that was propped open, one that apparently controlled a lot of the automation. It had an issue with the safety interlock and closing it would forcibly shut down everything.

We lost five hours of production that night.

Despite the safety aspect of the cabinet, it was my emails that saved me from disciplinary action. Better yet, I was transferred to the day shift the next week.

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The Bar Has Been Set Very High

, , , , , , | Working | April 16, 2021

Years ago, I worked in a meat processing factory. Although I was employed as one of the admin staff, I still had to go through the same company induction as everyone else. So, I turned up at 7:30 am on the day of induction and sat through all the usual guff one might expect in a company induction: Health and Safety, Terms and Conditions, and so on. Just before lunch break, one of the training team gave us a very detailed talk about the company’s drugs and alcohol policy. The short version: don’t drink or take drugs on the job, and if you must drink or take drugs on an evening or weekend, at least make sure you’re sober/clean by the time you arrive on site for shift. We were also told that the company does conduct random, voluntary, and for-cause drug tests.

During the spiel about the drug tests, I raised my hand and asked, “Ever caught anyone during these tests?”

The trainer started to chuckle. He told us that several years previously, he’d been standing in the exact same room, giving the exact same talk about drug testing. He’d dismissed the inductees for lunch and gone off to get his own lunch. A little while later, he’d gone off to use the toilet, and when he walked in, he found one of the inductees sitting in the cubicle, puffing away on a joint!

The inductee was swiftly fired, just a few hours into his induction, and without even having made it as far as the factory floor to meet his colleagues!

We all got a good laugh out of that story.

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