I discovered something about myself Tuesday afternoon. I somehow have become an adult. An adultier adult than other adults. Let me paint the scene for you.
I work in a large department store. I’ve worked there for about three years, two of which I was an average associate, one of which I have become a supervisor. I worked hard to get where I am, and I’m proud of my accomplishments, but I just never had that feeling of being on top of my game as much as I did at work Tuesday.
Two of the four other supervisors that have departments near mine are on vacation, so I have been playing babysitter to those two departments as well as running my own. They are pretty self sufficient, so I haven’t had to actually do much shy of check on staffing problems and break up arguments amongst the associates.
My day started off normal. Then I realized there was no one in the deli department. Not a soul. So I went to management to find out why and suggested calling in some people earlier and maybe utilizing someone from another department that has training there. Crisis averted.
Then I went back to my own department, where I ordered what I needed, got my inventory on hand in check, got my associates set on some tasks that needed to be done, and completed my daily routine. On top of that, I compiled a list of items (in a hand written spreadsheet format) that I no longer wished to carry because they are actually costing my department money to keep them in stock. I am the produce manager, and as fruits and vegetables go bad, I have to process them out, if I didn’t carry things I am not going to sell, I will have less to process and more room for things I do sell. It’s a win for my department and for the store as a whole. Also printed some reports validating my claims, then turned everything into the store manager with a feeling of satisfaction that I was definitely on top of things. Plus there was that feeling of self worth when he seemed happy that I was staying on top of things and correcting problems without having to be asked. Win #1.
A bit later I had to give an evaluation to one of my associates. Though I’ve been a supervisor for about a year, I’ve never given one. Of course it had to be to the oldest member of my team, which made me feel like a total ass. I personally hate when people younger than myself are in positions of power to tell me what to do, I assumed my associate would feel the same, but he was totally on bored with everything I had to say, including the things I said he needed to work on. He even commented that things were going better since I came back to the department as the supervisor (the two years I spent as an associate was in that department as his coworker). Win #2.
After lunch, another crisis arose in the deli. One of the night shift associates, who is over qualified and really should be higher up the food chain in the company, has begun to take her coworkers’ lack of work ethic personally. I have been aware of her feelings, as I actually like her and enjoy talking to her. I’ve been her sounding board more than once. She also happens to the same age as my mother. On Monday, she finally got upset enough to say all the things I’ve heard her say before to management (I happened to be in the room when that conversation took place). She feels she works harder than some of her coworkers, that they don’t have the customer’s interest in mind, that they are doing things in the wrong way, and that no one listens to her when she asks them to do something. She made it clear that that day she would be doing exactly as they do, and nothing more. Then I had had enough. But instead of getting angry and flying of the handle as I’ve been prone to do in the past, this is what I thought:
“I understand, but like [manager] told you yesterday, change isn’t going to happen overnight. There is a process that has to be followed and I’m sorry you aren’t privy to know what stage that is at. Just know that it is noticed, it has been addressed, and will be dealt with. In the meantime, ‘because everyone else does it’ doesn’t mean everyone should do it, if you stoop to their level that makes you no better than them and you too will be one of the issues. Customers are our number one priority in this store, and just because you feel that others aren’t making them a priority, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the customer a priority. They pay our paychecks. You need to do what is right for the customer, and what is right for the store. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, do your own work. Everyone appreciates that you go above and beyond in the deli, and that gets noticed too, but everyone has their own way of doing things and sometimes there is more than one way to do things. Your way is great, but it isn’t the only way, nor is it your job to dictate how things get done. Sometimes you just have to say it is what it is and do the best you can. You are an adult, this is your job. Like everything else in life, it isn’t going to be perfect all the time. I think you are a great worker, a great asset to the company and I’d like to see you go further, but letting others get to you isn’t the way to do it.”
Now, I didn’t actually say this to her, she was busy or I would have, but I was proud of myself for not flying out of control and for thinking so business like and adultish. I did say it to the personnel manager, whom I am friends with. She said that it was very well said and even suggest I blog it. Win #3.
So Tuesday was the the day adulting became a normal thing for me. Let’s see how Wednesday goes. Hopefully I don’t relapse.