Each week I try my hardest to write a little something that will either help you out, ruffle your feathers, make you laugh or in some cases getting you thinking a little bit about yourself. Well this week I feel I just have to share some of my work life experience.
As you may be aware I have been enjoying a long career in the retail world. Yes I said enjoying. I sing, I write, I perform in a day job that allows me to do what I love the most, interact with people.
I have been doing this for over 20 years and I’m still loving it. There is unfortunately a super downside to a career such as this. It is that most people that do it and the people who receive the benefit of people doing it are forever putting their nose down to it.
Just the other day while enjoying my latest career opportunity I was shocked at what happened. Here it is. My store has two co-op students that come in a couple of times a week to help out and to get the experience. As they near the end of their school year, at the store, their teacher decided to drop by and see how things were going and to have a little chat with me. I am in a leadership role so I get to chat.
It didn’t take me long to notice the teacher, and don’t get me wrong I have always loved most of my teacher, was talking down to me in front of the girls. Sorta in that “I’m so sorry you are stuck in this dead end career. Couldn’t get enough education to do anything else?” It was then that she actually let the mental thought leave her self righteous lips. “Now see girls you wouldn’t want to do this for your whole life. Standing and having to do this type of thing everyday.!?” I was aghast. Even the girls were smart enough to realize this 30’s something teacher just back handed me in front of them.
I calmly responded by saying “Actually this is the career I have chosen. I love it. I think it all has to do with work life balance. The problem is most people use this as a fall back career once everything else has failed for them. That is just not the case for me. This is the choice I have made and it’s very rewarding.” Said with a smile direct enough for a sniper.
I have no doubt she got my message loud and clear. I was happy to see her go and I think she was relieved I dismissed her so gently. The girls laughed and said “That was well said.” I bowed slightly and we got back to the tasks at hand.
Over the years I have had some really great experiences with some fabulous retail environments. Just in case you are looking for a career in this field these are the places I would recommend.
1. Le Chateau
3. Blue Notes
5. East Side Mario’s
These were all great places to work. The company has a clear vision and the management for the most part were just as excited to be there as I was.
Your probably wondering what gives me the right to say what I am saying about these career experiences, well I guess it all depends on whether you trust my integrity. Let’s just say for a moment that you do. Here is what I would like to see change in the retail/customer service world.
First I would love to see companies actually care about their employees. I would like them to seriously have a human resource department that is actually there for their employees and not there to make excuses for poor behavior from the management.
second I would like to have managers trained in inspiring staff, find the passion and help they grow it.
Third I would like to see companies listen to their front line people, we are there everyday, we can see what our clients want and need. We are the face of the company but our opinion means nothing. They spend millions of dollars every year on studies and marketing and surveys and they forget they have a free resource standing every day on the front line. They are so oblivious most of the time of all the outstanding talent that is working in their stores, why because we are just the lowly retail mass that is uneducated and replaceable.
Why do you think the T.V show “Undercover Boss” is making such a difference? Because after all these years of failing companies “Look at power house EATON’S” Which by the way I loved when I worked for them but they stopped listening. They stopped utilizing the talent behind the till and failed. Undercover Boss is trying to send out the alarm. In a world where people can shop on line and over the boarder and pretty much anywhere else but in a retail store, the employees have to matter. They have to have a voice. If you don’t respect who you hire what are you saying about yourself?
Even in all this crazy that is retail and all the mistakes that I see companies make time and time again, I still love it! I still love getting up everyday and making someones life a little happier. I love showing off product I believe in and creating lifestyles for my guests. My passion for the idea of what customer service could be is unchanged. This is including the customer service the staff should also be granted when they have a concern.
Let me give you some advice. Don’t just pick any retail environment to work. Not every company is the same. They all do not have a healthy vision of good work life balance and integrity. Pick something that you are passionate about. If you love body care, do that. If you love food work in the best restaurant. Investigate, them, shop there. Ask people how they are enjoying there work. It doesn’t take long to know whether a place of business has blown the fire out of someones work aspiration.
It was with these ideals in mind that made me make the choice to hand in my keys on my latest career in retail. No integrity. No organization. No focus. Let’s just say “Lot’s of Fruit but No Passion!”
I guess I am a dreamer. I guess I believe people should go to work inspired. I want my guests to be inspired when they leave my store. It’s not just about what sits on my shelf. It’s about building relationships with the ones you work with and the ones you serve.