work issues update, possible action

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Tojiah's picture
Tojiah
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Nov 6 2007 21:14
work issues update, possible action

More petty work issues, as in the previous thread...

New "real" shift manager inserted, discussion in my presence by shop and regional managers.
I happened to be having my lunch break at the back office/storage room when the regional manager and store manager came in to talk. Seems like the regional manager has decided that our shop needs a "real" shift manager, who will be accepted by the employees as the store manager's second-in-command. She pushed our store manager to declare this outright, and that we should understand that there are certain power relations in place, but the store manager said that this would cause a mutiny, and that this should be eased in. All this while I was sitting there, eating my bagels and reading the newspaper. I obviously leaked this to the other workers once I'd gotten out. I don't know what to make of the fact that they acted like I either wasn't there or wasn't really one of the workers. :-/

Last month's sales target meant that we weren't getting any bonuses. This month's sales target seems to harbinger same. We're all pissed off, at least one other person has talked about trying to undershoot the sales target, and there are three of us who are in pronounced agreement about this, though one of the two others said that the rest of the old guard are probably automatically not going to put in any effort because of this sales target. I heard that the store manager defended the target in front of him, then yelled at the regional manager behind closed doors, and now the target has been somewhat decreased, though it's still too high. I was present when said worker told the store manager that a lot of us were pissed at the sales target, to which she replied that the regional manager knows this and that's why the sales target was lowered, but there wasn't much to do because the latter is being pressured by the CEO who's being pressured in turn by some fund which has bought a large share of the company, or something of that sort.

If people here have advice about how to undersell inconspicuously, let me know. We're underselling by a bit anyway due to how crazy the target is, but we should aim much lower if we want to be noticed, and we obviously have to get most if not all of the old guard (about six workers including me, now) on our side. The new people will be less of a problem because they're new and therefore inefficient anyway.

Our former shift manager has become some kind of recruiting manager under direct patronage of the CEO, and this has brought five new workers over, not counting the proposed "real" shift manager. One of them found this mall store to be ill-suited to her proclivities, but the rest may well stay. This will make undershooting easier because of said inefficiency, but harder because they might just be used to displace the old guard. Oh, and one of the new folk is a bossy bastard, and I haven't told him off yet, but I will.

Finally, one of the people who tentatively agrees to undershooting is on his way out looking for a better job, and I'll be honest that I'm thinking of trying to get transfered to a store closer to home (as it is it's about a 50-min. bus ride over and an hour+ ride back, and it's in the middle of nowhere as far as my extra-curricular activities are concerned). This may influence things.

Anyway, that's the ld. Any suggestions?

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jef costello
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Nov 6 2007 22:12

Well if you run stock low then you can make people less likely to buy but that's fairly noticeable. You could always try recommending books that you don't have (or claim not to ). Otherwise try and clog up the tills, that will slow people down and if you can get the tills backed up then that will lower sales too.
You'd probably need for barcodes to be damaged ( easy to do, but probably not on a large enough scale) or for machinery to not work (again hard to do)
Do you need a supervisor to key in an override on the tills if there is an error? You could repeatedly make errors. Wastes the manager's time going backwards and forwards and keeps him/her from watching over the rest of the staff. If he then parks up by the tills you can use that as an excuse, say he's stressing you out by staring at you or something.

OTher thing you can do is really good customer service. ie spend ten minutes helping someone choose a book, chat to people at the tills. Stuff you can reasonably claim is an attempt at good customer service.

anna x
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Nov 7 2007 08:32

Hey... maybe I'm incredibly silly but if I want a book I go into the shop, pick it off of the shelf, go to the counter and pay for it. I actually don't give a toss about receiving good customer service or whether or not the person serves me give s a hoot whether I live or die... I just want that book. One thing I did think of though, without of course knowing too much about the kind of book shop you work in, is whether there is another shop nearby that stocks similar stuff. If so you could - real quiet like - whisper to them at the counter... "I'm not supposed to do this but I've been told that ...... shop has the same book on special". Customer leaves, goes to the other shop, finds the same book not discounted but the same price so they buy it there anyway. If customer comes back to complain about the bum steer just remind them that you only passed on information that you had 'heard'.
Solidarity.
gregg. red n black star

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Tojiah
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Nov 7 2007 14:16

Well, steps I've taken today:

I opened, so I had a chance to move some money between tills, meaning that they'll have a shortage on one side which may cause them to recount quite a few times before they realize it's gone to the till on the other side. I also only opened the service door once and did not bother reopening it after the security guard automatically closed it as they are wont since the new company came in, which did cause some more friction between the security supervisor ass on the one side and our manager and supply driver on the other.

At the till I meticulously read out the special offers for each and every sale (including newspapers, which is both ridiculous and sensible considering the fact that we were firmly told to make sure we get at least two items per sale roll eyes), and went about everything very slowly and thoroughly. I also made sure to use every chance to talk to the coworkers instead of working, but that happens anyway. wink

Making errors won't do because we all get a "manager card" for the tills.

None of my cohorts was on shift today, so I felt kind of apprehensive about doing anything more. Still, I think we were way below relative daily target when I left, and I hope I had my share in that.

Plus, I went to work after about an hour's sleep since the last shift, which showed, I hope. I also joked with some customers about how needless expensive some things were. I wonder if I should try and spill a few leaflets denoting special sales from the competing chain, or will that be too much?

Also, the company's Deputy Director of marketing is an idiot: he suggests we offer people to add chocolate to giftwrapped books, thus allowing us to more easily fill the two items per sale quota. Chocolate. With books. In the Israeli climate. Of course I heartily suggested this to customers hoping that the physics will work out. smile

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Steven.
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Nov 7 2007 14:25

the competing chain leaflets thing sounds too risky, that'd get your ass fired!

anna x
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Nov 7 2007 14:33
tojiah wrote:
I wonder if I should try and spill a few leaflets denoting special sales from the competing chain, or will that be too much?

I'd be careful with that... anything hard copy evidence like is a sure way to get you arseholed, but as I said...

Quote:
you could - real quiet like - whisper to them at the counter... "I'm not supposed to do this but I've been told that ...... shop has the same book on special"

or something similar like
"íf you like this book, such and such store has a special on so maybe you should check it out... of course I didn't tell you wink "
That way you are achieving what your aims are and the customer thinks that they are in on a secret between the two of you. Everyone loves a secret grin
all the best.
gregg.

Mike Harman
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Nov 7 2007 14:45

also spamming another shop's leaflets won't get customer attention. Gregg's idea will make them think you're doing them a favour.

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Tojiah
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Nov 8 2007 08:57

Sorry, gregg, for some reason I didn't catch your post before I posted mine.

That would be a great idea, unfortunately there just is no actual competitor within walking distance. I found an online list of the main (only?) competitor chain's stores in the general area, I'll try and memorize it. There's another store from the same chain, though, I could send more people over there, but it's not cheaper, and it'll only hurt the local boss (and maybe the regional one, too, since it's considered part of a different region roll eyes). Also, even better, when people say that something's too expensive, I can suggest that they use the online store, since everything's cheaper there. I could also direct them to the competitor's online store.

That's a good idea, anyway, sorry if it seems like I was ignoring it...

(And, yeah, that leaflet thing is stupid, mark that up for sleep deprivation)

anna x
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Nov 8 2007 10:20
tojiah wrote:
sorry if it seems like I was ignoring it...

I didn't take it like that at all grin
Re-directing people to online stores sounds like a plan though.
What about if someone approaches the counter with a book to buy and you sort of went... "mmm... that's interesting... I've heard a lot of mixed reports about this book with alot of people saying it's shit" or say "mmm... interesting choice..." and when the customer inevitably asks "what do you mean" you can say "well of course it's up to you but I've heard it's not that great" and then direct them to a cheaper book that of course "has gotten rave reviews"
all the best.
gregg.

Mike Harman
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Nov 8 2007 11:07

How about directing them to books you don't have in stock, and offering to order them for them? Or pretending you don't have a book in stock (could always say computer error if they later found it), and offering to order for them? Only works for enquiries though.

And is there any way you could hide big-selling books behind other more obscure ones on the shelves? Like make Harry Potter hard to find etc.?

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Tojiah
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Nov 8 2007 12:25

I don't think you people realize how little notice people take of what a book salesman tells them. I've practically told people that they should lay off some book and they took it anyway. And it was crap. 'Cause they just wanted to come in and grab a book, they don't give a shit.

But yeah, I can make things harder to find, especially in the Russian section which I'm in charge of since I'm the only one who can read Cyrillic (though I don't understand Russian), and things are always misplaced by customers so we can just go with the flow..

It'll be very hard to reorder the fast-selling stands, though, the store manager constantly goes over them in every shift's she's in (of course we have more leverage on the evening shift once she's gone).

I'll try out some stuff and talk to people, see what they think.

Also, I read a progress report email saying that we're at 95% of our target. Even if we tried we probably couldn't make it, so maybe we should aim for 80% and less...

It's a real shame there's no real competitor around.

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Tojiah
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Nov 8 2007 22:24

Got excellent positive feedback from one of the "cohorts" about actions I've taken (disorganizing Russian section, reading out all the till offers and some new DVD we're supposed to push, even to people who've only come in for the newspaper, though one person actually bought the chocolate after I told him it's cheaper at the convenience store roll eyes), and support about how ridiculous the target is from at least one other. Next shift has none of the cohorts, and the manager will be around all the time, so I don't know how much I can work it. Today has been surprisingly good in sales, which means I haven't been doing enough, but I'm gaining confidence in misguiding people, though not having enough support still makes me apprehensive, and I find myself doing my job automatically.

I also covered one of the "bonus books" (which automatically tops off the bonus by 5 NIS for each one sold regardless of anything else) with a fellow book, making it harder to find if asked for.

So nothing much to report, all in all. Tomorrow I'll have yet another chance to play with the finances, unfortunately there's only end-day till checks, which will just delay us getting home and not customer service. Sunday I'm opening again, so I can do something then, though not sure what.

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jef costello
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Nov 8 2007 23:26
grrregg wrote:
Hey... maybe I'm incredibly silly but if I want a book I go into the shop, pick it off of the shelf, go to the counter and pay for it. I actually don't give a toss about receiving good customer service or whether or not the person serves me give s a hoot whether I live or die... I just want that book.

Not how most customers behaved int he shop that I worked in.
Is it possible for keys and things to get mislaid? At my old work we had all the keys for everything in one lockable cupboard, if someone had lost the key to that it would have caused chaos. Or broken the key off in the lock. I mean by twisting not bending (so it looks like it happened trying to open/close it) but you can openly do it if you want.

edit: nice work, sounds like you're doing some good stuff.

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Nov 9 2007 13:52

Not a good day. Tried to do as poor a job at the till as possible, but didn't have quiet time in which to talk to coworkers, so they ended up just taking the load off me. Diverted callers from getting books in store, did everything as slowly and meticulously as possible, but still too much traffic.

I don't know what to do, to be honest. I'm considering backing off until someone else takes the initiative, makes no sense if only I do stuff and then get quietly fired for it or something.

I mean, I have managed to do an abysmal job at the till, but that's not as effective if people keep helping me out. roll eyes

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boozemonarchy
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Nov 9 2007 16:11
Quote:
I'm considering backing off until someone else takes the initiative

I know the store has been busy and all but I don't really reccomend this course. Of course if you see prospects for further action as abysmally slim (it seems as though workers are still angry about the targets?) backing off may be the prudent course for your incomes sake. If not abysmally slim, try to fit in a talk with you workmates and try to work something out. I'm assuming your coworkers know what your doing and are just being timid and need that little extra push. The more workers involved the less likely anyone will be scared, the action will hopefully beget more action till victory. Chin up. smile

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Tojiah
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Nov 11 2007 15:03

Thanks for the support, fellows, but I don't think it's going to pan out. Too many people are optimistic that we just might make the target this month. I've told one of the new people I was basically working to rule on Friday, and she sounded supportive, especially when I told her how the regional manager can just move quotas around stores arbitrarily to suit her personal grievances with the various store managers, but that's not enough support. At least one of the cohorts said that we should give it a week, and although I have managed to hear out more negative feelings from others, none of them seem to be as keen on actually doing something. It's also hard for them to understand that I'm talking about active disruption.

Anyway, I thought of it yesterday, and once there's enough support among the staff, it really shouldn't be hard to practically shut the place down using work-by-rule, without any overt sabotage. We can just not find books (because the place is too busy), not re-organize the shelves after the customers have had a go, work dilligently at the till, take our full mandated half-hour breaks leaving minimal staff out during rush hour, etc. But I really don't see what purpose is served by me being the only one doing anything. It's just not working right now.

Mike Harman
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Nov 11 2007 15:10

toj, that sound sensible. No point getting yourself sacked just for fun. Encouraging people to take proper breaks etc. is worth doing regardless of targets.

anna x
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Nov 11 2007 15:34
tojiah wrote:
Thanks for the support, fellows, but I don't think it's going to pan out. Too many people are optimistic that we just might make the target this month. I've told one of the new people I was basically working to rule on Friday, and she sounded supportive, especially when I told her how the regional manager can just move quotas around stores arbitrarily to suit her personal grievances with the various store managers, but that's not enough support. At least one of the cohorts said that we should give it a week, and although I have managed to hear out more negative feelings from others, none of them seem to be as keen on actually doing something. It's also hard for them to understand that I'm talking about active disruption.

Anyway, I thought of it yesterday, and once there's enough support among the staff, it really shouldn't be hard to practically shut the place down using work-by-rule, without any overt sabotage. We can just not find books (because the place is too busy), not re-organize the shelves after the customers have had a go, work dilligently at the till, take our full mandated half-hour breaks leaving minimal staff out during rush hour, etc. But I really don't see what purpose is served by me being the only one doing anything. It's just not working right now.

Welcome to the world of frustration associated with workplace organising. While I've managed to have a few minor successes at some of my workplaces, people becomming shoe-gazers when it comes to taking any kind of action - even work to rule - is all too common. I've found that people are generally very 'supportive' of others trying to organise stuff and they talk the talk but when management inevitably start playing hard-ball these 'staunch' workers become jellyfish and you find yourself not only back at square one tacticly but also a big 'ol target for management. Beware of 'dogs' too... workers who are active in a campaign or at least really supportive but then role over with the pissiest amont of pressure and effectively sabotage your campaign. A friend of mine is involved in trying to organise her workplace before a re-negotiation of their workplace agreement takes place... Once again, while a number of workers are joining the union and want to reap the benefits of the hard work that her and one other are doing, not one of the pricks are stepping up and taking some initiative. My friend has even tried a soft form of delegating tasks but this isn't working as people don't want to be facing the grief that my friend is getting from the employer in attempting to get a better agreement than the fucked one they're on now. Solidarity is a nice word!
all the best.
gregg red n black star

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Nov 13 2007 20:45

Well, talked to another worker yesterday, she says we should talk to the regional manager and cite our grievances and the rationale before we go about any action, which seems sensible enough. Other workers sounded out and seem upset, but no support for action as of yet. There probably won't be a critical mass for anything until the end of the month. :-/

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Tojiah
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Nov 25 2007 00:53

And now we have this sale until the end of the month which is going to up our revenue, so we're likely to make our target after all. So no action until that's over. And I'm not sure how easy it's going to proceed after that. I've tried bridging this over, but half the staff isn't quite on speaking terms with the other half, and it's getting kind of exhausting having to deal with this nonsense and travelling about 50 minutes each way. I'm considering trying to get transfered closer to home, will also make it easier to fraternize with my colleagues after-hours, which was very impractical in this shop, since it's so far away both from my own place and from my girlfriend's.

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Steven.
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Nov 26 2007 18:54
Quote:
I'm considering trying to get transfered closer to home, will also make it easier to fraternize with my colleagues after-hours, which was very impractical in this shop, since it's so far away both from my own place and from my girlfriend's.

that sounds like a good idea - good luck!