Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Meetings Than The President

     Something I miss from my job at a grocery store was the lack of store meetings I had to attend.  That is something quite different from my current job in electronics.  I don’t know where this idea that people pay attention the best or learn the best before 8am but it needs to stop.  Unfortunately, it seems that the more I hear stories from others in both grocery and retail chains, the more I hear that store meetings are becoming more common.  Is that something all of you out there can attest to?  I’d be real interested in hearing how many of you have to attend store meetings as part of your training for your position and how often those meetings are.
     What confuses me is just how a grocery store can have a store meeting.  What do typical hourly workers need to know about their job that requires everyone?  Every meeting I ever had was in my department whenever we had some extra time with our supervisor.  They typically took 5-10 minutes and we would bullshit whenever we had them so we often stretched those 5-10 minutes into 20-30 minutes.  They were great because I learned what I needed and I didn’t need to waste time on some big production.  In the world of electronics?  A totally different mindset.
     At my store, it seems we have at least 1 a month.  Generally, however, I have 2-3 meetings a month.  These meetings often last anywhere from a half hour to 2 hours and can involve either the entire store or specific departments within the store.  Most go over information that I could probably sum up in a third of the time.  Not to mention I could do it at a fraction of the cost it’s costing the managers to bring in everyone for an additional 2 hours of spent labor.  For someone who is just a normal, full-time employee working a job that I didn’t have to go to school for, these meetings feel like overkill to me.
     It’s not even the fact that we’re having meetings early in the morning, although that is a HUGE part of my frustration.  It’s about having to leave after the meeting only to return later in the day for a regular shift.  And in a typical electronics store that closes by 10pm or so, that gap between meeting and shift tends to be only a few hours or so.  This is hardly enough time to get anything meaningful done in your day.  Not to mention, you’re generally too tired after the meeting to want to do anything else.  So, you just go home, nap, and come straight back to work, having felt as if you’ve never left.
     These meetings can be helpful, no doubt, but generally they just go over information I’ve already been told from one of my supervisors or the store manager in a one-on-one situation.  So, really, these meetings are just a rehashing of information I already knew.  My store does it on the worst possible day, too – Saturday mornings.  Wow, thanks for getting me up at 6am on a Saturday for no reason!  I think that bugs me the most about these meetings.  It’s just such an inefficient use of labor.  With all the managers and supervisors that complain about a lack of money for scheduling, they sure don’t know how to manage their time properly.  Give me ten minutes during someone’s shift and I could relate whatever information you tried to relate in your 2 hour meeting.
     But to mention this to anyone in a position of “power” in the store is futile.  The supervisors don’t want to counter anything the store manager says, in general, since they tend to be the key for them to move up in the business.  Nobody wants to rock the boat in a store.  Whenever I suggest we change the time for these meetings or suggest a different method of delivering store news to my supervisor, I’m just given a nod and a, “I know but this is just how things are.  I have to be at these things, too, you know?”  Well, if you resent having to be at them, why not try and change that?
     The job appraisal meetings are generally a waste for me, as well, for a few reasons.  I don’t have any desire to move up in the world of retail so I’m fine in the position I hold.  I’ve been there so long that there’s no room to really move for my pay (at least that’s what they tell me).  Plus, I’ve been there so long that I’ve pretty much got the operating duties down pat for my department.  So when I go into these meetings, it’s basically a carbon copy of the last meeting.
     “You’re doing a great job.  Keep up what you’re doing.  We appreciate your leadership in the department.”
     “Okay, cool.”
     I’m glad to have gotten up so I could find out that nothing is different from last month/quarter/year/whenever.  The supervisor who is doing the review seems just as bored with the process as I am, too.  That half-enthused gusto they try to put into your meeting to make it seem like what you do is earth shattering and unique is just pointless hype.  I’ll go more into appraisals elsewhere.
     1 big meeting that occurs every year is the “Christmas season training” where we prep everyone for what is to come.  When you’ve been at one company for longer than two years, this meeting should be option.  How hard is it to know that there’s going to be a long line (for increasingly less impressive sales with each passing year), people will be running around like mad, and you’re going to feel like passing out two-thirds through your shift?  I attend these meetings and find the same information given out and each year it just gets more depressing because I used to enjoy the holidays but retail has made me hate them.  Only the new seasonal employees should have to attend these meetings.  It’s all about cutting out the wasteful spending in a store’s budget.  I’ll have more on the holiday season elsewhere but I’m just laying the groundwork for now.
     This overload of meetings does nothing more than to increase my annoyance with my company.  Like I stated in my subject, I feel like I’m going to more meetings than the president would.  How does that seem right?  It’s great to be trained but the time spent training shouldn’t outweigh the time spent actually doing your job.  Otherwise, if you’re going to make me feel like some board member or some high-ranking public servant, you better pay me as such.
     More soon from the frontlines…