Hurdy Gurdy

Scheduling at the Bait Shop doesn’t sit well with me because I rather prefer fixed, regular working hours. In contrast to a daily start and finish at the same time, this week the managers have me working five days with five different commencement times, five different end times. Those shifts vary in length from 5 hours to 10.5 hours. Every week is more or less like this.

Such an arrangement might work for others: not me.

The system fails we workers in a number of ways. There are restrictions on allowable hours for each category and activity. The granularity of these things is as fine as allocating time for management meetings, which causes me to question the trust placed in individual stores to figure such trivial matters for themselves.

Going to the heart of the matter is that central (and remote) control of all the bait shops is a stinky philosophy. As a colleague noted, what business requires even store managers to clock in and out? Don’t the bods in the C-Suite trust them sufficiently to get the job done each week in a timely fashion?

Impractical too is the division between categories. We Bait Team Members are really only Bait Stockers with white shirts and ties; the difference is superficial. Everyone can do everyone else’s job. Surely a decent management team could use whatever human resources are present on any day to get whatever needs doing, done. Artificially separating a small staff by essentially meaningless differences in job description (and trivial task differences) restricts the potential of everyone.

There I go again. I assume that maximizing inputs to the business – capital of all kinds – is a priority for the owners, and every day I spend there proves just how mistaken I am.

Train To Nowhere

The public story is that Bait Associates receive 150 hours of initial training in addition to ongoing “monthly sessions and updates”.

It’s a joke, of course, because individual store managers focus entirely on keeping ahead of their endless paperwork and reporting requirements, with any extra time used to reinforce the Earthworms Direct bait and switch policy. Supervising by dog-paddle is a nice visual metaphor.

The ongoing “training” problem in which I find myself is a good example. Before Thanksgiving, when I was hired, the focus was simply getting me onto the floor and selling. No consideration was given to understanding the product, figuring useful ways of keeping the store looking good or even how the products sit in the market. In other words, the idea was to learn by doing.

Now, someone, somewhere has decided that the training required for anyone new to the bait biz must be completed by everyone. So now there is a mild panic (the standard mode of operating around here) to catch me and my compatriot up with the program. The Baiter-in-Chief hasn’t a clue what’s included in the syllabus, nor how far I have progressed. I sat in the receiving dock with a computer I can barely hear doing CBT modules as they pop up, wondering why I’m doing such stuff now and not three months ago.

I told her that the anomalies I’d found in the system assumed a certain amount of prior training, viz Bait 101 and 102 where classroom activities and necessary prerequisites for continuing. The day we had in Brandon was 104, designed to get part-timers partially up to speed with national brand earthworms and their ED comparables, which for some reason my supervisors thought was the aforementioned 101 and 102.

The key is that poor lines of authority and responsibility, lethargy and utter lack of interest leaves me in a no-man’s land of torpor…hardly a way to move forward.

Impossible

At the Bait Shop today I received my 90 review. Will delivered this thing in his regulation bored style, meaning that he doesn’t care and…well, he just doesn’t care. He’s really only interested in fulfilling whatever Abbey requires of him.

Despite what I now think was pretty much 100% effort on my behalf, I received only “meet expectation” grades. Of course these people are amateurs, it is of no consequence and the whole thing is meaningless, but still, I felt a little hurt at no-one recognizing this truth.

How hard would I have needed to work to make them see me as exceeding expectation or impressing them with an outstanding performance?

Well fuck them. I shall be not at all concerned about any of this foolishness in future, and continue doing my own thing, treating this as my pocket-money job. It’s kinda galling.

In better news, I have some nice Bordeaux boxes, with which I shall do something.

After the Rain

The coal mine didn’t collapse over the Christmas and New Year season. That’s the neutral news.

The bad news is that the pay increase promised after my 90 day probation was precisely 2.5%, or, in nominal terms, a quarter an hour. Yep, my value as assessed by the folks who determine such things is $10.25 per regular working hour.

Understanding why all this kind of thing must be standardized across an organization is easy, but one wonders at the long-term value to the business. Do they lose people – or lose the energy and creativity of people – through systematic mismatching input and reward? Do they analyze the value of those loses? Do they care? Do they even know?

The mine won none of the seasonal incentives offered for achieving sales targets, falling into the middle of the range of our peers. That wasn’t announced or explained, I had to ask last night just prior to closing, which tells us about the level of communication between my managers and we workers. Apparently the first two months of 2016 were awful, leading to insurmountable targets at the end of the year. When I asked why those months were so bad, eyes just got big and the silence likewise.