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The "Dead End" Job - June 1st 2013, 12:59 AM

So I work in retail at a major national chain whose name shall remain undisclosed. I'm sure many of you have similar jobs, whether in food service, sales, customer service, stocking, office assisting, etc. Pay is mediocre and never really increases until you get to the assistant/store manager level. Hours suck and there is no set schedule. Managers are hit or miss. You know, the American Dream.

A few questions for those in similar situations:
1) What do you do to keep morale up, keep things interesting? Both for yourself and coworkers.
2) For those who have personally advanced within said job or seen others do so, what's the secret? Being the "yes man?" Sticking to your guns and working hard? Kissing ass? Knowing the right people?
3) How do you deal with demanding people, slackers, and the downright clueless, either customers or (god forbid) coworkers?

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Re: The "Dead End" Job - June 3rd 2013, 05:07 AM

I work retail as well, and just got promoted to being a department supervisor after a little more than five years of working where I do. To answer with my personal thoughts and what I have seen and experienced in the store:

1) Make the job fun. If selling product or trying to meet "metrics (this is the term my company uses)" on a particular selling point (warranties, batteries, credit card signups, accessory sales, etc.), you can try to make a game out of it. If in a supervisory or managerial position, perhaps boosting morale would be as simple as offering a reward to those that perform in this area the best. Getting to know workers on some sort of personal level has seemed to help me personally feel better, in that it's not just "employee number 14," but "Bob, the part-time worker going to university for electrical engineering." It gives something to discuss besides work and helps build a connection between co-workers IMO. This line can get blurred between employee and supervisor/ manager (which depends on the rest of the work environment as well).

2)It seems like all of these apply in some way or another. There needs to be a balance though, IMO. Being willing to learn any and all parts of the business that you are in is never a bad thing. It shows some sort of initiative. That being said, if you are continually asked to do things that are above your pay grade... without getting that pay, you should talk with a manager or supervisor to work towards advancement. The same goes for working hard. You can work your tail off so long as you can sustain it and you are not being taken advantage of. Covering shifts for people that call in sick or "no call no show" can show a lot of dedication, but if you are not 100% there mentally and try to do this, it may be better to just stay home and take the rest. Personal connections can help get the job, but that doesn't mean you'll keep it. The connections you build through a decent personality and healthy work ethic seem to be far more important.

3) This depends on the relationship I have between the person in question. If a manager of mine happens to be demanding on a particular day, I will often times just calmly call them out on it and let them know that I know what I am doing, and all my work will be done as it needs to be. If anything is wrong, they can let me know when I am finished and I will fix it accordingly. If it is a "regular" employee being demanding, I (again) call them out on it and remind them that they are not in charge of what I need to get done. As for slackers- I usually pick up their slack and take credit for their work in some sort of subtle way. As for clueless people... if they are customers, I will try and hold their hand (proverbially speaking) as much as I can without wasting my time. I look for signs that they are going to actually buy something, I try and educate them on product or policy as succinctly as possible, while using terminology they can understand. As for clueless workers, it depends on what type of "clueless" you are referring to. I get a lot of workers that are new on the job and I am normally the one that assists in training. Because of this, I get MANY questions while working and I do my very best to lend them a hand in learning the ropes. I have begun to accept though, that not everyone is able or willing to learn everything, but I still try and do what I can to see them succeed.

Interesting question. I don't consciously think about this stuff too often.

"Ignore the ramblings of the ignorant, and step on or over their crumpled bodies as you make your way to the top of the mountain. Eat upon their flesh for fuel, and, through your determination and will, banish them to obscurity and a life of complacency and self righteousness that is the hell in which they live"

-Richard Safreed

"Civilize the mind, but make savage the body."
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