Monday, September 24, 2012

Me on management as a manager of managers

(tl;dr: A manager position is opening and I've got ppl interested. This is my letter to those who are interested in the position.)

It's not a secret that (manager) is going to step down in some fashion in the near future, leaving a management position open at (a) store. She and I have talked about it and I completely understand and support her decision and respect her reasons for doing so. I've done the same thing in the past. 

I'm taking applications from outside the store and will be doing interviews of those applicants as well as interested employees over the next couple weeks. 

If you're currently employed at the store and are interested in the position there are several requirements that have to be met to be considered for the position. These requirements are the same ones I will have of a new hire hired right off the street as well and I think it fair that you have a heads up on what they are. 

1) Must be able to drive for the company as determined by the insurance company we run our drivers through. This is not easy. It means clean record, like really clean.

2) Must be able to work well with others in the store and NOT cause drama. If anybody is currently interested in the job and is considering a Klingon method of promotion either by assassination, or tearing other employees down I will work it myself before giving it to someone who doesn't build up those around them. A manager must cultivate the best in their employees and co-workers at all times. This isn't negotiable.

3) Must be able to think on their feet and call me with solutions to problems. I appreciate that managers call their managers when they aren't SURE of something, but posing a question and having a possible answer (or answers) is indicative of someone who is a problem solver and who is able to take care of things themselves. If the first instinct is for me to do all the thinking then there's no real advantage to having a manager there is there? I know there's a belief out there that frequent calls indicate an interest in the store and someone who cares about the store and that's great. I'm looking for someone who is independent and a problem solver. Not someone who needs their hand held. I don't want that to sound harsh but there it is. This is a big store and it does high volume and has a large crew. There are going to be issues that come up daily. I need a person who is able to handle those issues themselves and contact me for the big ones. The little ones can wait and you can let me know what you did to handle it. Every decision should not mean I get a call.

4) The job requires a lot of hours and a lot of dedication. It means, sometimes, missed family events, missed concerts, canceled vacations. It means coming in on your days off sometimes to take care of issues that have cropped up unexpectedly. It's a LOT of work. You've seen the amount of work (manager) does. Sometimes when it hits the fan I'm out of state and can only lend support on the phone and those times are rough. If I can be here to help I will. But I rely, the store relies, the company relies, on the manager to be the first in and last out kind of thing. If you're not willing to give the level of commitment to the job that you've seen (manager) put into it then the job is not for you.

5) This is a tough store. It requires a tough person who is not just tough, but is also understanding, thoughtful, and aware of their employees needs and wants and is able to balance all those things in a way that is fair to everybody. It doesn't mean the employee always gets their way as the manager's job is to make sure the store is best served at all times by the employees who  are there. That may mean, at times, writing up people with whom you've become close. It may mean firing those people as well. It may mean following and enforcing rules that you may disagree with because they're for the betterment of the company as a whole. Sometimes what is best for the entire company is NOT what is best for the individual. It's unfortunate when that happens but in such a scenario it's my job to make sure the company wins and the hammer I use to pound that nail is the manager of the store.

All that being said I don't want to sound like I'm talking anybody out of this job. I want you to go into it with your eyes open. Don't blink. Blink and you're dead. grin

Management has been the most challenging and rewarding job I have ever taken on. Store manager is, without a doubt, my favorite job in the company. I've had all of them from part time overnight sales associate to regional manager with a third of the country working for me. Of all of those, store manager was, and is my favorite. It's a chance to shine, a chance to watch employees develop from newbies who don't know how to ring up anything to experienced sales people who are able to help customers find product with the vaguest of descriptions, talk first time customers into add-on sales, and re-work a wall as a matter of course. It's a chance to have the owner of the  company come in and look at your store, white-glove & black light it and come out smiling saying "Very nice job. Store looks great. Keep it up!" I can tell you from experience there's no other feeling like it. It's knowing your crew is working well together, that the work is getting done, and that the customers are happy and coming back. It's a thousand things that all come together to click and everything just runs like a well-oiled machine. It happens, and when it does it's awesome to be a part of. It's awesome not just as a manager but the staff loves it as well. But that won't happen because you want it to real, real bad. It happens because you work hard and make sure your employees are working hard too. It happens, but not by chance. It takes time and dedication and a lot of coffee.

I hope if you're interested in the job, that you are interested in it because of those reasons and not just because you want a bigger check. I'm not interested in someone who is only in it for the money. Money as a motivator is not all that great after your second double in a week. I've done them. I know what I'm talking about. Personal pride in your crew and store. Personal pride in meeting the challenge and overcoming it, something that has to start over each day and is never "finished." Personal pride in developing a crew that is full of people, all of whom want your job and are able to do it, that you can promote up to other stores in other towns and states. That's what interests me in a manager. That's what I'm looking for. Those are the buttons that work on me, and it's what I'm looking for in a manager of one of my premier stores. If that's not you it's okay to recuse yourself from the consideration because it's better to say "no thank you" than to take it and have it not work out.

What it takes to be a great sales associate isn't at all the same as what it takes to be a great manager, or even a good manager, truth be told. They're entirely different skill sets. It's like being a District Manager. Being a great manager is no indication of whether or not that person will be a great District Manager. I think I'm a heckuva manager but I don't think I'm a great District Manager. I'm very good, and trying to get better, but I'm not great yet. There's no shame to admitting you're great at one thing but not another. It's a sign of honesty and maturity. Both of those things are key ingredients needed for this job.

If you want to set up a meeting with me give me a call before Friday night. If you've got questions about the position ask me. If you want to ask (manager) about specifics of the job feel free to ask her WHILE SHE'S AT WORK. Don't call her at home about this. Also, she's your manager right up until the day she isn't and she, like all my managers, speaks with my voice as always, and I support her completely. I'm on vacation next week and will be collecting apps and setting up interviews with people from outside the store for the week I get back. I won't be making any decision at all until I've interviewed other people and it's possible I'll ask (my boss) for his opinion on some of them. It's a certainty that I'll ask (a big boss) his opinion. This store is too big, too important, for the decision to be made lightly. I assure you I'll consider any of you who have the qualifications listed above and I'll do so fairly with the best interest of the store as my guidon. It's what I do.
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