Sunday, August 11, 2013


I'm really not sure how I feel about the whole official management thing.

Did I ever tell you guys how that came about?

The BD Manager position became available suddenly this summer, and after being turned down for SMD Manager a year and a half ago, I was a little hesitant to try for this one. Last time I wasn't even granted an interview: they just promoted someone else and told me "I didn't have any experience as a manager." And that frustrated me. 

You guys know I've been with my employer since I was nineteen years old. If their excuse was always going to be I have no management experience, how was I going to get experience there? 

But when this position came up, I really wanted it. Sure, it would be sad to leave North before the expansion, but there was nowhere to go North. There's the Manager, and then there's the Assistant Manager, and that's it. Now, I get well compensated for making calls in Sheet Music, an override just the same as any department manager makes. But I had no authority behind the pay: just the compensation. This was different, though. I practically ran Band up North anyway. There are only a couple of aspects of my job that differed from the BD Manager at the South location.

This time, I called R and said I was interested and what did I need to do?

What surprised me was the answer I got. "Oh, I'm glad you called. We've already thrown your name around a couple of times. I couldn't find your resume on file. Do you guys have that on file up North?"

I had to explain that I didn't have one, that I literally came in with a friend and filled out an application and got the job on personal recommendation without any real kind of interview. I had never made one before, and I would have to make one.

She sent me her personal one so I could see what they were supposed to look like, and told me, "Just fax it up to me or e-mail it to me when you get it done, and then we'll set up an interview." 

An interview. A real, honest to God interview. That scared the living hell out of me. I stressed about it the entire week before the day, and I actually went out and bought an outfit (to Padawan's everlasting amusement) because I felt like if I was going in for an interview, they'd probably take me more seriously if I wasn't wearing jeans and a Star Wars t-shirt. Then I made Padawan work with me on practice interviews where he asked me a bunch of common interview questions, so I would be prepared.

Bit of a wasted effort, really. R and C conducted my interview, and they only asked me one of the questions Padawan had, and it was the ONE question I was really hoping they wouldn't ask. My job before I came here, and why I left.

*sigh* Padawan told me not to answer it for them the way I'd answered it for him. But you know what? I couldn't help myself. When C asked, "So why did you leave?" I said, without missing a beat, "Because it was Wal-Mart."

And I got the exact reaction I was hoping for: they both laughed. 

And then I added how the management wasn' my taste. I tried to be diplomatic. I probably failed.

Mostly, though, they asked me management questions. How would I handle an employee I didn't personally like but had to work with? How would I handle older employees who resented my youth and inexperience? What would I do if I was told to do something by someone over my head that I didn't agree with?

And honestly, that was the one answer I gave that worried me.

It's one of my biggest personality flaws: if someone tells me to do something that I think is just flat out wrong or stupid, I fight it. I've been that way since I was a little girl, and I wasn't sure how I should answer the question. I have never been a "Yes" person. 

So I stalled for time. I said, "Let me make sure I understand the question. In this scenario, you would have told me to do something in a way I did not agree with, and you want to know what I would do?"


Part of me thought I should lie. But I figured they probably knew me well enough at that point to know if I was telling them what I thought they wanted to hear. 

So I told them the truth. "If I really was against it, the first thing I would do is ask, respectfully, why it had to be done. Perhaps if you explained it to me so I could see it from your perspective, I would be able to agree with your decision and follow through." That sounded diplomatic, but they didn't let me end it  there.

"And if you still didn't like the idea?"

Well, there was no way around that one. "If I still didn't agree, I would try to offer an alternative. It's useless to just point out why something wouldn't work if you aren't going to offer a solution."

"And if we didn't like your solution?"

"Well, if after all of that you guys still wanted me to do it your way, I guess I'd have to do it because you're the boss. However, if we did it your way and it didn't work out, I'd offer another alternative." 

The rest of the interview went pretty well. They asked me, at the end, if I had any questions. And that was the question Matt told me I should be prepared for. And, oh yes, I had a question.

The concern that had prevented a promotion last time: experience.

"I know that you had expressed concern in the past about my lack of experience as a manager. I was wondering if anything in our discussion had failed to relax those fears? I realize that I still have no experience, but I've been here since I was a kid. Is that still a major problem?"

They said no, that my interview and my resume had everything they needed.

And then they were like, "Okay, the interview is over. Now I just want to ask you some questions to get to know you better." Which kind of freaked me out. Was this is a test? A trap? A trick?

But it was just a normal conversation, and then we talked about some problems we were having at the North store and normal things. They did ask about my pet peeves, which made me nervous because that sounded like something an interviewer would ask. I gave a little spiel about how tardiness really annoys me. 

I only had to wait a couple of days for my answer. Friday, both C and R walked into the store.

C is very rarely up North, and when he said that he and R were there to talk to me, I was immediately horrified. I couldn't decide: is this a good thing, or a bad thing, that he came all the way up to talk to me? It was obviously a huge thing. 

They took me into Manager Man's office and closed the door. I wondered if they could hear my heart racing or if was just my imagination that it was thumping louder than a bass?

Didn't matter.

R started, "So, we both came up here today because what we have to say is very important. We're changing a lot of things, and we both needed to be here for it. I should start off by saying that we went with someone else for the BD Manager position South."

Well, my stomach kind of dropped a little. I had kind of expected that, but it was still disappointing.

"But, that doesn't mean you're not getting promoted."

I was confused. There was no other promotion available that I was qualified for: sure, my resume mentioned my experience in Guitars, but it was LIMITED. Where was this going?

"Chanel, we see how hard you work, how good you are, and how willing and able you are to change things when it doesn't work. We were going to give it to you, but then we had someone pop up with almost all of your experience who had managed a large music store before. He was just so qualified we couldn't afford to lose him, but we don't want to hold you back because you've been here since you were so young. Obviously, we're not going to hold you back because you've always been with us."

C broke in there. "You rocked your interview. I mean, I learned more about you in that hour than I ever knew about you before. I took a class on interviewing, and it was like you taught the class: you did everything exactly right. I hadn't expected that, given the circumstances of how you were originally hired. I was impressed."

"Well, I'm relieved to hear that much, at least! I was worried about my interview. I've never had a real one before, so that was a new experience for me."

R said, "Well, your interview gave us a lot to think about. So, we're here today to tell you that we want to invest in your future with the company. So, you're not the Manager, but we've made a position for you. You're going to be the Assistant Manager of BD, and you'll stay North. You'll run the North store BD, and he'll run South. The two of you will work together, and you'll be learning from each other as we go. Obviously, he's got experience you don't, but you know a lot of things that he doesn't. Once a month, you and I are going to meet for lunch to discuss any concerns you might have, things that you've seen. You'll be assigned a book to read, because there are some things you need to learn that you haven't yet."

Well, this was just sounding better and better. Substantial raise (hell yeah!), actual authority.

C started talking, "Now, this position has never existed before. We've created this position for you. If you decide to leave the company, or if you get promoted up to another position, this one will never be filled. This is strictly so you have the opportunities you need to learn what you don't already know. That way if this, or any position like it, becomes available we can immediately move you into it and you'll have all the tools you need for success. If we had put you in the position you wanted now, I think you would have quit in six months. It's a stressful job, and some things you need to know before you get put in the situation. This way, you'll be eased into some of the harder things about management. This will also get your foot in the door: if ever you decide to leave the company, you will have this title on your resume and a stellar recommendation from the two of us personally so that you won't be held back anywhere, should you choose to leave us."

I'm honestly very touched that, to give me a chance, they made a position for me.

But that very thing is EXACTLY the source of a lot of stress for me.

It's a running joke North. We all watch the Office, and everybody thinks the same. Assistant to the Regional Manager= Assistant TO the Band Manager. 

South, they all take me seriously. I got congratulations and people ask me questions and defer to my opinion.

North, they laugh at me. Argue with me. Before, if I wanted something done the people in my department would snap to it. As soon as they gave me that title, I started getting argument instead of action. I thought that once Tuba left, it would get better.

But it hasn't.

In fact, it's been so busy (it's our busy season in BD) that we don't have enough time in the day to go through our deliveries. Stuff is just piling on the counters, unreceived, because we just don't have time. It's back to back customers for all of us: if we get five minutes, it's just enough time to START on something, but never time to finish it. And one day in particular, it was so bad that none of us stopped for two hours. And then we finally had a lull, and I immediately started working on the things piled up. I can't stand clutter and mess, it's in my way and it makes it hard to do my job. Three of us could conquer it all in half an hour if we tried.

But I suddenly realized that my two...employees? subordinates? what do you call them?...had left the counter area. I figured they'd be back in a minute or two, so I kept going. And then I heard one of them saying, "She's playing the guitar on the other side, and it sounded so funny." She was talking about the other girl, and she was telling the receptionist.

I had been working just as long as them with just as many customers, and I was working by myself now while one played on a guitar and the other just talked?


I said, "Hey, can you pull Two over here so you guys can help me with this stuff? It can't just sit here."

And it would have been fine. D immediately put down her drink and went to go get Two. But then Jazz, the receptionist, spoke up. "Oh my god. Just give her a minute!"

And it wasn't the words. It was the tone that pissed me off.

Because, for God's sake, I had been working non stop just as long and I was still trying to accomplish something! I wasn't asking anymore of the girls than I was planning to do myself. And since I'm the fucking head of the department, when I say you have to do your damn job, you have to do it! There is no arguing, and you certainly don't need to use that tone. 

And am I no longer human? I mean, I'd like a fucking minute to myself, too! 

The thing is, my authority is limited. I am responsible for discipline in my department, and Reception is not my domain. So she, like everyone else, just kind of mocks my position. She feels free to argue because I can't do anything to her about it. 

It had already been a stressful day: it took every ounce of self control not to tell her off.

I'm seriously going to have to talk about this ongoing problem that I am having with back talk. Because it's happened a couple of times when I tell D and Two to do something, and Jazz just butts in and argues with me about it. I'm not telling her to do it, but she sits there and argues with me anyway. And it's always in the same tone, which I would find offensive if she used it on me outside of work if we were just hanging out! And when she argues, then the other two start to argue.

B Money says that it's because nobody respects a position that was made up, and that I should just accept the fact that I'm not any kind of manager and just enjoy the raise. I want to talk to Jay Jay about it, but I don't know how. 

At this point I'm thinking maybe I should resign the raise and the position and go back to what I was before. 

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