Lessons Learned as No One in Particular

Patriarchy

Nixon spent his last few days as president
Wandering the White House-
Drunk as a regretful prostitute
Pleasuring their 100th client.

I’ve spent nights drunk as Nixon,
Wandering grassy corners
That ensnared curb appeal
For super-markets. Some of those corners
Contained picnic tables. Stationed with caution
And purpose
To keep the employees that smoked
Out of the customer’s view.

Those drunken ventures
Are symbols of abuse.

Because I controlled the moments
With shifting eyes
That separated need from leisure.

Crouched behind a bush
Listening to laborers gossip
About management
And other useless inventions.

I ask my eyes
To disguise those moments
As places I belonged.

Perhaps this guilt
Will dry like spittle-
Ready to be wiped away
By dry courage and crooked knuckles.

2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned as No One in Particular

  1. You’ll be alright. I’ve already witnessed how well you manage people when I accidentally was kidding around with one of your employees on your Facebook thread. You’re fair and level-headed, and yeah… you will be set apart from them, no matter how kind and friendly and fair you are. It can’t be helped. Your employees will segregate you because you do have dominion over them, and that sucks for you. I empathize. Been there. Done that. Leadership ain’t easy, especially in the service industry, but motivating and rewarding your team when they do well will feel wonderful. Give them a stake in the game. Have their backs when some customer acts like a jerk, but set expectations high for them, too, in whatever capacity they work. People need to have stars to reach for. Even if it’s just watering the fucking plants. Let them know you expect the best from them because you know they are capable. Make it about more than the drudgery of an hourly wage. For your sake and for theirs. If you have to work somewhere several hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week anyway, may as well try to make the most of it. Set small goals and celebrate their achievements. I know I sound like Tony Robbins or Vince Lombardi, but it’s important for your psyche and your soul to do this so long as you work there or else you’ll be miserable. xo

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  2. I’m feeling chatty on the subject of management , so here I am again… I never get to talk about this stuff. I had fun at work, but I made it fun. It was a great environment. People, music, laughter… Lots of positive energy free flowing. Even though, as you know, the service industry is a constant balancing of a huge stack of plates while peddling a unicycle on a moving surface. Clientele and staff were treated the same by me, however. I set rules of conduct for both.

    In the health club I managed, “gym floor” instructors only made 1/3 the hourly wage of aerobic/body conditioning instructors for good reason – classes required more training, more ability, more investment of time, money and effort from the instructor, but I offered to personally train all interested gym floor instructors in how to teach classes on my own time, and gave them all music (professionally mixed tapes that used to cost me $70 per 90 minutes mix from a DJ in Texas who would flawlessly mix a playlist I’d provided him) for free.

    Why? Because I wanted to help them earn more money, give them something to look forward to doing (teaching classes was fun) and it was great for members (our clients), too, because I never had to cancel a class when a scheduled bonafide instructor didn’t show – I always had someone on the floor who teach them. O could only teach so many a day myself. Some members of upper management disliked this campaign of mine, they wanted clear segregation of pay structures. I ignored them and they let me ignore them because I ran that club do well that members and staff were always singing my praises. They crowned me queen of the realm.

    Now, like you probably do, I always kidded around and hung out with my staff, I was in my early to mid 20s, but they knew I expected them to fulfill certain requirements. However, I never asked them to do anything I wasn’t willing to do myself and I intervened when members were being difficult. I demanded my staff be treated with respect and vice-versa.

    I was fair, but I’d fire people who were consistently unmotivated and who were irresponsible. There was a warning system with degrees of warnings, not unlike soccer refereeing. I only fired people when they showed extreme indifference to working by no-showing. Once, I’d cover for. Shit happens. No problem. Twice, got you a verbal and written warning. Three times, got you a written warning and suspension. Four times, got you fired by phone. I’d just tell you not to bother coming in again and mail you your check.

    Instructors from clubs allover Manhattan wanted to work for me. I had the best and most dynamic instructors in the company, but that’s because I was willing to give them 100% of my support. That being said the fact that I could and would terminate their employment if they forced me to (that’s what I mean by dominion – that and only that) was something that would always cast a shadow between us for some of the guys. Though they were always cool on the surface, I knew they would likely gripe about me to each other. People like griping. Nothing I could do about that.

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