Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Culture of Target

A big part of working at Target is being a happy person.

One of the long standing key core roles of every position in the store is being fast fun and friendly for the people shopping.

You can get reprimanded for failing to do so, and ultimately even fired over something like not being cheerful enough when greeting people in the store.

(At least, plausibly could....)

Last fall, Target rolled out a new program called The Vibe.

(I don't think they could have made a worse name for it if they tried, in so far as giving immature employees (or like, the entire work-staff of Target) an easy thing to make horribly inappropriate jokes with.)

The essence of it is Target trying to compete with things like Amazon by ramping up the one thing they have that online shopping doesn't, the human experience.

Thus, us employees are supposed to be even more ridiculously nice than ever before and go to extreme lengths to make sure you have an amazing moment while shopping in the store.

(Usually this boils down to me ripping open packages so you can see the product and digging through the backroom hoping for a miracle to find whatever it is you want that isn't in the computer system as being back there, as sometimes life just isn't as amazing as it could be.)

I think the idea has real merit to it, although I don't think it was rolled out into our store particularly well.

However, there is something that has been bugging me a little as I have pondered the greater purpose of creating vibe moments (and they think nobody even listens at huddle).

It's the overall culture of the store.

See, the amount of niceness we are supposed to be towards people shopping is truly at unprecidented levels (which isn't saying we necissarily do it, but just that we are supposed to if we were really following the vibe philosophy body, heart, and soul), but there is no mention what-so-ever of how we are to behave to our fellow employees.

And there are many, particularly in the middle management level, whom I think have deplorable behavior to their coworkers.

There is no helping each other out. There is no treating each other with simple respect as another human being, much less any amount of kindness. There is no team feeling despite all the teamspeak.

People are rude and mean and petty and it can be a horrible culture at times.

(Interesting side note, I was really seeing this a lot on Friday, the same day as the middle management bimonthly meeting, which means ALL of them were in the store at once, so maybe some of the problem is just when their numbers are over concentrated?)

And so I was thinking, what if we put some small amount of effort into helping out each other? Or understanding that the store as a whole fails if one person's area fails? Or just being kind because sometimes it's better to be kind than right?

(Or even just mandating standards for how people in managements positions should be allowed to speak to each other?)

Personally, if someone is warm and friendly towards me, I am going to turn around and be all the sweeter to the next person I see (which just might be a guest shopping!).

Then again, I'm probably far to socialist thinking to understand the finer nuances of big business, and I'm definitely too far down on the chain of command to have any such ideas matter in the least to anyone in a position to make changes at the store.

But maybe someday I won't be.....

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