What I Learned From the Worst Job I Ever Had

Updated: Oct 9, 2019

With all of the recent headlines about large and successful companies who have run afoul of their consumers' trust, I was reminded of one of the worst jobs I ever had and how easily companies can lose sight of their original intentions and missions. It is easy to look at profitable corporations and conclude that they are only profit driven with greed as their modus operandi but more often than not, these companies started small with limited resources and idealistic goals.

This can especially be seen in the tech industry where companies often market themselves as disruptors and innovators of their industry however, once successful these same companies can become juggernauts who fall into common capitalistic traps which disenfranchise their customers and sometimes lawmakers. What the worst job I ever had taught me was that an organization's employees are it's best indicator and last line of defense when it comes to the dissatisfaction of consumers.

At the worst job I ever had, I went through extensive training in which the history of the company was explained along with it's brand mission and standard operating procedures. In theory, all of the guidelines and protocols were effective and geared toward customer satisfaction while ensuring profitability, but the company did not account for extreme variation of scale and pace at it's different locations.

There was a lot of frustration from low level employees and customers alike because the company model could not be realistically adhered to at a high traffic location. As an employee, I felt set up to fail because circumstances beyond my control constantly put me in a situation where I would have to sacrifice customer satisfaction in order to adhere to company policies and bylines, or I would have to risk being penalized by a supervisor if I deviated from protocol to do what would have been humane or in line with my conscience. Day after day I watched customers get the short end of the stick because that was best for the company's bottom line, but this was not in line with what was emphasized about the company's values during employee training.

The take home for me was that while expansion is great for an organization's financial goals, a one size fits all approach can be disastrous when attempting to scale up a business model without taking into consideration the unique challenges at each business location. It does not matter if a company pushes a narrative of caring and compassion toward it's consumers if it does not have structures in place to live up to its own narrative while achieving profitable goals. When expanding a business to multiple locations, there should be realistic planning to to ensure customer satisfaction remains high and consistent, which means addressing every varying factor that deviates from it's flagship location such as size, popularity, culture, as well as geographic and structural limitations. Failure to consider such differences puts an undue amount of stress on employees to achieve the impossible - making both customers and the corporation happy.

The results of work environments that ignore mounting frustrations in their employees tend to lead to two results:

1) A large number of employees 'check out' and simply stop caring about their jobs – they tend to do just enough to keep their jobs and this is shown in how they interact with customers and other employees.

2) A high employee turnover rate because after all, no one wants to play a game that is rigged against them and in which they know they cannot win.

The biggest loser is always ultimately the company since they chip away at their net profits by incurring the costs associated with high turnover rates and decreasing revenue as dissatisfied customers jump ship for greener pastures.

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