So I says to The Wife, 'I can't be a miserable git ALL the time, I'm gonna tell the chocolate story', and she sighs and goes, ' You've told that story sooooooo many times I want a divorce'. So I've done a keyword search for the word 'chocolate'. Loads of stuff, have I got a Ty Segall fetish?, and more pertinently, what's chocolate got to do with Ty Segall? But no, nothing about the story I'm about to tell. Maybe The Wife is just looking for an excuse...ahem. Anyway, no one scrolls down pages and pages of this stuff right? It's not like you've signed up for my Patreon account and have all my CONTENT on tap right? So...without further ado, stop me if you've heard this one before etc etc..
As threatened, throughout April - in celebration of Record Store Day - I offer up a daily post related to all things record shop.
And if any of it sounds like a manifesto, consider it good practice for my election campaign next year.
Day eight of this steaming pile of japery, kinghell boring bullshit and contentious nonsense...
Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket and, A Managers Remit
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Someone we worked with told us a story. This was it:
Colin had a hot date. In the hours prior to the date, Colin's friends tricked him into eating a bar of Ex Lax chocolate. Later, midway through the date that was going so well, Colin's anus exploded. There was substantial collateral damage. He made an emergency phone call to his dad, who arrived at the pub with the backseat covered in precautionary newspaper.
We all agreed it was a good story, but I didn't believe that Ex Lax could do that much damage. So Colin and my manager made a bet with me: I was to consume a portion of Ex Lax and in the controlled environment of the shop we'd establish the veracity of Colin's story.
Our 'scientific' experiment commenced at 9 am, after which time I commenced my duties on the shop floor as normal:
09.15-12.00: counter cover and CD a-z bestseller check: SITUATION NORMAL. PATIENT X EXHIBITS NO ABNORMAL SYMPTOMS
12.00-13.00: Lunch break: SITUATION NORMAL. PATIENT X EXHIBITS NO ABNORMAL SYMPTOMS
13.00 - 15.00: Counter cover: SITUATION NOR-----****aaaaaaahhh holy fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu...eeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!****
At approximately 14.00 hrs Colin's 'veracity' was confirmed by an unstoppable high velocity lower bowel movement that momentarily stopped the flow of blood to my brain. I left a customer in mid conversation and - to the best of my compromised ability - ran to the back of the shop, negotiated the back door and FOUR flights of steps, speed-crab walked the length of the Olympic-sized stockroom and plunged headlong into toilet. From which I could not move for the best part of an hour.
And so much for all that.
At the time of this team-building tomfoolery I was the youngest member of our team, inexperienced but learning, enthusiastic and hard working. My manager at this time gave me the opportunities to learn and develop and his influence helped me get to the point some years later where we'd meet up at annual conference, both managers. It also helped that he was confident enough in his abilities and our work ethic to allow us moments to blow off steam. Or toilet doors.
As a manager I never forgot what it was like to be the youngest or newest member of the team. As far as I'm concerned, a crucial element of a manager's remit (in any industry) is the development and coaching of staff, empowering them to use the skills and knowledge that makes them assets to the business. I passed on information and knowledge freely; the more my team knew the less I had to do. I firmly believed in succession planning; the lack of finding a suitable replacement for my job wasn't going to stand in my way of promotion, I wanted every member of my team to be able to step up and fill senior positions if and when they came up. Plus, it reflected well on me when team members went on training days or helped out at other shops and made a great impression.
Again, my personal experiences in the job steered me to this way of thinking; I'd worked for managers who derived their 'power' by withholding information or by refusing to train their staff to accomplish tasks, and by doing this making themselves irreplaceable - fat controllers, which of course was great for them and the business while it lasted, but once they left, there was no one sufficiently trained or experienced to replace them. Cue KPI nosedive.
Of course, it's all a bit different at LFD ("cult following: small viewing figures" - Alan Partridge), slower paced; less staff so I've developed a multiple personality disorder that would embarrass James McAvoy, and just one KPI: can I afford to pay the rent?
But like riding a bike, or wiping your bottom, you don't forget how to do these things, and it's good to know I've got the skills to pay the bills in my locker, and when I shift up a gear and go into politics, knowing how to deal with bucket loads of sh*t will be crucial.