Several events over the past couple of weeks have made me come to realise that I'm too soft. I'm a department supervisor and, in the absence of a department manager, I'm in charge of 51 checkout, kiosk, cash office and admin staff. And I've been letting some of them walk all over me.
This problem stems, very simply, from my inferiority complex when dealing with certain staff. I'm 21 years old and, despite having worked at Food Place for six years, still feel very uncomfortable exerting my authority over people who are older, wiser and have worked there longer. The worst part is, all the time I've been a supervisor I've known this feeling is totally irrational. I don't need anybody to tell me that, in general, I'm liked and respected amongst the staff (Linda, rather disturbingly, wants to wrap me up and take me home - which is a separate matter - probably one for her psychiatrist). But I can't get away from the fact that I feel very queasy about laying down the law with colleagues who are old enough to be a grandparent.
On the whole, I'm fiercely protective of myself and I'm not afraid to stand my ground when I feel I'm being treated unfairly. I'm very outspoken with the management and I'm known for my vicious rants at staff meetings (sometimes, you can see people edging towards the door to escape once I've got going). It's the realisation of this that's made me see things from Terry's point-of-view this week.
You'll probably recall that I've had a series of rows with him. Until I actually sat down and thought about them, I was adamant I was in the right and that Terry had behaved unpleasantly towards me. But, the more I thought, the more I realised how frustrating it must be for him. In me he has a supervisor who, on one hand, let's certain staff get away with murder and, on the other hand, will scream and shout at his superiors at the slightest provocation. He's probably thinking: "if only he would get this worked up about old grannies on the tills nipping off for fag breaks whenever they like".
So, starting yesterday, I re-launched myself as 'the firm, but fair supervisor'. It didn't take long for a situation to arise that would test my resolve to kick the older staff into shape.
Marjorie, a Food Place veteran, started kicking up a gigantic fuss when she discovered she was scheduled to work a three-hour morning shift on Easter Monday. Before she'd even spoken to me about it she'd been threatening to walk out and was encouraging other people to rebel against the rota and refuse to work the bank holidays. She eventually did come and see me though.
"I'm not working that!"
"What's that Marge?"
"Easter Monday. I'm not contracted to Mondays, you can't make me."
Now, the old me would have snapped under the pressure and made alternative shift arrangements to give moaning Marge the day off. But the new, improved Andrew dealt with the situation fairly but firmly:
"I'm sorry Marge, the rota is done now. If you have an issue with it then you need to see Terry, but I can tell you now there's not a lot he'll do about it. You're not contracted to Mondays, but you always work them and, if you remember, Terry used his discretion to pay you for Christmas Day and New Years Day because they fell on Mondays and you wouldn't have got paid otherwise."
"Well this isn't fair."
"We've worked the shifts to be fair to everyone. Anybody who didn't request the Bank Holidays off was put in to work either Good Friday or Easter Monday and will be paid for the one they have off if it's a contracted day. If we'd put you in on Good Friday you wouldn't have got paid for Easter Monday because you're not contracted."
"But Terry would have paid me."
"He wouldn't Marge. He only did it at Christmas and New Year because the store was closed. He won't pay you for Easter Monday if you don't work it."
"Well I don't want the pay then, I'll just take it off unpaid."
"Then you need to see Terry or find somebody who'll work it for you or do a shift swap. Me and Wendy haven't got the time to redo the rotas to work around one person. Sorry."
It felt good actually. Marge obviously presumed that all she needed to do was wait until Andrew was in, kick up a fuss, and all would be arranged for her to have paid leave. Well no. Not anymore.
And Sandra had better watch her back the next time she dares to take 25 minutes for a 15 minute break!