A typical day would start at 6am and finish at 6pm. It would start by managing the delivery, baking bread, completing orders and other mandatory procedures. During the day, I would cover the tills, manage promotional activity and the bakery, merchandise new displays, quality check the fresh food sections, cash up tills, deal with colleague and customer queries, complete colleague training, control store inventory, do administration paperwork and food safety checks, keep the shop floor and the warehouse organised.
I learned that I was responsible and accountable for everything in the store and as such, rarely took a break or finished on time. I learned I had to continually adapt my management style to get the best out of myself and my colleagues. If I couldn't improve my own performance I couldn't expect my colleagues to. In this close knit business, I needed productive contributions from everyone to reach the targets. The best way I found to achieve this was by making incremental improvements to the way people worked, including myself, rather than wholesale changes.
My immediate superior, the district manager, was under just as much pressure. As a result, he was forced to feed that pressure down to his store managers. I thought he was given too many stores to oversee and inherited too many challenging colleagues. Subsequently, I rarely saw him in my store and felt a bit isolated. However that just presented the added opportunity of achieving each challenging task myself.
The most challenging part of my job was feeling like I had to continually push my colleagues. Nothing ever seemed good enough because they were continually asked to do more. In reality, the vast majority were doing an excellent job but it was difficult to communicate this because the goalposts were always shifting.
What I found enjoyable about my job was simply seeing the hard work pay off in some form. By achieving the stock result, I could tell my colleagues they were managing their delivery correctly and maintaining store security. By receiving a good audit, I could tell everyone they were keeping the 'fresh' areas of the store to a high standard and serving their customers well. By surpassing the turnover target, I could tell everyone they could have more hours, that the store was well presented and that by driving the business forward, we were improving all of the targets set and the perception of the team as a whole.
Finally, the most enjoyable part was seeing a colleague I had trained develop and improve in their role. Whether that be training a new colleague who may have felt overwhelmed when they first started. Or developing a colleague for promotion and seeing them succeed in their new role.