Just about everyone’s heard of twelve step programs. The Twelve Step Program is a set of guiding principles for recovery from addictive, compulsive or other behaviorial problems and was originally designed by the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have no opinion one way or the other on whether it works or not. But it leads me to the “three step program”, aka “coaching” that WalMart Corp. imposes on it’s wayward associates. Allow me to explain.
First, a little disclaimer. I’m just putting this process out there. What anyone else makes of it is entirely their opinion. I will not venture to either advocate this process nor condemn it because I don’t want anyone coming after me for disclosing any deep, dark insider secrets. But anyone who works at WalMart or has a friend/relative working for WalMart might already be privy to the process.
As I said, WalMart calls this “coaching”. Sounds sort of fun, doesn’t it? Go team, go! Go out there and win one for Sam! But, no, contrary to the supportive, encouraging term, it’s more of a punishment than anything else. Let’s say an “Associate” calls in repeatedly (repeatedly is basically anything over 3 days, not excessive some may say) or an associate goes over their “scheduled” hours (not overtime, or over 40 hours, but over their own individual hours for the week) or basically anything contrary to WalMart’s particular set of rules/regulations/policies/blah, blah (which these seem to be arbitrary and at the discretion of each individual Assistant Manager). The first step of coaching is what they call a “verbal coaching”. You’re called into the office and advised of your infraction and you get a talking to. Not too bad I suppose. Now, if after that verbal coaching you are naughty again, you then receive what’s affectionately known as a “written coaching”. Once again you’re brought into the office, advised of your naughtiness and how it adversely affects the company and you are given a paper to sign. Then, if you are still an insolent and naughty child (oops, I mean adult) you receive what’s called a “D” day. I’m not sure what the “D” stands for. Dummy, Dope, Doo-Doo Head. Anyway, you are sent home (with pay) to write a letter explaining what you did, why it was wrong and why you should be allowed to keep your job. Once the I-Am-A-Doo-Doo-Head letter is written, you are allowed to return to work and a committee (maybe just the Assistant Manager, I don’t know) decides whether or not you’re sincere enough to maintain your job. I think your Mom might have to sign it, but I’m not sure. The final step, of course, is instant termination, where upon you are escorted out of the store flanked between two members of management. Just a tad humiliating.
So, basically WalMart has adopted the three-strikes-and-you’re-out philosophy (four if you count the personal escort service). I’m not saying poor work performance should go unchallenged. But, this process often creates an environment of fear among associates. Making a mistake, going over one’s hours, calling in sick, can all be behaviors warranting coaching. And the fact that many Managers seem to have their own ideas on what requires coaching leaves associates worried when rotation time rolls around (when Assistant Managers change department assignments). Some hold their breath and hope they don’t get so-and-so overseeing their department. But, such is life. We all need jobs in order to pay the bills. Perhaps WalMart’s associate policies aren’t far off from what other employers impose upon employees. I just had the need to disclose this important information, but in the meantime I’ll say, “Go team, go!”
***This post (and all others, including those not published here) can be read on my new blogging site, http://www.mylovesleftovers.com. Thanks for checking it out!