I have been wanting to write a post like this for quite awhile but only got around to putting it together last night. These tips were inspired by my years in the grocery business back when I was in high school and college. You may not agree with all of them. If you have some of your own advice to offer, please leave a comment.
The Customer Comes First
1. Good customer service makes for happy customers. Happy customers come back! Don’t think that because you’re working a minimum wage job that customer service isn’t important. You never know – one of those customers could be your gateway to a better job or career.
Some customers will be rude. Most customers have NO IDEA what goes into performing a job. A restaurant server’s job comes to mind. Lots of customers harrass their server when their order is wrong even though it probably wasn’t the server’s fault. In these instances it’s best to suck it up and move on. Don’t let the experience ruin your day.
2. Learn your customers’ names. I’ll admit that I’m bad at this. However, learning your customers’ names can pay dividends. It makes them feel important and it can be a great networking opportunity for you. While you’re networking, don’t forget your suppliers. I’ve known quite a few people who left mediocre jobs for much better jobs with a supplier.
Working With Your Boss (or “Manager”)
3. Watch your boss and do what they do. I’m not telling you to be a brown-noser. I remember watching one of my managers pick up trash in the parking lot as he brought grocery carts back into the store. So, I made it a point to do the same thing. If it was important to him, it was important to me.
4. When you’re assigned a task or job, learn it well and do it from that day forward without your manager having to remind you. Remember, managers have a lot on their minds and an employee who can be trusted to do a good job will get noticed.
5. Take the initiative. If you’re assigned a task and you finish it early, don’t stand around waiting for another task. Go find out if there’s something else you can be working on. It will make you look good and it will help the time pass quickly. Nothing makes a day longer than standing around doing nothing.
6. Ask for more responsibility. One of the fastest ways to move up in the retail environment is to learn new things. You learn new things by asking for more responsibility. Just remember to be willing to live with the consequences. Once you accept more responsibility, there’s no going back.
7. Learn to adapt to change. Inevitably management will change and you will have to learn to work with a new manager. Don’t ever tell your new manager how your old manager handled things unless the new manager solicits your opinion. Working for different managers can be tough – especially if they have vastly different management styles. My advice is to make them feel welcome and go back and read point #3 again.
Working With Your Co-Workers
8. Don’t call in sick unless you’re really sick. It was amazing to me how many employees would call in sick on a warm Sunday afternoon! Calling in sick when you’re not is not only dishonest, it burdens those who do have to work. It’s a very selfish behavior.
9. Be prepared to take some flak from your co-workers when you do a good job. Some people will work harder than others. The slackers will want the rewards but will not want to put forth the effort. They will be jealous of your success.
Have Some Perspective
10. Finally, put your job in perspective. If you are working part-time in a business you have no interest in making a career, recognize that fact and make preparations to move on. Either go to school to get a better job or change jobs. Don’t feel like you’re stuck in a dead-end job. If, on the other hand, you have no other options, then make the best of it. Learn all you can and have fun. Read the industry publications and learn everything you can about the business.
Those are my thoughts. Notice I didn’t include anything about saving for retirement or investing in the 401(k). That wasn’t the purpose of this post.
Did I miss anything? What advice do you have to offer for first-time employees?