I recently stopped at an office supply store as I was in need of business supplies. While I was in the store I received a phone call; as a result I was in the store for over 20 minutes. During my call I noticed an interaction between a supervisor/manager in a tan shirt and an employee in a red shirt. I cannot say what they were discussing but by the body language of the individual in the red shirt I could tell that he was not a happy employee. As I finished my call I walked to the line for the cashier. Since both the employee and the supervisor were in the service area next to the cashier I could hear their conversation. The individual in the red shirt was informing the supervisor/manager that he might need to re-evaluate his career choice of working for this company due to what was happening to him. I had no idea at this time what they were discussing. As I moved up in line I could hear the individual in the khaki shirt remark that he would be reevaluating the career choice of the employee based on what he had just said. All of this occurred within earshot of the customers who were now entering the cashier line. As the line grew the individual in the red shirt opened a new register and asked for the next customer in line. As I approached the register I asked him how his day was going. He informed me it was fine, no smile, no intonation, just a fine. He then said, “ Can I ask you a question? Do you think that it is fair that I have been here since December and they are training new employees on things that I have been asked to be trained on?” Surprised by the question, I informed him that I did not have all relevant information but I am sure if he talks to his manager and expresses his desire to learn and grow within the organization that they would appreciate the initiative. He went on to tell me that he has, that he has even gone through the regional manager and that they only have him in the store for “truck days.” He stated that he just did not think it was fair that they were showing new hires things he wanted to learn.
I do not pretend to know all the dynamics that are present in this location. What I do know is that there are gaps in communication with this associate. I am sure there has been communication with him, but based on my interaction I would say that what was missing was understanding on his part. This lack of understanding creates what I call gaps (Grumblings, Apathy, Paranoia and Scuds.) He clearly fired a scud at his supervisor.
Looking back on it I thought that the supervisor/manager missed a coaching opportunity after the first scud was fired. Of course the reaction to attack when one is attacked is instinctual for many. As a coach they might have taken the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation off the retail floor.