Quote of the day: “You have to complete countless duties (especially when closing) in very very short period of time and I got shouted at if I didn’t make it (for example: clean and mop the floor, bins, wash trays, clean toilet and chemical room all in HALF AN HOUR – still has to be perfectly clean)”
“Bonus that you are getting could’ve be taken away for many stupid reasons so don’t be fooled into thinking that if you are qualified team member you are safe !”
Yep! I made it a point as a Team Leader to HELP my team!
I had many clashes with my line managers over time when my boss would have a go at me as the responsible manager on duty (MOD) during the previous shift, why something wasn’t cleaned or done properly. This is a typical Pret tactic where the general manager (GM) is pressuring the Team Leader, for the TL in turn to pressure the Team Members (TMs). Very hierarchical management style.
At times I was stressed and frustrated, but then I decided to not pressure my team but first of all help them finish the immense amounts of duties within a short time.
And the second thing I did was to put the pressure back on my line managers by demanding for the team to either get more PAID time or an extra TM to help finish the tasks.
At times I succeeded because first of all I had the shops in an immaculate state which the GMs were always impressed about. Secondly I coached my teams that when they cannot finish in time, we go home sharp at the time our pay finishes. No more staying longer without pay especially when it was already 10PM and most TMs had spouses and kids waiting at home!
I have no issues with staying longer at times even unpaid, but this should be the exception to the rule and not the regular occurrence as it is in Pret.
My number one priority at work was that the job gets done, but in a sensible time and expectation. Once I saw my team work their heart out with me helping them, yet still we could not finish in time, my second priority then was their family and life! Time’s up, we gave it all we’ve got, we go home now! Let the boss throw a fit the next day, bring it on!
I knew my team, I saw how hard they and I worked, I refused to sit on my butt in the office but always supported them, and yet we still weren’t able to finish, because the tactic from the top was to give them so much work in so little time, pretending they don’t work hard enough so that they work overtime unpaid.
But not on my shift! I saw my teams, and when they worked so back breaking hard I told them that when the time is up where the GM refuses to pay them overtime, we stop and go home and that I as the TL will take responsibility and explain to the boss the next day. And I did get “whacked” countless times, but I refused to bow to this bullying intimidation tactics.
It is clear that I did not make friends with my bosses, but I didn’t care for making friends with corrupt and lazy managers. Those are not in my circle of friends. So, needless to say any career path for me never existed. But I slept well at nights and I had the respect and backing from my team. That was good enough for me. And what doesn’t kill you really only makes you stronger.
When I was calm and helped them I never had issues with my team. When I was hectic and frustrated, and especially during grief and trauma it reflected on the team, and I worked hard for them not to see my pain and sometimes sheer angst. But I didn’t always succeed. I couldn’t always hide my grief and depression. But I felt their backing and support when they just did their jobs and letting me do mine.
The only thing I miss at Pret is my teams! We worked flawlessly together and the greatest compliment they gave me was when they asked me for advise or entrusted me with problems they had, or asked me if I could lend them some money until next payday etc.
The trust and respect from a team is priceless, it cannot be forced by bullying and mistreatment or bribes. Maybe I am too sentimental and too old school, but I really believe in the musketeer-ish way of “one for all and all for one”.
In today’s society and certainly in Pret it sadly is more a “me for me and only for you if you help me advance” mentality. No, that’s not for me.
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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