After all the things I’ve been through in Pret, and this past year writing about it, with the distance and having written it off my chest, I see in hindsight the effort to “make” me one of “them” after all the classic bullying tactics didn’t work. Initially they were nervous because they bullied me while I was going through the horror when I lost my brother! The effort was made to get rid of me early on, but when I kept raising the issue the effort became more subtle.
Pret had NOTHING on me in regards to my work, even though they tried with the usual primitive bullying tactics, which is a book in itself. I brought success to shop after shop raising the numbers and profit, restructuring teams to work more efficient, but with more ease than the strife I often found.
Pret succeeded for a while with the gaslighting via the Development Manager, who supposedly had a brother who died alone in his apartment like my brother did. For any new reader, my full story with Pret is at the bottom of this page in an interview in the audio player. But people from HQ got involved in my “case” incl. the now retiring CEO Clive Schlee and higher level of HR people dealing with grievances, so much so that the Head of HR said I “exhausted the HR department”. Well, that happens when HR hearings a “fundamentally flawed” as a Tribunal Judge called it. In my trauma I stumbled from grievance hearing to grievance hearing not realizing much they had a laugh.
I was a Team Leader of the shop floor, or also called Floor Leader (FL) running the shop, as there is a Kitchen Leader (KL) who’s responsible for running the kitchen. Of course there are Assistant Managers on the shop floor (AMF) and an Assistant Managers in the kitchen (AMK), but they often do what the General Managers (GMs) do, they hide in the office looking busy while the Team Leaders are actually doing the hard work, running the business.
Team Leaders are stuck in between the roles. They are not like Team Members who come in, do some work and go home. No, they have a lot of responsibility doing the ordering, waste management, making sure the Mystery Shopper results are perfect for the bonuses, they look after the Team, health and safety etc. They work harder than the managers who often hide away from the hard work under the pretense of office work all day. Team Leaders are overworked, underpaid and mainly blamed when things go wrong, while having hardly any training or backup. Many only survive when making friends with managers to not get penalized too much and rise the ranks quicker.
Sure they are paid a little more then the Team including Baristas and Hot Chefs, but the work they do, if they are good that is and not imitating managers sitting in the office loading it onto the Team, the work is horrendous and the pay is an offense for what they have to put in! The brainwash in Pret is that Pret pays more, but Team Leaders and the Team in general work double for it!
People get so exhausted, they have no strength nor sense to realize what’s happening to them. Drive workers to exhaustion so they can’t figure out 1. what’s happening to them and 2. how to stand up against it.
GMs and AMs reap the rewards of huge quarterly bonuses when the shop succeeds, they get allowances for business clothes and all the perks they receive and parties they go to. Team Leaders receive nothing extra UNLESS they work with a good manager, who rewards them when the shop succeeds in the top scores. But that is very rare and in my 10 years I have never received even as much as a thank you for what I have put in!
I always wondered why Team Leaders are put through such a grind, stuck in the hard work without rewards. I only have my speculation about this. I believe that the psychology behind this is that Pret wants to have a certain type of person at their top, people who literally live for the company. Many GMs on Glassdoor and Indeed complain that there is no work-life balance and that they put in so many extra unpaid hours to cover for the immense work load. Those are the Managers who work hard. Other managers just put their heads in the sand and load it over to the Team Leaders and Teams under the pretense of having to go to meetings!
And if a Team Leader would be rewarded, they may get comfortable in this role as they have just some responsibility compared to AMs and GMs, so the buck doesn’t stop with them. They are still blamed and gaslighted that when things go wrong the Managers try to convince the Team Leader that it’s their fault, so Team Leader pay the price.
When Team Leaders grow through the ranks to become Managers, they show that they are happy with whatever happens beyond that level. They have to compromise, cut corners and now have the opportunity to load it over to the Team Leaders who are willing to do the dirty work to escape the Team Leader existence and become a Manager.
Managers keep their hands clean, putting the dirty work unto Team Leaders … sounds like an old scheme the Mafia had figured out long ago.
And yet even AMs and GMs, if they are not like the next level of management, the Operations Managers (OPs = Area Managers) they bite the dust as well. The OPs level is when the real money and benefits flow. Once you are on OPs level, you are more safe than on shop level.
I often heard in this politically correct world that we shouldn’t speak in terms of “us” and “them”. No, I disagree now. I speak on those terms. Because “us” are low-wage workers, who when we lose our job are in danger to lose our apartments, our families, the floor underneath us.
Sheriff Bajo, former Pret Assistant Manager and father of a young child was unfairly dismissed and ended up sleeping in his car.
And “them”, when “they” lose their job, they will find another one quickly and retrieve to one of their million dollar mansions in any of their chosen countries wherever their mansions are.
I stumbled across a lady on social media recently whose comment I found and put on my blog. She left a comment on a blog in 2011 after her husband, a GM, was fired as he tried to stand up against a bullying OPs manager. The lady told me the full story which I won’t repeat here, but it put the point across that on a shop level, even as a Manager, if you don’t play the game well and make those friends, not joining “them” up there, you have no chance.
Her two comments on a blogspot site where her husdband just started in Pret having run into problems with his boss, and then 4 months later he was fired:
Link (clicking “ok” to get rid of the grey cookie note)
Review sites are full of complaints of discrimination and favouritism, especially in U.S. Prets.
Her last sentence I used to shun back a little for its bluntness, but after what Pret has put me through, I do understand those words in the light of how calloused they act:
“The management of this company are pure evil.”
We always say when a politician messes up with extra marital affairs and drug taking etc. that we need to separate the professional with the private person. But how can we do that? I now think that when a CEO of a company can do and allow to be done to me what Pret did to me under his leadership, that they did that in a professional setting, work related etc. And yet, so many personal issues were involved.
And if a person is willing to hurt people on a professional level and being a bad professional, they are indeed a bad person, regardless if they are good fathers and friends. If as a professional you go out of YOUR way to hurt people, you ARE a bad person! Period!
Clive Schlee is going into early “retirement” now. Well, let’s guess what his leaving really is about after two customers died and him not acting on it until it became public. And all the staff complaints on websites that I have posted and confront Pret on Twitter. Pano Christou is replaced as the new CEO already on Glassdoor even while the announcement was that Schlee retires in September. This is probably to avoid more embarrassment for the Glassdoor scoring that Schlee leaves the company with.
On 14. July Schlee was still on Glassdoor. On the 15th Chrsitou replaced him.
After my blog entry on Schlee’s exit they are working hard now to get those percentages up again!
Why did I decline to be one of “them”, apart from being “of the many not the few”? People say a lot of things about me, some say I’m a lunatic, insane, traumatized, crazy, blunt … but no one will say that I am greedy, loading it over to lower positions, or evil.
I bit into the bait of the Development Manager from HQ supposedly having had a brother who died like mine and wasn’t discovered for days in his apartment. But I never did and never will bite into the bait of being one of the few at the top, because that bait is tasteless to me.
Slideshow can be paused
The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in → Pret Staff Complaints
I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years 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 starve and 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.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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