Dear Pret Employee,
as you work in your shops and kitchens, some of you are trying to climb up the ladder very quickly to get away from the stress of the shop floor or the kitchen. Understandably. After all, it is more comfortable to sit in the office as a GM leaving the team to struggle , or as an OPs to sit in the pub at lunch time over a few pints, or fly out to Dubai for a reward trip that you made happen. But in the long run you will always be remembered for whatever you did; sit in the office or be with your team. Helping them or abandoning them on the shop floor, occasionally coming out to have a go at them and then return again to comfort zone while your team struggles.
Many of you are super hard workers, who just want to do an honest job, go home and enjoy your lives. You dig a little deeper and are easily hurt, because you care.
And some of you don’t care, and that also is okay, because why should you care for a job where you say “Eat in or take away… would you like a bag” about 300 times a day while being treated harshly by your boss not being valued in your job!
Those of you who want to climb up quickly, you will climb up quickly, because Pret is exploding on every corner and need leaders in all positions, fast. What you don’t realize yet is, that as quickly as you climb up, is how quickly you slide down again. Why that is? Later.
Many of you have harsh managers, or GMs who don’t care or overwork you by cutting hours. I know how it is. I also know how it is to be checking for 10 years my payslip every week to see if there are hours missing, and having to go to my boss to ask why 1 or 2 hours are missing again (one time 8 hours, a full day and one time 2 full days missing plus several holiday days etc.!). It feels like you need a secretary just to check your hours, right?
I know how it is when the rota is not up on Thursday morning for the week starting the next day on Friday, and you keep asking your boss how you’ll be working, because you need to plan your weeks. Or the GM is just changing the rota without letting you know and you come in at 5am just to be told that you are supposed to start at 11 because the rota was changed.
I know how it is when you want to approach your boss about issues like the rota, missing hours, their harshness, and any other problems, but they just blame you or someone else and find excuses. What’s the hardest thing to deal with, as you know, is all the threats of notes of concern, disciplinaries, your job security etc. Fear management to motivate you. And it does work for a while until people get so angry, it becomes unbearable and out of control.
Forget going to HR, they know about it, they just want you to raise stressful grievances having to come up with all the evidence. They know how hard it is and grievances are a deterrand, because it takes too much energy and you’ll make yourself enemies. Most people don’t bother and either put their heads down, or leave.
Most of you don’t care for the amount of money, especially when you pay a high price with your health for it. I never cared for the money either, but I still was self motivated bringing a lot of success to every shop I worked in. They never told me and Pret-ended that I was just average, because they thought that would keep me in line to work harder. In reality I am a perfectionist, I work how work, with or without the Mystery Shopper (I call it “Misery Shopper”). People don’t know that, they think I worked like this because they scared me with threats. Nopes, I am just a loyal soul, and that has come to my disadvantage of course, but in the long run there is always a return.
You have your story of pain in Pret and you see mine.
But to come back to those of you who want to climb the ladder too quickly, what many of you don’t understand, including the training department at Head Office, if you don’t have a strong foundation, when a little wind blows, not to mention a storm, you crumble very quickly.
LiWa, GaDr and the training & development department, you are already taking material from other people without giving credit, you may want to jot this down. I am having a 121 moment with current and former Team Members on how to build a foundation to stand when the storm hits.
You know what? I’ll put that in the book! 😉
Team Member, Team Leader, AMK, AMF… stop being so afraid. And stop using fear management, it just shows that you are afraid. When people fear you, they may do things you demand, because they have kids to feed. But when they fear you, they don’t respect you. We all know that.
If you want to leave because it is too hard, leave. If you want to stay, stay. But mostly, stay real wherever you are. Don’t let them scare and threaten you. If they use fear management, it means they are afraid and don’t know how to lead properly. If you respect people they respect you back. If they don’t respect you stay calm and have self respect. I had neither after my brother died. I lost my self confidence and fearlessness, and the bullying in shops crumbled me.
Know your own values and stay true to them.
Thank you for reading.
Former Pret Employee (FL)
P.S. This former GM is a hero of mine, unfortunately anonymous, never to be reached. There are some good people for better jobs somewhere else:
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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