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Roland Smith
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    From bad to worse with the merger

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Impress Supervisor (Key) in Kansas City, MO
    Current Employee - Impress Supervisor (Key) in Kansas City, MO

    I have been working at OfficeMax full-time (more than 3 years)


    - Best store-level management team with which I've ever worked
    - Flexible scheduling
    - Excellent co-workers by and large


    - Current merger just equates to rats clinging together on a sinking ship: Neither company had a clue to start with and now they have twice as much nothing.
    - Fire and forget services: GoDaddy, cloud storage, office space rental, and all these other plans appeared, were pushed heavily for about a month, and were then just forgotten when corporate finally got it through their skulls no one wanted them. Until then, you're punished for failing after being set up to fail in the first place.
    - Half-hearted changes: Much like the services above, the desperate flailing of those trying to keep their jobs in the merger only made life worse for everyone. In the past three years, the print center has gone through three different department names and three different email addresses. This has left the department a mishmash of logos adorning the walls and left a wake of confusion across customers. Failure to stick to any one thing is a hallmark of OfficeMax, apparently.
    - No communication or documented procedure: There's nowhere to look up standard procedure, particularly for the print center or how to actually sell the aforementioned services. Asking higher ups only results in threats of sending you to other stores to "train" where you'll learn they just made up their own procedures too. Everything is passed down like Native American oral tradition and if the person who knows everything leaves you're screwed. Ad is often missing pieces and supply ordering is completely disorganized to the point where you have to tediously check every category for the one thing you need like you're trying to find Waldo. Oh, there he is, he's in the Carbonless Paper tab for some reason.
    - Constant, worthless meetings/conferences: Why spend time working when you could be stuck on a phone conference even when a customer needs help? Let's have two or three of these a week with threats of more if your store is lagging in sales. Thanks.
    - Boogeyman DM: When your idea of leadership is threats of surprise visits, there's a serious problem. Worse than that, work has to grind to a halt to appease him. The MoD has to stand up front and greet customers instead of doing actual work and no one's allowed to put up truck in front of customers so all the extra hands waste payroll by standing around until the DM leaves. His presence actually harms productivity.
    - Lack of trust: A counter was installed in the entryway to count customers so they can cross reference it with the number of sales per day. Sales numbers are wanted four times a day. Managers are expected to eavesdrop on conversations with customers and grade performance. The level of Big Brother style micromanagement on a daily basis is obscene and insulting.
    - Creativity and personality are discouraged: You have to do everything the DM's way or hit the highway. This might sound like simple uniformity but it's to the point where you are given specific lines to regurgitate to every customer like a robot. Even in the print center you're expected to fill out a four sided work order for something as simple as "10 copies please". They promote the idea of "owning your business" but their actions enforce anything but.
    - Too much focus on redundant paperwork: That work order I just mentioned? There's also a log book to write that in. Then you have to have the customer pay up front, print a second copy of the receipt, and staple it to the work order. That's just the print center. Management has their own pile of dead trees to fill out constantly to track numbers they can't possibly affect themselves.
    - Exceptions are never made: Not all stores are built the same but all plans must be followed to the letter. This results in ridiculous things like counter tops being so cluttered by advertisements it's like a wall between associate and customer or the print center's desktop publishing computer being positioned in such a way the customer can't even see the screen without going behind the counter.
    - Customer surveys are king: Store policies are rarely followed because of the fear of lackluster survey results. On a scale of 1-5, 4's don't even matter. If you don't get all 5's, your otherwise positive reviews are thrown out. Negative reinforcement drives customer service more than a sense of a job well done resulting in store-level management bending over backwards for the slightest customer complaint in a desire to make a number get closer to 100%.
    - Expectations are greater than pay: Anyone behind the print center counter is expected to be able to use Adobe products even though there is no training available. Chances are, anyone able to effectively use those programs can find a better paying and less stressful job elsewhere making acceptable hiring for that position a Herculean feat. This leads to unhappy customers and unhappy associates and/or one employee who, by chance, knows how to do everything and has all the complicated work dumped on them. Then add to this that OfficeMax promotes "cross-training" in which everyone should be able to do a bit of everything. Unfortunately, that training is non-existent so you are expected to know things you're never taught.
    - Role play: Corporate's idea of training is role playing. This is the retail equivalent of thinking you're ready to fight by stabbing a straw dummy with a sword. No one is going to act in an actual sales scenario like they do when playing pretend; either the sales associate or the customer. Every person is an individual and a rote routine is only going to handicap you. Role play is a useless and demeaning technique that has no place outside an elementary school playground.
    - Dangerous storage: Furniture and printers are stored so high you need a ladder to get them down. If a customer needs one when a larger, stronger associate is not available they either cannot be sold that item or a smaller associate is forced to risk life and limb for a chair.
    - Outdated technology: The registers are XP machines that can take half a minute just to print a receipt or a full minute just to look up someone's rewards card. The print center PC was probably dragged out of a landfill after someone bought it by mistake at a garage sale. It's not an uncommon occurrence to have it freeze up simply trying to print someone's document. Not only that, there is only one PC available in most stores, so all customers in line have to wait on it.
    - Run down building: The technology isn't the only thing needing a revamp. The A/C and heat in the building barely work if at all. The front doors have gotten stuck multiple times, the pipes burst one winter which flooded the store, and vermin often find their way inside.
    - Slow supply delivery: When ordering something as simple as a case of 20# paper for the print center, it can take up to a month to see it. Specialty items can take even longer, resulting in an inability to confidently accommodate customer demand in a timely manner.
    - Soulless company: Employees are forced to work on Easter and Thanksgiving when they did not have to previously. Considering this is an office supply store and not a direct competitor to actual box or electronics stores like Walmart or Best Buy, that is unnecessary and inexcusable. Out-dated office chairs are marked for destruction rather than donation. Even the "A Day Made Better" program which accepted donations for local teachers was gutted to the point where they're just handed some paper and some snacks turning it from a special way to give to the community into more of an insult. Pathetic.
    - No chairs allowed: The chairs at the computers in the print center and control center were removed, forcing employees to stand all day. Moreover, the computers in question are on desks at heights made for chairs, so employees are actually breaking their backs leaning over them whenever they're in use. The rationale was "you should just plug them in and go" without ever once giving thought to the idea that customers would like someone to sit at the computer and help them with their PC or print project instead of just grabbing their money and ushering them out the door.
    - Skeleton crews: Often times there are only three people in the entire store. This is not the fault of store level management. The higher ups have just slashed payroll to the bone, forcing this to be a grim reality. They even cut payroll during the holiday season, leaving stores woefully understaffed for the busiest time of the year that isn't back-to-school. This also leads to problems getting a lunch break. If you're the only key-holder when closing, you often can't get your meal because the only other manager has already left. If you're the only person who can run the print or control center, you'll have your lunch disrupted by questions. You can't even get 30 minutes peace.
    - Pathetic rewards: Raises are annual and only amount to a few cents. The only bonus for a job well done is the SPIFF program for selling max assurance or control center services which, funny enough, also only amounts to a few cents. Print center has no such reward and selling a million color copies doesn't even matter in corporate's eyes unless you attach an additional service to it. Supposedly positive customer reviews have your name put in a box for a drawing for a gift card each month but that program has withered on the vine like all the "new and exciting" services. There's just no follow through and no motivation.
    - No way to suggest improvements: This is the big one. Right at the start of the merger, what was called the Idea Tank was removed. It was an internal forum where all stores could communicate, ask questions, get answers, and give executives suggestions to better improve the company and just employee life in general. Much like in war, Office Depot/Max's first move was to cut the line of communication to keep us all scared and in the dark. Everything started with one bad omen and they've only twisted the knife since then.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Give your workers enough trust to do the job they're paid to do and back off. Stop leading with threats and negative reinforcement. Killing morale is how you kill a company. Unless you want the merger to rot from the inside out, start caring about the people working for you and ask them for ideas and guidance.

    Upper management should spend a week, or even just a day, working the jobs they're supposed to be managing. If they actually got a taste of what happens store level they might be less clueless about it.

    Doesn't Recommend
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