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14 people found this helpful  

Formerly great company run down by truly terrible management

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Middle Manager  in  Seattle, WA
Former Employee - Middle Manager in Seattle, WA

I worked at Sur La Table full-time for more than 5 years

Pros

The people in the trenches have good intentions and work hard. You will rarely find yourself locking horns with non-executives; the majority of the staff is trying to make the best of bad direction.

Cons

I spent many years at SLT corporate before I finally admitted that upper management was never going to change, and I gave up and left. With the perspective of a year away, here's a parable capturing what the experience was like. In this story, every city is a project, or an operational goal, or a business objective. "VP" is leadership. "Staff" is you.

VP: We need you in Los Angeles right away!

Staff: We'll get started. It'll be a three day drive.

(next day)

VP: Where are you? We need you in Chicago.

Staff: I'm in Portland. I'm on the way to Los Angeles.

VP: Forget Los Angeles. Go to Chicago right now!

Staff: Um, okay, it'll be a week or so.

VP: You have two days.

Staff: That's not really--

VP: Get going!

(two days later)

VP: Why aren't you in Chicago?

Staff: We told you it wouldn't be possible. We're going as fast as we can.

VP: Never mind Chicago. We need you in Portland immediately.

Staff: What? We were just in Portland. If we'd known--

VP: Stop arguing and get moving!

(two days later)

Staff: Okay, we're in Portland.

VP: Great. On your way through Idaho, we need you to pick something up.

Staff: What? We're already in Portland. We needed to know about Idaho yesterday.

VP: Go back to Idaho, do the pickup, and on your way, stop in Houston.

Staff: What? Houston isn't between here and Idaho.

VP: Get moving!

And so on, and so forth. If you don't mind being yanked around like this, if you enjoy wasting your time being sent down blind alleys and dead ends by inexperienced micromanagers, if you can handle the realization that the people in charge have literally no idea what they're doing from day to day and are running the business at a blindfolded improvisatory sprint, then have fun. Me, I like to know that there's an actual strategy being followed. I don't respond well to reactionary panic.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

All the things I would say to senior management here, I already said to them while I was at the company, and it didn't make any difference. They're not interested in trusting their people. They're not interested in empowering their staff. They insist on continuing their inexperienced managerial style, which is to say, they believe that being in charge means telling everybody what to do every minute of the day, even if it's made up on the fly. They don't understand that experienced, skilled managers hire the best people, and then Listen To Them. Good employees have the best interest of the company at heart. They have good ideas. They understand the problems better than you do, and they have better solutions. Your job as an executive is not to solve the problems you don't understand anyway. Your job is to listen to your employees, trust them, and solve *their* problems so they can solve *your business's* problems. That is how it's supposed to work. But I've said this a dozen times already, and it fell on deaf ears. They're just not interested.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

188 Other Employee Reviews for Sur La Table (View Most Recent)

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  1. 13 people found this helpful  

    Work/Life Balance is Lacking...

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Store Manager
    Former Employee - Store Manager

    I worked at Sur La Table full-time

    Pros

    If you love cooking, and I do, this is a fun environment to work in as far as employees and customers are concerned.

    Cons

    The benefits leave a lot to be desired. Full-time employees pay a reasonable contribution to cover themselves for medical/dental. However, if you are married or have dependents, the coverage is exhorbitant. The 401k match is only $0.50 on the dollar up to 4%. The bonus program is not generous and usually only includes full-time managers. When the company began to perform really well in early 2009, too many stores were meeting or exceeding forecast and qualifying for bonus, so they created a higher bonus goal in order to avoid paying out so much in bonus money. The stores tend to be dirty and understaffed as a result of not budgeting enough payroll to handle the task load as well as provide the high level of customer service that is expected. Hourly managers working off the clock in order to fulfill their job requirements is a rampant dirty little secret. District Managers look the other way. There is a serious lack of respect for the work/life balance of the store managers.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Upper management claims to want work/life balance for the store managers, but it's all palaver. With a Q4 store manager work schedule that dictates store managers work every Saturday and Sunday save two in November and two in December; and, the suggestion that all of the shifts save Monday be mid-shifts, they leave little room for balance, especially for those managers whose significant others work a Monday-Friday schedule or for managers who have children.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    It is a nice place to work if you enjoy making minimum wage

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Kitchen Assistant  in  Naperville, IL
    Former Employee - Kitchen Assistant in Naperville, IL

    I worked at Sur La Table part-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Employees get a great discount on retail items. It is not a hard job physically.

    Cons

    Hours are unpredictable if you are a kitchen assistant. Promised 20hours a week, worked 4-8 hours a week.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire kitchen assistants with experience, and pay them what they are worth.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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