Sur La Table

  www.surlatable.com
  www.surlatable.com
There are newer employer reviews for Sur La Table

16 people found this helpful  

Kinda cool, kinda weird, kinda dumb and a hot mess -

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Store Manager in New York, NY
Former Employee - Store Manager in New York, NY

I worked at Sur La Table (more than 3 years)

Pros

Fantastic product selection. If you are a self starter and curious about cooking, technique, tools, etc..it's a great place to be. The average staff member at the store level has a passion for cooking and or is creative, smart, interesting..maybe just funny and we love funny.

Cons

Day to day store operations are micro managed from corporate. Executive management seems to have little confidence in the abilities of store managers. Like most retailers it is pay for play but many stores are under staffed because of unreasonable payroll expectations. Store managers often work well past a normal work week to meet the needs of the business. Many new stores seem to be opening in speculative markets with hopes, dreams and wishes for growth without consideration for the reality on the ground. Major markets rely on hiring from the outside for managers because little to no development is taking place from within. Most internal promotions are taking place because people quit or are terminated. Part time staff is under employed for most of the year with the promise of more hours during peak season. Most managers at the store level are frustrated in being unable to provide hours to people who want to work. Stores are required to maintain staffing as it relates to an often exaggerated business goal while keeping most pt employees in the 4-12-24 hours per work week.

The computer system is old school and often does not reflect current inventory. Lost prevention is a focus by corporate but store level concerns are often ignored by corporate. In one case a store had its guard removed without corporate informing the management team at that store.

Store walk through: by corporate executive and regional managers are sometimes pop visits, usually unprofessional and often demoralizing. The general attitude seems to be wanting to catch the team doing something wrong vs how to help them succeed.

Embarrassingly dated management practices with a focus on coaching notes and behavior modifying. The idea is fine but it's sad when smart people rely on a check list to to try and manage intelligent people. It's an inside joke among the the staff when a manager tries to coach in the moment. It's an inside joke among the managers when they write notes to the area/district/regional manager regarding the people they coached. I am sure the joke goes all the way up the top to HR...not to mention Investcorp.

Stores follow a mostly mass visual execution with little payroll support to maintain. In most stores managers are working in overdrive trying to keep their store aligned according to visual expectations. Some stores enjoy having a great merch asm that was likely trained by another company.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Every day is a new chance to do the right thing. In the meantime the clock is ticking and its only a matter of time before Investcorp figures out that you (corporate) are under-performing.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

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

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  1. 14 people found this helpful  

    Chef Overload Makes a Half-Baked Company

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

    I worked at Sur La Table full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    One of the friendliest places you'll ever work; wonderful people who are truly passionate about what they do. Everyone tries as hard as they can to get things done and do nice things for their customers. If you want to work at a very traditional retailer from the last century; focused on stores and a catalog then this is the place for you.

    Cons

    You read about companies like this in school, but never think they still exist. Too many people with their own opinions, everyone thinks their idea is the be all end all greatest thought ever. There is no coordination between departments, communication doesn't exist. The 2 things people say most often are "I don't know what's going on either" and "No one told me that". All the executives are hands on micro managers, acting like they need to do the job, can do the job, and their people are roadblocks. VP's are puffed up workers; meddling in just about everything that happens. Given the opportunity to go behind another execs back they will. Whichever one of the them speaks last gets what they want; unless the CEO chimes in too. No one is interested in learning anything, they just want to be right. There isn't much deep thinking; it's a silly crazy moving target.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Destroy the seemingly infinite hardened silos, open up, modernize, talk to your customers, think about customers, think about how things are changing, stop standing still. Train every single manager and executive basic management skills. Stop micro-managing, get out of the way and let people do their jobs. Figure out what it means to be a successful retailer going forward instead of relying on what you've been doing since the 1980s. Have you even heard of the internet and social media? Have a vision, set real goals and objectives, figure out what matters besides making money for the Bahraini investment firm that owns you. Learn how to listen to the customers you don't have, but wish you did.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 16 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 (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
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