Sur La Table

  www.surlatable.com
  www.surlatable.com

Sur La Table Reviews in Seattle, WA

Updated October 3, 2014
Updated October 3, 2014
202 Reviews
2.7
202 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Diane Neal
6 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Great discount 40% I have to put 20 words in this section as Pros so I'm writing this (in 36 reviews)

  • It's a friendly place with great products, nice stores and you do get an employee discount (in 26 reviews)


Cons
  • This allows for the middle management team to look favorably in the eyes of the upper management (in 17 reviews)

  • but then hired outside managers with little to no expertise in the market (in 8 reviews)

More Highlights

28 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 2 people found this helpful  

    A place of discovery

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

    I have been working at Sur La Table full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Working for Sur la Table has been a fun ride. Food-centric culture, the power to fix any problem on a store level, competent managers, and great product. Lots of room for growth plus a 40% discount and GREAT health benefits.

    Cons

    SLT needs to improve their internal training program - specifically product skills. Of course, payroll is tight for training, but additional training collateral would be HIGHLY beneficial.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    As a store manager, I know our sales associates always feel under-appreciated. Find a way to reach them in a meaningful way and thank them for their work.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 13 people found this helpful  

    The Status Quo is Garbage In, Garbage Out

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

    I have been working at Sur La Table full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    There's a certain cozy charm to this place. And just like the stores plenty of friendly people going about their business. You don't have to put in a lot of hours, and working in retail creates enough interesting challenges. And you do get an employee discount.

    Cons

    You are there to do your job, no more, no less. Don't expect to have any authority or gain any responsibility. Unfortunately the tools you have to work with are a complete mess, total garbage. There is no coherent process on how to do anything, unless ad hoc is the latest and greatest agile, scrum, kanban. There'a a lot of reacting and bright shiny object syndrome, so there's no real plan on how to implement correctly and execute well. No one's truly in charge, but there are plenty of people who want to have the last word. Leadership is defined by who possesses the biggest title and who made the final authoritative statement. Information (if it's available) that should be at your fingertips is buried somewhere in a system that no one has time to access, or knows how to access. Should you have the good fortune to finally locate the information you needed there's a good chance it's useless. No one has cleaned up the data, the IT systems are completely out of date (and not built to do what they're doing), the POS is running on obsolete software, the website hasn't been reengineered in over a decade, there's no CRM system, there's no CMS system, the computer you have will probably crash because it's running a pathetically old version of Windows. Sadly nobody wants to change any of this. From the top down they continue to look at the same things they've looked at for decades and try to glean some sort of insight. And when they see whatever it is they see they come marching through the cubicles looking for someone to blame, or unrealistically looking for someone to fix it. There are more than a few people here who can barely function in their job, promoted up thanks to their very long tenure. Good luck advancing your career in this kind of environment. So while it might look pretty on the outside, from those charming stores, it's ugly inside the office. It's time to get moving.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You need to take a good long look at what you're investing in, and what you're spending precious resources on. It's time to break with the past and move forward. A profound cultural change is needed.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 10 people found this helpful  

    Trouble On The Table

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

    I have been working at Sur La Table full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    There are a lot of really nice people in the office. Most people try to do their best and are real fans of food, dining and cooking.

    Cons

    Executives have an unyielding dedication to their fiduciary responsibility. Plans and decisions don't make much strategic sense, until you find out this little company is owned by a Middle Eastern private equity company called Investcorp. The board from Investcorp regularly advises the executive team on how the business should be run, and guarantee cash flow is generated at the levels they want.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Try some advice from a couple of pretty smart business people.

    Jack Welch said “On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy… your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products… Short-term profits should be allied with an increase in the long-term value of a company.”

    Peter Drucker said "Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two--and only two--basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business"

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    Worked here for a year

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

    I worked at Sur La Table part-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Discount, learn about fun items, great co workers

    Cons

    Little to no training and big expectations for sales

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    train people and you will get results

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Ok

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

    I worked at Sur La Table as a contractor (less than an year)

    Pros

    They give you freebies
    Growth potential

    Cons

    People are not very friendly

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 12 people found this helpful  

    Recipe for a hot mess

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

    I have been working at Sur La Table full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Everyone tries hard and you can get an employee discount. It can be a lot of fun if you love cooking and kitchen gadgets. Pretty good work-life balance, so you won't be overworked.

    Cons

    It's all about filling up the cash registers and making the private equity firm that owns them happy. Senior management says one thing one day, one thing the next day, and another thing the day after that. The people in charge only care about being right, not about being better. It's amazing anyone gets anything done. Don't even think about having any ambition or getting more responsibility. Stress and frustration are really high, and there are plenty of crazy people running around trying to take care of something some executive told them to do. It would be funny if it wasn't kind of sad.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You should really figure out why you're doing what you're doing, set some goals, maybe even talk to each other once in a while. Maybe even talk to people who work there who don't have some fancy title. I mean really talk, not tell them what to do. You could even try listening. Don't just do the same thing over and over again and expecting something different to happen. You know what that means right?

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 15 people found this helpful  

    Go! Set. Ready? Wait... What?!

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

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

    Pros

    First off I love cooking, the products Sur La Table sells, and their cooking classes. Second I worked with wonderfully creative people that were a joy to be with. There are such fun things in the store and customers love them. The company is friendly and has great customer service.

    Cons

    Oh, where to begin? it could have been so much better, but like many others have pointed out, there's just so much conflict between teams. I just wanted to do my job, but instead was dragged this way and that, never able to make any progress. Stress was unbearable more often than not. What a disaster headquarters is! Everything is a top priority, all the time. And priorities change from one minute to the next. The VPs are like a bunch of little boys. They are always, always right, doing what's best for themselves without considering for a second how it could affect anyone else. For awhile I thought they would figure things out, but they just constantly fought with each other and everything goes sideways. The rest of us would just have to get out of the way, and then clean up the mess.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Learn to act like grown ups and stop competing with each other. You're ruining the company with your egos. Try thinking about people first instead of daily sales numbers for your happy board meetings. Plan something, plan anything, and stick to it.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 8 people found this helpful  

    pressure cooker, profit motives, power struggles

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

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

    Pros

    I really liked going to the stores and meeting our customers. They love Sur La Table and the things we sell, and the people that work there are great. Super friendly! I love cooking and am kind of a foodie and it's fun to see what new products are coming

    Cons

    It is so stressful to work here, and all management cares about is money and profits. I cannot tell you how many times I went home frustrated, or in tears. I would wake up and dread going to work. I started getting migraines from all the stress. Working here is so confusing because you just don't know what you're doing, and nobody really helps you. It's all about following executive orders, no matter how ridiculous they are. The hardest thing for me was spending most of my time doing work that had nothing to do with my real job. No matter how many times I brought this up with my manager I was always told that's how it is so deal with it. The office is so disorganized, and the culture is just dreadful. It's just so strange how the people that have been there awhile just accept it. It's like they've never worked at a normal company. I just couldn't take it anymore.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There's so much that needs to change. I really wanted Sur La Table to be as nice as the stores are, but the office is all about politics and making money. I wish you cared more about people and helping them do there jobs better.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 13 people found this helpful  

    Small corporate environment with micro managers.

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

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

    Pros

    Some of the long-term individuals are pleasant to work with and have a lot of knowledge

    Cons

    In a normal team environment, having multiple personalities and experience levels is a positive. In this is case it is more toxic than beneficial. It starts with the directors who dictate rather than manage. Their ideas and beliefs are the direction of their teams. Ideas from within their teams are not accepted well, if at all. Ideas are perceived as non-conforming. This causes a very dysfunctional team and suppresses employee creativity and participation. There is no team concept, even within each IT area. The team is essentially divided into three areas: Applications, Technical, and QA. There is no cross-team communication or management. This cause’s resource commitment issues and cross team responsibility issues. There are no advancement possibilities within each team. This is not an environment for those individuals who are looking for someone who would be able to mentor and provide opportunities to grow their career and advance to the next level. The middle management team is considered to have a “Yes” management style when working with upper management. They will not listen to the justifications or feedback from their teams but rather answer to the direction and demands of senior management, without considerations of the ramifications. Because of this, the demands of projects are unreasonable and cause the staff to work unreasonable hours. Quality and functionality usually suffer due to the demands of the directors. The majority of the team works over 50 plus hours a week and many times on weekends. This is the result of poor resource management and project planning by the directors. People are busy, but this is because they cannot work efficiently or effectively due to poor project management. Yearly merit increases and compensation are minimal, especially for a company that makes a profit every year. This is true for everyone, unless you are one of the lucky individuals included in the inner circle or management team. Those individuals will receive the majority of the raises and discretionary salary adjustments. As mentioned earlier, management style is to manage up with a “yes” mentality. Then, when there are project issues or failures, the management style is to push down to the individuals they manage or outside influences, such as vendors. Essentially, issues and complications are deflected from the directors. Extremely poor program and project management is the norm. There is no PMO or project methodology in place. They use the terms but there is no concrete system in place. They manage projects on an individual basis and with no practiced methodology. This project management style leads to the majority of the projects to implement unsuccessfully or to be shelved. Projects that are implemented are delivered late and with cost overruns. Again, the issues are reported to upper management as team/individual limitations or vendor misrepresentations or lack of commitment. Current IT staff is approximately 28 individuals, including the help desk. Within the last two years there has been a turnover of approximately 18 individuals, with another 3-5 currently looking for other opportunities outside the company. This is considered high turnover and impacts team building, trust, knowledge, career growth and cohesiveness. The only level that has not been impacted in the last two to three years is at the management and director level. Some of the turnover were by individuals who left after working only one year or less. The management is not qualified to be in the position they are responsible. They are glorified entry level managers with little to no management experience. They are micro-managers that like to be involved at the detail level rather than empower and believe in their employees. They are involved with the new technologies and opportunities rather than delegate these opportunities to their teams. They are very opinionated and run their teams similar to a dictatorship. They have their favorites on each team and will listen to them, but ultimately, they manage and direct based on their beliefs. Some of the team member conform and are looked upon favorably. Many times the directors voice their opinion based on previous experience, relevant or not, rather than listening to what business is expressing. Nepotism is huge within the department, with almost 40% of the team members having worked together in the past. At times the management team tries to act like they care and are there for their team, but it is infrequent and not credible or genuine. A lot of what they perceive as a positive gestures is just a matter of going through the motions with no substance behind it. Training is not an option within the most of the department, either due to budget constraints or lack of scheduling. If you are looking for an opportunity that will provide you with career growth and advancement, this is not the environment for you. Relationships with the business are strained. The interaction with the business is in a degrading and condescending way. Sometimes even patronizing. Instead of working in a partnership, they tell the business what they need and how systems should be configured and implemented. They make promises to deliver but rarely deliver what was agreed upon. There is no management 360 review process in place, so there is no feedback opportunity unless you approach the HR team. This allows for the middle management team to look favorably in the eyes of the upper management. They are your typical company structure where upper management supports and believes the middle management team and then places the blame on the employees. Thus one of the reasons for the high turnover rate within IT. If the middle management team were to be replaced by competent and knowledgeable individuals, the success of the team would dramatically change. There is no vision within the department or the company. The use the same statements year in and year out: Open stores, grow the internet, and grow the culinary business. There is no concrete plan or substance behind the ideas and eventually they will not be successful moving forward. The management team in place does not have the experience or knowledge to take this company to the next level. They have been riding the success of the past and natural growth of a company its size. I would not recommend working within the IT department at Sur La Table.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Listen to your people, en-power your employees, receive training on management principles,

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  11. 12 people found this helpful  

    Brick walls

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

    I worked at Sur La Table full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    If you love cooking and kitchens and things there is the advantage of getting an employee discount. Some of the people working here are remarkably talented.

    Cons

    A slow moving, thoughtless business. if you wait 5 minutes some high powered person will decide on something else, and change your mind for you. The only constant is "that's how we do things here". Good luck trying to move forward at this dysfunctional company. Functionally illiterate people have jobs they don't know how to do, systems are being used for things they weren't built to do. There's no leadership, just a bunch of VPs who like to throw their weight around, and some truly awful micro-management. Communication is horrible because nothing is planned ahead of time and no one is in charge of anything. Remember high school? It's like that. There are a bunch of cliques and they don't talk to each other. Don't be fooled by pretty stores and products. Beneath the surface this place is a big ugly mess.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There really is no management, so first and foremost don't confuse your lofty titles with being a leader or a manager. You don't have a functioning organization, you have a bunch of people scrambling to do tasks that reinforce whatever it is you demand. And who knows what that is, because you'll probably change your mind, or someone else higher up the ladder will come along and ask for something completely different.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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