Sur La Table

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Sur La Table Reviews in Seattle, WA

Updated May 29, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

2.3 23 reviews

35% Approve of the CEO

Sur La Table CEO Jack Schwefel

Jack Schwefel

(17 ratings)

19% of employees recommend this company to a friend

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Great discount on product once you are a full employee(in 37 reviews)

  • It's a friendly place with great products, nice stores and you do get an employee discount(in 20 reviews)


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

  • Little to no training and big expectations for sales(in 6 reviews)

25 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews
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    • Culture & Values
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    2 people found this helpful  

    Worked here for a year

    Sales Associate (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsDiscount, learn about fun items, great co workers

    ConsLittle to no training and big expectations for sales

    Advice to Senior Managementtrain people and you will get results

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    Ok

    Reporting Analyst (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsThey give you freebies
    Growth potential

    ConsPeople are not very friendly

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    • Disapproves of CEO

    9 people found this helpful  

    Recipe for a hot mess

    Manager (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsEveryone 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.

    ConsIt'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 Senior ManagementYou 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?

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Culture & Values
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    • Disapproves of CEO

    5 people found this helpful  

    pressure cooker, profit motives, power struggles

    Merchandising (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsI 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

    ConsIt 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 Senior ManagementThere'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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Disapproves of CEO

    9 people found this helpful  

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

    Merchandising (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsFirst 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.

    ConsOh, 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 Senior ManagementLearn 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    7 people found this helpful  

    Small corporate environment with micro managers.

    IT Professional (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

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

    ConsIn 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 Senior ManagementListen to your people, en-power your employees, receive training on management principles,

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    9 people found this helpful  

    Brick walls

    Business Analyst (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsIf 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.

    ConsA 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 Senior ManagementThere 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    10 people found this helpful  

    Management does it all

    Assistant Buyer (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsIt's a friendly place with great products, nice stores and you do get an employee discount. Sur La Table is a super brand with a lot of potential.

    ConsYou work for your boss and whoever their boss is and whoever their boss is. You do not work with anyone, you are the work you are assigned to do. Hierarchy totally rules. If you aren't in charge you better be good at taking orders. Please do not think on your own, management will do all that. You'll work too much and you won't accomplish anything because management hasn't figured out what they want. Do not come up with an idea, management has so many of those already. Communication is really bad, no one knows what to do until the last minute. It'll change again so you better be ready to run around like crazy and crash into lots of things. It's a mess.

    Advice to Senior ManagementThere's more to running a company than making money, watching every penny and being so super efficient. You need to change the culture and think about other people. You need to learn how to be effective and do things right. There's more to a business than a bottom line so you should really start to care.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Must be a brick wall...

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsMostly great people to work with. Mostly great benefits.

    ConsNot so great people to work for, not all but some. Incompetent (or maybe just lazy) middle management. Definitely a good example of micro management...control and trust are always becoming an issue. There is no advancement opportunities even to those who are able and willing. It is only available to a selected few.

    Advice to Senior ManagementLook closely at your middle management. There are people being paid for doing not a single work. Open a suggestion box or better yet, get feedbacks from regular employees regarding their supervisors. You would be surprise to learn where a lot of money being wasted.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    4 people found this helpful  

    Good experience, but can vary greatly depending on your manager

    Merchandising (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsI've seen people promoted through management ranks very quickly.

    ConsJob training not so great.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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