Retail Reflections: StockBoy

October 1, 2009 — Leave a comment
487794_chemistry_4<image courtesy of vierdrie>

A little while ago, I shared my experience interviewing for a home improvement retailer.  You can read that post here.  During my recent journey of searching for and being given work, I experienced some interactions with the retail world that might be useful in informing different aspects of the Church world.

One of the other potential employers who needed ‘very open availability’ was only able to commit to five hours a week of work.  Again, the pay rate wasn’t anything spectacular.  But here’s how the interview process played out:

  • Brief, initial phone interview focused mostly on verifying information from the application and confirming ‘very open availability.
  • One-on-one interview with a potential supervisor.  Questions covered everything from experience to hypothetical ‘what-if’s.”
  • One-on-one interview with the potential supervisor’s supervisor.  More questions, but mostly casual interaction much more conversational in tone.
  • One-on-one conversation and clarification with the “HR Lady.”

Pretty involved for a part-time, low-paid position, wouldn’t you agree?  Much of the questioning and conversation centered around two things: availability and chemistry.

In a retail world, availability is king.  If you can’t actually be at work when people are going to be buying things, you’re not going to be much of an asset to the company.  The question was, “are you actually willing to commit to being here and making this a priority?”  Through experience as well as recognizing the ramping-up for the holiday shopping season, this potential employer knew they needed to clarify issues of availability.  Not being able to show up when they most needed to show up meant not getting the job.  Period.

Remember, we’re talking about a guaranteed *five hours* of work a week here… but needing wide-open availability all week long.

Chemistry was also important.  Everything related to serving in this environment was about ‘teamwork.’  Each shift contributes to the success of the store as part of a team; preparations for the next day’s selling activities are completed as a team; training is administered to staff as a team.  The concept of the ‘team’ is very, very important.  Someone coming on who is focused too much on themselves will have a negative impact on the team; likewise, someone who can’t take personal responsibility will also negatively impact those around them and the store’s bottom line.

It was clear this working together aspect was incredibly important… and why, I believe, I interacted with so many people in the course of pursuing a job offer.

When it comes to finding people for our ministry teams, we would be wise to consider these aspects of the process as incredibly important, too.  If a retailer spends so much time checking to see if commitment and chemistry are so important before investing a small hourly wage in their employee, maybe the Church should care for these things in pursuit of advancing the Kingdom of Christ.

What level of commitment are we expecting from our people?  Now, I’m not saying we push people too hard or too far; and I’m not advocating the idea that every member should sacrifice everything outside of church for church (that’s not really ministry… but I’ll save that for some other post some other time).  In my experience, people rise exactly to what we expect of them.  Expect half-hearted participation and that’s what you’ll get.  Expect deep commitment from those who serve out of love, and watch them rise to the occasion.

How much are we looking for chemistry and teamwork rather than ‘rising stars?’   I got the feeling this particular retailer had passed ‘qualified applicants’ by because they lacked the ability to work on a team.  Maybe we could take a page from that play book and again realize that a ‘qualified‘ ministry team member does not always the right ministry team member make.

Jeremiah Gomez

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I am on a journey...enjoying the adventure of learning to live a life that isn't my own.

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