Saturday, July 08, 2006

Nice Guys Finish Last

When DM Kenny departed our district, tail between his legs (he had done such a shitty job running the district. Auditor Sam was fond of saying that Kenny had taken the Santa Rosa district and run it straight into the ground) naturally that left us without a District Manager. Some of us assumed that Area Manager Jeff would promoted to the position, but Jeff claimed that he didn't want the responsibility of heading up a district (Ops Manager Samir later told me differently. He had expressed some doubt as to Jeff's abilities, and thought that perhaps Jeff was a bit too immature to be a DM).

During the week or two that we were DM-less, a rumor was going around our district that Doug, the AM in Vallejo, was to be appointed as our new DM. This was confirmed a short time later.

Having worked with the Vallejo district on a number of occasions we knew Doug and for the most part liked him. He seemed nice, but of course things could be different when he came over to our district. I mean, he might turn out to be a ogre who played favorites (like Jeff) or maybe a complete moron who hadn't a clue (like Kenny or Dave).

So it was a pleasant surprise to discover that Doug was a genuinely nice person. He had a rather a quiet manner of speaking, and during his stay in our district I never once heard (or heard of) him raise his voice or utter an unkind or angry word. He was always in a very agreeable mood, very positive and upbeat. And not in a phony insincere way like former DM Kenny. No, DM Doug always seemed to be honestly glad to see people at stores and interested in hearing what you might have to say.

And wonder of wonders, he didn't play favorites! What a refreshing antithesis to AM Jeff's partisanship. Doug treated everyone equally, young and old, male and female. It came as a nice surprise to see a manager manage a district with such neutrality and impartiality.

I remember a Kmart inventory that our district did shortly after DM Doug arrived. During a break, Doug came out of the store and sat right down on the curb next to a couple of us auditors. He started telling us about some of his plans for our Santa Rosa district, and things he wanted to accomplish as our new DM. He seemed genuinely interested and eager to be heading up the district, and it was very cool of him to sit down with us and have an actual conversation with his auditors.

Certainly AM Jeff wouldn't be caught dead chatting with us lowly commoners. No, even as Doug was talking I could see AM Jeff, across the way in the parking lot, huddled in a circle with his cronies Ethan, Robby, Gunther, and a couple of various assorted young girls. Typical Jeff. He never made an effort to get to know any auditors, really, unless he had the hots for her.

Also, unlike Jeff, Doug never made fun of the newbies or goobers in our district. I don't believe I even once heard him say an unkind word about anyone. He really was nice to all, and it was so bizarre to see and experience an RGIS manager in our district act in such a positive way. DM Doug seemed almost too good to be true.

Having grown accustomed and weary of the negativity and favoritism exhibited by AM Jeff, I at first was a bit cautious in forming an opinion regarding Doug when he came to Santa Rosa. After seeing how the F.O.J.'s (Friends of Jeff) were favorably treated by their leader, I was a bit afraid that Doug would turn out to be like Jeff and have his pets too. But that wasn't the case, not even with auditor Dylan. Dylan had worked under Doug in the Vallejo district, and moved to Santa Rosa before Doug. I thought that perhaps Doug would show partiality to his former Vallejo auditor, but that never happened. Dylan was treated no better or no worse than the rest of us. It was like we were, for the first time, truly all equal. Man did that feel weird!

So, already feeling pretty good about having Doug as our new DM, I felt about a million times better when it came to an incident regarding my schedule. When DM Kenny was in Santa Rosa, AM Jeff had somehow convinced him that he, Jeff, could make out the master schedule much more efficiently than Kenny. Thus Jeff really held all the power in the Santa Rosa office, and as more than one person said to me, "Jeff's the one who really runs this district."

Because of this it paid to get on Jeff's good side and stay there, if you wanted work. Don't cross Jeff and you'll get plenty of stores. Do something to displease him and guess what? You're not working much anymore. And if you questioned Jeff about your suddenly light schedule, he would play Mr. Innocent and tell you, "Well, we're really not very busy right now, there's not a lot of inventories going on, but I'll take a look at the master schedule and see what I can do." What bullshit. Jeff used that schedule like a weapon, cutting down his enemies and protecting and rewarding his clique.

(One way that we auditors found out what Jeff was doing with his scheduling was to compare our schedules. If Jeff told one auditor that there wasn't any work going on, and that's why his schedule was rather skimpy, then that auditor could merely compare his schedule with a couple of the other auditors and see if this was true. AM Jeff found out that we were doing this and became irate. When he issued our next schedule {handing them out to us during a Burlington Coat Factory inventory} there printed on the bottom of everyone' s schedule was this order from Jeff: "Schedules are not to be discussed with other auditors. Termination will result." Everyone was outraged by this edict. Besides a method of comparing schedules as a way to check Jeff on his word, we often discussed stores that we might be doing together later so that we could arrange carpools to and from inventories. One auditor anonymously sent a copy of this schedule {with Jeff's order on it} to RGIS' head office. The head office immediately contacted Jeff and told him that he couldn't threaten people with a dismissal in regards to his auditor's comparing their schedules. Boy was Jeff pissed!)

One fall my schedule seemed a bit skimpy, even for early November. I attributed this to the fact that Jeff had seen me talking with his arch enemy Psycho Alice. Jeff probably thought we were conspiring against him (not true; Alice was on her own one-person crusade to get rid of Jeff) and of course retaliated as only he could, with his favorite weapon the schedule. I asked Jeff about it and he gave me the usual "Well it's not that busy not a lot of inventories going on" crap. So the next day I went to the office to see DM Doug. Doug immediately said, "Let's take a look at the master schedule," and he started leafing through a big notebook. "I can put you in this store, and this one, and this one. Hey, here's two CSK (auto parts) stores going on in the same day. Which one would you like?" Amazing. This was something that Jeff would never have done.

Because of this incident with my schedule and a few others as well, I believe that DM Doug began to recognize what Jeff was doing with the master schedule, and how he was using it to reward his cronies and punish the rest of us. So little by little Doug began to do more and more of the scheduling himself. Jeff was furious to discover that his power in the district was slipping away bit by bit, leaving him impotent as a manager. He was mad as a hornet at Doug, but completely powerless to do anything about it. It was quite amusing to overhear him fuming about DM Doug depriving him of his baby, the master schedule. How wonderful and how delicious to see the once potent Jeff as weak and helpless as a kitten.

Doug also exhibited some first-rate behavior when it came to dealing with Nadine. Malcontent Nadine had been for some time getting away with murder. She would pull many no-shows at inventories, often calling in sick just minutes before she was due at a store. She always managed to keep her job by wearing a short skirt and prancing into former DM Kenny's office. A little wink, a little leg-crossing, and Nadine would remain an RGIS auditor for another day.

But Doug was miles above Kenny in class. He wasn't weak like Kenny and refused to play Nadine's games. After Kenny left and Doug became our DM, Nadine continued right on with her no-shows. Doug gave her a warning: if you pull another no-show you'll be fired. Of course, she pulled a no-show the very next day, at a Long's Drugs. A few minutes after the 5:30 am start Doug was overheard calling Nadine on his cell phone and leaving a message stating that she had been duly warned about her incessant no-shows, and since she had pulled yet another one that she was fired. Yes! Way to go Doug! Nadine was furious and tried her 'short skirt' method with Doug, but DM Doug was unimpressed. Too cool.

Doug was that rarity: a manager who never lost the ability to count on an audit machine. Doug was fast at keying, even faster than Team Leader Ethan (who firmly believed that he was the best at keying; he sometimes referred to himself as E-God). With RGIS always promoting from within, auditors who became managers had to (by company rules at that time) stop doing typical auditor's work like counting and stick to running inventories only. By doing so most DMs, AMs, and Ops Managers gradually lost the ability to count merchandise on the audit machine. Oh sure, they still knew how to operate an audit machine, but on that rare occasion that they were allowed to count (like when we showed up at a Long's Drugs in Novato with only 5 people, when we should have had 20) it was funny to watch how rusty the managers were at counting. Most of them could no longer key by touch, and instead had to look down at their audit machines every time they needed to enter a quantity. Hah!

DM Doug loved counting and was still very fast at it. At that time, managers had to first obtain permission from their division office before they could, as former DM Kenny used to put it, "Strap one on." That meant a lot of calls being placed, and playing phone tag took up too much time, especially if you were already running behind in an inventory. So Doug and AM Jeff would usually not bother to call one the Ops Managers and instead grab an audit machine and laser and head out onto the sales floor.

It was enjoyable to be counting around Doug because he was always in a good mood. Plus, I think he was happy to be counting again, so he would have a smile on his face and crack jokes. He also had this funny habit of urging you to "race" against him. You might be in the same aisle of a grocery store as him, with you on one side and he on the other. He would say something like, "C'mon, let's race, let's see who gets finished first." I would always laugh and say no thanks. I mean, I really couldn't see any point in "racing". What did I care who finished first? I was going to get paid the same regardless. But DM Doug was always really nice about it and would never push you to race him. It was just his way of joking around, and trying to keep the mood in a long tiring inventory upbeat.

So things were going great in Santa Rosa for a change, with a new DM and all, but I should have known it was too good to last. At a Long's Drugs inventory in Windsor, I was in the warehouse (back room), closing out my audit machine at the end of this October inventory. All of a sudden Doug, who had been busy with some paperwork, started to tell me about how a month or two before he had been ticketed for a DUI incident. He said that he had been driving home from a party and had been driving a bit erratically ("I'd only had a little bit of wine, it was a stupid thing to do and I'll never do it again"), and was stopped by a police car. He had received a ticket for drunk driving, but due to some misunderstanding the ticket never got paid ("I had the court date mixed up with some other date, I don't know how it happened") and now he was in danger of being fired from RGIS.

The reason Doug could be dismissed so easily from RGIS was that according to him, managers must have near spotless driving records, as the company vans that are leased for them are not covered by car insurance, just bonded or something. Apparently it would cost RGIS a pretty penny if a manager, driving the company van, got into a drunk driving accident.

As I was digesting this disturbing information DM Doug tossed off this next remark: "Come January you might not see me here anymore." He was so casual about it that I didn't really take him seriously. But sure enough, some 3 months later Doug was gone. Fired. And there went any high hopes for our district.

(Oh, one more thing about Doug. Just a few days before he left, I was having another one of my scheduling battles with Jeff (who despite Doug's efforts still maintained a little control over the master schedule), and again went into the office to speak with Doug about it. Doug seemed concerned and added some more inventories to my schedule. Two days later he was gone, and I said to AM Jeff, "I met with Doug a couple of days ago. Did he know at that time that he was being fired from RGIS?" Jeff said yes. So Doug had taken the time to bother about my schedule, even though he knew at that time he was losing his job. What a class act Doug was.)


Taliesyn said...

Dan seemed like a class act - it's a shame they let him go.

Sai's still with RGIS? I remember him from my days at the Control Center. As an audtec, I got all the nightmare calls (Hey, Tal, 38 districts are on the phone saying the Sears program doesn't work, can you look at it?), and as a result I wound up on a first name basis with all the Ops Managers. I felt kinda sorry for Sai, especially, as it seemed I was ALWAYS calling him with news of some new disaster.

AgentSkelly said...

Its pretty common for a AM be seen counting in my district. My DM usually will help out if we are short people at a store and he has nothing else on schedule for him.

gas said...

Did RGIS do away with the company vans recently as well?
We didn't have any in 501, and I don't think the surrounding districts did either. That caused a lot of problems with employee-cars. During my time there, we had three flat tires and 2 break-downs that I know of. It also caused problems for at least one person who wasn't insured for so much business travelling.
(From the last post)Apparently the deal with Walmart here was that if you get 1 area miscounted you get sent home. then they check the rest and if there are 3 areas miscounted they call some head office, and RGIS fires the person (generally to hire them back a couple of days later)
The last time I was in a Walmart they had WIS tags up, so I think they did finally switch.

Anonymous said...

Misfit, you are so right about the nice ones not lasting. We had a really nice guy who stepped up to AAM and then to AM in our District.
He was a really decent and nice guy. The auditors loved him. He didn't play favorites, never yelled, always made sure someone accompanied the women to their cars in mall lots or he would walk them out. Just a great guy. But, he was too nice. The DM picked on him all the time. He fought back but just got tired of the constant games the DM played. The DM has always played games with scheduling, etc. and always points the finger at the AMs when you question it. But this guy was just too nice to play these dirty games. He got a job outside the company. I don't think he lasted 6 months as an AM. The 4 we have now are all too timid to stand up to the DM and just go with the flow of whatever game he is playing this week with schedules, etc. But, we all missed the one who left. He had finally given us some hope that things can be normal in this company.

The Misfit said...

taliesyn: I think Sai left RGIS a couple of years ago. Poor Sai had to fill in so much in my district (because of all the firings and screw-ups), and I heard that he hated the commute from Pleasanton to Santa Rosa. He wanted to stay around the Ops office and not in our district. The last I heard he was working for Long's Drugs. He was a really nice person, I liked him. He was good for the company.

I hope you continue to post comments here, it's great for us former and current auditors as you can give us a unique perspective on working for RGIS. Thanks!

Anonymous said...


Ran accross your blog by a Google (I think) search on "RGIS" (the job has helped cultivate my inner insomniac, to the point where I do things like that in the early hours waiting to either get tired enough to sleep or stay awake long enough to get to the next assignment)

I'm in Fort Collins, CO where our dear fiends er friends at Impala Partners have decided that the entire state of Wyoming should be part of our territory. 3-5 hour van rides have become standard for many of us. We'll see how long this keeps up as the fuel prices continue to rise......

I have been with RGIS quite a while......over 10 years. And despite the time and experiencing a lot of who you've been posting about (long hours, insane auditors/mgrs, office politics, ignoring and outright subverting of policy) I've kept on keeping on, driven by a strange combination of the love of the job(the act of counting, as opposed to the related b/s of working for RGIS), needing a paycheck and simple inertia.

Stories....I got em alright. And I think this forum would be a great place to share them. But as I am actually getting tired, it will have to wait. I will say that much of I've read here rings very true and familiar.

Night folks :)

The Misfit said...

gas: That sucks, if RGIS has done away with company vans. That's got to be hard on the auditor's cars, if you have to do a lot of traveling. About the Walmart thing: what would they consider 'miscounting'? Would it be if the area was missing a few items, or a lot, or if something was counted under the wrong UPC code or SKU? Just curious.

anonymous at 10:51 am: Sorry to hear you lost your decent AM. He sounds like he was a really nice guy. I especially like the way he made sure the female auditors were escorted back to their cars at night. Nice touch! And wow, you have 4 AMs? You must have a really large territory to cover. How many auditors do you have in your district?

anonymous at 12:50 am: Welcome! I hope you'll be a regular reader, and continue to leave your comments. I love to hear about other people's experiences with RGIS, both good and bad. It's been so great to hear from people like AgentSkelly and jkat back east, and people in Canada too. And now you in Colorado. Cool! And it sounds like you're working for RGIS for much of the same reasons that I did. I really liked the counting part of the job, but not the backstabbing nonsense that went on with the managers the rest of the time.

AgentSkelly said...

RGIS did not get rid of the vans.

Now, D501 (Toronto West) might of been a district where the DM, and the AMs had company Impalas/Uplanders which they drove auditors to and from out-of-district inventories. A few districts in New York state are run like that, notibly the former D351.

I know D380 with how they deal with miscounts at Wal-Mart, they have recounters that usually follow beind a flow of people during verifcation. Usually if one auditor has several areas one after another that are not accurate, its noted and if there people called in from another district, that note is sent back to their DM and their DM decides what to do, which is usually that auditor isn't allowed to do Wal-Mart inventories. But if there's like a missed item, or too many of one item, its just corrected by the recounter.

I was under the impression that WIS always did Wal-Mart Canada because old Woolco did too and that contract carried over, but that contract is running out soon apparently and actually Wal-Mart Corporate wants to switch all Wal-Mart stores worldwide to RGIS

jkat said...

Of course Dan is no longer with RGIS. The good ones never last. In my 11 years I worked with a few honorable managers also, but they never lasted. They either quit themselves or the "company" got rid of them because they didn't fit in with the way RGIS wanted them to do things.

Dan did sound like a great person though. Its too bad that he is the exception when it comes to management at RGIS, rather than the rule. I wonder how many people would stick around and stay with the job if there were more Dans working for RGIS.

At one point I actually wondered if Hdq's gave a personality test before they promoted anyone to management. I use to think that maybe they did and you only got the job if the test showed that you were sadistic and slightly deranged.

Anonymous said...

Misfit: the territory we cover isn't necessarily large but my district is very busy. We never travel more than 1 hr away unless we are helping another district. They have tried reducing us to 3 AMs but it just didn't work out.
It was OK in the slower months but we just could not do it in January & February. We have about 80 auditors in our District. We usually hire 75 or more before the January rush. Very few last past February though.
The very nice AM I referred to in my other post actually came from Jkat's team. He was an auditor on her team and then promoted up.

arzon said...

My DM got fired for drunk driving too. He was a good guy. I heard it was more than that. He didn't run the office like he should have or whatever. Never got the details there.

But everyone was happier then, and retention was high. He did play favorites, but it didn't really effect anyone negetivly that I know of. If someone was being "punished" by their TL (back when TLs still did the scheduling) he'd make sure they worked. He'd run stores, pick up the slack and show up to help count. He was a good guy.

Our DM now, he doens't play favorites, doesn't play games, and isn't influenced by brown nosing. I suspect he has a soft spot for the ladies, though, as they tend to get away with more. Although he's been known to bring districts out of the red and in to the black, and he's known for having high profits, the retention is down and we're not as happy as we used to be. I think his comming on and changing the way we had always done things at about the same time as the central scheduling began, didn't help any. Too many changes all at once.

Plus he was 'unapproachable". We never saw him in stores running them or counting them. It wasn't until this year that we saw much of him at all, and I have to admit, it's good to see him out there helping and just getting down in the trenches with the rest of us.

We have vans. Do other districts not have vans? The DM has a van as well as each AM. Although he doesn't have to let us use vans for any store within an hour away from the office, he does. Some of us carpool, but if we want a van, it's fairly easy to get one. Before he came along, it was difficult to get a van, ever!

That's really too bad that Dan didn't last. It sounds like he was a great guy to work for and was good for your district.

raider hater said...

Too bad that Dan didn't last. It is rare to find managers who are willing to exemplify integrity so for one to leave as abruptly as he did must have been heartbreaking for those who were always on the level.
Tell us again, Misfit, the steps for an instant raise. You did mention it in one of your posts and we could all benefit from this piece of wisdom.

The Misfit said...

raiderhater: Yes, Dan was that rarity, a good RGIS manager. He was knew how to run an inventory, was kind to everyone, had no pets and played no favorites. So of course he didn't last.

Lol! "Instant raises". Okay, but this only works for the young ladies, and only in Dist. 414 when Joe and Kevin were managers. You had to wear a short skirt into the DM's office. Pairing it with a low-cut blouse didn't hurt either. You wore said slutty outfit into the manager's office, sat down, crossed your legs and presto! Instant raise!

raider hater said...

What about threatening to quit during an especially busy time, like January or September? That can get someone an instant raise. We had a former auditor who wasn't happy with the skimpy raise he was given. He walked into the manager's office, gave an ultimatum, and presto! INSTANT RAISE! Even more than the original raise.

The Duchess said...

We had a mix of counters and non-counters in our management teams... heck, even some of the TLs that ran smaller stores would avoid counting if they could. Sad thing, really.

With us, the schedule was used in a similar way. However, we often had different "shifts". Some people would go in early and start counting the stock room. Then, the rest of the crew showed up for the floor. The stock room crew was usually the first dismissed.

However, if you had another job and didn't go straight from one to the other shoveling down fast food in your car while changing your clothes in the fast lane, you got "punished" by not only being on the 'late crew', but being one of the VERY LAST to leave. Meaning, you were often kept to clean up tags and tickets... pack the equipment... help them carry it out to the company car/van/whatever... recounting bad areas if the store personnel were picky... etc, etc, etc. Granted, it was extra money, but it still killed to be the last one there, standing on shaky legs, sore feet, and stiff knees with an back tight as a bow string just waiting for those two little words... "Go home."

Dustin said...

There sure are differences in people, it's crazy. I've only had a problem really so far with one AM, this loud annoying woman named Janice. She treats people like garbage, depending on her mood. Sometimes she'll be laughing and almost coddling the new people (although she has no control over the tone of her voice, it always seems like she is insulting the intelligence of anyone she talks to), but most of the time she wanders around yelling at the top of her voice that she is sick of people not checking their area to make sure their count matches. I used to panic at getting caught, thinking they could somehow double check every piece, but now I just make sure my recount is correct or maybe one off (sometimes I'll scan something twice so that if it's over at the end, I can easily delete one item). Because I know now that if a recount matches, it's not checked again. After 5 months or so I was asked to stay at a Foot Locker to correct areas, and I had to go through each T-shirt on an area because it was two off, and I could tell they just scanned one shirt five times, missing a few other shirts totally. The AM that held me is usually pretty nice, as are most I've dealt with.

warrena99 said...

Too bad about Dan. He reminds me of a DM I worked for named Avery. He was one of the best DMs I've known. He would count, too when it was needed. He could count fast and even talk on the cell phone at the same time.

Dano said...

It's amazing to read about many similar experiences I've had. RGIS is slime. They haven’t changed tactics since the 80’s and early 90’s!

Stephi said...

Hi, I am an employee of RGIS, I have been with them off and on since 2000, I also worked for WIS for 8 years prior...I have worked in several districts, starting in Portland, Oregon, transferred to Salt Lake, transferred to Denver briefly, thats where I quit the first time, went back to Salt lake and back to RGIS, from there I went on the Home Depot team, twice, based out of Oregon for a total of 2 years, the first time I left there and actually worked in Dist 414 for about 6 months, I was there in 2005 when Pat was DM, I worked with Pat in Oregon at both WIS and RGIS, I left district 414 to go back to Portland for urgent family obligations and went back on the home depot team, eventually I needed to stay in town so I transferred back to the Portland office and became their TDS, eventually they did away with the TDS positions, I went back to Salt Lake, was there for a year, transferred to Maryland, left RGIS after 4 months in Maryland, was in Maryland for two years, I am now back in Salt Lake and RGIS. Yes, I have experienced it all and then some, I have been through all of the changes, none for the better, I lost pay when the new ASET rankings started up, in Portland as a TDS I saw our top people leave when they too lost pay and had been with the company for many many years. I have held every concievable position with both WIS and RGIS and have demoted myself back to auditor status each and every time, I find I am much happier this way...I also use RGIS as my go to job, its there when I need it, my reputation with the company is very good, so I never have problems with transfers...AgentSkelly, do you still comment here? I know you of course, I am Stephanie from Portland, we worked together, im sure you remember, hahahahahahaha I know all of the characters from your blog, including Mondo LOLLLLL, although I didnt know Luis, I understand Luis died quite unexpectedly sometime before I transferred to that district, do you suppose it was from the smell of oily character Mondo? and anyone who knew Pat, sadly she died of breast cancer shortly after I became a TDS in Portland...she was a class act and was starting to turn that district around...

I could go on and on, I have many comments and stories...and experiences LMAO

The Misfit said...

@Stephi: I didn't get to work much for DM Pat before I left RGIS dist. 414 but I was there for a little while when she was DM. She seemed like a very nice person and a good DM and I'm so sorry to hear that she died.