Caterpillar to Butterfly

Okay, I’m going to go ahead and say it – I’m pretty good at my job.  (The one that actually pays the bills) I hold a position in my store that normally only one person has, in each store. That used to be the case until we moved, and I am a bonus STL (Store Team Lead) in my store in WV.  The position underwent a change about two years ago, and the old name was waaayyy more impressive sounding, but it boils down to being an inventory specialist/manager.  Our district staff likes to say the STLs are the experts in the stores.  So when a member of my district staff recently called my store manager and asked if I would go to another store for a week, to help their STL, he and I said yes.  This is the same district staff member that always makes me stand up and talk about different inventory programs at our twice-yearly STL meetings and throws in at the end ‘If anyone has any questions about anything, you can call Jessica.’  Sure.  Great.  Glad to help.

Until Sunday night.

I complained to my husband that I didn’t want to go, I’m not good at training people, I hate it, blah, blah… He laughed, as he does, and said I was good at it and I would be fine.

First nervous issue: I’ve trained people before, but at my old store in Kentucky they always got sent to me, never the other way around.

Second nervous issue: I was going to spend an entire week with a woman I’d never met, and as far as I could tell, needed ‘help’. Everyone said,  “she’s super sweet and she’s been trained.”  No one could give me an idea of what kind of training she had previously, what she specifically needed help with, or how much she even knew.

Third issue: I get to go to a store where I don’t know anyone, and their store manager is brand new. Really new.  Only been a store manager for about two weeks.

I wake up Monday morning and there wasn’t so much butterflies in my stomach as there were recently transformed caterpillars beating their wings against the cocoons in an attempt to get free. I head out, feeling completely out of my element, but once I get to the store, it’s not as horrible as I imagine. The first thing Paulette, my counterpart, says when I walk into the office is how happy she is that I am there.

So I spend my week.  Deep (deep) down, I really do enjoy training people in the position, even when I think I won’t. It’s nice when you get to help someone understand their job better, and when you see the light bulb go off in their head, once they understand where they had problems and where to find the solutions. I even sat down and wrote her a Monday-Sunday task list.  Inventory isn’t just about counting things.  It isn’t just about ordering items.  It isn’t just about knowing where items are in a store.  Everything in inventory relates to everything else.  The STL position is time-consuming, full of more information that most people want to know, and never, ever ending.  It is all about routine, routine, routine and time management.  🙂  One of the things I constantly told my trainee was that she had to develop a routine of not just what to do, but when to do it, and when not. I think not doing something may be one of the hardest concepts for people. They know a certain task has to be done, but it doesn’t always need to be done *right now*. Don’t interrupt yourself from one task to start another, else you never get finished.  By the middle of the week, I could hear the confidence growing in her voice.  When I arrive on Friday, she had started on the biggest task for the day.  I asked had she done the two things she had to do every morning, before she did anything else. She had.  No prodding, no second-guessing, and proud of knowing what to start on after.

Her store manager told me not only did the STL get her work done that Friday faster than she had before, but that it was done better, and correctly.

Will I train people in the future?  Probably.  Will I get thrown to a store that is set up completely backwards and I have no clue where anything is?  Likely.  Will I be a terrified, nervous wreck until I get there?  Absolutely.



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