Unrealistic Goals

Zoning, scanning and pulling books to be returned, was a frustrating experience. I worked as fast as I could, but when the manager came to check on me, she was disapproving. She looked at the cart where I was stacking books, looked at the bay I was standing next to and requested my sign-off sheet.

“What happened. This is really not pretty,” she said.

“Well, I had to help a few customers, and they called for back-up at the cash rep, and…” i stammered.

“This is really not good,” she repeated. “You barely finished one…”

“Was I not supposed to go to the cash rep?” I said, defensively, feeling like a damn scolded child.

“Not unless they called you by name. When you’re assigned to a project…”

“Well, who knew?” I said. “Chalk this up to a teachable moment.”

The executives’ assumption that we could complete a bay of books in 20 minutes seemed unrealistic and unreasonable, because they obviously had conducted their test under tidy circumstances. They probably had an individual scan a bay when the store was closed and quiet. Their expectations had obviously not taken into consideration the facts that we would get interrupted by customers seeking our assistance, and that could take two minutes to ten. Nor did they take into account that pulling books would mean, in some cases, rearranging books, moving hands full from one shelf to another. Nor did this expectation take into account that you might get called to work the cash rep before finishing a bay. Also, the task of putting the books to be returned on the proper shelf in the storage/receiving room would might take extra time because certain publisher’s shelves were crammed with books to be returned, so you had to take time making space or finding a box and a marker to create more space for books being returned to certain publishers.

BUT! This corporate practice of setting tight goals and clear expectations could work well for my personal goals. I could set clear goals and time-lines for my personal and business endeavors to ensure my successes as well as this corporation ensured its success. Of course, I had learned this practice at home as a kid, then learned it again in grad school. But I accepted this reminder as just that.

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