Being employed by psychos

nwnatural(zone 8 PNW)June 25, 2006

The teeny, tiny little nursery that I work part time at just "let go" one of their employees. A nursery that only has 8 employees (3 of them are managers) and plays by jr. high school cheerleader politics. ("We don't like Amy anymore, and if you like her... we wont like you either"). The policy of, "you'll have to screw it up to find out how to do it right." Then firing employees who go home without ever understanding what they did wrong.

Makes it hard to remain positive!

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swanoir(Zone 5)

Hopefully this is just a transitional position for you. If so, there is a lot you can learn about workplace dysfunction, how to deal with it and, potentially, how to avoid their mistakes. If this is not transitional, I would highly recommend that you consider making it so. Your employment stability is minimal and there is very little chance that management is going to radically mature any time soon. It really isn't worth the stress and psychoemotional upheaval to work in such an environment. Your difficulty with having a positive attitude may just be your intuition desperately trying to tell you to run.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 1:32PM
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inkognito

Some of the advise that appears on the thread you refer to with your title applies here too. Do you need the money so much that you can handle the aggro? If not it is a no brainer.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 6:53PM
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gardengal48

Welcome to the world of small independent retail nurseries! Perhaps one of the most disfunctional employment situations in existance. Not sure what it is about small nursery ownership/managment but it seems to bring out the least desireable or sophisticated management styles. The smaller and more mom&pop the operation, the less likely they are to follow any reasonable management practices. They are in the business of selling plants and effective management techniques will focus around the bottom line only and developing good employee relations, motivating, even treating with fairness and diplomacy will all take a back seat to that.

You do have choices - either understand, accept and put up with it or look for employment elsewhere. You will not change them.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 10:29AM
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laag(z6CapeCod)

Welcome to life. I don't understand why people expect that someone in a certain industry or with a certain job description should have a certain personality or set of values. There is nothing that excludes jerks from any business or employment opportunity except the consumer or the person hiring.

There are psychos everywhere.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 12:25PM
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mylu

Gardengal Now who's generalizing?

Laag That is so true. My wife and I own a nursery and we try real hard to keep our personal life and personalities out of the business. Although we are human and it can happen. But it would happen if we owned any other business too. Both of us have had years of "management" training and handle it quite well.

As for the original post, move on if your not happy.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 3:15PM
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ninamarie(4Ont.)

Gardengal, believe me, the business of selling plants and focusing on the bottom line means you have to develop good employees and good employee relations. Especially in a small business. Otherwise, you're wasting money, resources, plants, time and customers.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 1:48PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

We need to bring you out here and have you lecture local nursery and landscape operators. My experiences working for multiple operations here over many years is pretty much summed up by Gardengal's depiction. The petty politics at one place made me want to stand up at a meeting (held mostly so the managers could turn the screws) and shout "It's just a garden center, for heaven's sake!". That's probably a big part of why we have hundreds (thousands?) of small operators, working for someone else in the field is the pits and doesn't pay. Lots of demands, same as if you were being paid well but without being paid much.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 8:44PM
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gardengal48

I guess it depends on your perspective. Coming into this business from a corporate background, the difference in management policies and styles is as distinct as night and day. Effective management is a learned skill and in my former corporate life, a great deal of time and effort was devoted to developing and enhancing these skills. Of course, these are larger operations with both the staffing and financial resources to be able to focus specifically on "managing". Independent nurseries are generally quite small, often financially challenged and management achieves its position by default, not by necessarily by ability. Simple ownership does not guarantee effective management skills.

ninamarie, I am not disagreeing with you........but the situation exists and unfortunately, IME, all too frequently.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 9:15AM
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pickwick

...a transitional situation, but obtain written references and maintain a portfolio of your work experiences and responsibilities...
goodluck

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 10:25AM
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laag(z6CapeCod)

Portfolio? References? It's just a garden center for heaven's sake.

A garden center or very small nursery takes the best help from what they can get with the money that they have committed to the position. The needs are usually more physical than they are anything thing else. I don't know about other areas, but all of the businesses of this type in all of the places that I have worked in are hiring whoever they can get at as small a wage that they can get away with. Not because they are greedy, but because it is a tough business. It is also a field with lots of people eager to enter it, but usually eager to enter it at less of a labor position and more customer service or design person.

The garden center only needs so many of those folks and a lot more labor people. You can take a laborer and train them with the basics of customer service to get by adequately which gives you more bang for the buck than hiring someone who has read every horticulture book, has gone through the Master Gardener program, and loves plants, but can't do the bull work around the shop. Neither position is going to pay much, but the labor person is more often much more needed than the horticulture lover.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 12:40PM
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mylu

As an owner I have learned, I'm a bull, I'm a laboror and I'm much needed, I don't pay myself well, and I'm not greedy!

Sounds like I'm home...

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 1:22PM
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nwnatural(zone 8 PNW)

Thanks for the tips, and transitional is the goal for me.

I read an article about how people are naturally drawn to different breeds of dogs because the person has more characteristics of that particular breed. If this is true, I'm a Lab. Eager to please everyone and a bit stupid. No matter how much I say I'm going to take a less active roll at the nursery, I can't help fetching that tennis ball (and "they" know it).

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 4:33PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Well I have heard men are dogs, anyway.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 11:48PM
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ian_wa(Sequim)

In my experience, I have found it annoying to work for nurseries that are NOT concerned about the bottom line. The owner has a little wealth, or is just financially irresponsible, and wastes a lot of money by things like ordering things that don't sell because they have failed to track customer purchases, keeping the plants where environmental conditions cause them to deteriorate, wasting employee time watering all the B&B stock by hand, etc. All things that seem to me like no brainers for a profit oriented business. Any nursery whose owners have a little wealth are in an excellent position to offer a little bit higher wages, giving them an edge at finding and keeping qualified help that other nurseries lack. But that is never an option, they would rather continue to waste money. I just think that is a bit weird.... maybe such nursery owners simply lack the necessary management skills and are apathetic about making any changes. Even if they could do a lot better and generate more money, they are financially comfortable enough that there is no motivation for change.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 2:22PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Probably they figure they are making enough for their personal needs, why do more? Others do make way more than they need because they are apparently interested in high profits and wealth specifically. Likely this pursuit often comes at a much higher social cost than those who employ small numbers of people in low profit ventures, although these will have a cumulative effect. And with ones like Wal-Mart you have high profit ventures with large numbers of people making peanuts at huge cost to the country. At least we also have a few of them owned by people who give back big time. I think it's quite remarkable (and lucky) that the Gates Foundation, thanks recently to W. Buffet now has 60 billion dollars to pour into education and epidemics. These problems need that level of help.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 4:23PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

My first horticultural job was at a small, mom-and-pop local nursery. Although I was treated well, the place was poorly run and the management had all kinds of personal problems going on that kept their attention off the business. When I realized the business was going down the tubes, I gave notice - turned out that was the same day they sold to a local chain of nurseries.

I worked for the chain the next year, and it was true that they needed mainly hard laborers, not horticultural experts. I'm past that stage in my life, so I moved on.

The good news is that I was able to leverage my experience into a related horticultural field (interior landscaping) that I am much more interested in and knowledgeable about. It's a much better fit for me.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 10:23AM
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