Target week 10

Wrapping up this week was interesting for me.  I finally received my last feedback and final review.  It did not go as I had hoped.  That being said, I was disappointed with the way I was treated the last week.  Learning points with that are certainly seeing how not to act as a mentor or store leader.

 

I realized that I should have really observed the politics at the store I am located at.  This would be a strong suggestion to anyone working in a large corporate business; learn the inner politics before making any moves.  I made that mistake and was unable to turn it around.  I do believe everything happens for a reason and was able to make an interesting connection with the guard who picks up our money.

 

Off the cuff, I mentioned that I am interested in commodity trading after he asked why I didn’t have keys and explaining I am an intern from MSU.  He then laughed and said he didn’t think he’d ever meet someone that knew what that was or was actually interested.  His brother who also graduated from MSU is a commodity trader.  I asked if he would be willing to connect me and I gave him my contact information.  Not three hours later, he sent me a message saying he spoke with his brother and that they were opening up an analyst position in the near future.  He said to forward him my resume and he would take a look at it first before they even open the position officially.

Really shows how having simple genuine conversations with people pay off.  It wasn’t the first time I spoke with this particular guard, but I was always friendly with him, greeted him with a smile, asked about how he was doing and showed genuine interest in who he was, and always thanked him for his service.

I did really enjoy my time this summer with Target.  I felt like I learned a lot, met some great people, and was kept on my toes at all times.  It was faced paced and I loved that.  There were no two days that were the same; far from it.

I am very excited to get back to school and continue to work on being a better leader, networker, and connector.

Target week 9

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster for me.  In the middle of the week, I had my store visit that I was to lead with the district manager.  This visit would mark the pinnacle for all of the learnings I have picked up along the way to display to my boss’ boss.  Going into the week I felt very unprepared and felt as though my mentor had left me out to dry.  I was beginning to become more and more stressed as the feedback I had been seeking was not being given to me by the people who are supposed to have been helping me along the way.  I had been waiting for nearly two and a half weeks to receive follow up feed back that was given to me by the store manager.  I was then told that I would have to wait until after my visit with the district manager to receive any feedback from either my mentor or store manager. To me, this was unacceptable.  I desire to grow and become a better leader, but how am I supposed to know what to improve on if I am not receiving the feedback I am seeking?

On Tuesday, the store manager and my mentor decided to surprise me with having me do a mock walk, gathered all the leaders, and for the next hour and a half proceeded to grill me hard with questions about the business.  I did not perform that well under that type of pressure and was completely blind sided by this.  By the end of that walk, I felt very defeated and was the first time during this program I felt like leaving the building.  I was then taken into the office with my store manager and mentor and basically had everything thrown back into my face as to it being my fault for not being better prepared.  I am not exactly sure why they decided to do what they did in that manner, but it did lite a fire under me to be able to answer all of the questions that were rapidly fired in succession.

When it comes to mentoring someone, I personally feel as though I like to use the analogy of someone driving down a dirt road they have never traveled on during the dead of winter at night; you can’t see very far ahead of you, let alone know where all the pot holes and curves are on the road.  The mentor is supposed to be the car fifty feet ahead of you that has traversed the road numerous times, knows where the pot holes and curves are so you can see their tail lights and be aware of the upcoming danger.  During this program, I have felt as though my mentor is ten miles ahead of me cruising along the same old path she has been on leaving me to hit the pot holes and guess as to where the next curve is going to be.  This is feed back I will certainly be giving to them so they can improve better with their next intern that comes through the door.

Wednesday, my walk with the district manager went very well.  The only feedback she gave me directly was to have more data to speak and back up to my actions.  The feedback she gave my mentor was I am very well spoken and can articulate myself very well, however, those types of people can be difficult to lead as she worries that I or people like that are able to say what they think other’s want to hear.  This was slightly discouraging because I always try to remain in a place where I am genuine and truthful.  I am not here to twist the truth or play a game.  I have tried to remain in a position where what you see and hear is what you are going to get.  There is no guessing game involved.  That feedback is important though because I must be careful with how I am perceived when only being around someone for an hour.

This upcoming week is when I will find out if I will receive an actual offer or not.

Target week 8

This week I spent half of my week at a different store prepping and helping with inventory.  This was something I decided to do on my own by asking if I could get opportunities to see another store in my district.  Being that inventory only happens once a year, this was a great opportunity to help another store, meet other leaders, and see how they behave.  I found it interesting going through their back room and prepping for a third party company to come in and count literally everything in the store.  I could immediately tell that this particular store had a lot of lazy unmotivated people and that their leaders were not holding people accountable.  This was my first thirty-minute impression.  This was later backed up by finding out that many of their leaders were brand new and had been working tirelessly to turn things around in this store.  My suggestion to them was to first lay out clear expectations, and what would be done if those expectations were not being met and then work on holding their team and team leaders accountable to those expectations.

 

The other half of the week I really took over running the store.  On Monday, I felt super kind of silly but my soul was on fire with passion by the time I left the store.  I felt alive and excited to be doing what I was doing and could really see myself having a great future with Target.  I love leading and seeing those around me have success and I hold a lot of enjoyment seeing people develop and advance both personally and professionally. I also really enjoy having to be on my toes and remain ready for a curve ball at any moment.

 

After I get back from a three day weekend, I will be sitting down with my mentor and store team leader and discuss feedback, as well as how I am doing overall, and how I stand with receiving an offer or not.  I sent my recruiter my list of preferred cities to relocate to.  This was particularly exciting.  I have the ability through Target to relocate nearly anywhere in the US.  My choices were in the order of preference: Honolulu, Seattle, Portland, and Longbeach.  I am really looking forward to seeing what my status will be with Target.  If they do extend an offer, they may also offer an extended internship during the school year.  I would be working at a Target near school in some type of leadership scope.

 

I am not sure if I would take an extended internship yet or not.  This would be a great opportunity to keep developing myself through Target, but at the same time, I would have to give up jobs I really enjoy right on campus.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to weigh this type of decision out?  How do you weigh out choosing between three things you love?

 

Target Week 7

This week I focused mainly on taking over running the store.  This has been a nice transition from focusing on individual work centers.  This is the point in the internship program where all the pieces start really coming together.  Being the leader on duty has offered some fun challenges and I look forward to continuing taking the reigns on leading the store while I am there.

At my store, accountability has been a large focus on the higher up leaders.  Teaching people how to hold others accountable and how to follow up should seem like common sense, but it doesn’t always happen.  I have found in my experience that leaders who do not follow up or hold people accountable, don’t get the results they are after and typically get upset.

It has been interesting seeing the change in dynamics between how the store team leader has been trickling down intensity through the ranks.  I have been amazed, and some times frustrated with how slow things can decimate through the company.  In both directions, I have seen how the messages get altered and not delivered the same.  I respect the chain of command but this can sometimes get in the way of getting a point across to a large group of people.  Also, with my store leader not being there often, the information he has received about me has lagged behind, as well as had the telephone effect.

This is the point in the internship where I am starting to really feel out my leadership styles and learn more about what works and doesn’t work for me. Next week I will focus more on getting prepared to have a walk with my district team leader.  This will be a good opportunity for her to see who I am as a leader and the potential I pose within my self.

 

Target week 6

This week was an interesting week for me.  The learning aspect has come full circle and I have spent time in every work center with every leader in my store.  I was able to participate in a volunteer event where all of the interns, mentors, and store team leaders in my district went to Feeding America to help distribute food to local food pantries.  This was a pretty fun event, and I really liked seeing how the food that Target and other retailers donate due to imperfections, or partially damaged packaging, gets donated to people who can purchase it at pennies to the dollar.  I feel way less bad about getting rid of bananas now knowing that people do get to eat them.  Also, this program donates food that cannot be given to people to a local animal sanctuary.

 

I had my status meeting with my store team leader and my mentor at the end of the week.  This did not go as I had hoped or anticipated.  I received vague and allusive feedback which was rather frustrating.  I was frustrated because I have not had the time with my mentor or store team leader that other interns are receiving.  Both of them have been out of the office at other stores, on vacation, or work different shifts than I.  The feedback they are giving me is like playing a game of telephone.  I’m not sure how someone can give me feedback where they are saying you are missing something, but I am not sure what it is, so figure it out, and think that is beneficial.  The meeting left me very stressed and it took me nearly six hours of mental investigation to come to any sort of conclusion as to how I may not be performing to their expectations.

 

The next day I was able to turn the situation around by having an apologetic conversation with my HR team lead.  She thought that perhaps the feedback I was given was simply because they didn’t have other feedback to give me.  Although I did not enjoy how the feedback impacted me that day, I was able to think critically about my situation and eventually come up with a great resolution to turn around the situation immediately.  So even though I was very frustrated, I am extremely pleased I was able to remedy the situation and not take it personally.

 

Along side seeking out feedback, giving feedback is also part of my development plan.  This has been a great learning experience for me as a leader.  How to tailor the message properly so the receiver can be open to hearing feedback is a tricky task.  I have found that when people receive feedback, they naturally want to become argumentative and defensive, so figuring out a way to give it and have them actually hear it is a tough task.

 

Has anyone found any special trick to this?  How to give good feedback where the receiver feels benefited and not attacked?

 

Also, I am working on how to lead and motivate people to do things they previously either didn’t believe in or care about.  My prime example is recycling.  I have found many people around me flat out don’t care, and almost think it’s a joke.  How do I change perceptions and get people to care is a hard task to bite off.  Does any one have any suggestions on how to motivate people to start doing something they were not raised doing, or how to get people to care about something they previously didn’t care for?

Week 5 Target

I am wrapping up the first portion of my internship with Target.  This week’s focus was asset protection and human resources.  Unfortunately, with the asset protection, I didn’t get any first-hand experience dealing with theft but got a great overview of that position within our company.  I don’t think I can get into too much detail about asset protection, but I will say I was very surprised to see the vast network of information Target keeps on people who steal from their stores.  Also, I was pleased to see competing retailers teaming together to stop thefts.  Networking in this way can be very impactful.  We have stores like SpartanNash email us with pictures of people stealing from their stores as a heads up to be on the lookout.  I think this type of teamwork with competitors is great and I think retailers should continue to improve working together as theft affects everyone and the more retailers work together, the better.

Human resource is probably not my choice of work, but I do think having HR experience is very valuable. I did enjoy learning about how they deal with team member issues, and how they resolve problems.

At this point in the program, I have shadowed all departments of the store and have a good feeling of how their business runs inside and out.  That being said, this program lacks the ability to see other stores, distribution centers, or headquarters.  I understand not going to headquarters as that would be a far trip, however, going to the DC is an important insight for any leader in a store.  One should understand the whole process, not just the process of where they are.  This is how silos are created, and that usually leads to groups not working together and can cause major breakdowns in the overall process.

I am really looking forward to starting the second half of the program next week.  I will begin to start taking over running and leading the store.  This is the part of the program I believe I will grow the most.

 

Target week 4

I just finished interviewing my store team leader.  One thing with retail is one has to go with the flow.  Plans seem to change every day.  I had originally planned to interview him late last week, but plans had to change because of meetings and things happening at other stores he had to take care of.  Then with him being on vacation all week and not getting back until last night, I had to go with the flow.

 

I am at a point with my internship where I know they will be offering me a full-time position after graduation.  The best part of that is Target is all over the country and I will have the ability to relocate pretty much where ever I would want.  This is very exciting and also stressful.  As much as I have loved my experience with Target, I am still not sure if they are the company I would want to work for.  Basically, when I receive an offer it will be at the end of the internship program and I will have to give my answer before I head back to school, and before the huge job fair this fall.

 

The idea I could go through my entire senior year not stressing about which company to work for sounds awesome.  At the same time, is this the right move for me?  The reason I wanted to reflect on this week until after my interview is Drew, my store team lead, gave me some good insight.  Don’t worry too much about any one decision.  You can always switch fields or industries after the fact.  After he spoke with me about this, I am more confident in making a decision to work for Target.

 

There are some things I don’t like with Target, like their recycling.  However, the best perspective I have found is that even though there are companies way ahead of Target in that department, I could personally be one to start the shift and improve Target’s recycling initiatives.  It’s too easy to say, well I don’t like the way they recycle, I’ll just look for a company that is better.  The more rewarding approach to me is, Target has a lot of opportunities to grow when it comes to recycling and reducing waste, and I can be a leader toward that.  I find that to be the road less traveled.  It would be a challenge, but also very rewarding as well.

 

Now I need to start looking into pay and benefits, and what living in another city may look like.  I need some help, ideas, and resources of places I can go to figure out where I would best fit within our country.  Then I need to figure out how to navigate the negotiation process.  Does anyone have any thoughts?

Target week 3

This week went by quickly.  The focus for me on week three was learning different about different of the sales floor.  I shadowed one of the sales floor executive team leaders, and we took a more in-depth look at how each department was doing compared to the same month last year, as well as year over year and tried to figure out why.  Trying to figure out why certain products or departments are performing well and others not so well is very intriguing.  There are a lot of influencers that can be at play and trying to tell a story from the numbers can be quite tricky.  Trying to decide how to display endcaps was entailed in this detailed overview of departments.  I am still trying to figure out figure out exactly how vendor endcaps work.  From what I have gathered, some vendors pay for their own space, but the store is given a certain percentage of endcaps they can do what they want with.  IMG_9914

One such end cap I personally do not like is this peanut butter and Nutella end cap.  I am brainstorming ideas for what to put in this place.  If you have any thoughts please leave a comment.  Ideally, this product will be fresh, new, and not sold elsewhere in our stores.  I realize you may not know what products exactly are sold in our stores and that’s ok.  Something that may be unexpected yet welcoming to the fresh market department.  This end cap receives a lot of traffic passing, yet does not sell very much off of it.  Only a few isles down you can find the exact same display on the first section within an isle.  Thoughts or ideas would be appreciated.

 

At the end of the week, our Group vice president who oversees 65 stores came in for a store visit.  This was by far the highlight of my week.  He brought with him a store team leader from a struggling store to our store to learn how we are one of the top stores in the group.  I am not really sure if she got a whole lot from the walk, but our leadership team sure did.  He drilled us with questions on metrics, and why things were happening such as receiving low net promoter scores.  Net promoter scores are gathered from guest surveys; you know, at the bottom of most retailers receipts they have an optional survey.  Well, some people actually do fill these out and we do follow up with anyone requesting a follow up as soon as possible.  Our Group VPs main point was why were our leaders not catching the issues that were then put onto these surveys before they were happening.  I really enjoyed the way he walked us through these different issues which are critical to sales.  He made our store team leader very uncomfortable, but this served an important purpose.  Some of the issues we face in retail we have no excuse for.  A

Some of the issues we face in retail we have no excuse for.  A guest should never leave our store feeling someone has been rude to them.  Especially after a big week where Amazon bought Whole Foods.  Most companies in a wide range of industries are wondering, and worrying about this merger.  As a big box retailer, Target must stay on top of giving guests exceptional customer service at all points of contact within our stores to remain competitive in an ever growing e-commerce world.

Week 2 at Target

I feel like the last two weeks have flown by.  I do look forward to the two day weekend ahead of me.  I am still on the fence whether I like the way Target schedules.  Retail in general people work weekends, holidays, and nights.  This is something I’ve known for a long time, but still am unsure if I really like it.  That being said, in the last two weeks, there has been very little office time other than doing some training modules.  Most of the time has been spent on the sales floor either shadowing a leader or learning about a team member’s perspective.  After the end of two weeks, I feel way more comfortable with the general workings of the operation and feel comfortable diving into more higher level learning.

One of the main things I am looking for out of this internship is to become a better leader, as well as learning ways to improve sales.  I can generate a lot of questions when it comes to these two goals.  How do different leaders make decisions?  How do their decisions impact the way team members behave?  How does the behavior of a leader impact the behavior of a team member?  How does signage help with increasing sales?

The focus of this week was logistics.  I spent two mornings unloading the truck, sorting and putting away inventory, learning about how inventory flows through the building, how the store is measured and learning about ways to improve on these scores.  I do feel like I spent enough time putting products on shelves and would like to focus more on filling empty spaces as well as managing cross merchandise.  All in all, though I need to figure out ways to better lead others to achieve those goals.

I would like to start working on some opportunities to increase our lowest performing departments, as well as increase our REDcard sign-ups.  A few other things I need to work on is logging the activities I do during this internship, logging my questions and ideas, and networking with other leaders.

Week 1 at Target

My internship at Target landed in my lap after replying to an email on a whim.  I had no clue what to expect and was not even that excited at the time.  When FMA hosted Target, however, I quickly changed my outlook after meeting a few of the members of the leadership team.  Now, after finishing my first week, I have had a great time, enjoy what I have been doing, and am loving the company culture so far.

 

The first half of the program is mainly shadowing, but I like that I have been thrown right into the fire.  I always learn best when actually doing a task instead of simply watching over someone’s shoulder.  I am one to ask a lot of questions and this week I have probably had one nearly every minute!

 

Target has done a great job at giving me as much information as I am ready for.  I feel like if an intern doesn’t seek out information, and know what they desire to get out of the internship then they really won’t gain much from the 10-week experience.  I at the beginning wanted to make as much out of this opportunity as possible.   I look forward to being able to work with each leader for at least a week.

 

The only things I have not enjoyed were seeing how much food is thrown away at Target’s Food Center.  They follow very strict rules set by a private company which is leagues ahead of the Health Department’s food safety rules.  They have to throw away fresh breadsticks and pizza every twenty minutes.  Starbucks has to throw away coffee every thirty minutes.  On one side, the margins are so high for these products that Target doesn’t lose money, however, the waste is enormous.

 

Overall, I have really enjoyed my time.  No day or hour has been the same.  The video training is fairly bland and boring, but what job doesn’t have boring training materials?  Looking forward, I know that every day will offer different challenges and opportunities to grow as a leader.

 

Cheers to week 1!