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Wal-Mart Associates
ZMS & Wal-Mart Policies 
9th-Mar-2010 10:40 am

I have followed this blog for awhile to gage what is going on around the country since Wal-Mart had their latest reorganization 6 months ago when the ZMS' positions started.

I took one of those ZMS positions and as yet this job has not gone as layed out. I have never been able to develop any routines or anything else. All I have been is a glorified department manager over about 14 departments with not enough staffing to get anything done right.

My days consist of being a fireman, going all over the GM side helping out not to mention having to spend a lot of time checking up front for lack of having enough cashiers.

I have wondered just what the real purpose of the ZMS' are. We seem to be taking over everyday functions that the Assistants had and just what do they do now. Since they got rid of the Market Teams we are now supposed to be the merchandisers of our pads yet we are not being given any additional training to do that job well.

My guess is that the next round of cost cutting will be at the store level aimed right at the assistant managers as they will cut the number at the store level and put even more of their duties on the ZMS' with of course no increase in pay.

One of the things that has really bothered me is the new level of accountability on the Department Managers and Associates.
I cannot go along with holding people to standards that are impossible if they don't even have the basic resources to get the job done. Yet I am seeing a lot of good people being forced out using the Coaching process in the most perveted way to accomplish this and when they do this I just wonder who they think they are going to replace all these people with. Why would anyone want to take a DM job knowing they just might get coached out of a job????

In my own case since I won't play these games and will not chop off heads because management have their heads stuck where the Sun doesn't shine. So in the last 4 weeks I have been Coached twice. The last time being right before I went on vacation so now I can't even transfer out of the store I am in which has become a stress filled cesspool. I have gotten to the point I hate going to work there.

We got a new store manager right before Thanksgiving and I thought she would be really great. Now 3 months later I have witnessed the most unprofessional person I have seen as a Store Manager. She is playing favorites and running this store like it's high school and if you are not in her little circle you are just out of luck.

Now to top everything off I started my vacation this week and had asked for a personal Leave of Absence. I live with my 83 year old Aunt and we are moving, sold our house and bought another smaller place for her downsize. I thought this had been worked out but I get a phone call from the personnel manager that my LOA has now been canceled and now my only option is to ask for unpaid vacation time off.

It's obvious I am being forced out after almost 5 years with the company with a good record. Well I am resigned to the fact my days as a Wal-Mart employee are numbered.

Hard to believe that Wal-Mart has become the tyrant it has with regard to it's employees. I have to think Sam Walton would be appalled at what has become of this company.

Well when I turn in my badge I will be hard pressed to ever walk in or shop at a Wal-Mart ever again. Good Luck to you that fight the good fight ever day.

10th-Mar-2010 03:30 am (UTC)
*wild applause* Bravo, my friend. Thank you for so eloquently putting into words what I have been trying to say for the last several months, and what has been by and large dismissed by the minuscule contingent of managers and ZMSs to be found in this community. They somehow find justification for every cost-cutting move the company makes, no matter how ridiculous or unnecessary. Yes, I understand that due to the tough economic times the nation is in that just about every company is making cutbacks of one form or another. The difference is that Walmart prides itself on making said cutbacks, and was making them in abundance long before this recession began.

Mr. Walton (sorry, I can't bring myself to call him "Mr. Sam," that just sounds dumb) would most certainly be appalled at the way his company has been run into the ground in terms of store operations. Someone here, I forget who, once said something to the effect of "if Walmart is so poorly managed why are their profits consistently up?" A brief Business 101 lesson for everyone: Increased net profits result only from increased sales of more goods with higher markups. It has NOTHING to do with how individual stores are managed which, from what I have been reading here for nearly three years now, in many cases has a negative impact on associate morale. A store's overall success isn't all about the "bottom line" or numbers on paper. Any manager can make his or her people do their job; a good manager can make them WANT to do their job.
10th-Mar-2010 03:51 am (UTC)
It seems rather obvious to me that they are desperately trying to cut every single person/hour they can. My store has terrible coverage as well, and our ZMS run all over the store too. We are supposed to have routines, but we don't because no one has time to actually get any of them done in between puting out all the fires.

And, none of our ZMS know anything about anything. Every time I tell my ZMS something, he has to go talk about it with the assistant. I could just do that myself and skip this useles, unncessecary barrier to my day.

And, he's always getting paged on the walkie, so I will be talking to him, and he won't hear me because he's talking to someone else on the walkie, so he just walks off while I'm in the middle of a sentence...
10th-Mar-2010 03:58 am (UTC)
What were you coached for, exactly? I think I have the general idea of what you are describing (we recently lost a ZMS that fought everyday for her DM's against the managers and thier now overinflated expectations). But, to be fair, this isn't the doing of your own personal managers. This is something comming from above them, and they are being expected to carry this program out. You, as a ZMS, are in turn expected to carry out your role even if it means making DM's heads role. Have you considered the idea that instead of constantly fighting it and getting "coached out", that you should instead go to your manager and request to step down from the position? If you feel that strongly about not doing these things, maybe the job just isn't for you. Store managers in supercenters make some $70k a year base salary, and often will pull in $50k or more through myshare bonuses. Do you think any of them would risk losing that to protect thier ZMS's and DM's from poor policy commming down the chain? Not a chance!

But I do agree with you in your feeling of what is going on here. It is very hard for me to imagine basic sales associates (or anyone really) wanting to become a DM under these conditions. The pay increase is negligible, and the stress level and work loads are huge now. [The fresh areas seem to be the last refuge for DM's to do the same basic jobs they have always done.] One day, all these things will start biting Wal-Mart in the butt in ways the big wigs never expected, and things will turn around. Wal-Mart is burning and the guys at the top need to put out the flames. Until then, my advice is grab a hot dog and cook your self up something nice.
10th-Mar-2010 02:38 pm (UTC) - Wal-Mart
Well the verbal coaching was for, if you can believe this, being to hand on and not delegating enough. Problem is I don't really have enough people to delegate to. Our store needs to hire at least another 100 to 150 people just be up to the minimum to run a supercenter.
My second coaching had to do with tasks I could not get done under any circumstances. Our DM came in to tour with our store manager and after that came the directive that our store needed a cleaning. I mean wipe down the shelves, paint shelves, fix all the shelf caps, etc.. She cam on a Tuesday and wanted all this done by Friday. All of my best people are on overnights for two weeks setting mods in the home lines area and I have few people. So I was written up for not having all of this impossible tasks done in three days. We had everyone in the store working on this, all the overtime anyone wanted, except no customer service and no restocking of our shelves.
As far as I know I was the only ZMS written up. Since I am not a Store Manager favorite I see I am being forced out. I was going to transfer but now I can't with a written coaching. I thought of stepping down but now if I do the only jobs open to me are part time as there won't be any departments open I and doubt I want one in that store.
So my days are numbered.
11th-Mar-2010 02:14 am (UTC)
I used to love my job. Now I'm ashamed to wear my ten year badge.
12th-Mar-2010 12:05 am (UTC)
Geez, I'm just relieved to hear the same things are going on at other stores.
15th-Mar-2010 04:11 am (UTC)
I always call the ZMS the "Features managers" because putting up features is all I ever see them do in my store.

14th-Apr-2010 05:15 pm (UTC) - Wal-Mart associates need a UNION
I think the company as well as its hourly workers would be better off with a union. With a strong organization to speak for hourly associates, bad home office ideas as well as unfair local practices would not happen nearly as much. I also think that local management would like not having to keep going along with dumb home office demands originated by people who haven't had any recent hourly experience. Sam Walton said employees generate the best ideas, but nobody's asked anyone I know. Current execs are arrogant dim bulbs.

Some of the productivity demands recently being handed down are ridiculous, and the problems arising from trying to comply with those demands are excrement that will eventually hit the air circulation device. Business-minded people like to say that you don't get something for nothing, but Wal-Mart management is constantly trying to do that, get something for nothing from workers. If you want pro athlete productivity, hire pro athletes and pay accordingly. Productivity doesn't mean "low-wage", it means the opposite. Those who work at stores would like things to go right, have shelves well stocked and looking neat, returns put away and so forth. Nobody wants to see goods with a shelf life time out sitting in a back room because nobody's got time to work the freight, but it's likely to happen with not enough help. Those who have put money into profit sharing and retirement accounts, hoping to make a career of their Wal-Mart job, very well may have losses due to the bad decisions handed down from on high.

Maybe some would see pay as a leading reason for the existence of a union, but in recent months of working with the new backroom demands, I would say the biggest benefit of a union would be to serve as a check on unreasonable unrealistic management ideas and secondarily to crack down on favoritism and other unfairness (dirty tricks for example) of local management. I haven't seen much of it at my location, but some of the walmart-employee posts make it clear that unfairness can be found.

15th-Mar-2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
After reading the first post, I desperately searched to see if I could find your store location to see which one of my fellow ZMS was posting about or horrible chain of store events. Every detail and almost the exact same time lines have also happened at my store.
New store manager, the failed launch of ZMS roles, failed attempts at routines, failed attempts at Asst. Mgrs doing anything aside from adding more to the ZMS work load. It saddens me to realize that this appears to be company wide. The issues in my store have prompted me to look at choosing a new store for either my next promotion to asst. or a lateral transfer.

The brown nosers or favorites you have mentioned, well I am that person. From the very start management has always promoted me quickly and with extra help and guidance how to get through all the process and always come out shiny in the end. I play the role well and enjoy what I do, well I did enjoy it. As you have stated the expectations I am required to enforce have gotten to ridiculous levels for our DM/MS pool. Reducting the DM staff from 29 down to 12 and also the total number of associates down from approx 80 down to 29. Im not counting service areas such as bakery/deli they are only down by about 2 people in each department. Produce went from 7 associates down to 2. Grocery went from having 12 associates down to 1. That is not a typo 12 down to 1(one) All consumable areas suffered with grocery being the pinnacle of the cuts. Our consumables area is 60% of the stores income, with 95% of the money generated for the associate hours that are supposed to be staffed there going completely unaccounted. From an associated/DM stand point it is crippling to productivity and profitability. We can not maintain stock or customer service. The stress has cracked most of them with our turnover rate skyrocketing. Out of our remaining 12 DM 7 of them are new replacements for those that were coached out for productivity or were smart and just quit/transferred.

Now the worst part which is of course from my perspective. The ZMS role. We are the unspoken backbone of the store, we hold ultimate responsibility for running the entire store. If an assistant botches schedules for the week, I fix it or am forced to explain to a sole supporter working on walmarts 33 hour income why they will be paying their bills with a 20 hr paycheck. If a manager edits someones sched without redlinging and the associate of course doesnt show up since they dont know about the change, I get to be the one coaching them. My morals and ethics are now on a sliding scale that has to match the mood of our mgmt team. Which btw has been converted to all females. All our male asst. were either fired or moved to overnights. (diversity was one of sams golden rules btw) So being a mngmt favorite has caused me to sell my soul and perform all the dirty work they are ashamed to perform and all the work they are incapable of doing. I am the person to write coaching/evals for nearly all the asst. This is due to most of them having a poor grasp on spelling and basic grammar. In addition most have no idea how to perform accurate appraisal for coaching/evals. How can you develop or coach to improve an associate if you can barely speak and have no idea what duties a person should be performing.

I have left a wall of text, and I apologize. I used to be a very passionate employee and have always aspired to be the best that I could. After four years of enduring game breaking changes that destroy our business and our people, this is the first time in my life I have lost the desire to be a leader.
I came from a fortune 500 company which I had worked upper management for several years and started over with walmart as production in the states is on a steady incline of layoffs and outsourcing. Retail will always be here. It was the worst decision of my life. Trading every ounce of ethics and dignity for the stability of an under payed over worked position with a pot of gold at the end of an unreachable rainbow is my current situation.
16th-Mar-2011 06:42 pm (UTC)
so sad that this thread died before I could be a part of it....
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