I got interesting news from Justine, the "Center Store Director" (making her Scott's boss -- my boss's boss) yesterday. Apparently she was intending to talk to me on Wednesday but we stuck in meetings all day. We were both in the kitchen yesterday and she said, "Matthew I wanted to talk to you about coming changes in Merchandising. Are you headed back to your desk?"
And she came by maybe ten minutes later, to tell me that Chris J, current Merchandising Pricing Manager, is being moved from Merchandising to Accounting, apparently because half of what he's already doing is Accounting-focused anyway. They intend to hire someone new at the beginning of next year to replace him in the Merchandising Pricing Manager position, and that person will then by my new direct supervisor -- no longer Scott. The same will go for my counterparts in Deli (Patrick) and Meat (Ellen).
Interestingly, this did not include Steven, who has only been here something like a month, having replaced Kibby when she moved over to Category Management (because Bryan turned out not to be a great fit, and he went back to work at the stores). In my brief chat with Justine, I said, "Is this not going to include HBC?" Justine said that's one of the many things that will be looked at in terms of reprioritizing who does what, as Ellen is under-utilized at the moment (I know this well: she has more than once come to ask me if I had any work to pass off to her). And then Justine noted that bringing in Steven, who had been working as an HBC Coordinator at a store prior to coming to the office, was intended to be a role more analogous to Noah's in Grocery. Given that Noah's title is "Associate Center Store Merchandiser" and Steven's is "Associate HBC Merchandiser," this actually makes sense. All this time I had been thinking of Steven as being at a peer level, in terms of position. Turns out he's actually a half-step above me, in terms of analogous hierarchy, and it completely re-contextualizes his position here in my mind. His background at the stores in the same department made him a great candidate for the position, I'm sure. So, just as Noah still reports to Scott and Steven still reports to Terry the HBC Merchandiser, Patrick, Ellen and I will all report to the new Merchandising Pricing Manager.
I noted to Justine that we actually had this structure once before, and technically Chris has been my direct supervisor in the past, technically. I later sent her a follow-up email to clarify that Chris was only ever my presumed supervisor, because it was never formalized or made explicit to be the case when Jennifer retired, and she was Kibby's, Jared's and my supervisor, and Chris took over her position. In fact, given the several other histories I have compiled for PCC, from store openings to domain names, I decided to make a list of who has been my immediate supervisor for all sixteen years I have worked here (which I included in my email to Justine):
Stephanie S, Grocery Merchandiser............................August 2002 - March 2008
Jennifer G, Director of Merchandising Projects.......March 2008 - July 2013
Chris J, Merchandising Pricing Manager...................July 2013 - Summer 2015
Scott O, Grocery Merchandiser.....................................Summer 2015 - December 2018
So, as of next year, I shall get a new boss, my fifth one. When I noted that there were never any evaluations during Chris's presumed tenure as supervisor – in fact, I had no evaluation between 2009 (the last one Jennifer did for me) and 2015 (the first one Scott did) –Justine's response read: Sounds like Presumed is the correct word! Sorry to hear your evaluations were so infrequent and I am glad we are getting better with that. Everyone deserves feedback even our pets 😉 I'm kind of mystified by that reference to pets (am I the pet here?) but whatever.
The most curious thing about the timing of this news was having had my evaluation with Scott only this past Tuesday -- two days prior to this conversation -- and these changes never came up; the conversation leaned heavily on the assumption that Scott and I will continue in our respective roles in relation to each other. I said to Justine, "I presume Scott knows about this?" -- because I could not imagine being told before him, even if he was out touring stores yesterday. Justine told me she told him the day before, on Wednesday. So, my evaluation occurred on Tuesday; Justine said she only learned of these changes herself at the Merchandising meeting on Wednesday; Scott was informed that same day; I got informed yesterday.
I honestly wondered briefly during the conversation whether Justine would suggest I apply for the position. She did not, and she spoke with pretty confident clarity about the expectation of a different person being hired -- and she even specified that it would be done quickly. That last bit alone kind of cinches the deal for me that I'm not regarded as a viable candidate: my having to train someone else to do my job would be expensive and time-consuming.
Still, when I mentioned this in passing to Shobhit last night, he was all over the idea of me considering applying for it. Even if it meant having to get a car! (Uh, fuuuck no -- and where the hell would I even park it?) I think he was excited by the prospect of my making more money, given the state of his own career, but I just don't see it as realistic. And this morning there came another hit against the idea: an email from Cate, the CEO, announcing the hire of a second VP of Operations, who happens to be the wife of Eric B -- and Eric is currently in a position that reports directly to VP of Operations. It doesn't take a genius to realize Eric will have to be shuffled for that reason, and Scott feels, quite logically, that they have him in mind for the new Merchandising Pricing Manager position.
In any case, even though Justine told me this new person would take on how what the "Specialists" (including myself) do is prioritized, it was pretty clear this morning that Scott is poised to push back on that, and already has a little -- because there is no sense in disrupting how the flow of work goes from him (or Noah, or Kevin, or even Helen and Robin; if you add Chris and Justine herself on occasion, I have seven different people from whom I potentially take direction) to me. And to Justine's credit, she did tell me yesterday that my tasks in relation to promotion schedules will still take priority.
It will be interesting to see how this shakes out over time. Scott noted this morning, which he said he also told Justine (or whoever else consulted with him on this), that we went this direction before and ultimately backed away from it -- indeed, referring to my history of official supervisors above, my boss was the "Grocery Merchandiser" the first six years I worked here and the last three years, but it was the Director of Merchandising Projects (or, as it became with Chris, Merchandising Pricing Manager) for seven. Even during that time, though, functionally it was still more like Stephanie or Scott was my boss -- and I don't expect it to be much different when the structure formally changes again next year. That is, unless the new person turns out to have some kind of power trip (which Scott kind of suggested Jennifer had, saying she really wanted to stress the idea that I was "her employee" first and not his).
Whatever happens, honestly I expect it will all be fine.
Getting to last night, I had a delicious sandwich for dinner; watched a portion of the new Netflix comedy special by Ellen DeGeneres (which I was delighted to see was shot at Seattle's own Benaroya Hall); walked with Shobhit to get the days 1/2-off cheese at Whole Foods; and then walked the rest of the way to Pacific Place to see am "Early Access" (back when I was a teenager they called these "Sneak Peak") screening of On the Basis of Sex. And you know what? B+ movie -- I liked it better than I expected, as my expectation was about a solid B at best. It's hardly "art" or perfection, but I was moved by it and that's what matters.
So then I walked home, barely missing a bus I could have taken, and spent the next hour or so writing the review. Shobhit was in bed and snoring before I was even done.
I've gotten like three gift packages from brokers today. One is a tin of Popcornopolis popcorn -- as per usual, Noah and Scott each got the same thing; they both opened theirs and set theirs out in the kitchen to be up for grabs. I tried some and it's actually pretty good. Scott told me these would almost certainly keep if I just kept the tin unopened until the Oscars air. Hey that's not a bad idea! Although I don't know if maybe I might just go to Central Cinema to watch for the third year in a row. It's been ages since any attempt at an Oscar Party did not result in a bust. Or, maybe now it's been so long that I should try again. Gabriel might actually come this time, come to think of it. Hmm, I should think on that.
Anyway there's a lot of sweets floating around here, pies from Deli and whatnot; I had a slice of pumpkin with my lunch pizza -- hey, it was a small slice at least! I ate it in like three and a half bites. Alicia and I are going to do our final loop walk of the year through Myrtle Edwards Park this afternoon. We were sitting together at lunch and I asked if she wanted to, and her whole face lit up when she said, "Yeah!" She's just about all set for her vacation next week, I guess, and it's therefore perfect timing.
[posted 12:34 pm]