While organizing my desk I opened the bottom drawer and came across Russ T. Blade smoking and shuffling papers. Rusty, as many readers know, is the miniature produce manager that lives in my desk. He helps me with ideas for The Produce Aisle.
Me: Looks like youâre doing the same new year duties as me, Rusty.
Rusty: Not exactly. Iâm working on my plan to get my assistant, Simka Rosa, on track to put her on the promotion list for her own store.
Me: How much experience does an assistant manager need before theyâre ready?
Rusty: It isnât so much the time they have as much as if they are accomplished in all the areas on their training chart. Some assistants are ready in a few months, though most take longer.
Me: So how close is Simka Rosa?
Rusty: She ran things very well while I was gone for two weeks last hunting season. And last year I was out for 10 days for minor surgery during the height of summer business. She did very well.
Me: Sounds like sheâs ready now.
Rusty: Close, but a lot of people get their own department based on a few weeksâ success. All those items on the training chart are there for a reason. Simka still needs exposure in dealing with some common teamwork concepts, as well as handling conflict.
Me: Subjective items. Those are on the training chart?
Rusty: Iâm sure those are not on any chart, but these are important management skills sheâll need in order to survive.
Me: What can you do to help?
Rusty: For starters, I want to turn the department over to her for a few weeks at a time. Let her assume all control of scheduling, merchandising, planning and a good deal of the ordering. The âpeopleâ issues will naturally form from there.
Me: So youâll assume the assistant position â supportive, but giving her lots of freedom.
Rusty: Thereâs one more thing I want her to do, if itâs possible.
Rusty: As much as I like her and want to solely guide her, Iâd like her to work for one more produce manager before she gets promoted.
Me: Even though sheâs mostly ready now? Wonât that frustrate her?
Rusty: The more produce managers an assistant works for the better. Iâm good, but donât for a minute think Iâm Godâs gift to produce. Every manager has strengths to offer, so moving around helps.
Me: It is good of you not to hold her back. Youâll miss her Iâm sure.
Rusty put out his cigarette against the heel of his shoe.
âGotta take care of my assistantsâ he said, smiling. âSomeday I may have to work for one of them.â
Armand Lobato works for the Idaho Potato Commission. His 30 years of experience in the produce business span a range of foodservice and retail positions. E-mail email@example.com.
How do you train assistants to become managers? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.