a sense of urgency

Several years ago, I worked for Starbucks. I know, I know. Starbucks. (I feel so dirty.) But what can I say? It’s sort of like the dot-com boom, right? In college, everyone worked for Starbucks just like in the late ’90’s, everyone worked at a dot-com. (I worked at a dot-com, too, but that’s another story.)

At any rate, among the many many useless phrases I learned from the corporate freaks who ran Starbucks was “a sense of urgency.” As managers, we were encouraged to instill in our employees (oh, I mean “partners”) “a sense of urgency” when dealing with customers. The objective was to get them in, get them their drink, and get them out as soon as possible. What’s more, we were supposed to instill in them “a sense of urgency” when dealing with other tasks as well. Like when we were cleaning the store to get closed at night, despite the fact that we’d busted our asses for seven hours, we need to clean as soon as possible. With “a sense of urgency” we were supposed to get cleaned up and get the hell out. I can only imagine that this was because they wanted to cut on labor costs.

At any rate, when I left Starbucks and eventually landed this summer camp job gig with a small Berkeley company, I thought I’d left such corporate catch phrases behind. But over the past week, my superiors have been using this phrase — a sense of urgency — repeatedly. Apparently, we’re supposed to make sure that we get all kinds of crap done now, in the fall, rather than putting it off until next camp season begins. We need to make sure we’re not slacking off, despite the fact that we’ve just busted our asses for the last four months.

And I’ll be honest. I’m not entirely opposed to corporate catch phrases. Whatever, really. They serve a function in that at least the rank and file know what’s important to the folks at the top. I wouldn’t mind working for a corporation again. The real concern here is that these people are using corporate catch phrases without all the benefits of a real corporation. Like being organized. Like setting good examples by meeting their own deadlines. Like having consistent standards of performance. The truth of the matter is, the folks at the top around here are all sorts of disorganized wackos. So their use of corporate catch phrases is sort of out of touch. It’s pretty laughable.

Ah well. At least it still pays the bills and next week I start part time and I can go back to being an academic most of the time and snicker under my breath at my employers while secretly looking for teaching gigs.

Hm. I hope this blog doesn’t get me in trouble.