“Use good judgment in all situations”

Nordstrom, the successful retail chain, used to boast that its entire employee manual consisted of that admonition. But things have changed since then, and per Wikipedia “new hire orientations now provide this card along with a full handbook of other more specific rules and legal regulations.” [Bruce Carton, Legal Blog Watch]


  • Why is that a bad thing? Most professional retail workers do not have good judgment, hence the retail work. It makes sense to tell them that they must avoid certain things if for no other reason than to make the place seem professional.

  • Interesting that Jeff thinks retail work is the result of bad judgment. Same could definitely be said of many lawyers.

  • I’m with Invid. I went into retail sales when the company I had been working for went bankrupt. Any job is better than no job. I used that job in sales to bootstrap my way into progressively better jobs within the company, ending up managing corporate communications, before leaving for greener pastures. Along the way, I busted the company-sponsored union. I don’t regret that period of my work history in the least, nor do I deprecate it.

  • Since when do employees read handbooks of rules and regulations? I work for a very large company that by policy communicates all directions in writing. Very little reading happens. Even though we require that every task be initialed when complete, they don’t read it. The supervisor tells the worker what needs to be completed, the worker gets it done, then initials all tasks complete without looking at what they are initialling. I investigate when they perform the task incorrectly. They didn’t read the instructions. We “retrain” them that they need to read the instructions.
    The only reason to have written instructions is to document for punitive action.

  • Jeff,

    I’ve known many retail workers with judgment enough not to make so foolish a comment as yours.

  • Handbooks do provide defenses in employee legal claims, such as sex harassment, when the company spells out procedures for reporting instances of alleged abuse. I have personally seen instances when this has helped, particularly when the claims are filed as an afterthought following a termination or layoff. Invariably the claimant has never utilized the procedures, a factor that mitigates against them.
    In today’s climate, they are not perfect, but do help.

  • The handbooks and such are for “I told you so” purposes. Training, of the best kind, comes from supervisors with the heart of a teacher. Even, or maybe especially, if the workforce is the type that has to have instructions appended with “or else you will be terminated”, it’s the personal mentoring that stays with you.

  • Jeff, when a retail worker does something asinine, in all probability it isn’t his idea. Most likely, it wasn’t even his boss’s idea. When a cashier at a chain store asked me to state my residential ZIP code in order to buy a 75 cent candy bar, we both knew that the party who thought up this inconvenience was some MBA’d bozo who never worked as a retail cashier.