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Lackluster management and no growth opportunities

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Operations Manager in City of Industry, CA (US)
Former Employee - Operations Manager in City of Industry, CA (US)

I worked at Williams-Sonoma full-time (more than 5 years)

Pros

40% associate discount, well-known brand name,

Cons

Promotions not based on performance, bureaucratic org structure, lack of clear direction, poor morale among associates, benefits significantly reduced in 2009, lack of trust in management team members, mid level management not involved in decision making process

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Make an effort to recognize team members based on their performance

Doesn't Recommend
Neutral Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

640 Other Employee Reviews for Williams-Sonoma (View Most Recent)

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great products and compelling company narrative, but unfair and unethical business practices

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Various
    Former Employee - Various

    I worked at Williams-Sonoma full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    Good pay, and descent benefits. The discount is good, especially if you live near an outlet. I had the priveledge of working with many very awesome people.

    Cons

    Discriminatory hiring and promotional practices. Poor technological integration. For example, why can't a customer use one shopping cart for Pottery Barn, West Elm, Pottery Barn Kids, and Williams-Sonoma when shopping online? You can do that at Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, etc., but not WSI. The company is riddled with legacy systems and an army of people trying to get everything to work together.

    The company is very siloed, and people seldomly move across divisions. There is a lot of stagnation in management. In distribution operations, for example, some people have been in the exact same facility and job for over 15 years, with minimal development, and no motivation or prodding to do anything else or anything more. In twenty years, I know of only two people that have moved from an operation/division outside of San Francisco to a position at the headquarters in San Francisco.

    The review process is unfair, because even if you have multiple associates in different positions and at different grade levels, the company tells you how many people must fall into each scoring category, and lumps everyone together. For example, if you have ten associates, at four different grade levels, doing six different jobs, you have to lump them all togther, and 2 can get an Exceeds Expectation review, 7 can get a Meets Expectation review, and 1 must get a Needs Improvement review. Upper management can force associates up or down even if the resulting review does not accurately represent the performance of the individual. Many positions have no documented SOPs, and the position descriptions in HR are often outdated, which can make the review process very subjective and potentially unfair as a result.

    There is a very weak coninuous education program, which is pretty good if you work in San Fransisco, but if not, don't even bother. There is no tuition reimbursement at all, so again, if you're not in San Francisco all personal development attained and potentially used to improve the company will come out of pocket.

    The corporate culture is three-pronged, but I will exclude the stores, because they operate differently. In the stores, which are not a part of the three-pronged culture, success and happiness are heavily tied to the store manager and district manager. Get a bad combination, and you're toast.

    Out west, it is catty and poluted with blame. A lot of finger pointing... Yet, the educational opportunities are better, the landscape promotes modern family values over traditional, and there is more opportunity to move around in the company. There are a lot of passive-aggressive people in the west-coast management structure. Regardless, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. has a very strong reputation and brand. Corporate, distribution, and IT positions in California can be much more than a stepping stone, they are great educational opportunities at all levels, but the best opportunities are in San Francisco, CA, hands down!

    The east is historically disorganized, but seems to be getting much better. Lately, the growth of West Elm has provided needed attention and resources, which has helped the team become more organized, boosted confidence, and created opportunities for advancement. Actually, the east coast team is quite impressive, in retrospect. You could say that they are the most improved of the three, but still could benefit from greater diversity in ethnicity and gender. It's mostly caucasian females on the east coast. The Brooklyn, NY and Cranbury, NJ facilities are quite nice and it seems expansion is immenent, in both cases. This is a great time to join the team, because they are poised for growth.

    The south, which is moreso distribution oriented, is a racist boys club, where sexist and racist remarks are thrown out constantly, and harassment is commonplace. By the way, Ohio State graduates get preferential treatment. FYI... There is minimal opportunity, lackluster training, and no development. However, the pay is competitive, especially with the generally low southern costs of living. Human Resources is run like a union, and there is no oversight into HR treatment of associates or managers. Anything goes in the deep south, so buckle up, especially if you are a minority, unless you work in HR, of course. Most of the HR managers and generalists are minorities in the south, however the director and VP are a caucasian woman and man, as with all of the directors and VPs in Memphis, TN, who lead operations in Olive Branch, MS, Lakeland, FL, Hickory, NC, etc. The best advice in the south is to stay quite and do exactly what you're told. You'll make descent money and have average work-life balance eight months out of the year.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Bring the company together. Take a closer look at the supply chain, and optimize, optimize, optimize. Bring back tuition reimbursement, and consider more ways to support parents. Get bigger, more broad, and robust IT systems that integrate functions that are currently managed by several systems. Train and develop your associates, regardless of where they work. Offer continuous education to individuals with high-level degrees or certifications, such as: IT professionals, MBAs, CPAs, CFAs, and others. Be a real "People First" company, and stop just talking about it. Give talented people opportunities to do more, grow the company, and expand the brands in new ways and ito new markets. Finally, honor work-life balance. Laura Alber once told a story about having two nannies, but we all don't, nor do we want to. Put pressure on the organization to work more effectively and efficiently, and integrate business intelligence tools and systems that automate some of the menial and manual tasks.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2.  

    job is fulfilling and fast paced, but struggles in corporate culture

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Williams-Sonoma

    Pros

    Never a boring day, fast paced, a sense of entitlement, mid-level management is generally great.

    Cons

    I can only speak for the Williams-Sonoma brand (not any of the Pottery Barn brands). There is a serious lack of teamwork and willingness to collaborate across all departments and within their own respective departments. Between planners and merchants who are working on the same product, with the same end goal, it will be painted pretty clear for you that you will not get the support you need from the teams.

    Positivity and can-do attitudes are non-existent from the upper level merchants and management, and you can see that it passed onto all the assistants. What a shame.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If this company wants to go global and expand in ways that most retailers have already done, it needs to be open-minded, collaborate, hire the right resources and start working together and not agaisnt eachother. As with any culture of a company, this needs to come from the top.

    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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