Saturday, March 5, 2011

The WSM Employee Survey -- Total Transparency? [Part Two]

Although no longer a worker-owner at The Weave, I am still (for the time being) an employee. As such, I finally received an answer to my letter to WSM's General Manager, which letter had asked some questions to verify the credibility of the employee survey, and the independence of the consultant allegedly conducting it:

"Hi Geoff,

1. The consultant is James McKenzie MHR Inc. As was explained in each survey session, the surveys were sent directly to the consultant. The consultant will send us back complete data by business unit, department, job group, and tenure. No one at WSM will actually see the completed surveys themselves. I’ll ask Deborah to touch base with you next week since she is the one that hired the consultant.

2. Approximately $2,500 plus time spent by employees to take the survey.

3. Yes, the results to all questions will be shared with employees.

4. As explained above, no one at WSM will actually see or possess the completed surveys, so this is not possible. We are committed to honoring our promise of confidentiality which is compromised if people at WSM who may be familiar with an individual’s handwriting can see the surveys themselves. Throughout the process we will be mindful of protecting confidentiality and ensuring that employee’s responses are only shared in a responsible fashion internally within WSM.


Not bad. For a start. My response:

"Thank you for this, Ruffin.

I understand the point about anyone at WSM seeing the completed surveys. I think the idea that was put to me was a good one, in principle. But, like you, I can see no way around the identification of handwriting issue.

I look forward to hearing further from Deborah. The problem I have is that I Google James MacKenzie MHR Inc., and I can find nothing. Providing employees with contact information or headed notepaper, so that we can verify the independence of the survey process for ourselves, would sure help us in discussing the results.

On which subject, I would have thought the simplest thing, to bring this line of questioning to a close, would be for this consultant simply to publish his results on his own headed notepaper. Perhaps Deborah could confirm that this will be happening?

All the best,

And later, the very same day, further from Deborah, WSM's Human Resources Manager. I can't find holes. I wrote and thanked her, of course. Nothing if not courteous, that's me.

Now. Is it just me, or is there a certain irony that I seem to achieve more when not a worker-owner? Hmm. Right. We'll wait to see what is published, and how:

"Hi Geoff - I will make sure that his results include his information. He likes to customize things for the client and use their logos, but I'll ask him to do that. Deborah"

And then my brain cells began to work overtime:

"Hey Deborah,

Overnight, a further thought occurred, looking once again at Ruffin's answers to (1) and (3).

Will there be one report, broken down by business unit, department, job group, and tenure? Or will there be a collection of different reports, specific to each department, whatever?

In other words, does "the results to all questions will be shared with employees" mean that all employees will see the whole results to each of the questions?

My thought is this. I know what folks in my department and store think. What I want to know - and I do not think I am alone - is what the rest of the co-op is thinking too. Indeed, we need to know that if we are to be able sensibly to offer thoughts for the action plans pertaining to the co-op as a whole.

All the best,

Nice and useful response to this too:

"Hi Geoff, Yes, there will be tabulated results for the whole co-op that will be shared with everyone. Deborah"