Friday, October 10, 2014

Invested Employees Make For Good Customer Service‏

Bloody hell. I pick up today's WSM employee 'Market Messenger,' and it's like the last few weeks, with their seeming improvement in employee-inclusion, never even happened. Letter to WSM's General Manager. Sigh:


We made such a good start with our Unit Meetings. Attempting to get employees involved in designing the way forward in our co-op. As is our right under co-op policy. But I see from the latest employee 'Market Messenger' that we just seem to be slipping back to the old ways: advancing management goals, and using our own words against us.

First, the post about customer service. I can't speak for other Unit Meetings. But I got no sense at all from our Unit Meeting in Southern Village that all we wanted to do was offer great customer service slavishly. The very definite message I got was that we would be more likely to offer better customer service if we were more involved in the making of decisions and policy.

It's the Zingerman's point you keep quoting out of context. Happy employees make for happy customer service. True. Now. Make us happy. You partially allude to it in your post. You say: "extraordinary customer service ... is the normal way of relating to customers and each other."

It's a twist, Ruffin, and you know it. We are saying, treat us well, involve us, allow us to be invested (the way we treat each other - which includes the way management treats and involves us), and we will relate to customers in the same way - pro-actively.

You gently lose the point about management involving us in decisions and policy-making (as co-op policy requires), and just hark on about all of us demanding that we work harder. It's disingenuous, Ruffin.

As is the other post about the worker-owner election. For sure, there were more worker-owners voting. There ought to be. We just increased worker-ownership from 100 to 192 in two years. Not least because I campaigned for six years to get you lot to make it easier for workers to become worker-owners. But, you did not mention that turnout dropped dramatically.

I have already written to the Elections Committee to ask them publicly to present figures like turnout. It is not negative; it is educative. But again, if it doesn't fit your narrative of all-is-well control over democratic inclusion (or not), you leave it out.

The message of the two candidates was not 'owner participation.' It was worker inclusion. Byron was more blunt. Demanding a suggestions box in each Unit, and promising to be a forceful advocate for worker rights on the Board of Directors. But even Jon spoke of his pride in a co-op which allowed him and other workers the opportunity to be involved in decision-making.

I may not be able to change the manner in which you use words to present a record of events, a description of goals, and the like, in a slant towards management bias. But what I can do I will continue to do: I will continue to hold you and management in this co-op to the policy which requires that you include all employees in decision-making that affects them.

I know you rarely, if ever, choose to respond to my e-mails. But I can ask. Would you please let me know what are your plans in 2015 for offering employees the opportunity to design the process by which they may be more regularly involved in the decision-making that affects them? I asked for it at our Unit Meeting. You wrote it down. As you know, it is co-op policy both to involve employees in decision-making and to include them in laying down the guidelines for such inclusion.

All the best,