Sunday, February 15, 2015

Price Rises - Employee Inclusion

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. And then sigh. A letter to the WSM General Manager, which is self-explanatory:

"Hey Ruffin,

It never rains when it pours. Contrary to popular misconception, I don't like to rant, I don't like confrontation. But sometimes, you and WSM management make it very difficult.

We had a great store meeting in Southern Village at the end of last year. Communication. Two-way. And promise of more. I've had a couple of good meetings with you. When I thought we had understanding about the very clear WSM Board Policy demanding that employees be involved in decision-making that affects their workplace. You talk about Slack in the last Market Messenger. I wasn't happy there was no discussion with employees before its implementation. But it is at least some form of better operational communication.

And then, a box of new price tags for bakery is dumped in the store this Sunday afternoon, without any warning or discussion. Nothing on Slack. Nothing in the Market Messenger. No department or store meeting. No memo of explanation, let alone inclusion in decision-making. It's as if the word 'communication' had been translated into Sanskrit and tossed in the trash can.

With price rises of pastries and bread some as high as 25%, there is no way this can be classed simply as an operational decision. It affects the very business plan of our co-op, and becomes policy. Frankly, that doesn't make any difference. It is clearly a decision that affects our workplace, and we were not involved. And that is in contravention of WSM co-op policy.

Not giving us any information is just counter-productive. Much is made of our providing good customer service. How can we do that when you do not give us the tools? Moreover, asking your employees to face customers tomorrow with no information, no explanation and no support is not merely undemocratic, un-cooperative and counter-productive, it is just plain rude.

I can't tell you what to do. But in your shoes, I would seriously be considering a full apology in the next Market Messenger. What I can do is, once again, point out that this decision was in contravention of WSM Board Policy requiring that WSM employees be included in decisions which affect their workplace.

I would be grateful if there could be a very full invitation to all employees in the next Market Messenger, in accordance with the full terms of the said Board Policy, asking employees to offer their input in designing the means by which this Policy will be properly implemented throughout the co-op.

If such an invitation is not in the next Market Messenger, then I formally request that my Formal Complaint in this matter be moved to Appeal, and that it be placed on the agenda for the WSM Board Meeting in March, where I should be allowed to address the Appeal in person, and request that the Board comply with the provisions of the Board Policy in question, and instruct you immediately to put in place a process to consult formally with employees in designing the manner in which the Board Policy will be implemented.

All the best,

[Don't even have a funny. Just the caveat. These are my views. And I'm allowed to present them publicly.]