Friday, May 8, 2015

More On WSM Employee Communication And Inclusion

Good news and bad news. If my fellow WSM co-workers bother to read the back page of this week's employee Market Messenger, they will see that, in response to the recent employee communications survey, WSM management have agreed to 'have sessions dedicated to discussing overall co-op direction.'

That is the good news. The bad news is that, although WSM management admit that they want workers to know what effect being a co-op has on goals, plans and budget, they do not unequivocally state that the sessions they plan will allow us to have meaningful input on WSM's goals, plans and budget.

So. If you want meaningful input, start badgering your manager now, to ensure that those sessions, and what follows, allow all workers the opportunity to be included in decisions that affect the things that matter most to us in our co-op.

Too often, we are asked for feedback when decisions have already been made. We're asked what we think of plans to spend millions on expansion or refit, when the decisions have already been made. And we're being asked whether or not we like the shade of pastel paint.

Decisions are made about focusing on local produce. But we're not asked what local produce. Or how best to promote it. Or where to put it.

We're told that WSM is going dramatically to change the nature of what is on offer in our stores. But, either we are not asked what we think, or we're asked, and then ignored

WSM co-op policy demands that we be included in the decisions. For real. Not in a window-dressing exercise.

So, WSM management aren't doing us any favors with offering us these immediate sessions. They are complying with co-op policy. We need to remember that. Make sure the sessions are truly inclusive. And then demand that attention is paid to the input, and that the process continues.

For the immediate sessions, ask your managers to make sure that we have enough information about WSM goals, plans and budget, so that we can then make meaningful input.

We should be involved (not just immediately, but each year going forward) in the decision-making that determines what money will be spent on, how much money is needed, what sales increases should be, what the margins should be, what the profit should be, what the dividend should be, how much should be made available for pay raises, and so on.

Again, as regards the immediate sessions, it is not enough that we have a show 'n tell, and then management disappears. We need available record of what input was offered, and then follow-up sessions to ensure that input affected the final decisions.

Going forward, we need an agreed process each year, to ensure that we workers continue to be involved in the decision-making about goals, plans and budget.

We also need regular department meetings. Say, four a year. Where full information is available. And where decisions are made consensually. Department meetings, which are not just about implementing management plans (as this week's Market Messenger suggests), but where employees are able to set at least half the agenda.

We have finally got management to admit that there is a co-op policy that demands that they allow all workers to be involved in decisions that affect the workplace. But they now seek to pretend that the policy refers only to matters that management wants to affect our workplace.

So, this week's Market Messenger talks only about issues like consistency of employee performance, productivity and training. That's fine for management. Not so much for we grunts.

In my workplace, I am affected by my workload, my pay, my hours, management performance and decision-making in which I am not involved. I want to talk about those matters too.

That only happens if there is a stated commitment to allow employees to set, say, half the agenda of regular department meetings.

Same thing goes with annual unit meetings. Too much of those meetings is taken up with corporate show 'n tell. In future, I would like to see, again, at least half the agenda of those meetings set by employees.

Right. That's enough to be getting on with. But remember, none of this is going to happen unless you speak up, too.

Remember too, what is in the Market Messenger is only a management summary of the communications survey results. The full results can be found on the WSM wiki page.

For example, management claim that there was only one response of 'everything' to the question 'what area of the workplace and business do we want to give input or ideas on?' Um. Crap. I read all the responses. Try: a whole bunch of similar replies ...