Now I’m Confused…

Today I went on a very professional, well-organized tour of the new Food House.

Every single supervisor who addressed my group waxed lyrical about the improvement in the food production process. Every single worker waved and smiled at us. And every single supervisor than told us that all of the workers were happy.

So why, if the food production process is so improved, why are our customers so unhappy? And why, according to Ruffin, are our sales falling?

Why, if our Food House workers are so happy, why are they telling me privately that they are unhappy? That promises that were made about work conditions have been broken? That no-one listens to them? And that they are fed up producing food that does not meet their own artisan expectations?

And why, if everything is going so swimmingly, why are we now instituting a co-op-wide program to cut staff numbers by slowing up on hiring?

You don’t contract in the middle of an expansion, just because you hit problems. Contracting the number of staff – when there is still more work – will lead to over-work, over-stress, lowering of productivity and departure of staff. You only end up exacerbating the problem.

Of course, I want us to succeed. We can’t go back. Although I do hope we do a much better job of asking before doing when it comes to the Carrboro store refurbishment.

But definitely, we absolutely can not turn 180 degrees, and head off in the opposite direction. That’s suicidal business. However, we might need some serious adjustment. And that is not going to happen if our leaders are in a state of denial.

That is why I am raising the matter of work conditions and the expansion generally with the Board tomorrow evening. They need to sort out this confusion.

Confusion is not a good thing in a $20 million business. And surely it goes without saying that it is unacceptable in a co-operative?
Published in: on August 19, 2008 at 9:59 am  Leave a Comment  

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