Takoma Park Silver Spring Coop staff voiced concerns at Sunday's Coop board meeting over the recent resignation of general manager John Kidney.
Kidney resigned as TPSS co-op general manager on Dec. 19, but his resignation is not effective until Feb. 28, 2011, according to a letter from the co-op board to the staff. Kidney referred questions about why he resigned to the board, which provided Patch.com with a copy of the letter sent to the staff.
The letter said Kidney is remaining as general manager to help with the transition process to new management, and the board met in closed session on Jan. 2 to discuss how this transition process should best be handled and what John’s (Kidney) role in it should be.
“The board is going to decide on what individual or individuals will serve in the interim management position(s) at its January 16th meeting and will also launch a search committee for a new, permanent GM (general manager) in the near future. We will let you know as soon as we make our decision regarding interim management,” the letter read.
Much of the why Kidney resigned was focused on a recent staff survey the board had conducted in which there were 30 examples of more than average standard deviation, according to board member Steve Dubb. “That’s the sign of a problem,” he said.
The results of the 2010 survey were better than the results of the 2009 survey, but not by a lot, Dubb said. “Overall we were rated significantly below average on many more categories than we are above average,” he said. “This was not a problem created by John (Kidney), it won’t be solved by just hiring someone else,” Dubb said.
Coop human resources manager Stephanie Sinsky said the board seeks the opinions of a core of the staff and ignores the opinions of the rest. “There are certain people who work here who are asked constantly for their opinion by the board, and there’re a lot of employees here who have never been asked their opinion by the board.
“I just want to make sure that everyone is heard, because that employee survey that was taken shows the majority of the staff is happy, but the board seems to think the employees are unhappy, and I think it’s because of the selection of who the board is talking to. So it should be either everyone, or no one,” Sinsky said.
That opinion of the survey was also expressed by coop grocery buyer Alec Garrin who said, “When we (co-op workers) heard staff were going to be talked to, I thought that would be staff at large.
“There are lot of staff who want to voice their feelings and concerns who weren’t spoken to and they want to know what’s going on. It makes a lot of people, including myself, uncomfortable that we weren’t addressed in those interviews,” Garrin said.
Board vice president Tanya Whorton said the survey is a way for the board to get feedback from the staff.
“The problem is the board has been micro-managing the co-op, and not allowing the employees and the general manager to do that.” Sinsky said. “I don’t feel the board has done anything for me as a member."
Whorton said she was surprised that he resigned and there were quite a few people who asked him to change his mind. But Kidney said his mind was made up.