沃尔玛故事(四) 员工大会和草根会议 – Wal Mart story 4: staff meetings and grassroots meetings

什么是民主体制,参加过沃尔玛的员工大会和草根会议之后我想我老人家也算是在这个专制极权的国家经历过民主机制了。

第一次开本部门的员工会议是因为原部门经理平波调动到别的店去当经理,新经理君存走马上任,区域经理美琳也过来参加此次会议,颇有些扶上马送一程的意思。当时我进办公室后觉得那个气质优雅稳重的女子很是面熟,想了一会明白过来原来她就是墙上照片里的区域经理,她也在看我。

开会的第一个程序就是每个人自我介绍,美琳在大家明显比较拘束。轮到我时我站起来谦卑的手抚胸口介绍自己。谁知美琳说你这么大个子怎么说话声音这么小。我心里一紧觉得怎么首次见面她就教训我,撇撇嘴回敬道:“我见到大人物就这样”。顿时哄堂大笑,只有美琳和我没有笑互相看着对方,君存一边狂笑一边冲我竖大拇指。

沃尔玛内部的要求是无论经理员工之间互相直呼其名,不要带着那个职务的后缀。上级可以请下级吃饭,但下级请上级吃饭就是违规了,上级会被处分,所以说沃尔玛在中国绝对是个异类。可以看出沃尔玛如此设计的目的无非就是要求上下级是平等合作的关系,使每个人得到尊重。沃尔玛另类的地方很多,不喜欢行贿,消防部门来检查设备最多请他们吃个工作餐,所以那些工商消防一旦抓到沃的一点错误就揪住不放。但这是早期了,我听老邓说如今沃尔玛也像其他大企业一样成立了公关部。

就是那天美琳要求我站起来宣读ap的行为准则:“正直和诚实是ap最珍贵的价值观,我们要不惜代价来捍卫它”。我宣读的觉得那些文字是神圣的,可惜不是所有人都有我这种感觉。后来我和调查组的广域经理谈话的时候我笑着说说原来这个地方就我自己是正直的。

总的来说会议的气氛比较轻松,给每个人发言的机会,说出自己心里的看法和感受。我想起民主程序的那个:“罗伯特议事法”。应该也是源自一脉异曲同工吧,民主国家的会议程序在其企业中也有体现,而且他们把这带到中国来了,要是能推而广之就好了。

我还参加过一次沃尔玛的草根会议,那天早上部门其他人都挺忙,hr(人事部)通知要召开草根会议要求我们部门派人参加,建勇就抓壮丁把我派去了。会议在三楼的会议室举行,店内的每个部门基层员工都有派人参加,店内的副总,人事部,AP也都必须出席。领导们要认真听取基层员工的意见,感受,需要解决的困难,并当面回答。我感觉发言的人基本能做到直抒己见,领导也诚恳地回答,HR在旁边认真的做着记录。这现象在中国是罕见的,当时觉得能在沃尔玛工作真是幸福呀。这样好的制度,让人觉得自己很重要,被尊重。

我也经历过几次全店员工的大会,那场面真是热闹。会议室里布置了很多长条桌和座位,每个座位前面都放着一堆零食,每次开会都是这样。那细节我不描述了,感觉就像我们八十年代开群众大会,热闹非凡。太吵的时候还有个大姐拿个破锣敲一下肃静全场,完全是八十年代党的领导人还得到群众拥护的时候单位开大会那个气氛。各部门的领导人比如店总,人事经理,AP经理都会面对全体员工诚恳的讲话,气氛融洽又热烈,像大家庭。

每次开会的时候HR都会借机宣扬沃尔玛的文化和价值观:“尊重个人,服务顾客,追求卓越”。HR相当于沃尔玛的牧师,主管信仰以及意识形态方面的工作。其实我们党的官员也有这方面的职能,但他们宣扬的是如今谁也不信的马克思主义社会主义,包括他们自己都不信,他们真正信的是另一套。

不要小看这些无形的文化和价值观,正是这些主导着小至企业,大至国家的命运和方向。引导着人们的心态。一个单位或国家是否公平,正义,和平,美好全系与此。

有时也觉得美国人也蛮有意思,他们过来把他们的文化也带过来了,不知这算不算文化入侵。

What is democracy? After attending a Walmart general assembly and grassroots meeting, I think my old folks would also count as having experienced a democratic system in this country with a totalitarian dictatorship.

The first time a staff meeting was held for my department was because Pingbo, the original manager of our department, was transferred to another store as its manager. Juncun, the new manager, undertook the position with relish. Meilin, the area manager, also came over to take part in this meeting. She had quite a few initiatives for us. When I entered the office, there was something familiar about that calm, graceful woman. After thinking for a moment, all became clear. It turned out she was the area manager in the photograph on the wall. She was also looking at me.

The first item on the bill at the meeting was for everyone to give a self-introduction. It was clear that she was more restrained than everyone else. When it was my turn, I stood up and humbly, with my hand on my chest, introduced myself. Meilin and someone else said how could it be that someone as big as me could speak so quietly. My mind tensed up for a moment, how was it that the first time I met her she gave me a lecture. I puckered up my mouth and respectfully replied, “I’ve seen great people with the same mannerisms.” The whole room immediately roared with laughter. Only Meilin and myself didn’t laugh, we just looked at each other. Juncun laughing heartily stuck his thumb up at me.

Walmart’s internal requirements include that no matter whether you are a manager or standard employee, everyone can directly use each others given names, there’s no need to mention the title of the person. Superiors can treat their subordinates to meals, but it is now not permitted for subordinates to do the same for their superiors. If they do, they will be met with disciplinary action. You could say that Walmart is of a rare breed in China. One can see from its aims that Walmart is simply demanding that all employees have an equal and cooperative relationship, bringing about the respect of everyone. Walmart is avant-garde in many areas. It doesn’t like to give bribes, and when the fire department comes to inspect the facilities, most often they are treated to a meal. Therefore, as soon as they find something amiss, they’re sure to take care of it. However, this was during it’s early phase. I heard Old Deng say that nowadays Walmart is like other large businesses and has established a public relations department.

That day, Meilin requested that I stand up and read aloud the criteria of an ap: “Upstanding honesty is the most precious value of an ap. We must uphold this at all costs.” I thought those words that I read aloud were sacred. It’s a shame that not everyone felt the same. After, during a conversation with Guangyu, the manager of the investigation team, I laughed saying that actually I was the only one there who was “upstanding”.

Generally speaking, the atmosphere at the meeting was comparatively relaxed. Everyone had an opportunity to speak out and express their feeling and opinions. I recall the democratic procedures in “Robert’s Rules of Order”. I would say it employs a different approach but amounts to the same thing. Procedures in the company meetings of democratic countries embody it, and furthermore Walmart has brought them to China, wanting them to be spread afar.

I’ve also participated in a Walmart grassroots meeting. That morning, the other people in my department were especially busy. Human resources notified us it was convening a grass roots meeting, and requested that our department appoint someone to attend. Jianyong thereupon delegated me to go. It was held in a meeting room on the third floor. Standard store employees of every department were in attendance, and it was also necessary for the store’s vice president, human resources, and the AP department to attend. The managers had to listen attentively to the opinions, feelings and pressing problems of their subordinates, then respond to them face to face. Basically, I felt that those who spoke were able to be outspoken and the managers replied with sincerity. Meanwhile, human resources recorded everything diligently. This is a rare phenomenon in China, and at the time I felt very fortunate to be able to work at Walmart. A system as good as this makes people feel important and respected.

I’ve also experienced a few general meetings in which all store employees participate. Those are truly lively spectacles. The meeting rooms are laid out with many slim tables and seats. At each meeting, various snacks are placed in front of each chair. I won’t describe the particulars any further, I just felt that it was as if us of the 1980’s generation were holding a mass rally as it was so lively. When the noise became too much a woman would pick up a broken gong and strike it, bringing silence upon the whole room. The atmosphere was just like when the political leaders of the 1980s held general assemblies with the full support of the masses. The leader of each department, such as the store manager, the human resource manager, the AP manager all faced the honest words of each employee. The atmosphere was both warm and harmonious, just like that in a big family.

Each time a meeting was held, human resources would seize the opportunity to publicise the culture and values of Walmart: “Personal respect, customer service and the pursuit of excellence.” Human resources are the equivalent of a priest for Walmart, as in their work they are in charge of the beliefs as well as the ideology. Actually, the officials of our political party also have this kind of role, but what they proclaim is Marxism and socialism, which nowadays no one believes in, not even themselves. What they truly believe in is something else altogether.

One should not belittle intangible cultures and systems of values, as it’s precisely these that dominate the fate and direction of everything from small companies to the countries themselves. They guide people’s mentality. Whether or not a workplace or a country is fair, righteous, at peace or amicable, their entire systems come from them.

I sometimes think that Americans are particularly interesting. They come over and bring their culture with them. I wonder if this could be considered as a cultural invasion.

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adminreply
August 3, 2018 at 4:39 am

Original translation by Simon Cooper

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