Hopeful in Bad Times
Howard Zinn | Starbucks’ War on Unions | Emergent Leadership is Intentional, Conscious, and Present
Quote of the Moment
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
| Howard Zinn
We have mid-term elections in the US this week. Howard Zinn exhorts us to act, and to live now as we think we should live.
Hope is a muscle, not a mood.
| Stowe Boyd
Starbucks’ War on Unions
Howard Schultz has drawn fire from the US National Labor Relations Board, after his statements in a company meeting in April with employees.
In that meeting, an employee asked Schultz about retaliation against union supporters. He told the worker, “I’m sensing a lot of anger from you about Starbucks,” and “If you hate Starbucks so much, why don’t you work somewhere else?”
The employee subsequently resigned.
US labor board prosecutors alleged in a complaint filed Friday that Schultz “threatened employees with discharge by inviting employees to quit their employment because they engaged in union and/or protected concerted activities.”
Which is illegal.
Because of Schultz’s total control over working conditions and the tone in which he spoke, his comments constituted an implied threat to retaliate against workers who try to organize, the union’s attorney Gabe Frumkin said in an interview Friday.
For employees watching the interaction, he said, Schultz’s dressing down of the employee “shows that they can either change the terms of your work relationship, or end it entirely based on the fact that a worker has voiced support for a union.”
A recent internal survey revealed Starbucks’ corporate employees are concerned about the company’s anti-unionization efforts:
In a survey of office-based US employees, only 52% said they “completely agree” that Starbucks “behaves in an ethical and responsible manner,” executives told staff at an Oct. 13 meeting, a video of which was viewed by Bloomberg News.
The sooner Schultz steps down, the better for Starbucks, the union, and the country.
Emergent Leadership is Intentional, Conscious, and Present
I stumbled across a 2017 post by Stephane Kasriel, entitled The Key Management Skill for the 21st Century: Leading Remote Teams. Extremely prescient, years before the pandemic, saying that leaders had to intentionally shift to a remote-first model of communication, interaction, and work expectations.
The single most effective change a company (or the leader of a team) can make is to take a remote-first approach. Don’t just tolerate remote team members as add-ons to your “regular” meetings: Assume that everyone is or may be remote at any time.
He seems to focus on remote meetings, but the deeper thread is the one to takeaway: focus on results, not work theater.
Focus on results. Companies that consider themselves “results-only work environments” focus on what each team member actually delivers, not on where, how or even when they work. That puts remote team members on the same footing as those in the home office.
But in 2017, Kasriel did not emphasize some of the shifts in leadership philosophy that have been informed by our lived experience of the pandemic.
Since the pandemic and through to today, remote management has become the crucible of leadership. As I wrote in 2019, immediately prior to the pandemic, Remote Isn’t, positioning remote work as a paradox, since those who work 60%-80% remotely are the most engaged workers.
One of the major effects of remote work has been to force a reexamination of the not-so-wonderful pre-pandemic grind culture and its enforcement of inequality of opportunities for parents and especially women, as Jessica Grose explored recently:
The desire for remote and flexible work among parents is echoed in a recent report from Future Forum, an initiative of the Slack messaging app. (Slack, of course, is one of the tools that make remote work easier.) The report, which describes itself as “a quarterly survey of more than 10,000 knowledge workers in the U.S., Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K.,” found that “83 percent of working moms now want location flexibility,” while 60 percent of working moms and 50 percent of working dads “want to work remotely 3 to 5 days a week.” The report found that “fully in-office workers are the least satisfied with their working arrangements: they report significantly worse employee experience scores compared to hybrid and full-time remote employees, most notably for work-life balance and work-related stress and anxiety.”
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