Sunday 23 August 2015

Respect- What It Means At QVM

A lot of respect happens at QVM but there are areas where respect needs our constant vigilance and later in this article we will look at what we can learn from the E Shed Food Court issue.

Respect is probably most noticeable amongst traders. Traders represent a huge variety of nationalities, languages and beliefs. In the wider world that variety has some well known hot-spots; some antagonisms that can end in disaster. Yet, at QVM, traders from potentially antagonistic backgrounds work side by side in relative harmony.

At QVM traders have a common bond. We are all working together in that most noble of pursuits – earning a living to support our families. We know that what we do as traders reflects on our neighbours and the whole market family. Which is why the few causes of conflict between traders usually relate to those who are not doing the right thing – parking vehicles in empty stalls, leaving storage boxes in the aisles - things that show lack of respect for the workplace in which we all hope to earn a living. In short, we respect each other’s right to trade.

The picture is a little more difficult when we look at trader/management relations. Showing respect doesn’t come so easy here and this is probably because of an uncomfortable past history. There is little doubt that the standard of communication (and respect) between traders and the first line of management, Market Officers, has improved dramatically over recent times. Market Officers have shown a capacity for informing, discussing and negotiating in a professional manner that was lacking in “the bad old days”. Our working environment is complex and retailing has severe challenges. Given these circumstances the standards of mutual respect probably deserve a tick at this level.

Lack of respect is a key for traders. It is often a major element when traders get upset at management actions and the difficulties over the F Shed/E Shed Food Court is a clear example. It would appear that management had a clear plan for presenting their Food Court concept but it had a major flaw. It didn’t respect those traders who were going to be displaced by the plan – incredibly there were 38 traders affected by the displacement of just 9 double stalls at the top of E Shed. F Shed Traders received their marketing briefing and for them the plan had plenty of positives. The E Shed traders received letters advising them they were going to be moved and that they would be advised of their options later. It is easy to be wise after the event but that lack of planning and detail has been interpreted as lack of respect for the 38 traders.

We probably need to correct an impression that some higher levels of management, and city councillors seem to have. Traders who set-up and pack-up each day are not immune to change. There are aspects of their business operations that require consistency and stability. Yes, setting up your stall each day requires flexibility, but getting it right for each stall location takes time and practice. The position of your stall, its size, the configuration of your neighbour’s set-up, all require adaption. And making sure that your customers find you is a key requirement. If you are moving stalls, little things like your pre-printed business cards and your website entries require amendment. These are not insurmountable difficulties but they do require pre-planning. Neglecting that pre-planning could be seen as lack of respect.

The F Shed/E Shed Food Court process is not a disaster. These are things that can be fixed and although the process seems to have stalled there is presumably still room for negotiation. We should remember that a number of trader moves over the last 12 months or so have been done efficiently and with high levels of trader satisfaction. Those moves included the sort of consideration (let’s call it respect) that is necessary in trader/management relations. We just need to get it right every time.

Have Your Say – click here

24/08/2015 13:44:38 E Shed "It is not a matter of negotiation when the majority almost 100%  do not wish to move again under the guise of helping  F Shed Traders.  Seems to be a farce." LB   E Shed
Its a shame that the door seems to be closed to negotiation LB. Thanks for your input. - Ed