Cake Palace is a community of more than 10 people. Being such a relatively big community, transparency, among other things, is a factor for progress. Without transparency, suspicion, gossips, and rumors, are unavoidable, and therefore could lead to poor interpersonal relationships. Making matter worse, poor interpersonal relationship lead to poor productivity (decline in profit), which is a crack in a core bond between employers and employees.
Cake Palace is still a long way from building a transparent system. Thus, managers, like me, have to always be present in every place and at every time to ensure professionalism. Failure to consistently inspect leads to theft and also makes theft untraceable. Recently, Cake Palace has been trying to build physical and social structures that can increase transparency while maintaining good health and strong social relationships. Among the physical structures, we have been attempting to get rid of the back door of the bakery.
The bakery is initially designed with two doors. One at the front (the shop side), and one at the back (The bakery side). Between the bakery and the shop, there is a separation, making it impossible for someone at either sides to inspect another person on the opposite side. The back door (at the bakery side) was designed for the workers to access an outdoor washroom and a sink. And the most important reason, it is healthy to keep the backdoor open because it provides more ventilation. Windows and ventilation openings alone are not sufficient to create proper ventilation for our bakers. Unfortunately, that same backdoor has been the biggest pothole for theft.
There have been many rumors from neighbors that the backdoor is used to snitch baked products at night. The night shift workers usually produce inadequate products, and these rumors seem to give reasons for that. Unfortunately, Cake Palace does not have cameras to be used for inspection when managers are absent, or a perfect documenting system that can be used to detect the exact number of expected products. These weakness have forced my father to usually spend sleepless nights at the bakery, just to scare the workers from stealing.
My personal observation has been that, dignity is very weak in a system that is poorly structured. Even people who are willing to be professional and ethical have a high possibility of joining a group of people that are unprofessional if the management system is too weak. That is the exact problem we are having in Cake Palace. There are employees who started as ethical workers, but have gradually become unethical because of the management system we have. One of the characteristics that make us a weak management system is the inability to detect missing numbers when theft has happened.
My biggest goal during my involvement in Cake Palace was to create a spreadsheet that could accurately predict the range of numbers of baked products, and accurately predict the amount of sales expected from the products. Furthermore, I have been fight for the security cameras to be installed. Lastly but not least, I have had suggestions from readers of my blogs that creating a leadership system among the employees could reduced theft, while also increasing communication between managers and employees. Some of the strategies are gradually being implemented.
Among many ways of reducing theft, closing the backdoor has been most urgent. And finally, it has been closed. A new sink and restroom/washroom have been built inside the building. Currently, there is only one door, the front door. Since ventilation is a big factor of health, closing the backdoor has bad effects on bakers. Thus, to compensate for the backdoor, we have built a three-phase powerful fan.
We hope this change in the physical structures will increase professionalism in employees, while also reducing pressure on managers. Finally, and most profound, we hope that the social interactions been the employees and employers will be honest and strengthened. Already, many who have gotten used to a habit of snitching bakery property and products have started resigning.
Above are some of the pictures of the Three-phase fan we have built. Apologies for the poor camera resolution.