Day 14: Cheer Leader vs. Fear Leader

 

Day 14 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

THIS is how Leadership looks like that motivates its employees with respect and mutual inspiration (Employee owned company):

 

And THIS is how Fear Management looks like (Pret A Manger under Private Equity):

 

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by
The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
Thank you for reading/listening.


Interview:

©2019 expret.org


Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.
©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Day 9: The Need for an #antiCEOplaybook

 

Day 9 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

»CEOs have their employees suffer for them. But yet, the CEO’s pay goes up and up and up… and so many people are left behind. I’m here to tell you: No more! It’s not right! It’s never been right!«

– Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani

 

I’ve posted Hamdi Ulukaya’s TED Talk from which I took above quote on the “Anti-CEO Playbook“, which is worth watching for anyone who is tired of today’s profit-over-people driven global business ventures. It CAN and MUST be done differently! I’ve also written many posts on Clive Schlee’s “leadership” in Pret A Manger, like for example the Timing of the £1000 Announcement to all staff on Twitter on 29. May 2018, which came after he and Pret became aware of my blog in the night from 28th to 29th May 2018. But I want to pull some things together into one post again as I feel people still don’t get it!

I used to be your typical good citizen (and I still am!), working hard, keeping my head down, loyal come rain come shine, doing things by the book with all my shortcomings and down falls as well. I was your average employee. No, I was more. I always gave 150%. But I equally was lulled in and brainwashed by this Pret PR machine and a smiley, approachable CEO. Until they crossed so many boundaries that I, in an utter traumatized state endured. It took me distance to understand what happened to me. For any new reader, my full story is in the audio player interview at the bottom of this page.

Apart from what I have survived in Pret and collected in other staff reviews, it is beyond me how easily society today remains lulled in, blinded in the acceptance of how business is done today. People are comfortable with a business EVEN after 2 customers died from their products, and a third nearly fatal reaction.

I should be stopping right here in this post, as the ultimate terrible thing that can happen to any business is customers dying from that business’ product or service! And in Pret TWO customers died. Yet, after the initial outrage, everyone goes back to business, and the chaos behind the scenes continues without any consequences for that company!

 

While I worked at Pret, and even before my brother died when all the nightmare began, I always wondered why in shop after shop the management is so poor with just very few exceptions. There is a bullying environment I looked over as everyone was treated bad, except those who kissed up to leadership for quick promotion. But I tried to ignore the environment and kept going. Yet, I always knew in my heart that the “fish stinks from its head” and if a company has poor management skills across the board, it comes from the top down.

Clive Schlee’s management style is very simple: It’s a “good cop, bad cop” approach. He’s the good cop who pretends to not realize what’s going on when staff complain about the bad cop managers in their shops. But all cops have one thing in mind: profit, profit, profit and squeeze the maximum “productivity” out of employees until there’s nothing left to squeeze. And when they’re dried up and burnt out, they are discarded like broken machines! Clive Schlee is one of those leaders who doesn’t like to hire and fire, he leaves that to the firing squat called the HR department, who in turn let the Operations Team do the firing.

man-320273__340

Responsibility is handed down through the ranks to the bottom. A typical cowardliness leadership style. It’s like the captain of a ship that jumps ship first when it sinks, instead of doing the courageous and principled thing that a true Captain is supposed to do. I distinguish these two “captains” by a capital letter. A true Captain gets passengers and crew off the ship first, starting with the most vulnerable, and then as the Captain, he leaves the ship at the very end when EVERYONE is off the boat!

But in Pret A Manger the typical “leadership” style is, that the captain, the top leadership saves their skin first and blames downward, or in the words of Hamdi Ulukaya again:

»CEOs have their employees suffer for them … and so many people are left behind.«

The most recent example of this is Pano Christou. With all the press regarding the allergen deaths and my blog being a sore in Clive Schlee’s sight, the announcement of his “retirement” (he’s 60!) was made AFTER I tweeted to the press on 01. July (I explain in detail here) and the press then contacting HQ for confirmation. Pano Christou becomes the new CEO in September. But since Clive Schlee leaves a legacy of poor staff reviews on Glassdoor & Co. what does he do? He does what he does best: he passes the buck downward and let’s Pano Christou already appear in mid July on Glassdoor.

A customer pointed out the poor Glassdoor scoring on 01. July 2019 when the retirement announcement was tweeted. So, Schlee must have arranged for Christou to take over on Glassdoor before the official September handover:

2019-07-01 Tweeter re Glassdoor

Link to Tweet

 

Las Vegas

Link

 

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

Both percentages of Schlee and now Christou are from the mid July 2019 handover on Glassdoor. The £1000 “bribe” and marketing didn’t help cover over the reality of work in Pret.

 

2019-07-22 43 staff - 0 Pano

 

Again, instead of owning up he quickly passes the buck to the next in line. Pano Christou having come from McDonald’s management (one of the biggest exploitative companies) and started in Pret in management, he learned under Schlee.

And this is clever as well because Christou starting from zero, once he gets let’s say the first 10 votes and 7 out of the 10 are positive, he will be at 70% approval rate in no time, making it look like he’s the great CEO. New viewers, especially those from other countries who are completely new to Pret assume Pret has great senior management in place. But he will continue under the “CEO Playbook” that Hamdi Ulukaya adequately criticizes and works on to reform, having a McDonald’s background and having been longer in Pret than Clive Schlee. He will make no difference, but will continue under the same facade. And this is very typical Pret, tweaking, tricking, covering up instead of really caring. It’s just regular millionaires who only care to advance their wealth.

A quick reminder of what Pret staff experience and mainly voice in anonymity:

 

17 Odd

Review by former Purchasing Director, NY

 

01 Go back to UK

Review by a Corporate, NY

 

2017-05-26 AM NYC Pure Misery

Assistant Manager NY 2017

 

HQ IT Analyst

London HQ Review

 

2014-12-26 NY

2014 New York

 

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+ More recent reviews:

 

The above slideshows are just a selection, the list goes on in Pret Staff Complaints

 

A poignant truth someone wrote on a Twitter feed. Worth reading the whole feed:

»It’s amazing to me how many business leaders separate their employees from their customers/patrons.
Your employees are your core target audience to put word-of-mouth out about your organization.«

 – by @minmilyjung

Out of my own experience and my former colleagues’ complaints to me as their Team Leader, I was at least lucky enough to be in a position to stand up for them as their Leader, but my and their experiences topped with the way Pret dealt with the customer deaths, shows so frighteningly how reckless and dangerous this kind of “leadership” style is.

“Leadership”, that I can only put in quotation marks, that refuses to take responsibility, blames downwards, passes the buck to the next in line, and then has the audacity to remain as a non-executive Director in the background! I can only boil it down to narcissistic arrogance which shows when Clive Schlee, only thinking about himself, ignores a serious customer complaint on behalf of staff on Twitter!

Customer complaint on 29. June 2019 about hellish work conditions in a shop:

2019-06-30 AC

First and Second Tweet to which Schlee responded on 01. July AFTER retirement news broke. (A long list of customer complaints regarding overheated shops with broken air conditioning and the hellish work conditions staff are left in).

On 30. June 2019, Schlee’s response to a farewell regarding his retirement, but no official retirement announcement until I tweeted to the press on 01. July (after I tweeted this to the press I got shadow banned and then the press started “breaking” the news on Twitter). Clive Schlee’s response to Neil here came AFTER the above customer, Kirk tweeted TWICE to Schlee about broken air conditioning:

2019-06-30 Clive response to well wisher

Link Clive Schlee being all about himself again, while ignoring TWO Tweets a day before by a customer on excruciating work conditions! I’m sure he didn’t realize that he spilled the beans again unintentionally regarding his non-caring about the welfare of his hardworking employees!

 

In the U.S. it would hail a storm of lawsuits on Pret with one customer death being enough to sue the living daylights out of them! One customer already unsuccessfully sued Pret in New York in 2016 after having suffered an anaphylactic shock ALSO from an unlabelled Sesame product. He was devastated when he learned of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s anaphylactic shock, leading to her death from an unlabelled Sesame product ALSO in 2016! He fought in court, but lost.

This lawsuit wasn’t a hint enough for Pret to do the right thing labelling their products! And then even AFTER TWO customer deaths Pret STILL didn’t do the right thing UNTIL the deaths became public! Only THEN did SLOW change happen. I cover this and their inconsistency in “Pret’s Labelling Commitment?” with their appalling and infamous slogans.

“It’s what makes Pret, Pret”!!

 

PretDoingRightThingHaHa

 

HR department logo:

Right Thing Naturally

 

So, this is the UK, no lawsuits.

“Polite”.

Politically correct.

Sweet-talking.

Complacent, inefficient, indifferent and arbitrarily dangerous for people’s health and lives.

FoodAllergyNews

From AllergicLiving.com

And Pret is very quick to change the shop signage of their 350+ stores in the UK for Pride month, while not acting on allergen labelling on their products until customer deaths became public.

Pret Signage

@celestine__ on Twitter

Customer deaths don’t make people wake up, certainly staff complaints, staff deaths and suicides don’t wake people up. No lawsuits. No investigations. A society full of indifferent people that only cares for a free cookie. We all know that the opposite of care and love is not hate, but indifference.

I despair at this.

And perhaps it mainly takes CEOs who are also the founders of their companies to care enough to make a difference. Most CEOs these days are just “managers” who were given the rod to the flock, and thus they don’t have concerns for what they were entrusted with. They then open the door to the wolves of private equity. And the suffering gets out of control with the “managers” sneaking out the back door, when the “slaughter” gets too bloody and the managers are in danger of getting cut.

 

Times report

The Times article

 

But I want to end on a positive note, another hopeful, courageous and principled CEO, whose words are blunt but much needed, and like Hamdi Ulukaya, a Captain with a capital “C”:

»To sell my business, this thing that I created, that I poured my life, 30 years of work in; to sell it to one of those bastards (venture capitalists), it would feel like selling one of my children into prostitution. And I was never gonna do it.«

Guy Singh-Watson
Founder and CEO of employee-owned Riverford

 

A list of blog entries I wrote regarding Clive Schlee: “Late Night Girl Articles

 

Riverford and Chobani scores June/July 2019 on Glassdoor

Riverford Chobani

 

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

 

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by
The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
Thank you for reading/listening.


Interview:

©2019 expret.org


Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.
©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Foot-in-Mouth Disease @ Pret A Manger

Arrow

(This is an x-ray of my left middle finger after an accident at work.
I wanted to use this picture, but am still waiting for permission to use,
but maybe I will leave my finger here. More fitting for Pret!)

 

foot-in-mouth disease
n. the tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

foot-in-mouth disease
The knack of always saying the wrong thing. The expression is both a verbal play on the foot-and-mouth disease that affects livestock and on the expression “to put one’s foot in one’s mouth,” meaning to make a verbal blunder. The latter dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The current cliché is much newer, dating from the mid-twentieth century.

TheFreeDictionary.com

 

At least Three Feet in One Mouth

 

I’m sure Clive Schlee, exiting (certainly not exciting!) CEO of Pret A Manger has been advised to lay low, and not spill the beans prematurely regarding internal things on Twitter & Co.

He gives himself away every opportunity he has, it seems. He certainly didn’t expect that his patronizing way in talking to me would end up with a “dot org” behind it.

For any new reader asking what happened? In short, Clive Schlee, pretending that my traumatic late night emailing to Pret was wrong (I also emailed tons of other people), he put his foot in his mouth, belittling me by introducing me to the Director of HR, Andrea Wareham in October 2017 as his “late night girl”. Two months later under his watch I was dismissed while my dad was in hospital, just out of a coma. My full story about this is in the interview audio player at the bottom of this page.

When I started this website, I started it as LateNightGirl.org, which still functions under this handle. Since then I have been writing about, and confronting Pret and Clive Schlee openly. I have “caught” them many times in their clumsiness on Twitter. And I use their “foot-in-mouth disease” to show the public how unprofessional, patronizing and non-caring they really are.

I write so blunt because I almost lost my life and witnessed too many times how Pret names and shames managers via emails to all shops when they fail. I keep asking for independent investigations into staff suicides. I also write extensively about the systemic bullying environment in Pret, something most in the public are surprised and shocked to hear about. Don’t be, if you live long enough, you will come to know that if something looks too good to be true, to better take a closer look. Two customer deaths, a third nearly fatal allergy reaction, several hospitalized and numerous warnings on allergen labels ignored, even after the deaths occurred. This should ring massive alarm bells! But here we are again, as long as it doesn’t affect us or our loved ones, we keep believing the fairy tale that is Pret A Manger, and our lives revolve around the free coffee and cookie marketing carrot.

 

Illusion

 

For a comprehensive list of issues in Pret that I experienced, observed, researched and gathered, please visit The Most Comprehensive Website on Pret A Manger.

 


 

So, where does Mr. Schlee put his foot in his mouth?

#One of the many opportunities he takes to spill the beans on things, is a little more hidden revelation he never expected to be caught out on. On his Pret blog on the former homeless employees, they call the “Rising Stars” they came up with the idea for the “Rising Stars” to solely run an entire shop by themselves, from the General Manager (GM) to the newest recruit. It all sounds so well, yet it is a dead give-away how the Pret Foundation is more a marketing tool than anything.

Clive Schlee writes:
“Our shop idea lost momentum when we returned home. People pointed out that we didn’t have enough Rising Stars at a management level to actually run the shop. Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed, as we are usually careful to integrate Rising Stars into our shop teams.”

Again: “Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed, as we are usually careful to integrate Rising Stars into our shop teams.”

Leaving them too exposed for what?

And why being careful to integrate former homeless people into regular shop teams? (Short-term homeless and mainly young people mind you!)

Too exposed for this, Mr. Schlee?

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The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in Pret Staff Complaints

Some people in the public aren’t impressed and take a closer look:

2019-01-02 re Rising Stars too few2

 

Why only 450 in 10yrs out of 12K staff
Not impressed with only 450 “Rising Stars” having come through the program in 10 years, with 12K employees! Georgia Greenfield couldn’t be fooled either. Why so few? Because it only takes a handful of people or things to blow up a bigger picture than it actually is. It’s like advertising 5 cheap airline seats and winning hundreds of customers buying flights, as they assume many or all seats of that flight are cheap. The seats go fast and once a person goes online to book that seat, it’s gone and they find another flight just a bit more expensive.

 


 

#Two

It’s always good to have a second foot to put in one’s mouth. This one still gives me the chuckles. I wrote an extra blog post on the Timing of the £1000 announcement that Schlee made on Twitter. But in a nutshell, to this day 01. September 2019 the 29. May 2018 is the most visited day on my blog that I can see in my website statistics. Late in the evening on the 28. May 2018 I sent a link of my blog here to an Operations / Area Manager (OPs) I used to work under. I know this OPs to not keep secrets very well. Up until the 28. May 2018 my website was visited 3, 5 or even 10 times a day, sometimes even zero visitors.

I woke up on 29. May 2018 after having sent a link to the OPs late on 28. May 2018, and my website exploded into a three-digit number even before noon.

BEST views ever 29May2018

That day, early morning on 29. May 2018, Clive Schlee made the £1000 announcement for all staff on Twitter.

In October 2018 staff were still waiting for it to “moneyfest” (sorry had to!), and in August already started to get adjudicated, wondering if it was all a joke.

2018-09-16 WorshipBroccoli £1000

 

2018-09-19 Meme USA

 

2018-09-24 Kevin Pavain re £1000

 

2018-09-28 Meme People Team

 

2018-09-15 Staff Twitter Complaint £1000

 

Only few people at least saw through this PR stunt:

2018-05-29 Ann Donovan sees thru PR

 

2018-05-30 £1000 PR Union

 

Of course the money, which after tax came to £800, was finally paid out to staff who work(ed) longer than a year at Pret. But the announcement was made prematurely, once Clive Schlee and Pret became aware of my blog, quickly trying to win the public and staff over with a little PR carrot.

Fasting forward to July 2019, the bribe didn’t really convince staff after all, but I’m delighted to having pressed Clive Schlee’s panic button, but feel sorry for the staff who had to wait so long.

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

Being careful to integrate the “Rising Stars” into regular shops makes sense as Clive Schlee and the now new CEO Pano Christou not only are aware of work conditions, but set the tone for profit and the share holders / owners. I call the staff from the regular shops who mainly dare to speak out anonymously, the “Fallen Stars”. And no former homeless person or anyone with a difficult past or mental health condition, would last long in a “regular” shop. It would give Pret a bad name if a “Rising Star” was catapulted back on the streets after having suffered what these “Fallen Stars” suffer on a daily basis and what I have survived during bereavement:

 


 

#Three

This one gives me a feeling of anger at all the fear management Pret hurls at hard working people with the anxiety I have suffered under them, and then Clive Schlee being so careless, clumsy and seemingly narcissistic in his communication. They are not as scary after all! It also gives me a sense of almost feeling sorry for him. But I have no “pity” nor empathy for this millionaire under whose “leadership” two customers died, staff suffer and suicides still need to be investigated.

On 30. June 2019 I saw a little, quiet tweet to Clive Schlee and his response:

2019-07-01 quiet retirement

 

An unassuming tweet about Schlee’s retirement, yet no official announcement made. Not thinking before he writes or speaks, Clive Schlee responds:

2019-07-01 Retirement Clive

 

On 29. June a very concerned customer tweeted to Schlee about hellish work conditions in a shop where the air conditioning was broken and still not fixed. But the CEO did not respond. He only found time and care to respond to his (still unannounced) retirement:

2019-06-30 AC

 

Early on 01. July 2019 I tweeted the news of Schlee’s retirement to the press after I wrote a blog entry on his legacy. After confirmation from HQ the press then broke the news all over. But I had to tweet to the press again as everyone was fast asleep!

2019-07-01 ExPret tweet to the press retirement

 

Only then did Clive Schlee as well as Pret make an official announcement of his retirement AND Schlee finally replied to the 29. June 2019 concern of the broken AC:

Schlee AC

(A long list of other customer tweets regarding broken air conditioning in many shops for prolonged time I listed here: Overheated Shops / Work Conditions)

Schlee’s response tweet to the well-wisher on his retirement went completely over the heads of the press, except after I tweeted them.

Also on the 01. July 2019 after I posted new blog entries on Pret’s leadership and linked to the new CEO Pano Christou’s Twitter, he deleted his Twitter account @christoupano

But weirdly that day I made a screenshot as Mr. Christou blocked me, while Pret and Schlee didn’t. I am not blocked by Pret and Schlee as they collect my Tweets for a potential court case in the future. Christou who of course is different to Schlee, will most likely steer away from having an online presence as the new CEO. Smart move!

2019-07-01-coo-pano-christou-twitter.jpg

 

Pano Block

2019-07-01 COO Pano Christou Twitter DELETED

¯\_()_/¯

 


 

Having run out feet, we can always continue after taking one foot out via the PR machine, and then put it right back in again! There are more issues where Clive Schlee spilled the beans on things, but they are not as interesting to mention here…

In mid July 2019 Clive Schlee has been quickly replaced by Pano Christou on Glassdoor, to avoid further poor results, even though the announcement was that Schlee retires in September 2019. But a customer pointing out the poor results, again only to protect their own skin does Pret under Schlee respond fast! Forget labelling products to safe lives, only label when customer deaths become public, but be fast to make £1000 announcements and disappear from Glassdoor to avoid further cracks in the facade.

Too late.

And Christou, having come from McDonald’s management and learned under Schlee, he won’t put his foot in his mouth, but he will continue in the same way to maximize profit. Low-wage employees will continue to struggle and the Unions will continue to get them unionized.

 

2019-07-01 Tweeter re Glassdoor

 

2019-08-29 Pano 42 33

 

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.