Hubert Joly says ‘human connection’ laid the foundation of Best Buy’s turnaround
Best Buy looked like a retail chain on its way out of business in the early 2010s. Under the guidance of then-CEO Hubert Joly, however, the retailer turned its fortunes around in impressive fashion. These days Mr. Joly attributes the company’s near unprecedented return to customers’ good graces as a result of creating a new focus on the human connection.
Mr. Joly gives a rundown of five steps critical to achieving the mindset he believes brought back Best Buy in a new book, which was recapitulated in a Harvard Business Review article.
Connecting employees with what drives them, creating a genuine human connection among employees and employers, giving team members autonomy, providing employee feedback through one-on-one coaching and creating a growth mindset — all contributed, in Mr. Joly’s view, to driving Best Buy’s turnaround. He believes any company can succeed with such a strategy.
Among the practical changes this shift brought about, according to the Review article, is a training program that focuses on “soul-searching” conversations between executives and frontline employees instead of Powerpoint presentations. Sales associates are asked to act as “inspiring friends” to customers. It retells an anecdote about a child and his mother bringing in a broken Tyrannosaurus Rex toy. Staff, rather than merely pointing the customers to a replacement, creatively brought the figure back behind the counter to perform “surgery” while swapping it out.
Best Buy has managed to continue its success even through the pandemic. The retailer was one of the first major chains to implement appointment-only shopping to limit exposure to the virus. It also benefited from an increased customer need for electronic devices and gadgets as the U.S. moved to home-based work and schooling.
The chain has recently begun testing new avenues to maintain and leverage customer loyalty, such as a subscription service with perks like free shipping and unlimited Geek Squad tech support.
The public’s perception of the retailer’s commitment to employees throughout the pandemic has been largely positive, buoyed by news of paid time off for vaccination, bonus checks and other perks. Some employees in February, however, began to suggest the company was quietly cutting hours for store associates and laying off workers.
- Best Buy: How Human Connection Saved a Failing Retailer – Harvard Business Review
- Best Buy produces record results doing things differently in the pandemic – RetailWire
- Best Buy is handing out bonuses, paid time off for vaccines and pink slips. Huh? – RetailWire
- Will Best Buy’s customers love its new service and savings plan? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think the human connection Joly describes, the steps he recommends to achieve it and the ways they were implemented were as critical as he says to Best Buy’s turnaround? What can other retailers pursuing turnarounds learn from Best Buy’s experience?