Sears CEO Demands Loyalty
By George Anderson
A recent incident where an employee got on board a company plane with a competitor’s shopping bag got Sears’ new chief executive Aylwin Lewis so upset he sent out a memo to workers reminding them who signs their paychecks.
The memo, as reported in the Chicago Sun-Times, asks employees to prove their loyalty to the company by not bringing anything related to a competitor onto Sears Holdings’ property.
“Our direct competitors are opening more than 700 stores a year, trying to steal our customers. They do not have Sears Holdings’ interests at heart,” he wrote.
Mr. Lewis also offered suggestions on how employees could further the goals of their employer. These included:
- Visiting Sears Holdings’ stores three or four times a month and providing feedback on the experience.
- Applying for and using a Sears credit card if they do not already have one.
- Urging friends, family and acquaintances to go to Sears stores and make recommendations on how the company can improve.
Sears Holdings’ CEO also offered some carrots to employees. He said the company is working on a new system of employee discounts and is conducting focus groups to find ways to improve the company.
Don Delves, president of the executive compensation firm Delves Group, said Mr. Lewis’ action was appropriate considering the position his company is in. “Sears must define its culture with pride and some significant assertiveness if it’s going to change and survive in this marketplace.”
Whether the memo and promised changes will help remains to be seen. Mr. Lewis leads an organization with a workforce that has been described as being demoralized in the face of on-going weak sales, massive layoffs and cuts in employee benefits.
Moderator’s Comment: Is employee morale and loyalty to its employer playing a role in holding Sears Holdings back? What can (should) Aylwin Lewis and
company do to create a culture of loyalty to the organization? –
George Anderson – Moderator