When Howard Behar started in 1989 as vice president of sales and operations, he redefined our approach to service. He also helped us rethink an important aspect of our internal culture: how we talk to each other.
Howard believed that partners should be able to speak their mind at any time. One day, while meeting with store managers, he asked them to be honest with him about what was and wasn't working at their store. No one spoke up.
After the meeting a manager told Howard, “If I'd have known that you really meant that, I would have had a lot to say.” She wrote down her suggestions for change; he addressed them one by one.
To encourage more of this kind of dialogue, Howard proposed regular Partner Open Forums. At these meetings, now held all over the world, senior managers and employees gather to discuss everything from grievances to social issues. The conversations are frank, sometimes difficult, but they’re crucial to ensuring every partner’s voice is heard.