Message From Sam Walton
We Must “Listen Aggressively”
Most of our management personnel have recently had the privilege of listening to John Tate who heads up the legal firm that Wal-Mart has used for a number of years. John gave much good counsel to us – individually and collectively – for improving our relations with one another and for the strengthening of our Wal-Mart Company.
The one phrase that stood out with me most – and came through loud and clear – was that we should “listen aggressively” to each other. What a great piece of advice.
So often we go through the motions of listening to an assistant manager or a department manager who has something on his or her mind. But stay with the situation until the air is thoroughly clear or until the question is settled.
Let’s all rededicate ourselves throughout our Company to seeking one another out and communicating – talking out our problems, listening aggressively to suggestions and then following up with whatever action is required.
One other topic in the area of communications is vital to our future success as a company. That is our policy of “open door communications.”
Every last one of us in this company must know positively that we have the right to write, call or communicate directly with anyone else in the Company on any problem or suggestion that we or the company may have. And most important of all – without any fear of repercussions whatsoever on the part of Wal-Mart management.
This point must be made and 100 percent observed throughout our Company. Any of our 14,000 associates can be heard – and will be listened to – and all of us in management will appreciate their knowing they have the “right” in Wal-Mart without having to worry about losing their jobs or worrying about other forms of recrimination.
Let’s think together for just a moment. Why is this open door policy so important to Wal-Mart? And why should an associate be complimented for using this form of communication?
Number one, it’s a proven method of recognizing our problems and our opportunities. Airing them, helps get them out in the open so that we can deal with the situation objectively. Our first considerations should be that if any of our associates has any kind of problem, our company has a problem. And we should all commit ourselves 100 percent to helping one another solve these problems for the betterment of our associates and Wal-Mart. This is so very important and, in the past, many of us have not handled our “open door policy” properly.
Even so, with our stated commitment to an even more effective open door policy, we must understand that all of our suggestions and problems should be solved at the lowest possible level throughout our Company. We have a great group of supervisors and managers throughout Wal-Mart. I’m sure they want to and will “listen aggressively” and will go to extremes in dealing positively with either suggestions or problems originating with our associates.
So “Roll on Wal-Mart.” We’re headed for another banner year – in my book as I judge our company at this time.
Never have I felt more positive about our Company’s future and the opportunities that exist for all of us throughout Wal-Mart.