Walmart's culture is rich and varied. But it's defined by the threads that tie it together—practicing servant leadership, listening to the associates, and making sure the customer is #1.
Walmart Basic BeliefsService to Our Customers
Sam Walton believed that effective leaders do not lead from behind their desks. “It’s more important than ever that we develop leaders who are servants, who listen to their partners—their associates—in a way that creates wonderful morale to help the whole team accomplish an overall goal,” Sam said.
The 10-foot Rule
The 10-foot Rule is one of Walmart’s secrets to customer service. During his many store visits, Sam Walton encouraged associates to take this pledge: “I solemnly promise and declare that every customer that comes within 10 feet of me, I will smile, look them in the eye, greet them, and ask if I can help them.”
At Wal-Mart, one man or one woman can affect the future. I worry about keeping our culture, keeping the things we believe in. Our future lies in our associates. If we can instill in them the feeling that they’re out there to serve, we can keep the company right-side-up.
The Open Door is a cornerstone of Walmart culture, dating back to Sam Walton listening to associates’ concerns, as well as their best and brightest ideas. Walmart is committed to creating an environment of listening and open communication. The Open Door Communications Policy offers each associate an opportunity to bring suggestions, observations, or concerns to the attention of any supervisor or member of management to get help with an issue or make things better for the company.
The Walmart Cheer
In 1975, Sam Walton visited a Korean tennis ball factory where workers began their day with a company cheer. He liked the idea so much that he couldn’t wait to get back home and try it at Walmart. Today, associates around the world proudly and enthusiastically deliver the Walmart cheer in many different languages.
“Listen to your associates,” Sam Walton said. Today, Walmart’s grassroots process lets associates voice their ideas and concerns about the company. The associate opinion survey is an important part of this process, giving Walmart valuable insights into leadership effectiveness and associate engagement.
The Sundown Rule
Times have changed since the original Sundown Rule, but the principle remains the same. If someone needs our attention, we’ll respond to them that day. It doesn’t matter who it is—customer, coworker, partner—we respond with an urgency that says, “We care.”
It’s how we keep our business moving at the speed of retail. It’s how we remind ourselves that every request gets same-day service, even if it’s just an email or phone call letting the person know we’re going to take care of them.
Cell phones, tablets, and other portable devices mean we don’t have to stop when the sun goes down for the day, but we still have to be timely. Because the customer, whether internal or external, is number 1.
Our best ideas usually do come from the folks in the stores.