The Story of the Two Arthurs
Market Basket, a grocery chain with 71 locations throughout the New England area boasts over 25,000 employees. It is known for reasonable prices, a no-nonsense approach to business, and a unique customer culture. It’s the only grocery where customers regularly chat in the aisles, sharing recipes and news about the best sale items of the week. What most people didn’t realize until recently is that Market Basket employees are even more engaged than their customers.
Market Basket is a family business that was originally started in Massachusetts by two Greek immigrants, in 1916. Now in its third generation as a family business, much strife and in-fighting recently resulted in a surprise takeover by one of the two managing cousins. Of the two cousins who ran the company, Arthur T. and Arthur S. Demoulas, Arthur T. was the active managing executive, cared deeply about his employees, showed empathy, rewarded them well, and was universally loved by the workforce.
Before the takeover, no one, including the board of directors, knew quite how engaged and dedicated Market Basket employees are. After almost two months of employees and distributors refusing to go to work, thousands of them holding regular rallies, demanding reinstatement of Arthur T., and living without a paycheck, Arthur S. and the board gave in, sold the entire company to Arthur T., and as of this writing, thousands of employees have gone back to work, trucks are delivering food to stores, managers are rushing around getting their stores back on track …and the rest of us are left with the most inspiring, authentic employee engagement parable in recent history.
Can you imagine any other company where (non-unionized) employees take to the streets, put their jobs on the line in support of an ousted leader? This real-life parable demonstrates so clearly what employees are willing to risk for jobs they love and a leader who inspired the culture behind it.
The Meaning is the Message
As this dramatic, real-life tale demonstrates, engagement and a sense of purpose is integral to keeping your star players who will go to bat for you, your department, or your organization, even in the tough times. How do you instill a sense of meaning and purpose?
- Build and maintain an ongoing regular one-on-one dialogue with every person you manage.
- Clarify expectations with I-statements.
- Regularly give positive and corrective feedback.
- Immediately acknowledge ideas.
- Foster a culture of accountability.
These is a snapshot of the topics we delve into in the EDSI Communicating to Manage Performance program. We have been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years., and would welcome the opportunity to work with your organization to help you develop an engaged, accountable workforce that is ready to go the extra mile for your organization.
The powerful words of Arthur T. Demoulas distill the sentiments of an effective leader who has fostered an engaged workforce:
“Words cannot express how much I appreciate each and every one of you (employees). You are simply the best. As I stand here, there is very little that I could ever add to your brilliant work, your extraordinary display of loyalty, and the power of your enduring spirit over the past several weeks. You taught everybody that … Market Basket is a place where respect, honor, and dignity is a way of life. This was not about a family conflict or a Greek tragedy, but more about fairness, justice, and a solid moral compass that united the human soul. Because of you, I stand here with a renewed vigor and a sense of purpose.”
Contact us to talk about how we can help increase, accountability, engagement, productivity, and profits in your organization. 800-282-3374 www.employeedevelopmentsystems.com