To do my job properly, I have to do a great deal of research. I read constantly—magazines, newspapers, and articles on the Internet. I watch news reports on cable and network television and have lost count of the videos I’ve researched. I listen to the radio as well as hundreds of audio tapes. I’ve been fortunate to have had conversations with board members, CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CIOs, etc. I’ve also made it a point to converse with middle managers, frontline employees, vendors, and customers from a wide variety of industries. I’ve tried to remain open-minded and neutral in my research as I’ve had to investigate organizations I didn’t necessarily agree with, support or respect personally. I share this information for a valid reason.
After decades of seminars, keynotes, and consulting situations, I’ve been exposed to opinions and rationale both for and against many organizations. It appears that the more successful the organization, the greater the controversy that surrounds it. It’s happened to the greatest leaders in every industry over the years: General Motors, Boeing, GE, Microsoft, Sears, McDonald’s, Proctor and Gamble, Motorola, Harley-Davidson, 3-M, AT&T, Sony, and many, many more.
These organizations have received the greatest of accolades and the most diabolic and vicious criticism … often concurrently. The target for the past few years has been Wal-Mart—the largest and most successful retailer on the face of the earth.
- #2 on the Fortune 500
- Revenues: $404 billion,165 million
- Employees: 2,155,000
- Total U.S. Stores – 4,259 total units
- Wal-Mart Discount Stores (891)
- Supercenters (2,612)
- Sam’s Clubs (602)
- Neighborhood Markets (150)
- Marketside (4
- Total International Stores: 3,629 in 14 countries
- Total Stores: 7,888 stores
All of this comes in a mere 47 years. Wal-Mart began operations in 1962, the same year Kresge introduced K-Mart and Target stores opened their doors.
I share this data to make a point. Wal-Mart is not a fly-by-night organization. They’ve accomplished what no other retailer has even come close to achieving and reached levels that very few leaders in any field have attained. However, 90% of the information you find in the media about this Fortune 500 leader is negative. Granted, they’ve made a lot of mistakes. They, themselves, have admitted that. That happens when you’re that large and that successful. However, you seldom hear about the many positive things that could and should be said about Wal-Mart.
For instance, as economic disaster sweeps across this nation, wreaking havoc at every turn, Wal-Mart Stores is awarding about $2 billion to its U.S. hourly employees through financial incentives, including handing out $934 million in bonuses, $789 million in profit sharing and 401(k) contributions, millions of dollars in merchandise discounts and contributions to its employee stock purchase plan. This move comes as a result of the world’s largest retailer gaining market share amid a recession! You don’t see this happening in the mortgage industry, among our largest bankers, or from any of the auto manufacturers. Note that the focus of these awards is NOT high-paid executives … it’s aimed at rewarding those hard-working employees who have created the great success currently enjoyed by this successful organization.
While it’s easy and sometimes popular to take shots at any large, successful organization like all of those named above, it might be wise to pause and recognize those who have earned their success and are willing to share it with their employees as a way of saying “thanks.”