During the last month the news media in the northeast has been focusing on a grocery store chain, Market Basket, and the family that owns the chain. The family is involved in a dispute about who will run the chain which resulted in the ouster of Arthur T. Demoulas. His cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, and some other board members removed Arthur T. as CEO of Market Basket.
What has been more interesting about the dispute is the employee reaction. Employees have walked off the job and protested the change in support of Arthur T. The former CEO was very well liked by the employees.
Arthur T. Demoulas treated employees with respect. He would walk into one of the grocery stores and start a conversation with any employee. Arthur T. knew about employees’ families and would send personalized notes if family members of employees died. He wasn’t afraid to shake hands with his employees and tell them they did a good job. Arthur T. could remember who the employees were when he walked into the store and also remembered who their family members were. Arthur T. would introduce the employees to his wife just as if they were the best of friends. Employees were paid well and were involved in the decision making of the course of business once they knew the objectives. Arthur T. Demoulas provided a model for employee engagement. He also set a positive example for outstanding customer service which trickled down to the employees and the customer service they provided at the store level. This in turn helped to create a huge revenue for the grocery chain.
Employee engagement starts with great leadership. In this example of Arthur T. Demoulas provided that leadership. A couple of weeks ago we wrote if business leaders want to make more money for the organization and the stockholders it’s important to focus on employee engagement and have happier employees. The story of Market Basket under Arthur T.’s leadership is the perfect example. The new leadership, Arthur T.’s cousin and other board members, do not embrace employee engagement. Employees are being fired or laid off, other employees are unhappy and customers are being driven away which negatively impacts the bottom line of the business. Instead of having huge profits, the profits are sinking. It all conveys how important employee engagement can play. As economist and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich said in a recent article, Arthur T. created a win-win scenario for the company, the employees and the customers.
The story of Artie T., as the employees called him, and Market Basket is a classic case for those interested in developing their businesses through employee engagement. If you’re interested in reading more about Market Basket and Artie T.’s management style, go to the CALMC Facebook page for the link to an article from the Boston Globe and read what others had to say about the popular chain and its leader.