Nordstrom: Dissension in the Ranks? (A,B)

My response to the HBS article on Nordstrom:

The system was motivational.  The idea that the concepts were not spoken, but were learned by the new employees was self-perpetuating.   As an employee you’d feel like you discovered a way to increase you value.  Having printable, tabulated data on other sales persons was more gasoline for the fire.  Another cause for why it was working was that the rewards were real.  You could see others receiving them and you knew what it took to get there.  The ‘idea’ that you could bring in $60k if you just worked harder and were calculating on how you documented your hours was more motivation.  The problem I think the leaders should have seen coming was that it was competitive and could cause potential disasters.  I would have imagined that an effort would have been put forth to show the employees that the SPH system was not intended to be stressful but only for knowledge.  Plus, after the allegations came out it was a bad move for Nordstrom to deny wrong doing.  Even if there hadn’t been wrong doing you can ‘t deny it.  You have to accept that there must be something there and you need to find a way to fix it and show that to the public.   The leaders must have known that the system was on the edge of success and major problems.  Unions are good for the workers but once a Union has made the move to challenge a company publically there is going to be losses for the company in the short term.  As a company that was at the top of the game at the time maybe they had become a little too complacent.  Over all, my thoughts are that I’m impressed by the system but when you’re going to push that hard for revenues you’d better be in touch with your employees and their impressions.


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