Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
How do you express anger?
Do you grunt through gritted teeth? Do you foam at the mouth? Do you shout and scream?
OR DO YOU WRITE MEMOS WITH EVERY WORD IN CAPITAL LETTERS TO SHOW HOW MAD YOU ARE!!!?
I only ask because this last option may be the preferred one for Restoration Hardware CEO Gary Friedman.
His staff, he felt, were letting the company down. Order-cancellations were suddenly 17 percent, having previously been at 5.
Friedman wrote to his employees in January and, as reported by Bloomberg, made the analogy of a burning building.
"We were sitting there discussing how the building caught on fire, why the building caught on fire, how long we expected the building to continue burning," he wrote, still calm.
But then his Californian serenity went up in smoke.
He continued: "NO ONE WAS FOCUSED ON THE PEOPLE IN THE BUILDING WHO WERE ON FIRE. THEIR CLOTHES BURNING, AND MANY OF THEM DYING. WE HAVE LET CUSTOMERS DIE."
I'm not sure I'd die if I didn't receive a sofa from Restoration Hardware.
Friedman, though, was clearly dying to ululate.
Here's another excerpt from this mad ole' missive: "We need a MASSIVE CHANGE IN OUR CULTURE AND ATTITUDE RIGHT NOW. THE GOAL IS DELIGHT."
I regret this reminds me slightly of a relationship in which one's lover screams "LOVE ME NOW!" or "MAKE ME HAPPY!"
Is it possible that ranting can lead to delight? They say this was sometimes the preferred method of Steve Jobs.
But at least, you'll be musing, he didn't threaten anyone.
There was this: "ANY LEADER OR TEAM MEMBER WHO STIFLES THIS EFFORT SHOULD BE REMOVED. IF YOU CAN'T CHANGE THE PEOPLE, CHANGE THE PEOPLE. THIS IS NOT HARD."
I'm not sure about that. It would be hard on my laptop's caps to be locked for this long.
Moreover, it's one thing to say you'll change the people, but what if you can't attract better people? What if people hear (whether it's true or not) that Restoration Hardware is a nasty place to work?
Friedman told Bloomberg that he was proud of his locked caps.
He explained: "It's empowering people in the organization. We have a leadership culture, not a followship culture."
I wonder, though, how his staff responded inside what was left of their hearts.
Restoration Hardware is based in Corte Madera, California. This is a place that is as sleepy and prissy as it's wealthy. (Disclosure: I live a few miles down the road.)
But Friedman insists that sometimes you have to be direct. It's the only way people will listen.
"This is an example of me as a leader saying, 'I'm ringing the bell,'' he told Bloomberg. "I want to make sure I'm not communicating through 15 layers of management."
One way to do that is not to have 15 layers of management, I suppose. But I imagine that everyone heard his message very clearly.
Should you be concerned that management by angry megaphone might not be the best tactic, please consider some recent research.
Apparently, bosses get angry because they're so darned ethical.
This should be restorative succor, therefore, for Restoration Hardware's employees.
Yes, their boss gets mad, but he's likely a highly ethical character.
And ethics are in such short supply these days. Somehow, like sofas, they never seem to be delivered on time.