News continues to circulate about companies and individuals stepping up amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many leading this charge are MSU alumni who are acting in the “Spartans Will” spirit by standing together and being resourceful to overcome this challenge.
Craig Menear (B.A. Personnel Administration ’79), CEO of Home Depot, has taken a multipronged approach to put safety first for his employees and customers.
“Our culture is the foundation to how we run our business,” Menear said. “It is represented by two elements: first, our values, which are the guideline that we use to make decisions within the company. Second is our leadership construct, which is represented by an inverted pyramid with the customers and front-line associates at the top, being the most important.”
Menear explained that Home Depot is committed to “being there” for the communities it serves. “We supply essential products required to repair issues in homes and businesses,” he said. “Additionally, we know we are headed toward severe weather season in many parts of the country — tornadoes, floods, hurricanes — if the crisis carries on longer-term.”
To ensure the safety of both employees and customers, Menear has led a number of operational changes, including shortened store hours, store crowd limiting, sneeze guard installation at high interaction points, check-out social distancing guidelines and curbside pickup options.
“We maintain close contact with the CDC and other organizations to determine our course of actions,” Menear said. “What we do continues to evolve daily.”
In addition, Menear has increased employee paid time off benefits, especially for high-risk associates, and is working to protect front-line hourly associate income. “We expanded upon an agile method of working,” Menear said. “This is often thought of as a technology methodology, but in fact this is a management approach.”
As part of this agile method, Menear has implemented twice-daily field calls for real-time feedback on issues, voluntarily frozen prices on all products determined to be high-demand items in the COVID-19 pandemic and halted sales of critical products — such as medical-grade masks — to instead secure and donate all of those products to first responders.
“This crisis required immediate operating rhythm changes to adjust in an agile way to the rapid decision requirements,” Menear said. Work is ongoing for Menear and Home Depot’s leadership team to review key decisions, anticipate further roadblocks and understand priorities that need cross-functional support.
As many of us are in the same position, overcoming new and evolving challenges, Menear shared a few words of advice to help fellow Spartans. “As leaders, there is no more important time to absorb anxiety versus creating anxiety,” he said. “Know what your ‘North Star’ is and let that guide your decisions … You’ll have to use your instincts.”
Menear is one of the many Broad Spartan alumni who are standing together to make a difference in this critical time, serving as an inspiration for Spartans to reach higher and persevere together.