From today’s New York Times:
Garry Ridge, who runs the chemical company WD-40, has a leadership style guided by two sources — Aristotle, and the BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink.
“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work,” Mr. Ridge said first, quoting the Greek philosopher.
Then he picked up a recent BlackRock memo. “Companies who forged strong bonds with their employees have seen lower levels of turnover and higher returns throughout the pandemic,” Mr. Ridge read aloud.
This he punctuated with his own commentary: “Well, duh!”
WD-40, which comes in a bright blue-and-yellow canister familiar to many homes with squeaky doors, is a cleaning product with a secret formula that can loosen a rusty bolt, scrub crayon off the wall, get bug splats off a car and remove rust from a bike chain. Mr. Ridge likes to remind the nearly 600 employees across his 17 offices about the usefulness of their work.
But he also believes that some are buoyed by the company’s unorthodox culture. WD-40 has no managers, only coaches. Workers can receive “Mother Teresa” awards for giving their “time, talents and treasures” to the community. They might remind their colleagues during meetings to create “positive lasting memories” together.
Long before the pandemic, many were skeptical of companies that advertised themselves as being in the business of keeping workers feeling happy. There were the tech companies whose college campus-style offices had ball pits and slides. There were the offices with lunch buffets and frozen rosé. There was the growing number of employers assessing staff happiness with surveys, often contracting consultants to cook up workplace fun.
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