Nordstrom's Old Employee Handbook Had Only 75 Words

For many years, Nordstrom’s employee handbook consisted of a single 5″×8″ card that had only 75 words on it:

Welcome to Nordstrom

We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.

I love it. Stunningly beautiful in its simplicity and efficacy.

Think of how this flies in the face of the laminated binder, micro-managed flowchart management style that’s so popular these days. Instead of sniveling drones more worried about protecting their ass than serving the customers’ and the business’s best interest, and worried that any question will be seen as a sign of weakness or insubordination or will lose them “points,” you encourage the development of self-confident, self-empowered employees with the flexibility to pull out the best solution adapted for the situation. “We trust that you can make good decisions, so make good ones. And if you have a question, ask it.” Of course, with this approach managers have to be willing to answer those questions.

And, perhaps in a sign of the times, Nordstrom’s supposedly now also hands out a much more detailed handbook with specific regulations and legal strictures.

The Nordstrom Way [Google Books]
[via 37 Signals]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.