I’ve posted before about Best Buy’s enlightened attention to employee engagement and learning. However, a recent event demonstrates how fragile this distinction for any company can be, especially store by store. I don’t know all the facts and it’s possible the press accounts are misleading, but going by the news stories it appears that the Broomfield, Colorado Best Buy failed to live up to the corporate image. Two employees that attempted to stop a thief as he ran out the front door and pulled a knife were fired for their heroism. You see, store policy forbids employees from pursuing a suspected shoplifter after that person exits the store.
Giving the two twenty-somethings a reprimand or maybe having an all-employee meeting to once again explain and discuss the policy - yes. But termination just doesn’t seem right. This will set back everything the company has done to create a committed, enthusiastic, going-beyond-the-call-of-duty workforce. In effect, the manager of the Broomfield store has said to employees, “Just do your job; don’t think for yourself; don’t take any risks; and, by all means, don’t care about this store and its customers. Furthermore, be careful not to do anything wrong because we will not help you learn from your mistakes.” I don’t think this is the message Best Buy wants to send to its employees.