Stanford Graduate School of Business: The Men’s Wearhouse-Success in a declining Industry

This is an interesting case about the management in the Men’s Wearhouse. George Zimmer, the founder and chairman, is the backbone of the company. Men’s Wearhouse was successfully expanding in the men’s tailored business clothing industry while many of the similar organizations were in consolidation or under financial distress. George Zimmer strongly believed in the idea of tapping the untapped human potential as the key to the success for any business. But it is difficult to quantify that potential for many businesses. Zimmer says that he cannot measure the value of human potential. He has a blind faith and trust in the value of human potential. In Men’s Wearhouse, reaching the human potential does not mean selling more cloths, but becoming a better spouse or significant other, becoming a better parent, becoming a better friend, becoming a better person.

Zimmer believe in the concept of servant leadership. Servant leadership forces a change of perspective from the traditional boss/employee relationship to service provider/customer relationship. In simple terms the people who are managed by a manager are the customers for that manager. Men’s Wearhouse specifies three key principles of servant leadership: to maximize the individual’s self-esteem, to listen carefully and to demonstrate understanding and the third one is to ask help in solving the problems. Mentorship and personal touch have been emphasized in men’s Wearhouse. Charlie Bresler says that until recently he knew every store manager and most assistant managers in the country. The management team travels around the country and visit each store. Similarly regional and district managers are also required to visit the store that fall within their territory.

Employee loyalty is encouraged in many ways. Employees are compensated above the industry norm. Promotions were totally from within the company except a few management positions. There are people who grew up with the company from a bottom level. The management team communicates with the employees through many channels. They publish a monthly newsletter. They prepare videos and sent those to the stores. The company had a number of formal meetings throughout the year in which training and development occurs. Most of the training and mentoring are led by Zimmer and Bresler.

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