HR CEO says: “I don’t yell at people, I yell at the problem”

RH CEO Gary Friedman has long been known for his blistering rhetoric in the luxury furniture retailer’s quarterly earnings reports and, more recently, for his harsh warnings about the economy and the housing market.

but one weekend New York Times His profile highlighted some of his management habits, including his aversion to meetings and his preference for “affairs” with groups of executives that look like meetings but can last 10 hours or more.

He acknowledged that his vision for HR scares Wall Street, while refusing to curb his expansionary ambitions, which go far beyond the typical earnings and revenue forecasts that analysts are accustomed to dealing with.

“But our vision is to create an endless reflection of hope, inspiration and love that ignites the human spirit and changes the world,” Friedman, who became CEO in 2001, said at Times.

RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, was a favorite on Wall Street when stocks soared during the early stages of the pandemic, when remote work and rock-bottom mortgage rates sparked a housing and renovation boom that fueled furniture sales.

Even before the pandemic, RH caught the attention of Warren Buffett, whose conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway began buying shares in 2019.

But then the Federal Reserve began raising rates in 2022, raising borrowing costs and deeply freezing the housing market. RH stock plummeted, falling more than 70% from its early 2021 high to its 2022 low, and then Berkshire sold its entire stake in 2023.

Still, Friedman remains ambitious, opening more RH retail “galleries” while expanding into branded hotels and furnished homes that the company would sell and manage.

As you move forward with your big plans, your team is expected to be fully committed to the company culture.

Annual HR leadership meetings once included a ceremony that required executives to promise to “continually destroy my own reality to create the future of tomorrow” and explain how they could have failed, according to the Times. It was later replaced by the “Daily Values ​​Adventure,” which asks participants to “share a time when your ego got in the way of finding a better way.”

Friedman dismissed low HR ratings from employees on sites like Comparably, saying many have worked at the company for years and even some who left eventually returned. But he also admitted that he has a tendency to lash out at subordinates who don’t achieve their goals.

“Generally, I don’t yell at people, I yell at the problem,” he told Times. “If you get in front of the problem and defend it, you may feel attacked.”

In fact, Friedman’s management style has earned him the nickname “The Sun” by some executives: he offers warmth on good days and burning heat on bad ones, the Times saying.

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