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Touchstones of Walmart Culture

Walmart Basic Beliefs

Service to Our Customers
  • Serve customers by making them our first priority.
  • Support our associates so they can best serve our customers.
  • Give to the local community in ways that connect to our customers.
Respect for the Individual
  • Value and recognize the contributions of every associate.
  • Own what you do with a sense of urgency and empower each other to do the same.
  • Communicate by listening to all associates and sharing ideas and information.
Strive for Excellence
  • Innovate by trying new ways of doing things and improving every day.
  • Model a positive example as we pursue high expectations.
  • Work as a team by helping each other and asking for help.
Act with Integrity
  • Be honest by telling the truth and keeping your word.
  • Be fair and open when dealing with associates, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
  • Be objective by making decisions based solely on Walmart’s interests, while operating in compliance with all laws and our policies.

Servant Leadership

Sam Walton believed that effective leaders do not lead from behind their desks. “It’s more important than ever that we develop leaders who are servants, who listen to their partners—their associates—in a way that creates wonderful morale to help the whole team accomplish an overall goal,” Sam said.

The September 2000 issue of Walmart World, then under the name Wal-Mart Today, celebrated Don Soderquist's career.

Handwritten correspondence between Sam Walton and a customer regarding improvements in the Walmart sporting goods department.

Envelope for correspondence between Sam Walton and a customer regarding improvements in the Walmart sporting goods department.

Correspondence between Sam Walton and a customer regarding improvements in the Walmart sporting goods department.

An article in Walmart World defines Sam's views on satisfying customers. "There is only one boss," he used to say. "It's the customer!"

Walmart's culture is a cornerstone of its success. It's about people and building on the strengths they offer.

The 10-foot Rule

The 10-foot Rule is one of Walmart’s secrets to customer service. During his many store visits, Sam Walton encouraged associates to take this pledge: “I solemnly promise and declare that every customer that comes within 10 feet of me, I will smile, look them in the eye, greet them, and ask if I can help them.”

Whether a button or a pin worn on a lanyard or a vest, either form of expression has always been a big part of Walmart’s culture.

At Wal-Mart, one man or one woman can affect the future. I worry about keeping our culture, keeping the things we believe in. Our future lies in our associates. If we can instill in them the feeling that they’re out there to serve, we can keep the company right-side-up.
Sam Walton

Open Door

The Open Door is a cornerstone of Walmart culture, dating back to Sam Walton listening to associates’ concerns, as well as their best and brightest ideas. Walmart is committed to creating an environment of listening and open communication. The Open Door Communications Policy offers each associate an opportunity to bring suggestions, observations, or concerns to the attention of any supervisor or member of management to get help with an issue or make things better for the company.

Pictured are Sam Walton and Don Soderquist, who was known as “Keeper of the Culture.” Soderquist was a confidant of Sam’s who led the charge on keeping Walmart’s culture strong in its early days, and he remains a beacon of the Walmart culture to this day.

 
 
 
 

Sam leads his associates in a rousing Walmart cheer in 1987.

 
 
 
 

Jim Walton does the Walmart cheer, carrying on a family tradition, 1997.

 
 
 
 

John Walton does the Walmart cheer, carrying on a family tradition, 1997.

 
 
 
 
   

The Walmart Cheer

In 1975, Sam Walton visited a Korean tennis ball factory where workers began their day with a company cheer. He liked the idea so much that he couldn’t wait to get back home and try it at Walmart. Today, associates around the world proudly and enthusiastically deliver the Walmart cheer in many different languages.

Sam watches a group of associates proclaim, "It's my Walmart!" during the Walmart cheer at a shareholders’ meeting, 1988.

Walmart always looked to associates nationwide for ideas. An article in Walmart World explained why this grassroots approach was so important.

Grassroots Process

“Listen to your associates,” Sam Walton said. Today, Walmart’s grassroots process lets associates voice their ideas and concerns about the company. The associate opinion survey is an important part of this process, giving Walmart valuable insights into leadership effectiveness and associate engagement.

The Sundown Rule

Times have changed since the original Sundown Rule, but the principle remains the same. If someone needs our attention, we’ll respond to them that day. It doesn’t matter who it is—customer, coworker, partner—we respond with an urgency that says, “We care.”

It’s how we keep our business moving at the speed of retail. It’s how we remind ourselves that every request gets same-day service, even if it’s just an email or phone call letting the person know we’re going to take care of them.

Cell phones, tablets, and other portable devices mean we don’t have to stop when the sun goes down for the day, but we still have to be timely. Because the customer, whether internal or external, is number 1.

Poster for the original Sundown Rule. The ability to communicate used to stop at the end of the work day.

Our best ideas usually do come from the folks in the stores.
Sam Walton