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CEO of Whole Foods
Hayley Aanestad
MGT 202

What interpersonal skills do

managers need?

listening skills
Feedback skills
Empowerment skills
Conflict management skills
Negotiation skills

Active Listening

At a 2003 shareholders meeting, animal-welfare activist

lambasted Mackey for selling meat and duck that were
raised in cruel conditions.

Instead of brushing her off, Mackey offered her his email to

talk about the issue.

He decided that she was right.

He rewrote the Whole Foods policies on farm animal


(McGinn, 2005)


Mackeys management style often creates controversy, which stimulates both

positive and negative feedback from the company and the outside public.

Mackey has stated his opinions on many controversial topics, such as the
health-care reform and labor unions.

He once compared unions to herpes, saying "once you have them, you can
never get rid of them.

Mackey not only attacked the Democratic health-care reform plan but the
very idea that basic medical care (or even food) is something everyone is
entitled to.

(Muhammad, 2009)


Mackey delegates authority to his employees by allowing

them to carry out specific activities.

Whole Foods entrusts workers at all levels with sensitive

financial data with the idea that happy, empowered
employees beget happy customers (Fox, 2008).

"The whole concept of working at Whole Foods is about

empowerment," says Amy Moore, the company's benefits
manager (Smerd, 2006).

Employees regularly vote on company policy, from how to

display produce to whether to hire someone in a store
(Smerd, 2006).

Conflict Management

In 2007, The Bush Administration fought Whole Foods'

purchase of competitor, Wild Oats, contending that the
merged company would unfairly corner the "premium
natural and organic supermarket" sector (Paumgarten,

However, in 2009, Mackey successfully bought out Wild

Oats (Ling, 2010).

In defense of his position, Mackey claimed that

'competition with Whole Foods has never been greater
than it is right now, and Wild Oats is only a relatively small
part of that greater competition ("The 'big' question," 2007)


In January 2003, Whole Foods became one of the first large

employers to switch exclusively to a high-deductible health

Employees take part in a biometric screening, which

determines what health insurance discounts level they

The new plan represented the best way to force

employees to be mindful, cost-conscious health care

(Smerd, 2006)


Fox, J. (2008). Employees first!. Time, 172(1), 45-45.

Ling, R. (2010). Unscrambling the organic eggs.
Brooklyn Law Review, 75(3), 935-973.
McGinn, D. (2005). The green machine.
Newsweek, 145(12), E8-E12.
Muhammad, S. (2009). Outrage in isle 7. Canadian
Business, 82(16), 63-64.
Paumgarten, N. (2010). Food fighter. New Yorker,
85(43), 36-47.
Smerd, J. (2006). Time is the best medicine.
Workforce Management, 85(10), 01-34.
(2007). The 'big' question. Ecologist, 37(7), 10-10.