MillerKnoll CEO Andi Owen has told employees of the US furniture company to be focused on profits and not their lack of bonuses at a company-wide meeting about motivation.
Speaking at a company-wide discussion in March that has recently gone viral, Owen appeared to dismiss employee concerns about motivation and potential lack of bonuses.
"You can visit pity city, but you can't live there"
In response to employees asking how to stay motivated if they are not going to get a bonus, she said: "Don't ask about 'what we are going if we don't get a bonus', get the damn $26 million".
"Spend your time and your effort thinking about the $26 million we need, and not thinking what you are going to do if you don't get a bonus," she continued. "Alright. Can I get some commitment for that?"
She then told employees at MillerKnoll, which was formed after Herman Miller acquired rival furniture brand Knoll in 2021, to "leave pity city" and "get it done" before ending by mouthing the word "boom".
"I had an old boss that said to me one time: 'You can visit pity city, but you can't live there'," she recalled. "So people leave pity city. Let's get it done. Thank you. Have a great day. Boom."
Clip taken out of context
However, according to MillerKnoll, the clip was taken out of context as it only showed the final 90 seconds of a 75-minute discussion, which a spokesperson for the company told online publication Motherboard was largely positive.
"Andi fiercely believes in this team and all we can accomplish together, and will not be dissuaded by a 90-second clip taken out of context and posted on social media," MillerKnoll spokesperson Kris Marubio told Motherboard.
MillerKnoll's fiscal year ends in May and final bonus decisions have not yet been announced for employees or for Owen.
Owen has headed up MillerKnoll, which owns 19 brands including Hay, Maharam, Muuto and Design Within Reach, as president and CEO since 2018. She joined after working for The Gap for 25 years where she was global president of the retailer Banana Republic.
MillerKnoll was unable to clarify the significance of the $26 million figure. The company, which is celebrating 100 years of the Herman Miller brand name at Milan design week, has been coping with the impact of Covid-19 on the office chair market.
The main image shows the Wireframe sofa designed by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin and Rudder Table designed by Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller. Photo courtesy of Herman Miller.