Training and Development Training and development isn’t a one-time event at Walmart and Sam’s Club. It’s an integral and ongoing part of an associate’s life. Each associate begins with an in-depth personal orientation. This is how we introduce you to our history and culture and paint a picture of the roles and responsibilities you’ll take on when you join the operations of the world’s largest retailer. After orientation, each division has its own specific and detailed Training and Development programs that give you the knowledge and tools to succeed in our company, chart your own career path and accomplish your most ambitious goals.
These are just some of the ways we’re Making Better Possible with opportunities that matter to you most. MANAGER TRAINING We offer many training opportunities to help managers sharpen their leadership skills, advance through the company and keep their teams’ morale and passion for fulfilling our mission running strong. Here are just a few opportunities: * Assistant Management Training (AMT) is a management-training program open to all salaried Walmart Stores U. S. field associates. You must apply and be selected to take advantage of this program. The Walton Institute provides an educational environment for Walmart leaders from around the world to stretch themselves and explore our unique company culture and how to foster that culture. * The 12-week Manager in Training (MIT) program at Sam’s Club is designed to expose trainees to the various operations within, allowing them to rotate through the company. Upon completion, trainees may apply for an Assistant Manager position. “THE WAL-MART WAY”… Cultural Kool-Aid Creates Cult-Like Commitment| | Michael Bergdahl| |
I remember when I joined Wal-Mart I went through a full week of cultural indoctrination. It was full immersion cultural training for seven straight days to teach me “The Wal-Mart Way” of doing things! Sam Walton created a unique culture at Wal-Mart, and by investing in cultural indoctrination of all of his managers he turned Wal-Mart’s Culture into a powerful sustainable competitive advantage. The ideas and concepts behind “The Wal-Mart Way” of doing things are easy for competitors to understand but brutally difficult for others to copy and successfully replicate in their businesses.
Some say the Wal-Mart Culture is “cult-like” and they say that because everyone who works there is required to do things “The Wal-Mart Way”, or they are encouraged to leave. Sam Walton demanded that everyone buy into Wal-Mart’s unique culture, as do today’s leaders. The employees and the managers are expected to drink Wal-Mart’s distinct “Cultural Kool-Aid” and embrace the culture . . . or leave! I believe it is the company’s culture that has been the driving force behind Wal-Mart’s phenomenal growth from a single store 48 years ago to more than 8300 stores today. So how was this accomplished?
Wal-Mart built Its unique culture by communicating a clear set of cultural standards and company values. This is not a perfect science but here are just some of the reasons that capture many of Wal-Mart’s Cultural Standards ;amp; Values that form the foundation of “The Wal-Mart Way” and create the cult-like commitment of its managers and employees: EMPLOYEES ARE BUSINESS PARTNERS – Many years ago Wal-Mart’s founder, Sam Walton, figured out the value of creating a true employee partnership. He knew that under the right circumstances every employee has the capacity to be a business leader.
For this reason he pushed decision-making downward by empowering all of his employees to act like business owners. Sam Walton referred to his “employees” as “associates” so they would act like entrepreneurs, and take ownership of the business. To really capture that feeling that owners feel, Wal-Mart offers profit-sharing to all of Its employee associate partners. At Wal-Mart profit-sharing is not a something for nothing proposition. Only when predetermined sales, expense, and profit goals are met do the associates share in the company’s profits. MANAGERS ARE BOTH “COACHES AND SERVANT LEADERS” –
Sam Walton set the example on how people were to be treated by following “The Golden Rule”. He never asked anyone to do anything he had not already proven that he was willing to do himself. In their role as coaches, company managers are expected to lead by their own example especially in their interactions with customers. Emphasis is placed on store managers getting to know a little bit about each associate who works in their store, on a personal level, and of course getting to know each of the associate’s names. As servant leaders the company’s managers are really there to serve those they lead!
By showing they really care, trust is created which leads to teamwork, and the ultimate goal, team synergy. WAL-MART EMBRACES THREE CORE LEADERSHIP VALUES – In the beginning Sam Walton created three core leadership values which are the foundation of “The Wal-Mart Way”. The three values are: Respect for the Individual, Strive for Excellence, and Serve Your Customers. Today’s executives still embrace and communicate these three values in the stores and distribution centers around the world. When faced with a difficult problem the company’s executives still ponder, “What Would Sam Do”?
BIAS FOR ACTION AND RESULTS – I learned an acronym at Wal-Mart that I will never forget called “H. E. A. T. K. T. E. ” The company’s managers use this acronym to remind all of the 2. 3 million employees that High Expectations Are The Key To Everything and they mean it! Superior execution up and down Wal-Mart’s revered supply chain is another way cost savings are generated dropping billions of dollars to the bottomline. Wal-Mart’s executives believe in continuous improvement, continuous learning, and they expect all of management’s efforts to yield results.
When an employee has two tasks to perform, and asks the question “which one should I do? ” . . . their manager will respond . . . BOTH! “PEOPLE DIVISION” NOT “HUMAN RESOURCES” – Sam Walton once told me that he believed Human Resources was the job of every single manager in the company. He lamented that he wished he did not need an HR department that specialized in insuring people were being treated properly by the company’s own managers. Sam Walton understood the reality of manager and employee interaction, and the problems associated with human relations so he created a department to address people issues.
Sam hated the clinical feel of the name “human resources” so he decided to call his HR department, “The People Division”. NO SACRED COWS, EVERYTHING CAN BE IMPROVED – Wal-Mart has a saying, “Its our people who make the difference” and they mean it! Many companies leverage their employees only for their hands and backs to accomplish labor, Wal-Mart on the other hand wants to also leverage their employee’s hearts and minds! Sam Walton even created an idea generation program with financial rewards to openly solicit employee ideas that could save the company money!
There is a belief at Wal-Mart that the best solutions to problems come from the employees closest to the work, and the employees are encouraged and expected to challenge the way things are currently done and to come up with method improvement ideas. Many of the hourly paid employees’ ideas have been implemented over the years and those ideas have transformed Wal-Mart’s operations, and helped to catapult the company to the top of the Fotune 500. STEAL IDEAS SHAMELESSLEY – Sam Walton believed that most of the solutions to Wal-Mart’s problems could be found by studying the practices of his competitors.
He believed there were no extra points for original thinking. He told company leaders to seek simple ideas by visiting his retail competitor’s stores and studying their best practices. Sam Walton led by his own example by visiting his stores and his competitor’s stores every week of the year in search of better ways of doing things. He believed that by “stealing ideas shamelessly” he could find fast inexpensive solutions to his own problems that had been bought and paid for by his competitors. Most importantly those solutions already had a proven track record of success in the marketplace! COMMUNICATE / COMMUNICATE / COMMUNICATE –
Imagine for just a moment the potential consequences of sharing your company’s confidential P&L Statement with your employees . . . each and every month! Well that’s exactly what Wal-Mart does in every one of its 8300 stores around the world. Sam Walton started the practice long ago because he realized his employees could not help him drive profitability in his stores if they didn’t understand the real-time numbers. He wanted employees to share his passion for the bottom line, and at the same time he wanted to make it clear to everyone that the only guarantee of future paychecks was for everyone to help run a profitable store!
So through a combination of bulletin board postings, and as part of management’s daily stand-up meetings, each store management team shares the P&L with all of that store’s associates. When asked if he was concerned about the financial data getting into the hands of his competitors Sam Walton said, “The upside of sharing information with employees far outweighs the potential downside of competitors gaining confidential insights into an individual store’s sales and profitability. ” He went on to say, “What is a competitor going to do to harm Wal-Mart even if they gained that knowledge? ” AVERAGE PEOPLE / ABOVE AVERAGE RESULTS –
Sam Walton used to say, “If you’ll take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your customers, and your business will take care of itself”. He believed Wal-Mart’s Associates were one of Wal-Mart’s most important sustainable competitive advantages. The cultural “people” mantra at Wal-Mart is to try to “hire the best, provide the best training, and be the best place to work”. Interestingly, Wal-Mart’s employees and their managers for that matter are in actuality a collection of average people! Also interestingly, Wal-Mart’s leaders gain above average results from their army of average folks!
Knowing and understanding the Wal-Mart Way of doing things is so important and so valued that 75% of management positions at Wal-Mart are filled via the promotion from within from Wal-Mart’s existing crop of average people! EMPLOYEES CONTROL COMPANY EXPENSES LIKE THEIR PERSONAL EXPENSES – Wal-Mart’s leaders are downright fanatical about managing expenses. I believe Wal-Mart’s ongoing profitability is more a result of tightfisted expense management then it is a result of sales growth! Wal-Mart’s employees are expected to manage company expenditures in the same penny pinching manner as they would in managing their personal expenses at home.
By sharing the P&L Wal-Mart employees understand the important link between company profitability and the potential for receiving profit-sharing! This fact turns Wal-Mart’s Associates into an army of expense busters who are tough managers of supplies they use to conduct business, and even tougher negotiators of everything they purchase from suppliers. Wal-Mart’s employees recycle and reuse envelopes, paper clips and rubber bands. Picture 2. 3 million employees using the back side of every sheet of paper in order to reduce paper costs! Cost control fanaticism is a way of life at Wal-Mart!
DROP EVERYTHING TO SERVE YOUR CUSTOMERS – Wal-Mart has the same standard for internal and external customer service, which is to drop everything Its employees are doing to serve their customers. Internally this means that if a fellow employee of Wal-Mart, who is an internal customer, asks for help, Wal-Mart employees are trained to stop what they are doing to help their teammates! The standard for providing outstanding service internally between departments is the same standard they use in providing service to their external customers in their stores!
In my experience this “all for one and one for all” service mentality is quite unique especially for a company the size of Wal-Mart! SIMPLIFY EVERYTHING YOU DO – Sam Walton believed if you couldn’t explain a strategy on one side of a single sheet of paper that it was too complicated to execute and implement in his stores. He made his leadership seek out those simple solutions that he knew were out there to solve most problems. When an employee came up with a good way to solve a problem at one store he would take that same idea and implement that simple solution across all of his stores.
Each store manager at Wal-Mart is an entrepreneur who operates their store as if they own it. They don’t think about being part of the world’s largest company but rather focus on being the store of that community. Managers are taught to simpify by worrying about one store at a time, one department at a time, and one customer at a time! EMBRACE CHANGE, TAKE RISKS, AND INNOVATE – You may not know it but Wal-Mart is a company that expects its leaders to innovate, embrace change, and take risks.
Every week of the year Wal-Mart’s leadership team gets together in Bentonville for a daylong meeting to discuss new ideas and strategies, ways they can adapt and change, and low and high risk, high reward competitive strategies. Change is a way of life at Wal-Mart. Sam Walton was the kind of leader who was constantly noodling better ways of doing everything! He was an innovator, a master of change, and he had a high tolerance for taking managed risks, and interestingly he expected everyone else at Wal-Mart to share these same attributes!
Sam Walton admitted that when he embraced a change, took risks, and tried to innovate in the early days of Wal-Mart he, himself failed nine out of 10 times! He said that it was that one time out of ten when he succeeded that made all of those other nine failures worthwhile! FORM TRUE PARTNERSHIPS WITH YOUR SUPPLIERS – Sam Walton was among the first large companies in the world to form true trust-based vendor partnerships. Out of necessity Wal-Mart’s Managers needed help replenishing the more than 100,000 different products being sold every day of the year.
The solution was to share all of the sales data for every store in Wal-Mart’s system with the suppliers of those products. By doing so this allowed suppliers to automatically replenish the products sold more quickly and efficiently then could otherwise be done by Wal-Mart’s own store teams. These trust-based partnerships transformed the retailer/supplier relationship between Wal-Mart and Its vendor community creating yet another competitive advantage. DEVELOP YOUR CUSTOMER RELATED POLICIES BASED ON THE ASSUMPTION OF HONESTY – Sam Walton believed that 99. % of his customers were honest and he designed all of his customer related policies with that in mind. He realized that from time to time there would be a dishonest customer trying to return an item that was worn out or that had even been shoplifted from his own store! He would replace a worn out item or return the purchase price with or without a receipt . . . no questions asked. He stood behind his products with a 100% money back guarantee with no exceptions. He taught his employees to ask an unhappy customer “what would you like us to do? ” and his employees were then empowered to take care of the customer.
He made a commitment early on to treat people the way that he would wish to be treated. THE CUSTOMER IS THE BOSS – Sam Walton used to preach that company managers and employees should never forget that the customer can fire everyone in the organization from the chairman on down by simply deciding to spend their hard earned money elsewhere! Sam was so concerned with reinforcing the fact that “the customer is the boss” that he designed a company cheer to focus everyone, every day, on service. So each day in stores around the world local managers lead the employees in a morale building Wal-Mart Cheer.
At the end of the cheer the manager implores, “Who is number one? ” To which the employees respond, “The Customer! ” Sam Walton’s utimate goal was for Wal-Mart to be known for providing not just good service but rather, legendary service! WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM THE WAL-MART WAY? – Is your company doing everything it can to create your own “Cultural Kool-Aid”? What are you doing to orient or indoctrinate your employees to your unique culture? Imagine what could happen if your entire team had a cult-like commitment to your business and to your customers! | How Walmart Trains Managers y Adrian Campbell Montgomery | Wed, 08/31/2011 – 2:07pm * Adrian Campbell Montgomery’s blog * Login or register to post comments * Print this * Send to friend * Share this story * RSS * Make text larger orsmaller The brave Walmart workers who belong to OUR Walmart say fear is the main thing stopping their fellow retail workers from organizing. As an assistant store manager at Walmart, I saw how managers were trained to put that fear into hourly workers’ heads. When I was hired four years ago, new assistant managers had to complete eight weeks of training.
We got a $500 prepaid credit card for meals and were thrown into a hotel, with weekends off to go home. I thought we would get a crash course in Walmart history and then get into learning the computer systems, the policies, how to schedule people. I was far off track. I was now in an eight-week indoctrination into how Walmart is the unsurpassed company to work for, and how to spot any employee who was having doubts. I was supposed to be happy at all times. The training was done at “Stores of Learning. ” The assistant managers were new hires to Walmart, like me, or about one-third had been promoted from within.
Training activities included the Walmart cheer. Every morning, as store associates do, we would participate in the cheer. A few people stood up to read the daily numbers, then break out into a chant—“Give me a W-A-L-M-A-R-T,” with the rest of the people in the room shouting back the same letter. Back then, Wal-Mart still had a hyphen, so between the L and the M they would yell, “Give me a squiggly! ” and everyone would do a butt wiggle. Whenever it was my turn to lead, let’s just say I was less than thrilled, an early warning system for upper management on who was not Walmart material.
You, Too, Can Rise Most days we watched videos of the CEO telling us what a good choice we’d made to come to Walmart. Other videos showed folks who are now top management in Bentonville, Arkansas, but started out as a cashier when they were young. We were all given Sam Walton’s book to read: Sam Walton: Made in America. We were allotted 15 to 30 minutes a day for silent reading, or instead you could help out in the store. I was one of the few that chose to fetch carts in the parking lot or help throw freight around in the back.
Since the Store of Learning was also going to be the store I would work at, I wanted to take the opportunity to get to know the workers and other managers. I wanted to see if anybody could tell me what an assistant manager’s role was, considering there wasn’t much of that going on in the classroom. We had a week-long schedule of anti-union sessions. They didn’t call them that, but essentially it was how to spot uprising employees. We had an entire day devoted to word phrasing, looking at how employees use words and what key words to look for. A computer test consisted of a “what’s rong with this picture? ” game. You were shown the area near a time clock, and different handmade and computer-made signs. One sign said “Baby shower committee meeting Jan. 26, 8 pm. ” Another said “Potluck Wednesday all day in break room. ” Which one of those signs should raise alarms with management? “Baby shower committee. ” Because of the word “committee,” a manager would have to find the person who made the sign, find out why they used that word, then determine if the action got a warning or a write-up. If it was the store manager who found the sign, a write-up was almost guaranteed.
They called it unlawful Walmart language, unbecoming a Walmart employee—words like “committee,” “organize,” “meeting. ” Even “volunteer” was an iffy word, and they would raise an eyebrow at “group. ” The anti-union training was the biggest part of our reading and training material. We watched videos about why unions are bad and how proud Walmart was for not allowing unions into its system. I let all that go in one ear and out the other. I felt that if I gave those videos even five minute’s worth of attention, I was betraying my union parents.
We did get a day and a half of loss-prevention training; how to spot shoplifters, what happens if you catch an employee stealing, and routine loss-prevention. They brought in a loss-prevention district manager whose 30-minute talk was to put the fear of Sam Walton in us. He told the class that if he found out we let anything fall through the cracks, he would show up at the store with a pink slip in hand. Nothing from that eight weeks of brainwashing was geared to help you do your job as an assistant manager.
Essentially it was more of a police academy, training the managers to be police officers for Walmart. We were being trained to put fear into the hourly workers’ heads. Step out of line, and you lose your job. After graduating (they held a makeshift ceremony), I had no clue what exactly my job was. I had to learn from the other assistant managers in my store how to operate the scanner, how to schedule my departments, and the other operational items that weren’t covered in the training. The only thing I learned was how to fake being happy around customers and my subordinates.
Segregation The trainers told us that assistant managers are only allowed to hang out or go to break or lunch with other assistant managers, not with hourly associates, not with co-managers, not the store manager. Once I was on the job, half the time I went to a diner with another assistant manager. If I stayed in for lunch, I would turn my walkie-talkie off, sit in the break room with the associates, and talk with them. That was frowned upon. One day of training was about attire. There were separate rules for dress policy according to job title.
Assistant managers and higher have to wear a collared blue shirt. No collar, no job. Hourly people get a little more free play and are not required to wear a collar shirt. Management has to wear khakis; hourly can wear jeans. I heard one trainer say, “Well, the hourly folks probably can’t afford khakis, even with their discount. ” How anti-union is Walmart? I wore a UAW jacket that my mom had bought for me. When I wore it into the store, the store manager broke into my locker and took it. He said it would encourage others, and I was written up for conduct unbecoming a Walmart employee.
I called Human Resources, but I got nowhere. Walmart says they have an open-door policy, but like OUR Walmart members have testified, it’s closed to most of us. Prior to my employment with the largest retailer in the world, I worked for a union-friendly Midwest competitor, in the same management position. The differences were amazing. It was nothing for me as a manager to go out for a few beers with my people. At the competitor, the hourly workers are union. As a manager, it’s a breeze to write out your weekly schedules when you follow the contract!