Learning and Development Manager in Walmart

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Introduction

Being one of the largest employers worldwide, Walmart continuously hires new personnel of all hierarchical levels. In the past few years, the preference has been given to professional orientation and employee training to deal with the high turnover rates that plague the company for decades. There are three basic ideas that must be considered during this process. First, orientation must align with organizational needs and provide opportunities for both new employees and the company itself (Gerhart et al., 2017). Second, initial training requires a thorough plan for its proper execution (Gerhart et al., 2017). Moreover, this process must increase retention through adaptation to organizational culture and values. The purpose of this paper is to examine the required skills and adequacies for the position of a learning and development manager in Walmart and analyze their relevance to modern management theories and practices. Moreover, a set of recommendations regarding said requirements will be presented.

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Business and Job Position Overview

Walmart is a multinational retail store chain that originates in the United States. The company was founded in 1962 in Arkansas, but since then, it has spread rapidly throughout the globe (“Our history,” n.d.). Currently, it has over 2.3 employees worldwide, over 11,000 stores, and possesses the title of the world’s largest retailer (“Our history,” n.d.). The company falls into the category of general merchandise stores, yet it has specialized stores for healthcare products, vehicles, and other branches.

The vision and mission of this organization reflect its customer-oriented approach, yet they have flaws. The firm has recently changed its vision statement, which now does not include employees in its target audience. This controversial decision was made with the intention to put an emphasis on customers, although it did raise concerns over employee treatment (Ferguson, 2019). Nowadays, the company aims to become the destination where customers will come to no matter the situation, but the same should have been considered for its employees (Ferguson, 2019). Since the company’s mission is to make people’s lives better by making products cheaper and more available, it is crucial for Walmart to consider its employees’ financial status as well (Ferguson, 2019). Alas, Walmart is known for driving the prices of products down at any cost, which includes employees’ salaries, and this situation requires a thorough revision (Dessler, 2017). There is room for improvement, and Walmart’s executives need to split their focus between customers and employees better.

This analysis will focus on the occupation of manager II, learning and development. The chosen management job position requires a significant amount of experience since it provides sufficient leverage to change the situation of an entire store at a major location for the better. It is located in the human resources department at the location of Walmart’s initial location – Arkansas (“Manager II, learning and development,” n.d.). An employee in this position will be required to continuously monitor the efficiency of the training program and how trainees perceive its benefits. According to these observations, a learning and development manager must adjust these courses for the best possible outcome while considering possible cost reductions for the firm (“Manager II, learning and development,” n.d.). This employee needs to work closely with trainees and teachers for goal identification, feedback collection, progress measurement, and support of the company’s values (“Manager II, learning and development,” n.d.). A crucial part of this job is upholding diversity and inclusion policies throughout the employee integration process.

I chose to use Walmart for this paper due to its unique position in the retail market, which makes it challenging to come up with managerial practices that would match the complexity of the company’s structure. Moreover, I believe that this position serves as an essential turning point for the damaged reputation of Walmart as a company that did not hold its employees at the highest value (Thompson, 2017). It is known that it was difficult for a new Walmart employee to successfully integrate into the work environment since it is a very stressful yet often low-payment position (Thompson, 2017). However, with proper training and preparations, a new employee can become a fully integrated member of a store team. Moreover, the high number of employees from different backgrounds and cultures makes it essential to develop a flexible training program, making this position even more valuable. Therefore, this job is a vital link between the vision of the company and its current state.

Integrated Learning and Application

A learning and development manager’s role is to facilitate communication between newly hired employees and educators. This person will have to cooperate with all stakeholders in the teaching process within Walmart to ensure that its practices are suitable for all involved sides. Such a manager will be able to increase the motivation of new employees by integrating them into the work environment and helping them avoid common pitfalls that led to high turnover rates at Walmart. In the end, this position aligns with the company’s vision and mission by improving customer experience and helping with keeping costs lower by decreasing turnover rates.

Functions of this manager range from gathering feedback regarding the current training courses to the development and implementation of the new ones. As the company aims to decrease its expenditures, including salaries, a learning and development manager must be able to incorporate other types of motivation within a training course. Gerhart et al. (2017) state that, according to Herzberg’s two-factor theory, “individuals are more motivated by intrinsic aspects of work” (p. 113). Assessment of the training process allows a learning and development manager to identify sources of intrinsic motivation, such as an individual’s impact on a store’s performance, and put an emphasis on their promotion.

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While it should not be the focus of a learning and development manager, it is within their scope of the duty to increase the starting output of new employees. Understandably, some employees do not join Walmart for a permanent career, which is clearly reflected in the number of part-time workers. However, the complex adaptation process hinders their efficiency, leading to unsatisfactory customer experiences and harming the store’s reputation.

As a firm that operates in many cultural environments, Walmart considers diversity among its primary directives during the hiring process. Upholding this policy is one of the requirements for a manager in this position. A person in the chosen occupation must consider the flexibility and suitability of the educational courses for people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Moreover, they must incorporate different customer profiles to ensure that all customers are treated equally well.

Recommendations

There are several recommendations that may improve the company’s current situation with the performance of its managers and employees overall. There are apparent issues with the treatment of Walmart employees that were identified by numerous independent organizations over the course of the past ten years (Thompson, 2017). The customer-centric vision and mission can be beneficial for Walmart’s reputation, yet the statements as they are formulated now put additional pressure on managers. The company currently takes steps toward the negation of these problems, yet additional actions and policies are required.

Considering the current state of Walmart’s employment practices, a learning and development manager must be able to synthesize the acceptable solution to the existing problems while considering the company’s core values. This individual must find an approach for each employee by understanding their values and helping with their merge with those of the firm. Moreover, this job implies constant close collaboration with other teams within Walmart. A company’s future lies in the ability of its managers to successfully orient a new generation of employees to fit in their positions and eventually excel at their tasks (Rowland et al., 2017). Therefore, a learning and development manager must show flexibility and the ability to change direction on the fly, be empathetic and possess high emotional intelligence, and play a role of a medium between different stakeholders.

It is vital to eliminate the disparity between hiring practices at Walmart and other retail stores. Walmart currently actively hires people on a below-average salary for the position of part-time worker, which also includes less training. It would be difficult for a newly hired manager to develop a thorough plan for dealing with this situation. As an example of a possible improvement, Walmart can aim to increase the minimum salary of its low-level employees to a minimum standard, despite their status as part-time workers. This can be reflected in the description of the learning and development manager’s position by stating the necessity of adjusting knowledge delivery times between full-time and part-time employees’ training courses. Moreover, the company can clearly outline the need to identify and attempt to eliminate all remaining traces of deficits in knowledge during shortened programs.

Orientation courses must include sharing goals with new hires and inspiring them to collaborate with others, which should be adequately reflected in the position’s description. I recommend adding the need to provide motivation for newly hired employees to engage with customers in an explicitly positive tone and intention. A manager in this occupation must think ahead and consider retention as a primary outcome of their actions, as Walmart already collects its employees’ professional growth (Tiftik, 2020). Another requirement that would be beneficial is partaking in the teaching process, which could improve trust between a leader and freshly hired workers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Walmart’s spot on the market allows it to experiment with new managerial methods, and the requirements for the position of learning and development manager reveal this intention. The sheer size of Walmart requires a constant stream of freshly hired workers, and their training must be optimized to the maximum due to the costs of training that are lost if a person is fired or leaves the company. The company is in need of new hires who will remain with it for a prolonged period, and a learning and development manager can positively affect this situation. This person must add value to the process by addressing current flaws and identifying new ways to align new employees’ values with those of the firm. Therefore, this manager must possess the flexibility of views, high emotional intelligence, and a teamwork-oriented mindset. Although there are significant concerns over employee treatment, the company is making progress towards adequately addressing the issue. With the right person in this occupation, this store can become an example for others in terms of professional orientation.

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References

Dessler, G. (2020). Human resource management (16th ed.). Pearson.

Ferguson, E. (2019). Walmart’s mission statement & vision statement, generic & intensive strategies. Panmore Institute. Web.

Gerhart, B., Hollenbeck, J. R., Noe, R. A., & Wright, P. M. (2017). Fundamentals of human resource management (5th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

Manager II, learning and development. (n.d.). Walmart Careers. Web.

Our history. (n.d.). Walmart. Web.

Rowland, W., Ruth, M., & Ekot, A. C. (2017). Effect of employee orientation in creating satisfaction with work. The Business and Management Review, 9(2), 219-227. Web.

Thompson, A. (2017). Walmart’s HRM: Training, performance management. Panmore Institute. Web.

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Tiftik, C. (2020). Analysis of management approaches in terms of human resources strategies to realize healthy and successful organizations. IBAD Journal of Social Sciences, (8), 457-470. Web.

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