Training and Development
The success of our business model relies on entrepreneurial Associates who desire to learn and grow within our industry. We invest in the training and development of each Associate, offering equal opportunities for learning at all levels. Training and development of Associates provides a competitive advantage, enabling continual improvement of performance across the whole organization.
Because Associates must develop the knowledge, skills and abilities to serve, support and sell within the operating framework of their division, application of Associate learning aligned to business strategy is a critical link in the profit chain. Therefore, our goal is to expose Associates to training that is specific to their area of responsibility and provide opportunities for further learning and development for ongoing growth within the organization.
In 2006, we implemented a new process of hiring and promoting in our retail operations called Career Preference. Career Preference empowers our Associates to plan and take ownership over their careers, with functionality that includes:
- Researching Positions: Associates have the ability to research job descriptions and responsibilities, career paths, requirements and compensation for each position within Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club;
- Indicating Positions of Interest: Associates can indicate the specific positions and locations for which they would like to be considered, and will receive immediate feedback from the system on whether or not they are qualified and eligible for the position; and
- Planning Careers: Associates can also indicate positions they may be interested in at a later time, providing an opportunity for career planning and development discussions with their immediate supervisor.
We are continually working to hone and update our training and development programs. We were an early adapter of training modules like Computer-Based Learning, but over time, we have learned that this method may not be enough to effectively engage Associates and motivate them to want to grow within our company. Similarly, though we ask managers to work with Associates to create Individual Development Plans that map out career paths, we are working to explore new avenues – both through innovative uses of hand-held technology and face-to-face contact – to ensure training and development opportunities that are more effective and more attractive to Associates.
Our global reach challenges us to ensure that all training and development systems and practices are global in nature. Managing training and development standards and processes within a global organization requires that we constantly reevaluate our mindset, behavior and learning practices.
Our development framework takes into account the full Associate lifecycle. It begins with the sourcing, selection and hiring of Associates who meet criteria set for specific positions. Once hired, Associates go through orientation to both the organization and their area of responsibility, and receive initial training related to performance expectations. They are then provided the opportunity for ongoing development. Performance goals are set and communicated as part of the performance management process. Opportunity for creation of an Individual Development Plan is also provided. Each of our major divisions offers learning and development opportunities for Associates aligned with strategic directions of the business.
As the needs and perspectives of the work force continue to change, we will have to ensure that the training materials and resources we provide continue to engage Associates. In the future, this may require us to explore non-traditional styles of mentoring. In addition, as we move into new markets, we need to ensure that our training is flexible enough to be locally relevant. So as we develop new programs in this area, we are challenged to ensure that they reflect the scale and complexity of our quickly developing and ever-changing business.