Top Leaders Mass Retailer Sdsu Walmarts Boot Camp

Top Leaders Mass Retailer Sdsu Walmarts Boot Camp

Top Leaders Mass Retailer Sdsu Walmarts Boot Camp

TOPIC: Walmart’s Boot Camp for Top Leaders

Mass retailer Walmart’s executives realized that the company was capable of building and opening new stores faster than it could develop the leadership talent needed to operate them. To build that capability, the company launched a Leadership Academy that puts promising leaders through a 16-week boot camp.

Individuals with high potential are drafted into the program. They are reassigned from their normal job assignments and deployed to the academy. The boot camp training runs in two-week cycles beginning with in-depth training at the Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters. After the initial training, participants return to their workplace and focus on specific projects that supplement their in-class learning. Their training combines theory and practice, and it uses business case scenarios and hands-on exercises. Recruits learn to think critically and make decisions under pressure.

Since the primary reason that newly promoted leaders fail is a lack of soft skills, Walmart’s Leadership Academy includes a significant amount of training on interpersonal skills such as listening, empathizing, building trust, and collaborating. A key element of the program is community involvement. Walmart stores are often one of the largest employers in the communities where they are located, and store managers serve as brand ambassadors and community leaders. Projects like building homes for low-income families or volunteering at children’s and veterans’ hospitals complement classroom and work-based training.

Participants in the program say that it is like military boot camp because the intensity is overwhelming and performance standards are rigorous. However, it prepares them for the challenges of running a store with many pressures and demands. There are similarities to planning a military strategy with logistics, resource constraints, and time pressures. The Leadership Academy is a natural extension of Walmart’s commitment to hiring military veterans. While not all of the participants are former service members, the program is particularly appealing to that segment of the workforce.

The program’s ultimate objective is to promote graduates within one to three months of graduation. More than 500 leaders have completed the program since its inception.

1. What are the pros and cons of rotating participants from in-class training back to the worksite every two weeks? What support would be needed at the worksite to ensure that the trainees get the most out of their hands-on assignments?

2. How would you evaluate the effectiveness of the Leadership Academy?

3. How does the overtone of military-style training impact Walmart’s employment brand? Would this appeal to particular segments of the labor force? How might it impact the company’s ability to recruit diverse employees and participants?