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Walmart to Provide Immersive Leadership Training to Store Managers

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Walmart is launching week-long training sessions aimed at shaping store managers into better leaders. 

All of the retailer’s managers will go through the course at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. More than 600 store managers have already completed the program since the pilot rolled out last year. 

Lorraine Stomski, Walmart’s senior vice president, learning and leadership, wrote in a company blog that similar training took place during the pandemic. Now, over 2000 store managers will go through The Manager Academy to brush up on “leadership skills to manage hundreds of associates, build relationships in their communities and take care of their customers.”

The training appears to be culture-centric and focused on developing people skills, with Stomski listing the objectives as: 

  • Understanding our values and how to be a culture champion in their facilities
  • Leading with empathy and focusing on associate well-being
  • How to further engage with our customers and communities
  • Embracing change and leading with a change mindset

During the week-long session, managers will receive a 360-degree feedback survey from fellow associates and managers, dig into case studies, tour stores, and touch on of-the-moment topics such as well-being and career mobility. 

The Manager Academy is part of Walmart’s $1 billion investment aimed at providing U.S. associates with career-driven training and development through 2026. Just recently, Walmart rolled out a series of short-form training programs offering associates the chance to upskill in high-growth areas such as cybersecurity, software engineering, and data analytics.

Maximizing Engagement Through Career Opportunities 

Learning and development opportunities have long been recognized as mutually beneficial for employees and employers. However, with retail labor shortages still raging and industry turnover spiking to 76% in 2022, employers are channeling all their efforts into retaining staff and recruiting for tough-to-fill positions. 

Close to a quarter (22%) of retailers plan to invest in learning and development technologies this year, according to RIS News’ “33rd Annual Retail Technology Study” and a recent study by EY shows that a massive 74% of employers believe career mobility is a critical component of business continuity. 

Surveying the landscape, it’s clear many retailers are leaning into upskilling staff. Macy’s, for example, has implemented education benefits that have helped reduce overall turnover by about 3% since 2019 while clothing retailer Levi’s has been running machine learning boot camps since last year and has enrolled hundreds of employees to date. Earlier this year, Bass Pro shops also launched a retail training program to upskill thousands of managers and store team members at over 150 Bass Pro stores and Cabela’s locations across the U.S. 

Walmart’s latest concentration on managerial positions makes sense given the especially high turnover rate among this particular segment of the organizational hierarchy. In fact, a recent McKinsey survey shows the majority (63%) of frontline retail managers were considering leaving their jobs in the near future, compared to half of frontline staff who said the same.

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