Human Resource

C H A P T E R 9 Talent, Careers, and Development 357

5. You are the HR Director of a large manufacturing company that is approximately 50 years old. The company has reaped the benefits of a mostly tenured workforce, and many of the key workers are now approaching retirement age. It is anticipated that approximately 20% of the company’s workforce will retire in the next three to five years. To assist the company with the retirement transition process, you want to present a business case to the President for a succession plan for several key positions, including

the Chief Financial Officer and Director of Operations.

A. Which internal and external company advisors should be included in the succession planning process?

B. The successor employee for the replacement of the Chief Financial Officer and Director of Operations positions should have an ad- vanced level of work experience in what key essential functions? How can the company help candidates get these experiences?

CASE 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 tal- ent 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 nor- mal 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 prac- tice, 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 lack of soft skills, Walmart’s Leadership Academy includes a significant amount of training on interpersonal skills such as listening, empathiz- ing, 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 man- agers 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 over- whelming and performance standards are rigor- ous. However, it prepares them for the challenges of running a store with many pressures and demands. There are similarities to planning a military strat- egy with logistics, resource constraints, and time pressures. The Leadership Academy is a natural ex- tension of Walmart’s commitment to hire military veterans. While not all of the participants are for- mer 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.90


1. What are the pros and cons of rotating partici- pants from in-class training back to the work- site 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 abil- ity to recruit diverse employees and participants?

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