|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Leadership analysis Walmart Strategic management Business management|
The roles of management and leadership in large organizations are significant in shaping their success and failure, and in some companies, particularly Wal-Mart, these roles have always gone hand in hand. Wal-Mart, which is considered to be one of the most dynamic chain stores in the world has a system of leadership and management that work together to promote specific values into the organizational culture in an attempt to meet its objectives while boosting employee morale. Indeed, since its inception in Bentonville, Arkansas, the company's continued growth to more than five thousand discount stores, corner markets and supercenters all over the word can be attributed proper leadership and management styles. Even now, the company founded by Sam Walton continues to grow amid criticisms from the public and competitors due to strategic leadership and specific management styles.
For decades, since its inception and under the leadership of Sam Walton, the organization's founder, Wal-Mart seemed to understand exactly the needs of both its customers and employees, but that is before the company's change in management styles. Walmart under the leadership of its founder experienced significant positive transformation as it grew from a single business unit in Bentonville, Arkansas to a multi-billion dollar company it is today. All the expansions and growth that Wal-Mart gained during those days is because of one hardworking man who lived by his principles. For instance, Sam believed in learning everything about one's business. He was desperate to learn everything about Wal-Mart which included its customers as well as the competitors. With this, Sam was able to improve the service delivery at Wal-Mart and at the same time, learn from his competitors (Kirkpatick & Locke, 1991). He particularly believed in one's commitment to business as it is the key to the success of any business. In return, he got loyal customers and employees that were able and willing to give all to the company. Even so, the first key change in Wal-Mart's management was after Mr. Walton passed away.
According to Ark (2014), the company became under the leadership of Walton's family led by Robson Walton after the death of his father. Most of the problems with Wal-Mart started soon after the family took over. Unlike Sam Walton, Robson's policies did not embrace his father's principles of paying attention to the needs of the customers and taking care of his employees. Specifically, Robson was never interested with the everyday goings on in the stores and only focused on big return on the money. However, he remained open to criticism, suggestions, and recommendations which played a significant role in the success of Wal-Mart. The company has gone through many failures and downfalls but Robson's leadership made the company capable of getting out of difficult situations in a constructive manner. The second key change in the management style of Walmart took place in 2010 when the organizational structure and management system changed. Mike Duke became the company CEO (Ark, 2014). The additional layer of management had been added to the structure by dividing US regions in the north, west, and the south. Under the leadership of Duke, Wal-Mart acquired the majority stake in D&S S.A., Chile's largest food retailer. It is the first time in the history of the company when annual sales exceeded $400 billion. Wal-Mart performed extremely well under the team of new leaders and members.
Considering the current market success at Wal-Mart, one could argue that the company is properly managed. Wal-Mart has done a great job of changing with the times and staying relevant. They have added food and have become "super Wal-Mart stores," operating as a full-fledged grocery store at reasonable prices, as well as a discount shopping center for all other needs. It truly has become a one-stop shop. However, various customer service related issues have been realized, but the company has the capability to manage the problematic issues effectively under their team of leaders.
Wal-Mart has periodically changed their leadership styles and management personnel. It is commonly believed that continuously changing management affects the company's success and creates a discontinuity in company operations. In the case of Wal-Mart, this does not hold true. Doug McMillon was named CEO of Wal-Mart in place of Mike Duke in 2014. Robson Walton was retired as the chairman and still working as the Director of Wal-Mart. Mcmillon who was tasked to bring the company into the future without blowing the franchise has embraced the challenge rather perfectly. He is a man of change with appropriate ideas that are continuously transforming Wal-Mart while also showing respect for the company's traditions (Johnston & Marshall, 2016). From the management's perspective, the transition was seamless since Mr. McMillon was appointed at the right time when Robson Walton was approaching retirement and the company's sales growth had begun to stall. Also to the management, the new CEO is a company life who has worked from all his life from unloading trucks while steadily rising the ranks of Wal-Mart management. Moreover, under the new leader management style, Wal-Mart has initiated various training programs which is evidence of effective management strategies and action plans.
Wal-Mart's management decisions about the relationship with vendors and spokespeople are critical. The whole thing between Wal-Mart management and its vendors is a collaboration. The company has traditionally practiced strategic purchases by finding their products at a price which is considerable and at the same time best for the suppliers. With that, the company's management and the vendors have been able to establish a crucial partnership that ensures a constant supply of products at the best price possible (Layne, 2015). This has further been reinforced with a communication network with suppliers to improve product flow with lower inventories. Ideally, the company differs from other retailers by communicating to its vendors what is expected of them and at the same time monitors the supply process. This has positively impacted Wal-Mart's relationship with its customers since lower supply system also extends to customers. The communication between the company and its suppliers also ensures that buyers cannot surprise vendors about performance.
Customers and employees are the keys to the success of any business, therefore, as a manager at Wal-Mart, I would suggest that the company adopt the policy of celebrating both the customers and the employees' personal milestones. By constantly reminding customers and employees about their personal lives and achievements can be a great feeling which can enlighten their mood towards the company or work in the case of the employees. It is always nice to be able to share certain events in life such as birthdays with those around you, which to employees, can make going to work enjoyable. This can be done by budgeting for such important occasions as employees' birthdays. The company can also set a reminder to all of its customers that alerts them whenever they are having such important events in their lives.
Since its inception, Wal-Mart has always strived to remain on top while competing against other giant companies like Amazon. Yet, the question that often arises is the company's ability to adapt to the changing needs of customers and changing market environment. One of the ways Wal-Mart can compete with the ever-changing market demands is by embracing the future. The company needs to look at technology and its capabilities in terms of merchandising and logistics. Similarly, Wal-Mart needs to empower its existing employees to be able to preserve the entrepreneurial spirit (Thomas & Reagan, 2018). Indeed if employees are given enough information and trust, they become relatively more active as they will be expecting a reward in the end.
To act as communication champions and achieve the best possible outcomes, managers must understand how factors such as open communication climates, communication channels, the ability to persuade, communicating with candor, asking questions, listening, and nonverbal behavior all work to enhance or detract from communication (Daft, 2018). When employees are brought up to speed on the companies goals and strategies, they become aware of the direction the company intends to take, therefore, facilitating the process of implementing change in the organization.
Walmart is one of the largest retail stores in the world. The company ensures effective and efficient operations from management and protects the good relationship with stakeholders including customers, suppliers, and employees to facilitate success. The changing management styles of the organization should guarantee the effective administration of employee skills and capabilities to provide their best to attain the organizational goals. Customers and employees are two stakeholders which would have to interact with Walmart stores. Walmart needs to improve its customer service in order to attain a competitive edge in the market.
Ark, B. (2014). Walmart Announces Senior Management Changes. Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://corporate.walmart.com/_news_/news-archive/2014/12/10/walmart-announces-senior-management-changes
Daft, R. L. (2018). Chapters 1 & 2. In Management, Loose-Leaf Version - 1 Year Option, 13th Edition (13th ed., pp. 1-32). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Johnston, M., & Marshall, G. (2016, May 05). Sales Force Management: Leadership, Innovation, Technology, 12th Edition (Paperback) - Routledge. Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://www.routledge.com/Sales-Force-Management-Leadership-Innovation-Technology-12th-Edition/Johnston-Marshall/p/book/9781138951723
Kirkpatick, S. A., & Locke, E. A. (1991). Leadership: do traits matter? Academy of management perspectives, 5(2), 48-60.
Layne, N. (2015, October 19). Wal-Mart puts the squeeze on suppliers to share its pain as... Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-wal-mart-suppliers-insight-idUSKCN0SD0CZ20151019
Thomas, L., & Reagan, C. (2018, January 13). Walmart to raise its starting wage to $11, and give some employees bonuses following tax bill passage. Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/11/walmart-to-boost-starting-wage-give-employees-bonus-after-tax-bill.html
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