The company is Sam’s Club, a division of WalMart, Inc. Sam’s Club is a leading membership warehouse that offers name brand products at a lower cost than regular retailers, and products are sold in bulk which can translate into an average savings of about 30 percent. Because of Sam Walton’s support of small businesses, Sam’s Club was originally geared towards small business needs, but he soon discovered a market niche with large families and realized that they too needed to “save money and live better lives.
The Sam’s Club culture is based on 3 basic beliefs: Respect for the individual, Service to our customers, and, Striving for excellence (Walmart, 2012). Throughout all of the Walmart Stores and Sam’s Club’s worldwide; behind every decision made; in their processes and rituals; and through the work of all associates, Mr. Sam’s values and culture lives. Group and Team Decision Making At Sam’s Club, there are more informal groups than formal ones. Informal groups are those that are not formally structured and are not part of the organizational structure (Robbins, 2007).
These groups are generally made up of employees who have found common ground through personal conversation. When one employee sees a behavior in another employee that they can relate to, it provides the impetus for conversation and the beginning of a relationship. This type of group is good for those who need to have some sort of social contact, such as a new employee or one that is kind of shy otherwise. This type of group is considered a friendship group (Robbins, 2007). Friendship groups often get together outside of work to continue their relationship and build on commonalities such as a favorite sports, children, cards, etc.
Recently, a group was formed by the asset protection manager that included several employees who were assigned to watch over the movie display aisles. This constituted a task group (Robbins, 2007). Each of the employees assigned to this group, designated as the “watch group” were from different departments and involved all of the managers, asset protection, and the local police department. Their assigned task was to watch out for customers who shoplifted movies, which are high theft items.
Armed with a walkie-talkie and a “call code” in the event of a potential theft or suspicious activity, this group must coordinate communication and movement to prevent the suspect from leaving the premises with stolen merchandise. Interestingly, this group has grown through volunteer efforts and is the largest task group at the local Sam’s Club. Meetings are held on a monthly basis to review video tapes, review laws and policies, and make decisions on how to raise awareness in all employees. To facilitate groups, there would need to be more opportunities for workers to interact with one another.
This may involve increasing the number of workers in a given shift, or to have management suggest a particular cause that workers may like to become involved in. In the groups that were described above, there are strengths and challenges. One of the challenges of a friendship group is that it may tend to become cliquish or refuse to include others. When a conflict arises among its members, that conflict can spill over into the work environment and create problems where management will need to step in and solve it, simply because the group is at odds with one another and cannot solve it on their own.
One of the strengths of the friendship group is that it can create a harmonious environment that is observed by others and therefore leads to other friendship groups. While based on commonalities outside of work, the subject of work will arise. A friendship group may discuss issues within the club and commit to reaching a solution that may or may not involve a manager. One issue may be how to get everyone together for a fun social event, such as a picnic or evening of bowling. The differences among the members will bring various viewpoints, and can lead to lively discussions that end up being unproductive.
The task group, while given a specific task must get together and devise a “plan of attack” for thwarting theft, and reducing inventory shrinkage in this area. The challenge comes when there are gaps in the watch due to employee absences, or when an employee is temporarily assigned to another area, or other scheduling conflicts. The ability to get everyone in the group together to make decisions on the plan of attack can be difficult in that situation. It may be that the group will have to break up into smaller groups such as grouping members together by shift or by days worked, then have one member of each maller group get with the others to discuss how they will relay information pertinent to the task.
One of the strengths of this group is that everyone knows who they are, and realizes the importance of their task. Because of its importance, the seriousness with which decisions are made gives the group a sense of authority, and a request made by a group member to someone outside the group is acted on immediately. The watch group has created a status that others would like to have. When it comes to decision making and the diversity of a group, all ideas need to be considered.
Perhaps through discussions, all ideas can be offered then discuss the pros and cons of each to narrow down choices until a final decision can be made. At the outset of a discussion, members of the group can set a time limit and a goal for the discussion. This helps to keep everyone on track and limits conversations and behaviors that may be distracting or off topic. Perhaps having a formal agenda can help in keeping the discussion moving forward. At my Sam’s Club we also have teams. These teams are in the areas of member recruitment, safety, spirit, audit, and sustainability.
Each of these teams are manager-led teams. The member recruitment team is led by the Membership Manager whose job is to oversee the membership desk, front-end associates, the fax-n-pull associate, and the sign maintenance associate. This team has weekly meetings to review membership numbers and recruitment strategies. The safety team is led by the Asset Protection Manager and consists of volunteers from all departments. Their goal is make the club as safe as possible to avoid injuries to associates, vendors and members.
The team has monthly meetings to review observations by team members of negative behaviors by employees that had the potential to cause injury; review the status on machinery repair or replacement requests; and plan safety activities for the entire club. The audit team which is led by the Club Manager is responsible for inventory control, ensuring accurate merchandise counts, and club supplies. Unless there is a discrepancy in the counts or the club is preparing for the yearly inventory, the audit team does not meet. The team has regular assigned duties and tasks that are performed daily and weekly.
There are reports that are generated from inputs by the audit team that are reviewed by the corporate office and any discrepancies are then sent to the Club Manager for review and correction. The spirit team is led by the Soft Lines Manager, and their function is to create activities that boost morale and assist with customer service. The decisions that are made by this team are considered fun and wacky to relieve the stresses that come from working in retail, that is, dealing with unsatisfied members, long lines at the check outs, and short staffed shifts.
Members of the team will dress in funny outfits, or will develop a theme such as a Hawaiian theme that draws attention from members and creates a lively environment. The sustainability team is led by the Hard Lines Manager. Their function is to devise ways to reduce paper waste, water waste, and energy conservation. The club is currently in a recycling program where all paper that is to be thrown away is shredded and given to local veterinary clinics, and animal rescue facilities to line animal cages.
Any cardboard or shrink wrap plastic is made into bales that is picked up by a local recycling company to be reused for packaging products. The members even bring in old batteries, ink cartridges, glasses, or plastic bags that we then use in our bales, donate to charity, or send to the recycler. Energy is saved by turning off lights in unused office spaces, ensuring equipment is maintained, turning down the temperature on water heaters, and water usage has been reduced by installing water saving faucets and toilets in the restrooms and cafeteria and maintenance sinks.
Each of these teams serves a specific purpose in meeting the company goals, and in keeping with the company’s mission. Leadership and Politics Every company needs leaders and managers. While the two roles are separate, they can be the same as managers can be leaders and leaders can be managers. What makes them different is their focus. Managers focus on tasks and processes, leaders focus on people and building relationships (Pinkett, 2012). Leaders also behave in ways that makes them an inspiration; an inspiration to other employees and to the company.
At Sam’s Club, there is one such leader that stands out above the rest. That leader’s name is Patsy. Patsy’s job title is that of Plus Champion. Patsy has been in this position for approximately five years, and has earned every minute of it. She was chosen not only for her results in the obtainment of Plus memberships from current members, but also for her ability to lead and inspire others to do their best, and when they have difficulties she is the first to step in and offer assistance. Patsy exhibits the characteristics of a transformational leader as well as a transactional leader.
She promotes rewards for efforts; corrects behaviors that may be harmful to reaching goals; communicates high expectations; gives personal attention; coaches, and advises the employees who are on her team in solving the dilemma of closing a Plus membership sale. Patsy has the trust of all the employees. She exhibits integrity at all levels, is competent in her abilities to get results, is consistent, loyal and open (Robbins, 2007). Patsy has the personality that draws you to her. She is constantly smiling, encouraging, and always positive.
Patsy is the type of person that when she has a day off, the employees ask her whereabouts because they miss seeing her. She provides the inspiration that guides the sales of the plus memberships. While Patsy is an inspirational leader, there are other leaders at Sam’s Club. Each of them has their own characteristics that make them leaders, and most are trusted. Each of the leaders has built relationships with other employees either on their team, or in their group. Trust has been developed due to the consistent nature in which the leaders do their work, follow the policies of the organization, and communicate with management.
Trust has also been proven in that while the employees and their leader share work activities, they discuss personal matters of interest and find commonalities to talk about but their discussions stay amongst the group. At Sam’s Club and in other organizations as well, there are leadership roles that can be observed. The team leaders at Sam’s Club are leaders of teams who are task oriented. The leaders of these teams not only set the goals of the day, but they also provide the vision on how to achieve them.
These team leaders, through training, have gained the skills with experience, and education through classes held by managers to lead their teams to successes in their departments. Some of these leaders share a desire to move up in the organization, and therefore seek a mentor. Some of the mentors are managers, but most are other team leaders. The leader/mentors are the employees who have been with the company many years and have fulfilled several positions without moving into management. Their experience has qualified them to teach, introduce the employee to higher level individuals within the rganization, and also provide the employee with friendship, and act as a role model (Robbins, 2007).
One of the challenges that this mentoring role has is that the mentor and mentee are not compatible. Incompatibility can come from personality conflicts, or same-gender/opposite gender conflicts. In the same gender conflict, jealousy can arise when the mentee learns quickly and becomes well-liked over the mentor. The company can solve this conflict by adopting a formal mentoring program where employees have to apply to be mentors and show that they have the capabilities and skills to mentor others.
Some of the leaders who have several followers have the occasion to teach their followers how to self-lead. They are taught through modeling self-leadership behaviors. These behaviors include such things as setting personal goals, teaching them how to reward themselves for good performance, think positively, and how to look at themselves critically so that they can learn and perform better (Robbins, 2007). One of the challenges that self-leadership can have is that not every employee has the ability to self-lead.
Their confidence level and dependent personality may make it difficult to teach them those self-leadership skills that will move them from dependence to autonomy. A suggestion to help with this challenge would be to assign the employee a coach or to slow the pace of learning, taking one idea at a time and not moving on until the employee has mastered the first. As in all organizations, conflicts can arise. One such conflict is happening at the local Sam’s Club. Currently, the club is preparing for inventory. The audit team is responsible for prepping the club in preparing for inventory.
They do this by performing pre-counts that is taking what was received into the club and subtracting the sales count. The conflict is that members of the audit team who are performing their daily audits of select merchandise are unable to reconcile that the on-hand amounts. The procedure at this point would be to review received numbers minus sales to this point. That equation should result in the on-hand quantity.
What then is causing the conflict? The conflict comes when consideration is not given to merchandise that is returned, and the possibility that the quantities received to start ith were incorrect. The team leaders of these two teams (audit and receiving) are in conflict as neither wants to be incorrect. The team leaders then must go to management, with the dilemma and their numbers, for correct reconciliation. My recommendation would be that the two team leaders sit down together with their teams, and review and discuss all activities to ensure that each has performed their tasks correctly according to policy and procedure. Once this has been done, it can prove the counts and the reconciliation should balance.
Leaders within organizations must challenge, inspire, and offer assistance, when needed, to their followers. Colin Powell stated, “To be a good leader, be a good follower and take care of the followers” (Powell, n. d. ). Leadership is a role that can be attained through training and experience. To be an inspirational leader, it must come from the heart. An inspirational leader has a heart for the company and for the followers that follow them. On the other end of the spectrum of leadership behavior is that of political behavior. Legitimate political behavior is defined in the text as normal everyday politics.
Such behavior considered legitimate is complaining to your supervisor, bypassing the chain of command or excessive adherence to rules. Illegitimate political behavior involves such things as sabotage, whistle-blowing, or groups of employees calling in sick (Robbins, 2007). Such politics goes on in every organization, but perhaps not in every way as described here. Negative politics is a mind game of sorts where individuals seek to advance themselves or to make a point by whatever means necessary. When employees misuse their power to gain undue attention and popularity, they are playing politics.
Illegitimate political behavior promotes negativity at work. When an employee is exposed to organizational politics there are some things that can be done to “win,” such as not getting involved, focusing on your own work, do not spread rumors or listen to gossip, and best of all, set goals for yourself and do not allow anyone to influence you (Management Study Guide, 2012). By avoiding or not participating in political behavior, you are taking the right steps towards leadership and becoming the respected, fair, and trusted leader that organizations need and want.
Diversity We hear so much about diversity in the workplace these days. Diversity refers to the ways that people in organizations differ, besides the usual race, national origin, sexual orientation, etc. Diversity not only involves how people think of others and how this affects their interactions at work, but also how they look at themselves (University of Maryland, 2012). The management team in an organization is key to how diversity works or does not work. An organization’s culture plays a huge role in the acceptance of diversity within it.
Understanding the differences in workers, accepting them for who they are, and appreciating their contributions to the work environment are all necessary to cohesion, cooperation, and moving the organization forward. Diversity training programs are intended to raise awareness and to examine stereotypes (Robbins, 2007). Training programs should also include self examinations and how our own thoughts and feelings affect our interactions with others. At WalMart, Inc. , which includes Sam’s Club, diversity is a huge part of the company’s culture.
Through its hiring practices, Sam’s Club ensures that all applicants have equal access to jobs and positions within the company. “A diverse workforce drives a sustainable business” (WalMart, 2012). So what can the management team do to promote diversity within the organization? To start, hire workers from different backgrounds and cultures. Seek venues, such as college campuses, where recruiters can obtain a pool of applicants from varied backgrounds, cultures and races. Once they are hired, provide them with a coach or mentor. This individual can assist them with getting settled into the workplace and their position.
Take them around and introduce them to everyone. Ensure that they are included in special events and activities. Give them proper diversity training. Another recommendation would be to ensure that diversity is an open topic and discuss it often in both formal and casual settings. When managers observe negative behavior towards individuals that are of a different race or national origin, take them aside and discuss their attitudes to find out what the issues are and help them to look past their own stereotype. A third recommendation would be to require everyone to attend diversity training, from the top down.
Review with employees how diversity and inclusion are part of the company’s mission and value statements. Lastly, managers should practice what they preach; demonstrate the behaviors that show their commitment to diversity (Farmer, 2011). While the management team is important in the promotion of diversity in the workplace, the Human Resources department may be more so. The HR department has become a core function within organizations. As an individual who may be coming to work for Sam’s Club, regardless of the position they are hired for, there needs to be a look into the practices of Human Resources and several questions asked.
Randall Pinkett, in the video on HR Practices, states that the HR strategy of the company is critical in making decisions and evaluating the company itself. To do that, one must look at the HR activities across the entire spectrum of hiring practices, recruiting, benefits, performance evaluations, social responsibility, and community involvement. Ask yourself then what you get from looking at all of that. Does the company value diversity as they say they do? Do they believe in developing their employees from their training? Does their benefit package support work/life balance?
Does their bonus structure reward a job well done (Pinkett, 2012)? To demonstrate my Sam’s Clubs’ commitment to diversity, every quarter the management team and selected employees are required to take a day and work in a business of a different type such as an ethnic restaurant. Many of the business members who shop at Sam’s Club are of different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. There are members from India, China, and Africa. These members can own such businesses as hotels, nail salons, restaurants, and convenience stores/gas stations.
By working at these establishments, we learn so much about the members’ background and culture. We see not only how they think and operate their own businesses, but we also learn how they look at us in America and the way we conduct business. We have an opportunity to get to know them as people and business owners. The knowledge we gain from working with them for the day, can be brought back to the club and conveyed to the other associates in an effort to dispel stereotypes, and show that differences among people can be beneficial. When those members enter the lub again, by understanding them and their businesses, we can provide better customer service and request an expansion of our product lines that include more of what those members need to run their businesses. This opportunity opens the door for better communication and community relations. By adopting such diversity activities, my Sam’s Club upholds the company’s culture.