Our store managers are the heartbeat of so many communities across the country. During the pandemic, we promoted and hired a number of new store managers, and late last year wanted to bring them together in person to meet, network and go through an in-depth leadership training session. We know many have the retail knowledge and customer service skills to do the job of a store manager successfully. What they’re seeking is additional training around leadership and managing teams.
That’s why we launched a new Manager Academy – a week-long training course focused on our culture and values – to ensure our store managers are equipped with the leadership skills to manage hundreds of associates, build relationships in their communities and take care of their customers. The training was so beneficial to our new managers that we decided to bring all of our store managers through the training. This includes some who have been in the role for decades to brush up on their leadership skills and help mentor the newer managers.
More than 2,000 store managers are expected to participate in the program this year in Bentonville, Arkansas, where our Home Office is located and where the legacy of our founder, Sam Walton, is rooted.
One of the most important aspects of a store manager’s job is managing people, and it’s an in-demand skill in the U.S. right now. The Manager Academy equips store managers with the skills and knowledge to lead hundreds of associates and serve their customers and communities. The training includes:
- 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
The immersive program experience concentrates on creating even better customer experiences and higher associate engagement. Store managers receive a 360-degree feedback survey from fellow associates and managers, which they dig into while training. Following the week-long training, they participate in a six-month mentorship with managers who have completed the class and have longer tenures with strong track records.
Store managers also work on case studies about leading store operations, network with senior leaders and peers, tour stores with the latest technology and deepen their understanding of associate well-being and growth. More than 600 store managers have completed the immersive program since the pilot launched last year.
Jennifier Bennett, a Walmart store manager in Lebanon, Virginia, said connecting to Walmart’s culture is a core part of the training.
“Manager Academy completely changed my way of thinking,” Bennett said. “If you take care of the people, they’ll take care of the customer. Teach and grow your people, and they will take care of any challenge.”
Bob Jenkins, a store manager in Orlando, Florida, emphasized the engagement aspect of the courses. Bob started with Walmart 26 years ago. In 2021, he earned his degree in business management and leadership from Bellevue University through Walmart’s Live Better U program.
“Every manager was pouring their heart into it,” Jenkins said. “You could feel instantly it was a place to express your experience, your values and your ideas.”
The Manager Academy is part of Walmart’s $1 billion investment announced to provide U.S. associates with career-driven training and development through 2026, helping to create a path for every associate to learn and grow.