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Posted on March 14th, 2013, by

Description and analysis of the organization
The organization I want to consider is Walmart Stores, Inc. This company is ranked one of the top in the S&P 500 rating, and is the largest retailer in the world. More than 8,500 stores located in 15 countries are in the Walmart retail chain. This retailer has been immensely successful since 1962, and Walmart culture contributed a lot to organizational success. From the very beginning Sam Walton proclaimed three goals of the company: respect for the individual, service to customers and striving for excellence (Thomson & Baden-Fuller, 2010).

Initial strategy of Walmart focused on saving customer money and helping them to live better through providing high quality goods at competitive prices. Walmart operated in a low cost segment, and currently it is differentiating and entering the middle price market segment with higher requirements for quality. One of key values of Walmart is its workforce and organizational culture representing a family-oriented, morally conservative and religious business (Thomson & Baden-Fuller, 2010).

I have been employed as an assistant manager at Walmart, where I had to keep track of sales and analyze their dynamics, deal with merchandise stocking and ordering etc. The job was very challenging and at the same time rewarding, since Walmart offers a variety of trainings and opportunities for certification. Corporate culture of Walmart is flexible, despite the size of the organization. For managerial position, various forms of rewards and incentives are available such as profit sharing plans, stock purchase options and participation in decision-making at various levels. However, I have to note that these incentives are available to employees who already work for a long time in the company, and in order to earn a decent managerial salary at Walmart it is necessary to have enough patience, and to match a highly structured hierarchical environment.

In my opinion, Walmart is in the fourth quadrant of the matrix, since it has a very strong focus on performance (e.g. managers are required to generate better sales, performance of every employee is measured and planned, etc.) and at the same time has a set of clear organizational values, focuses on educating and motivating workforce and responds to the needs of customers and employees. Walmart uses innovative methods of translating visions and strategies into action such as balanced scorecard approach (e.g. uses its point-of-sale performance for inventory decisions). However, I can state that Walmart is in the left part of the fourth quadrant, i.e. it is close to the second quadrant: the stores often value performance and low costs above all, without providing decent pay and incentives to all workers. There were claims against Walmart related to unpaid overtimes, low wages and long shifts (Thomson & Baden-Fuller, 2010). At the top level the organization manages to respond to these claims, makes efforts for improving working conditions, launches environment-friendly campaigns and invests into education of employees (Thomson & Baden-Fuller, 2010). At local stores, unfortunately, not all values and messages are properly delivered, due to size and vertical organization of the company. Thus, Walmart should further improve its organizational culture and move into the right part of the fourth quadrant.

5. Recommendations on improving culture and performance
Rosenthal and Masarech (2003) suggest a 5-step model of shaping a high-performance culture. The steps are the following (Rosenthal & Masarech, 2003):
1) Clarify
2) Communicate
3) Model
4) Align
5) Engage
Analysis of the organizational culture of Walmart shows that the clarification stage in the organization is done excellently: there are clear organizational goals, objectives and best practices. However, most of the ideas are communicated at the top management level, and I believe that more attention should be paid to bottom-line feedback. All the other steps modeling, aligning and engagement manage to reach their aim, but only partly. This is the consequence of missing communications with line managers and employees at the second step. I believe that Walmart should introduce practices allowing to get feedback from the employees and then should discuss the results at the local level. It is necessary to realize that though these actions might increase costs in the short run, in the long-term perspective they will allow to improve motivation and performance. Thus, current top-down process of delivering organizational culture should be replaced by a down-top synergy.

Conclusion
Clearly stated organizational mission and values, effective leadership and communication used to deliver these values to the employees are the essential elements of a strong organizational culture (Flamholtz & Randle, 2011). Such approach allows the company to attract and retain talents, to engage people and create energy, allows to make employees more successful and changes the whole approach to work. In order to be competitive and become market leaders, companies should pay attention both to performance and to culture: performance allows to reach short-term organizational goals and to generate revenue for future development, while strong value-based culture allows to reach strategic goals and long-term organizational objectives.
Analysis of Walmart Stores, Inc. shows that the company has reached the fourth quadrant of the performance-culture matrix, since the company demonstrates sustainable success during several decades. At the same time, Walmart should improve several issues of its performance-culture mix. Their key problem is the lack of attention to bottom-line personnel, and integrating this group of employees into the process of shaping culture should improve attitude of the employees and create pride. Moreover, such measures will allow to avoid claims and related financial losses and thus will help the company to achieve financial success.

References
Daft, R.L. (2009). Organization Theory and Design. Cengage Learning.
Flamholtz, E. & Randle, Y. (2011). Corporate Culture: The Ultimate Strategic Asset. Stanford University Press.
Niven, P.R. (2006). Balanced scorecard step-by-step: maximizing performance and maintaining results. John Wiley and Sons.
Shermerhorn, J. (2009). Exploring Management. John Wiley and Sons.
Thomson, R. & Baden-Fuller, C. (2010). Basic Strategy in Context. John Wiley and Sons.
Rhoades, A. & Covey, S.R. & Shepherson, N. (2011). Built on Values: Creating an Enviable Culture that Outperforms the Competition. John Wiley and Sons.
Rosenthal, J. & Masarech, M. A. (2003). High performance cultures: How values can drive business results. Journal of Organizational Excellence, 22, 3-18.

 

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