Low’s Home Centers, Inc. Has been in business since the sass. The Company expanded its’ product line from hardware to home improvement products for inside and outside the home. As with many large companies, Low’s found it costly and difficult to keep up with the rapid growth of technology. During the past 20 years, Low’s has essentially used the same software to operate the store business. Due to the recession the last few years, many consumers have cut back on purchases.
People look to technology to research the most cost effective method of getting what they need instead of what they want at the best price. As with any company that produces or sells mass products, they are able to sell items at a reduced cost. Online businesses such as Amazon. Com are able to offer the same benefits to consumers. Technology has shifted sales to internet-based companies. This fluctuation of the way consumers purchase today has affected many retailers that sell in-store products. Retailers that have failed to change the way they do business and enhance technology now cease to exist.
This may be the difference between companies such as Circuit City and Best Buy, or Borders and Barnes and Noble. After much market research, Low’s decided to quickly change the way they do business. In order to do this, they had to make technology advancements within their stores and how consumers order and receive product, while keeping a competitive edge at the same time. In addition to updating store software, stores also received phones and pads to research and beat competitor pricing, as well as get the product to the consumer faster than the competition.
With the introduction o new software and technology, training plans were developed and rolled out to the stores so the employees could be taught how to use them. The Company has informed stores that this is Just the beginning of the changes. Within the next year Low’s plans on updating additional inventory software as well as ramp up mid-level store management to carry out functions in which senior managers were previously performing. In the meantime, the corporate office is most likely putting together their strategic plan on rolling out software, hardware, and the necessary training for employees.
If I had the opportunity to develop this strategic plan, I would begin with a training needs assessment and learning objectives through an organizational analysis. Training Needs Analysis Organizational Analysis Low’s has already begun to initiate change management practices throughout stores. It begins with a mindset that change is inevitable and necessary for the future of the Company. Thus, management must remain positive and focus on communicating a team concept, why the change is necessary, and what it meaner to individual employees.
Human Resources Managers are now considered a Strategic Business Partner to he Store Manager. This allows us the ability to ensure all change initiatives, training, performance, and accountability are being effectively managed at all levels. For the upcoming technology rolls, I must consider the skill set of different employees and plan training accordingly to ensure its success. With the initial rolls, Low’s anticipated a 30% turnover rate within our market which consists of 15 stores. A few months after the rolls, we were to report on turnover in individual stores.
I wanted to ensure that we did not lose any employees at any level due to failure of the training program. The first thing I did was research change and why employees resist it. For the upcoming rolls, I will refer back to the article I found on change which includes the following reasons for resistance: 1. Resistance to change may be rooted in fear. During periods of change, some employees may feel the need to cling to the past because it was a more secure, predictable time. 2. Some employees express an unwillingness to learn anything new.
Employees reluctant to learn something new impede the organization’s growth and adaptation to change. They also hinder their own personal growth and development. . Fear of personal impact and how the change will directly affect them, how they work, and who they work with. Understanding that employees have different levels of learning, I had to develop a strategy of how to ensure each type of learner had the opportunity to be successful. This also meant that the management team had to have the same mindset, so I began to do scenario training during weekly management meetings.
Each week the group acted out different situations with best and worst case communication and outcomes. In addition, I had to meet with Assistant Store Managers and Department Managers individually to assess their view of employees and the company changes to see potential upcoming challenges. The Store Manager and I then developed a strategy of which managers would be instrumental in communicating the change in a positive way and obtain collaborative buy-in. At the end of the rolls, our store was one of two stores with 0% turnover.
For the upcoming change initiatives, I will again turn to Operational Analysis Since Low’s plans on rolling out software that is specific to the way store employees conduct business with consumers, training will be a huge part of the transition. All tore employees will need to have a solid understanding of how the new software will assist with customer service functions and generating sales. The software will be capable of looking up in-store product, generating special orders, managing inventory, entering information for other employees to review progress, and manage performance.
Assistant Store Managers will no longer manage department training as their role has changed to operational management of the store. Department Managers will now ensure that their employees have received and understand training, can effectively communicate with customers, perform all essential functions o a changing environment, and hold their employees accountable for not embracing or following the new processes that are essential to the future success of the Company.
Department Managers will also need to be trained on coaching and developing their employees, recognizing performance issues, rewarding top performers, and effective employee relations. This includes managing two different types to employees Witt separate goals: Sales Specialists with specific special order sales and credit goals, and Customer Service Associates with assisting customers and department maintenance goals.