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Overview of the organization of Wal-Mart Essay

Today, one of the most common places known to everyone (Except Paris Hilton) is Wal-Mart. Last year, Wal-Mart had revenues of $191 billion and has 1,283,000 employees, as of 2002. Wal-Mart is the largest retail store in the United States, and is larger than any other retail chain in the world. Currently Wal-Mart operates over 4,150 retail facilities globally. According to the Fortune 500 index of the wealthiest and most powerful corporations in the world, Wal-Mart holds the number one spot, ranked by its total sales. The company is ranked as the second most admired company in the world by Fortune (www.fortune.com). With all these numbers, you would think they had a long drawn out plan with goals as long as their success, but when Sam Walton created Wal-Mart in 1962, he declared that three policy goals would define his business: respect for the individual, service to customers, and striving for excellence (www.walmart.com). Three very short, but successful goals, which have been working since.

As I researched goals and planning, Wal-Mart’s goals are not the standard goals that I found. In the textbook there is information concerning characteristics of goals.

Characteristics of Well-Designed Goals:

1) Written in terms of outcomes rather than actions.

2) Measurable and quantifiable.

3) Clear as to a time frame.

4) Challenging yet attainable.

5) Written down.

6) Communicated to all necessary organizational members.

Management (Page 166 Para. 1)

As we redirect to Wal-Marts goals, we can see that they would not be defined as well designed. Not many of the six characteristics would fit Sam Walton’s goals.

1) Respect for the individual – This could not be considered for outcomes rather than actions nor is it measurable and quantifiable. It contains no time frame and I hardly consider respect as a challenge. However the goals were written and have been communicated to all employees. When it comes to the respect from Wal-Mart stores many individuals feel Sam Walton has lost his sight. I researched what others had to say about the goals. “Everyone says the store really got bad after Sam died,” one individual explains. http://members.aol.com/walmopboy/abuse/strl.htm (Look Before You Leap)

The site contains articles customers and employees have posted about the treatment they have received at various Wal-Mart stores.

2) Service to customers – Once again this fits only the last two characteristics explained. It is written and has been communicated.

3) Striving for excellence – This, compared to the other two fits the characteristics best. It could be considered for outcomes rather than action, and could be considered challenging. It is not measurable and quantifiable, nor clear as to a time frame. However, it is once again written down and communicated to the employees.

When I researched how well these goals were communicated to the employees, I found that they are printed on the hiring paperwork. Once the paperwork is complete the employees do not see or receive the goals. Therefore, I do not feel the goals are communicated effectively among the employees and organization. In order for the goals to be achieved, I feel the employees must be aware of Sam Walton’s sight.

I believe the first step to achieve these goals effectively would be to instill them within the employees. They should be explained clearly and constantly. They should also be printed, in clear sight. This would help to remind employees and show customers their attitudes. I also feel that the goals should have a clear time frame and measurable. For example: In one year, cut complaints to less than 20 per store. There should be some way to ensure the goals are being reached. By setting time frames and a measurable form the store can see how well or terrible they are doing.


1) Wal-Mart Homepage


[Accessed 18 July 2004]

2) Fortune


[Accessed 18 July 2004]

3) Wal-Mart Horror Stories – Archives


[Accessed 19 July 2004]

4) Robbins, Coulter (2005) Management Eighth Edition

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Custom Publishing

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