The Home Depot is one of the major organizations operating in the sphere of home improvement in North America. The company owns 2,300 retail stores and provides employment to approximately 500,000 associates (The Home Depot, n.d.). Such success is explained primarily by the company’s strong culture and emphasis on innovative development (Marcus et al., 2019). As for the former, The Home Depot promotes the vision of the inverted pyramid, implying that those stakeholders whose interests and opinions are usually considered the last during the decision-making process are the most valuable. Therefore, this philosophy prioritizes satisfying the demands of the customers and employees over those of middle- and top-level managers (The Home Depot, n.d.b). As for the latter, the organization actively uses technological advancement to increase worker productivity and improve customer service.
Aligning Leadership Philosophy with the Organizational Design
Previous analysis revealed that the current organizational structure might not fully align with The Home Depot’s philosophy on the lower management levels. In particular, the study showed that some line managers have to practice authoritarian rule, meaning that the leader makes decisions without consulting one’s subordinates. It happens because the higher-level managers sometimes require delivering solutions in a short period of time or simply impose their decisions that are non-negotiable.
When the company promotes the culture of democratic leadership but instead occasionally practices autocracy, such a situation may lead to distress in leaders who support the former values (Fawcett & Mullan, 2018). However, the previous research clearly indicates that leaders should change their behavioral strategy according to the situation and task that they face implying that collective decision-making is not always best (Tabrizi & Rideout, 2019). For example, Thompson and Glaso (2018) state that the decision to delegate should be based on the evaluation of the subordinates’ expertise concerning the analyzed problem. For this reason, the leaders should be trained to identify which situations require which type of leadership which will reduce the internal conflict of adapting leadership styles different from democratic ones.
The second recommendation addresses the communication problems between managers and their subordinates during the structural or operational transformations. It is based on the premise that employees naturally would oppose the change in favor of sustaining the status quo as the former is associated with the risk of unknown (Hussain et al., 2018). Thus, the leaders should convince their subordinates concerning the necessity of the planned innovations (Hussain et al., 2018). In this regard, it is suggested that the leaders of The Home Depot always ensure open communications with the employees concerning the changes regardless of the time pressure. As the first step, the top managers should convince middle-level administrators and form strong alliances (Galli, 2019). Next, the latter should do the same with line leaders who, in turn, should convince the workers.
Moreover, the leaders should guarantee the involvement of all the stakeholders in designing the transformation. For example, Pedrini and Ferri (2019) maintain that the managers should encourage and consider the feedback from the workers as it would help to improve a project and avoid mistakes. As such, Kappel (2018) states that some effective methods to collect employee opinions would be surveys and’ suggestion boxes.’ Following these steps, despite the intuition, would reduce the change implementation time as there will be almost no employee resistance. Instead, motivated workers would increase the speed of the transformation.
The Organization’s Shared Values
As for The Home Depot’s shared values, the previous analysis did not identify any major problems. In fact, the company has quite effective values, mission, and vision statements and good overall culture (Marcus et al., 2019). However, top-down decisions prevail significantly over bottom-up initiatives. Therefore, it is suggested that the organization continues empowering its employees further. For instance, the company can organize managerial coaching sessions for the frontline workers, which can enhance their innovative behavior and readiness and ability to initiate changes (Jepsen & Dehlholm, 2020). Additionally, it is suggested that the organization organizes internal ideation contests that would allow workers to share their expertise and creative solutions. This, in turn, would further empower the frontline employees, according to previous research (Campos-Blázquez et al., 2020). As a result, these steps would help The Home Depot promote more bottom-up solutions and increase the alignment between values and actual behavior.
Similar to the strong culture, the company puts significant efforts into innovative development. For instance, The Home Depot creates various groups, such as the Applied Machine Intelligence team, responsible for introducing and implementing creative solutions. However, as mentioned earlier, although there is a certain level of innovative behavior among the frontline associates, it still can be further increased. Therefore, additionally to managerial coaching and the organization of ideation contests, the leaders of The Home Depot can improve the rewarding system. In this regard, the previous research shows that clearly defined compensation for non-standard decisions can significantly enhance employee innovation (Lee et al., 2020). As a particular example of reward, it may be suggested that part-time workers are immediately offered a full-time position if they are able to introduce a substantial change plan in their respective sphere. Additionally, while promoting initiative behavior through compensation, the leaders also should reduce the perceived risks of possible mistakes. According to Weinzimmer and Esken (2017), it not only increases creativity but also enhances workers’ learning outcomes and overall performance. Thus, the proposed steps would allow the organization to further strengthen its leading position in the market through the improved innovativeness of its employees.
Ensuring Beneficial Work-Life Balance
Last but not least, the previous analysis revealed that there are some problems in The Home Depot regarding ensuring a healthy work-life balance. The biggest problems were found in the sphere of part-time employee work scheduling and off-hours online communications. To address these issues, it is suggested that the company elaborates its scheduling policies and makes working time more stable and predictable throughout the weeks. Additionally, the managers should consider a ban on task-related communications between employees outside of the working hours. This approach is found to significantly improve the personnel’s ability to divide work and personal life responsibilities (Von Bergen & Bressler, 2019). However, this is just the minimum of the measures that should be considered.
Additionally, the organization can implement other measures that would further improve the current work-life balance issue. For example, this may include the organization of workshops or purchasing the applications such as Headspace, Calm, and Insight Time which help to increase an individual’s mindfulness. The latter, in turn, leads to a better ability to detach from work, reduced work-life conflict, and improved satisfaction with personal and professional lives (Althammer et al., 2021). Finally, the leaders should constantly remind their subordinates about balancing the time they devote to completing work-related tasks and personal relationships and hobbies.
Organizational Learning Assessment
In The Home Depot, employee learning occurs in the form of various educational initiatives organized by the company and, slightly less, in the form of self-learning. As for the former, the organization offers various one-on-one or group training. Most of the coaching is task-oriented, meaning that the employees are taught how to deal with concrete – rather than abstract – problems. Additionally, the organization puts significant efforts into disseminating the organizational values and strengthening workers’ devotion to them. The learning occurs in the form of workshops, training, and reading of the printed brochures. As for the latter, The Home Depot creates opportunities for its employees to personally acquire the necessary knowledge. For instance, the organization recently created a PocketGuide application that contains information about most of the products that the store sells (The Home Depot, n.d.c). First of all, it enables employees to learn anywhere and anytime, and secondly, it offers various educational games based on the learning subject, which leads to greater engagement with the educational process. Therefore, the knowledge in the company is spread using various forms, namely visual, audio, digital, and interpersonal communications.
According to my personal observations, employees capture the learning in several ways. Firstly, they use the specific techniques that were previously shared by coaches or their supervisors. For instance, recently, I have learned the method of how to better make the customer become aware of the previously unconsidered needs, which I actively use now almost every day. Secondly, they enhance the innovation behavior of employees as they become more conscious about the issues that they previously did not notice. Therefore, with a greater understanding of the problems, the employees have more desire to change them.
Additionally, there are various agents that transfer knowledge across the organization. They include managers, experienced workers, professional coaches from the HR department, and invited guests. These people transfer their expertise between each other and to other members of the organization in a formal, semiformal, or informal manner. The former occurs during training or workshops, whereas the latter two usually appear during interpersonal communications. Therefore, it can be concluded that there is a multichannel learning process in The Home Depot.
Finally, the organizational learning process is also constantly reevaluated and improved. As such, the company measures the success of educational initiatives is conducting surveys where employees note the usefulness of a specific program and are asked to evaluate the change in performance. Moreover, the line managers are asked to analyze the objective information concerning the employee productivity change after the training as well as to subjectively evaluate the presence of any progress. Next, these results are not only shared with the HR department but also with the worker. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, the PocketGuide application allows tracking the employee’s learning progress through the analysis of the scores that he or she received while playing the game against the number of times played. Therefore, the combination of various feedback techniques allows The Home Depot to provide the best training programs.
Organizational Learning Recommendations
Although The Home Depot is relatively good at providing educational opportunities to its employees, there are still certain improvements that can be implemented. Firstly, there is a potential for the company to generate more knowledge by promoting inter-organizational learning with its partners. It can be achieved by organizing workshops where the experts from two or more entities can have an open discussion concerning various issues. Such cooperation will not only lead to the exchange of experience and expertise and enhanced innovation but also make the supply chain more integrated (Ingram, 2017; Zhu et al., 2018). Next, The Home Depot can invest more efforts into the creation of a culture that supports knowledge sharing. To achieve that, the organization should reward innovative behavior, inspire people to have open communications and trust each other, emphasize the importance of collective performance over the individual one (Matošková & Směšná, 2017). Moreover, the leaders can show that knowledge sharing benefits the learner as well as the sharer.
Furthermore, the managers can promote collaboration between various departments which would ensure that individual expertise becomes organizational knowledge. In this respect, Qazi et al. (2017) mention that teamwork leads to a combination of the strengths of people coming from various backgrounds. Therefore, The Home Depot should ensure that there are people from various parts of the company involved in the solution of a certain problem. Lastly, to ensure continuous employee education, the organization’s leaders should all the measures mentioned above should be practiced constantly. This would help to form a learning culture within the organization, which will guarantee the sustainability of learning practices (Chanani & Wibowo, 2019). As a consequence, The Home Depot will eventually transform into a true learning organization.
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