Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Report 2015 Sears Holdings Corporation

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Performance Enablement is our approach to performance management for our salaried associates and consists of a set of processes and tools that help our associates deliver more value every day by aligning their work and development with the strategic priorities and culture of our organization. Faced with financial performance challenges and a rapidly changing retail environment, the leadership team at Sears Holdings decided it was time to make a cultural shift. With the introduction of a new statement and a fresh set of cultural beliefs, we knew that we needed to, at a minimum, change the words in our performance process to align appropriately with the behaviors we were expecting from individuals. Additional research in neuroscience quickly became the catalyst for realizing the change that needed to happen in order to fulfill our mission and drive greater performance and accountability of our associates. As Sears Holdings continues its transformation, it is essential that our performance management processes and tools support our strategic vision and help each associate live our Members First culture, develop leadership capabilities and achieve our key results. 


Prior to August 2014, Sears Holdings conducted a traditional performance management (PM) process: an annual and mid-year review, complete with manager-generated performance ratings and annual goal setting. In the new Performance Enablement approach, salaried associates kick off each new fiscal year by writing Individual Priorities. These priorities represent an associate’s broader key initiatives for the year, and are directly aligned to transparent business unit and company priorities. Individual associates then utilize the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) methodology, a thought framework used by other leading organizations, to set individual objectives on a quarterly cadence. This system of tracking goals throughout the year encourages individual progress and fosters associate agility within the organization as business needs change. Associates are also enabled with a homegrown feedback tool called SoundBoard, which helps them exchange feedback any time with their manager or leadership, internal customers, colleagues, peers and partners. Feedback is aggregated in easy-to-use dashboards for individuals and managers to identify real time trends in how they are achieving their objectives. At the start of each quarter, associates meet with their managers to conduct a quarterly check-in. The check-in is an associate-driven conversation that facilitates quality discussions around what the associate was working on, how it went, and what is next with regard to quarterly objectives, growth and career development. Together, these tools and their frequency allow for stronger alignment of individual objectives, more frequent conversations rooted in a growth mindset, and a more robust perspective of associate behaviors and opportunities for adding value. 

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Associate training and development is important to our organization. We offer several levels of training for our field and corporate associates through our Learn Your Way platform. Learn Your Way includes compliance training and voluntary development courses to help our associates grow in their roles and meet their professional goals. Additionally, our Kmart and Sears store associates can take advantage of leadership development training, from assistant store manager to regional director roles.
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In 2015, in an effort to improve upon and expand our existing learning platforms, we launched Segno - an innovative learning system. Segno is a gamified, open-learning platform that enables associates to learn what they need, when they need it. Segno also facilitates learning in areas the associate is interested in, and not just in those areas that are assigned to the associate. With the launch of Segno, and the continual transformation of learning content and innovative strategies, Sears Holdings was named a 2015 Learning Elite organization and won multiple Brandon Hall awards for achievements in learning.
Retail Leadership Development for Veterans
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This program provides an accelerated career path for high-potential, relocatable military veterans to the position of store manager. The program focuses on the associate’s professional development through a series of job progressions and leadership experiences that will help them gain the technical and retail skills necessary to be a successful store manager.
Kmart Management Program
In 2015, Kmart launched the Growing Entry Level Management (GEM) program. The program is designed to develop talented associates who have the desire and potential to assume assistant store manager positions in the future. The program offers a great opportunity to invest in our future.
Sears Home Appliance Roadshow
Each year, our Home Appliances business unit partners with our top vendors to take our new and exciting product offerings on the road. In 2015, the roadshow visited several major cities across the country so our associates could learn new sales skills, discover ways in which to assist our customers in their purchasing needs, and learn about technological advancements and energy savings in our product offerings. Additionally, our associates learn about the environmental and social benefits offered by our own brand products and those of our valued partners. All of these features give SHC associates the tools to assist our customers throughout their purchase so they find the product that best fits their life.
SHC's Learning & Development Council

The SHC Learning and Development Council is comprised of learning and development professionals at our corporate headquarters. The Learning and Development Council was established to provide a real-time forum to strategically exchange new initiatives, key learning and other useful ideas to help unlock associate potential through programs that drive organizational performance across SHC. In 2015, the council held the following events:

  • Learnapalooza 2015 - an annual event that offers associates at all levels the opportunity to focus on their personal growth and development by attending targeted learning sessions at SHC's corporate headquarters.
  • Dr. Jack Zenger Speaking Event - the world-renowned leadership authority, author and co-founder of Zenger Folkman spoke at SHC's corporate campus. Dr. Zenger shared ideas on self-awareness as a key to a leader's success, understanding the importance of feedback, and discovering ways to increase accountability and service.
  • Professional Development Fair - representatives from universities, SHC's Associate Resource Groups and SHC's Toastmasters were available to discuss opportunities for associates to help further their careers through education, community engagement and public speaking workshops.