Behind the Scenes at Sears Learning Organization

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Katherine Mehr

In this podcast Debbie Graye of the Sears Holding Corporation presents a case study on her company's continuous learning program.

Even in this economy, leveraging learning and development for employees is critical not only for their individual success, but for the organization’s strategic plan as a whole.

At Sears Holding Corporation, which employs 350,000 employees, their learning organization is comprised of a broad corporate university, also known as Sears Holding University. Sears Holding University supports the enterprise learning and development needs. However, on a more departmental level, specific skills and knowledge courses are offered and required so that employees can do their jobs more effectively.

According to Debbie Graye, Director of Learning and Development for Sears Holding Corporation, their learning and development initiatives are tied directly to their strategic planning efforts. This helps them determine where they are and areas they need to grow over the next couple of years.

The key driver to Sears Holding Corporations learning and development initiatives is innovation. Graye said they have instilled an internal collaboration tool where employees, managers, etc. share their expertise and knowledge. This is a great tool that will help them execute strategy.

However, nothing comes without a challenge. Sears Holding faces constrained resources, as many organizations do; but Graye worries most about the capacity of the employees to grow and learn given all that Sears Holding has them doing to support the customers. If time and energy is carved out for supporting the customers, when is there time and capacity to build skills and knowledge?

In this case study, Graye discusses with Human Resources IQ the structure of Sears Holding Corporations learning initiatives, how it is evolving and what needs to be done to be prepared for a better tomorrow.