Critical Incident: The Right Employees Can Shake the Blues of the Gloomy Picture!

With rumors of his state’s economic woes and the federal government’s lack of consensus among the various political parties on what to do to get economic growth back on track, Larry Sparks wondered how Paul’s Home Center would survive. Sally Paul had two stores in rural communities in Texas. Last month, she purchased a Kmart complex that was closed in a metropolitan area. The store was being renovated and would become the third Paul’s Home Center. This facility is about a mile down the road from a Wal-Mart.

Larry Sparks is 48 years old, married with five children ages 7 to 18. Shortly after graduating from high school, Paul enlisted in the Army and spent six years in the military. His tour of duty included three tours in Iraq and other Middle East countries. His military experience helped him to hone maintenance skills and leadership abilities. He returned to the area to marry his childhood sweetheart and has worked for Sally Paul for the past 16 years. He had finished an associate’s degree in supervisory leadership at the local community college and Sally Paul had provided him with many opportunities to hone his skills.

Larry had never dreamed of the opportunity that was before him. He was to be the store manager at the new store and have full responsibility for all aspects of its operation. Since this new store was located 60 miles from his home, he knew that there would be many challenges. As he contemplated the future, he knew that finding the best employees and training them to be great was his first challenge. Where will he begin?

After reading the case, submit your answers to the following questions:

  1. Visit your local Wal-Mart store to observe the types of jobs that employees are doing.  Would any of those jobs be appropriate for the new store Larry will be managing?  What kind of skills does an employee need to do the jobs that need to be done in Larry’s store?
  2. Develop a plan to help Larry staff the store. (Include aspects discussed in Chapters 3 and 9-12 of the text.)
  3. Once Larry has selected his staff, what type of training is needed to get them to work together as an effective team? 
  4. Based upon your experiences in the workplace and your reading of chapters 9-12, what advice would