An investigation into the creation of a learning organization :a case study of Waltons KZN.
In SA dire skills shortages exist in numerous fields. My employer is also subjected to these uncompromisingly difficult times. Clearly, all the companies need to re-visit their approach towards investing in the skills of their people, and as human resources practitioners we can make a major positive impact in this area by facilitating skills development in our organizations. The researcher was motivated to do this study as he currently works in the human resources department within the company. The researcher has been working in the human resources for the past ten years and has developed a keen interest in skills development. The researcher presented himself, as far as possible, in neutral fashion during the study. Barnad and Schaap (2005) highlight the fact that organizations are confronted with ever increasing turbulence and change in their environment. Senge (1990) argues that a learning organization is critical during these times of rapid changes in the business environment. What the study sought to achieve Through a study of the literature available, I found out what a learning organization really is. Secondly, through open-ended interviews, observations and archival research I established to what extent Waltons KZN is a learning organization. Questions that were answered in the research: The questions were aimed at determining to what extent Waltons KZN is a learning organization. Given the features that Senge (1995) says should be present in learning organizations, how does Waltons KZN match these “prescriptions”? According to Senge (1990), a Learning organization has the following features: • Continuous training and development • Performance management • Team work • Proactive change management • Existence of a culture of continuous feedback between line management and workers All my questions that will be answered by the study participants are based on these features. Research questions were: • Why is continuous training and development so critical in a learning organization? • Does a culture of continuous feedback between line management and workers exist in Waltons KZN? • To what extent does Waltons KZN proactively deal with change? • To what extent is Waltons KZN managing the performance of its employees? • What is the role of team work in a learning organization? The research methods used in the study were open-ended interviews, observations and archival research. Twenty five (25) managers of the company participated in the study. The study found that even thought the respondents feel that the company is doing well in the area of learning and skills development; it’s still unable to manage change effectively. It was also found that the company does not have a formal performance management system which makes it difficult to manage performance and productivity of employees. It was also clear from the study that there is a good relationship between management and workers. This is underpinned by the spirit of team work which exists within the company. These conclusions gave rise to several recommendations. In the main it was recommended that the company needs to develop a comprehensive change management strategy, which places a premium on communication with all stakeholders. It is also recommended that the company develops a formal performance system that will ensure that performance incentives are objectively given to employees.