You’d probably be fired on the spot if you were late for work fifty years ago. Luckily, companies are a little more forgiving today. To address the diversity of their employees, larger companies (like Walmart) have replaced the traditional disciplinary measures with newer concepts—like performance coaching. But what is Walmart’s coaching policy, and how does it work?
Performance coaching is a multi-level process used by Walmart to teach associates their job duties while also helping them learn and grow as employees. The process flows through four coaching tiers, giving employees time to improve their performance before facing termination.
It’s a good idea to understand the coaching process if you work at Walmart because it affects different aspects of your job. Continue reading to learn more about Walmarts coaching policy and how each level of the process works.
What Is Performance Coaching?
If you or somebody you know works at Walmart, you might have heard someone talking about performance coaching. But do you know what it is?
Performance coaching is a training model in which a manager, assistant manager, or team leader offers support and guidance to their team members. Coaches use feedback and corrective conversations (along with other interventions) to encourage and empower associates to be the best they can be.
Coaching can take several forms. A coach might talk to an employee about how their behavior affects other people, or they might help the employee brainstorm solutions to a challenging situation.
What’s Considered a Coachable Offense?
Regardless of where you work, you’ll get a written or verbal warning if you do or say something that doesn’t align with the company’s goals or values. At Walmart, these disciplinary actions are called coachings.
You might find yourself getting coached for various reasons, and the severity of your behavior will determine how the company responds. That said, most coachable offenses include behavior that influences productivity or the workplace environment in some way.
Some common examples of coachable offenses include:
- Being late for a shift
- Returning late from a break
- Not taking required meal breaks
- Being rude to a customer
- Treating co-workers badly
- Mishandling store property
- Not completing job duties
- Working overtime without approval
- Frequent callouts or leaving early
- Leaving tasks unfinished
Senior-level associates can coach you for almost anything. However, if you believe the reason you received coaching is unfair, you can appeal it.
Are There Different Levels of Coaching?
There are different coaching levels, ranging from verbal warnings to termination. Offenses are also color-coded, depending on how many occurrences an employee receives.
However, things get a bit tricky because it’s nearly impossible to get your hands on an official employee handbook. Even people who work at Walmart have a hard time finding the official policies—despite there being systems and apps available to help with that.
It becomes complicated because various zones might score occurrences differently. For example, your first coaching for a minor productivity issue would likely be a yellow occurrence. But, if your manager had to coach you for another productivity-related issue again within six months, it would become an orange occurrence.
However, other areas (such as failing to return certain types of equipment) add up separately. In other words, being coached for failing to return equipment would not increase your yellow productivity occurrence to orange, but two equipment infractions could increase it to orange.
It’s also worth noting that some occurrences are ranked more severely than others and can result in termination without prior coaching.
Typically, coaching is cumulative, and each occurrence changes your color rank and brings you closer to red. A good coach will meet you before you hit red to make an improvement plan and help you reach your goals.
What Are the Penalties of Being Coached?
In many ways, the coaching policy at Walmart is similar to a three-strike rule, but instead of strikes, you’re getting color-coded occurrences. The penalties for each event are determined based on the color assigned to it.
Yellow-level coaching is typically a conversation, orange is a written warning and can limit transfers and raises, and red is the last step before termination.
Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, it gets a bit more complicated. Luckily, we have added a short description of each color-coded coaching below.
More minor infractions almost always start at yellow, and yellow occurrences are typically verbal conversations. Yellow coaching often occurs when a coach notices a behavior that could affect productivity if left unchecked—for example, arriving late, showing up unprepared to work, not finishing your daily tasks, etc.
A verbal conversation alerts the employee to the problem and serves as a warning. Although they will always be visible on your record, yellow occurrences don’t carry a penalty other than that the next time the behavior happens, it will escalate the coaching procedure.
Yellow occurrences stay active for six months. No further steps are needed if the employee improves their behavior. However, if the employee gets another coaching, it escalates the occurrence to orange.
Orange coaching involves a written warning. Coaches will enter the information into the company system and explain what happened and what steps the employee must take to improve.
Unfortunately, orange occurrences are more severe than yellow and do carry penalties. For example, you cannot transfer or advance if you have active orange occurrences. Additionally, you might get an orange occurrence without first getting a yellow coaching (depending on the event).
Like yellow, orange-level occurrences, stay active for six months from the day the coaching is administered (this resets each time you’re coached). If you’re coached again within six months, it escalates to a red occurrence.
Red coaching acts as a final warning before termination. An employee who has an active red occurrence is on probation. They cannot advance or transfer, and another infraction will result in termination.
During red coaching, a senior assistant will speak to you about your behavior, and they might discuss ways to change the behavior with you. You’ll also be asked to sign the warning; failure to do so might result in termination on the spot. Some stores may cut your hours if you have an active red occurrence, but this is not technically part of the policy.
How Long Do Occurrences Stay on Your Employee Record?
Now that you know coaching can sometimes keep you from advancing or transferring to another store, you might wonder how long it will stay on your employment record.
Coaching reflects as occurrences on your employee record at Walmart for one year. The year will reset if you get coached again during that time.
Occurrences remain visible on your employment record forever. That said, they only carry penalties for six months (unless you were terminated), but the timer resets every time you’re coached.
Do I Have to Sign a Coaching?
Technically, no. Nobody can force you to sign a written warning. Not signing won’t do you any favors and almost always results in further disciplinary action.
It’s important to remember that signing a written warning only recognizes that you received the warning; it doesn’t indicate that you agree. You can still appeal a decision even if you’ve signed off on the coaching.
How Do I Appeal a Coaching?
Nobody enjoys getting warnings at work, but sometimes even when we dislike it, we know the penalties are warranted. But what about the times when they aren’t? What can you do if you think an associate coached you unfairly or for something out of your control?
Walmart has an open-door policy that allows employees to take their concerns directly to upper management. If you believe you’ve been coached unfairly, you can appeal it by utilizing the open-door policy.
Employees can either call the Open-Door Hotline (1-800-361-0781) or go up the chain of command at your store. If you’re open-dooring management in your store, you can reach out to facility managers, regional managers, and even divisional team members.
Hopefully, the information above helped you and answered any questions you had about the coaching policy at Walmart. If you’re currently employed with Walmart, you can always find more information by visiting www.one.walmart.com and using your employee information to log in.
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