Lululemon leans on personal development of associates
Lululemon recently landed as the highest-ranked retailer on Glassdoor’s “2018 Best Places to Work” survey for U.S. companies. One of its unique attributes is its investment in store associates’ personal and career goals.
The personal development focus was a passion of the chain’s founder, Chip Wilson, and has drawn some controversy.
Management encourages associates to set ten-year goals with a focus on three areas: health, personal and career, and provides worksheets to guide them in setting a vision. Once ten-year goals are set, five-year and one-year sub-goals are added to help plot a course to achieve the longer-term goal.
“Vision boards” for associates are hung in the back rooms of stores and associates are advised to check their vision and goals frequently, share them with friends and family, and continually assess whether their decisions are bringing them closer or farther from their goals.
The most controversial part is that, once associates have nine months under their belt, Lululemon will pay for them to attend self-improvement seminars run by Landmark Forum, an organization based in San Francisco.
Reports came out a few years ago that some employees felt forced to attend the seminar in order to advance within the company and to follow Landmark Forum’s guidelines, which include such advice as not having “bad days.”
Laurent Potdevin, who replaced Mr. Wilson as CEO in late 2013, has in recent years reportedly reduced the pressure to attend the retreats or follow Landmark Forum’s ideologies.
Still, many other employees cited in the articles exploring the Landmark Forum controversy appreciated the seminars. The high score in Glassdoor’s “2018 Best Places to Work” survey and positive comments on the site also show that many feel the personal development approach has been beneficial.
Among the recent comments:
- “One of the best jobs I’ve ever had — learned so much about how to be a leader and treat other people.”
- “Managers act as coaches: helping you focus on improving your work performance or just achieving your personal or health goals, too.”
- “They care about you as an individual through development and growth.”
- Glassdoor’s 10th Annual Best Places to Work Revealed: Facebook Earns #1 Spot – Glassdoor
- Lululemon Glassdoor Review – Glassdoor
- Intro – The Worksheets – Lululemon
- Lululemon Features – Lululemon
- A Look Inside Lululemon’s Unique Goal-Setting Program – Greatist
- Yoga, spinning and a murder: My strange months at Lululemon – Salon
- The Self-Help Movement Behind Lululemon’s Eerie Dogma – Racked
- Lululemon Spends $500 For Workers To Attend A Controversial Retreat Endorsed By Founder Chip Wilson – Business Insider
- Lululemon Will No Longer Push Employees to Attend Self-Help Classes – Racked
- Lululemon’s Kumbaya Capitalism – New York Times
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How important to Lululemon’s success is the company focus on personal development? Would emphasizing associates’ goals around health, personal and career work for other retailers?