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Stephanie Barbee

DETT 621-9040
November 9, 2014
Assignment 3: Case Study
Sherwin Williams: Learning and Development Needs Analysis
Introduction: Overview of Organization
Sherwin Williams is an international company in the coatings industry and is currently one of the
largest producers of paints and coatings in the United States. Their organizational mission is to sell
quality paint and provide customers with beneficial information regarding paints, stains, and decorative
ideas in homes, apartments, and businesses (Bowman, 2014). Learning and development is in the
forefront of their priorities, ensuring they have a prideful workforce that embraces employee success
through learning and development. Within Sherwin Williams is a hierarchy of management personnel
who ensure an efficient and effective organization and emphasize the following key areas: integrity,
people, service, quality, performance, innovation, and growth. Organizational goals and objectives
include the following:

Distributing paint and materials in an environmentally friendly and safe way

Providing customers with quality customer service
Ensuring employees have the proper training tools to safely perform their roles and
responsibilities (Bowman, 2014).

With a learning and development maturity level of four, according to the Stages of Organizational
Learning and Development Capability Model, it is clear Sherwin Williams places a great deal of
importance on learning and development within its organization. Employees have access to an online
portal, called Sherwin Williams University, where they can find a series of 36 courses for competency and
skills improvement (Bowman, 2014). Through university courses, Sherwin Williams is able to tie
learning and development activities to their financial goals by offering the classes needed to those
employed throughout the organization. Ultimately, their focus is to have employees expand their
knowledge and competency so they may use what they have learned in a practical and efficient manner
(Barbee, 2014).
While this organization is already at a high level of maturity, there are still areas where Sherwin
Williams can improve and ensure they continue to lead the coatings industry. Based on a recent case
study report, Barbee Industries has been hired to evaluate Sherwin Williams learning and development

program; so that they may prepare a needs analysis report listing areas where improvements can help the
program excel even further. According to Lykins (2012), aligning learning efforts to organizational
missions, visions, and goals is critical in order to clearly define how learning efforts contribute to its
growth and profitability. Sherwin Williams stresses the importance of amalgamating its learning and
development needs and the organizational mission, vision, and values. Based on the information from the
Sherwin Williams case study, the following two needs have been identified in order for the organization
to improve its learning and development program:
1. Add additional courses for employee competency and skills improvement
2. Incorporate social learning into the learning and development program
Needs Analysis
Need #1: Add Additional Courses for Employee Competency and Skills Improvement
How Need Relates to Organizational Mission: According to Bowman (2014), the Sherwin Williams
mission is to sell quality paint and provide customers with beneficial information regarding
paints, stains, and decorative ideas in homes, apartments, and businesses. In order to achieve
this, employees must be trained in all aspects of the job, and this training must be effective and
efficient. Currently, there is a series of 36 courses available within Sherwin Williams University
and by adding additional courses relating to competency and skills improvement, the organization
can ensure employees are trained properly with product knowledge and customer service skills.
A quality learning and development program, in todays hyper competitive coatings industry, is
an effective way to ensure the organization sees an immediate return on the investment of the
overall program (Katz, 2013).
Where Does Need Exist in Organization: All areas of learning and development are affected by this
need. More specifically, this need exists in order to expand employee product knowledge and
customer service skills. It will be incorporated in the form of online courses that can be
completed at the employees leisure or during a time period specified by management.
What Employees are Involved: With this need all employees are involved, including management;
however, employees that deal directly with products and customer service benefit more from
training of this type. Ensuring all employees are current with competencies and skills is vital to
the Sherwin Williams mission and is a top priority for learning and development improvement.
Impact on Organization: All employees within the organization are urged to complete as many courses
that are available to their level of skill and position within the organization. Providing additional

areas of improvement allows employees to enhance their competency and skills, and allows them
to track their progress through the learning and development program. With this feature
employees can visualize where they are in the organization and focus on what they need to
accomplish to enhance their position within the organization. Adding additional courses will
have a direct impact on employee knowledge and skills, and will have an indirect impact on
employee retention.
Effect of Need on Organization: As with most dynamic organizations, the coatings industry is a
complicated and ever-evolving industry that draws heavily upon technological advancements and
manufacturing innovations. It is clear Sherwin Williams is aware of the benefits of offering
online learning to its employees, as they are able to complete courses at their own pace and track
their own progress within the organization. However, if this need is not met it is likely this
organization will fail to keep up with such a fluid and ever-changing market. Employees will not
be prepared to address customer service concerns and product knowledge will fade. The opposite
will result if the organization is able to meet this specific need. According to Van Dam (2012),
employees expect the organization they work for to continuously build the capabilities that keep
them on the cutting edge of their profession. Employees will be knowledgeable of new or
enhanced product specifics and will be trained on customer service skills relating to upcoming
trends in this area of the organization.
Need #2: Incorporate Social Learning into the Learning and Development Program
How Need Relates to Organizational Mission: One tool missing from the Sherwin Williams learning
and development program is the social learning capability. While there is a clearly-defined online
learning atmosphere, all courses are completed autonomously and without peer interaction.
According to Hartley (2013), social learning is the sharing of knowledge, information, and
experiences via interactive discussion and collaboration among peers. This allows employees to
work together on aspects of the job, solving problems together and sharing knowledge, instead of
having to present issues to management for solutions.
Where Does Need Exist in Organization: All areas of training and development are affected by this
need. Sherwin Williams is divided into four different segments, with each segment having ten
positions within its hierarchy of management. Communication between positions is vital to the
organizational mission, and social learning facilitates important relationships regardless of rank in
the organization. Additionally, the Sherwin Williams case study states that there is a clear
generational gap that exists within its organization, and social learning helps bring together

generations in a way that facilitates meaningful learning and development. According to Spencer
(2013), there is no substitute for experience, and in order for employees to get the most from their
learning opportunities they need to look to those with more experience to enhance their
knowledge, understanding, and proficiency.
What Employees are Involved: This need involves all employees, as social learning allows general and
management employees the ability to share experience and knowledge in real-time. According to
Hartley (2013), people are asking questions and getting immediate answers; they are connecting
and getting answers about things that normally would take ten people to decide after scheduling a
Impact on Organization: The impact this need has results directly from the organizations
understanding of the value of social learning, as it facilitates learning and drives formal and
informal learning (Hartley, 2013). Social learning in the Sherwin Williams organization enables
employees to find what they need to accomplish a task immediately, saving the organization time
and money. The impact this need has on the generation gap is central to the organizations
mission, vision, and values. Ultimately, employees are empowered more than ever, as they are
awarded more control over their learning and development within the organization.
Effect of Need on Organization: Learning leaders can evaluate if a companys culture is truly
collaborative and its social strategy successful by monitoring participation. According to Hartley
(2013), social learning technologies not only have the potential to drive collaboration with the
enterprise, they enable learners to access the information they need in real-time. If this need is
not met, time and funding is wasted as employees seek out management to resolve these issues.
In addition, there will be a clear divide between generations. However, if this need is met
learning becomes more efficient and helps to develop a positive rapport among employees. Also,
incorporating this element allows employees to connect with experts, enhancing relationships
across pay-grades and positions within the organization.
This needs analysis addresses two issues that could enhance the Sherwin Williams learning and
development program. An international organization that has a state-of-the-art online learning system,
Sherwin Williams would benefit from adding additional courses to its repertoire, providing students with
extra opportunities to enhance their competency and skills in the workplace. Adequate for both general
and managerial employees, the inclusion of addition courses will benefit the Sherwin Williams mission by

ensuring employees are adequately trained and provided with the opportunity to grow in their workplace.
One element missing from the Sherwin Williams University learning and development program is social
learning. By including social learning, the organization can address issues with a generational gap and
offer employees more control of their learning and development progress. Ultimately, any improvements
in the learning and development program have an effect on the overall organization, as employees are
able to do their jobs at a higher level. This helps the organizations bottom line and overall customer
satisfaction. While Sherwin Williams is already evaluated as a level four, according to the Stages of
Organizational Learning and Development Capability Model, by implementing the suggestions in the
needs analysis presented by Barbee Inc. Sherwin Williams can easily take its organization to a more
esteemed level of maturity.


Barbee, S. A. (2014). Case study report: Sherwin Williams training & development (Unpublished essay).
University of Maryland University College, Adelphi, MD.
Bowman, M. M. (2014). Assignment #2: Case study report. Research paper, University of Maryland
University College, October 14, 2014.
Hartley, D. (March 2013). What is social learning anyway? Chief Learning Officer. Retrieved from
Katz, B. (February, 2013). Development drives innovation and revenue. Chief Learning Officer, 12(2), 5055. Retrieved from
Lykins, L. (September, 2012). Are your learning activities aligned with the business? Chief Learning
Officer. Retrieved from
Spencer, T. (February, 2012). Building informal learning habits. Chief Learning Officer, 11(3), 44-45.
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