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"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." ~Goethe

Planning for a Needs Assessment – Whole Foods Market


Whole Food’s is one of US’s learning natural and organic food markets. The food market pride themselves on maintaining the strictest quality standards in the industry (Company Info, 2015). The company was founded back in the 1980s by John Mackey in Austin, Texas and has since expanded throughout the US, with more than 360 stores. Whole Foods have even expanded its store to the United Kingdom. Whole Foods has also become a strong force in their environmental involvement.

In planning for a needs assessment of Whole Foods, I would need to perform an organizational analysis. The organizational analysis will determine “the appropriateness of training, given the company’s business strategy, its resources available for training, and support by managers and peers for training activities” (Noe, 2013, p. 114). Whole Food’s motto is Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet, which represents how the company wants to be more than just a grocery store. The company main goal is to help “support the health, well-being, and healing of both people–customers, team members and business organizations in general–and the planet” (Our Values and Mission, 2015). Because of the company’s motto and goal, it is safe to assume that the company will be willing to invest in training as long as it supports their values and mission. So to begin my organizational analysis, I would need to first identify the stakeholders to which I would like buy-in. The stakeholders for the organization includes1 Chief Presidents and Chief Operating Officer, 12 Presidents of the different regions, a 15 Vice Presidents and Executives Vice Presidents, and 1 General Counsel of Legal Affairs. I would interview each of these stakeholder and ask the following questions:

  1. What are the competency gaps identified in your company in which you would like to see a resolve?
  2. Are the competency gaps represented across the regions or just in particular regions?
  3. How did you determine these competency gaps?
  4. What are your expectations from a training intervention?
  5. What have been your success rate from previous training interventions? What type of changes did you see after previous training interventions?
  6. What resistance or conflicts, if any, have you experienced with past training interventions?
  7. Have you tried other interventions besides training?
  8. Will you company be willing to provide resources for this training? If so, what kind of resources?
  9. Do we have any subject matter experts who can help develop the training?

The interview would be the ideal technique for the organizational analysis so I can get more details to my questions, explore unanticipated issues and modify questions as needed (Noe, 2013). To help support my questions, I would like to examine supporting documents such as previous training materials, evaluations, and any documents that lead to management believing their was a competency gap and something should be done about it. If management believe employee or customer relations is being affected by a particular competency gap, I would like to see the supporting documents.

Next, I would need to perform a person analysis. The person analysis is need to help identify employees who may need the training. In order to determine if an employee needs the training, I would have to determine whether an employee’s performance or expected performance indicates a need for training. In order to determine any performance problems, I would need to review any supporting documents such as a performance plans, performance appraisals, write-ups, and any documented incidents. Since Whole Foods have 360 store throughout North America and in the United Kingdom, this will be a big task to tackle. Interviews every employee would not be a good idea; so instead I could interview 1-2 general managers for a store in each region. I could pick the 1 store that have the most successful employees and 1 store that have the least successful employees. To reach out to the employees in the stores, I could use electronic questionnaires, observe employees at select stores, and do a focus group for each region with select employees. The questions I would ask would be the following:

  1. Have you ever been cited for a performance infraction? If so, would you mind sharing what was the nature of the infraction?
  2. Which skills in your current position would you like to improve?
  3. What would you like to learn that you currently don’t possess the knowledge that you think would be beneficial to your career at Whole Foods?
  4. Do you see yourself at Whole Foods within the next year? 3 years? 5 years?

Lastly, once the company determines that a training intervention is necessary, I would perform a task analysis; which would detail the work performed by the employees and the skills need to perform this work. When upper management chooses the competency to which a gap exist with their employees, I can then determine which duties to analyze. For example, if one of the competency gaps is communications, then I would analyze the communication between the employees and the customer, the employees with management, and the employees amongst each other. I can analyze the task in which a competency gap exist by talking to employees that perform the task and the management that oversee the task. By talking to these two group of people, I can “identify both what employees are actually doing and what they should be doing” (Noe, p. 137) and then understand why a particular competency need to be developed.


Noe, R.A. (2013). Employee training and development. (6th ed). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Whole Foods. (2015). Company Info. Retrieved from info

Whole Foods. (2015). Our Values and Mission. Retrieved from


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