Centura Foods

The Value of Development During the Time of Change

The Company

Centura Foods (now part of Premier Foods) is responsible for the most well-known and best loved brands in Britain’s kitchens, including famous names such as Bisto, Paxo, Saxo and Sharwood’s sauces, as well as Frank Cooper and Robertson’s jam. 

Initially the company was looking for an interim manager to provide cover whilst its own Training and Development Manager was on maternity leave, so HR specialist Lesley Kaye was recruited on a short-term contract.

Centura Foods’ parent company, the RHM Group, was also undergoing massive changes in readiness for flotation on the stock market.  In this shifting environment, Lesley realised that her development skills could be put to good use in helping this process.

The Challenge

Having joined Centura Foods initially to takeover the reigns of the existing training and development role, it soon became clear to that there were a number of areas of the business that could benefit from Lesley’s specialist knowledge and she began to demonstrate the true power of development

Lesley explains: “The initial challenge was to get employee development much higher up the management agenda, and show that it is not just about training courses but much more about improving an organisation’s performance through its people.

A leadership programme was imperative to equip managers with the enhanced skills required to achieve the company’s objectives, and after significant discussion the management board gave the proposal its full support.

The Approach

One of her Lesley’s objectives was to ensure that all new processes and activities fulfilled the ‘best value’ criteria – in short, every new programme was designed to have maximum effect and consistency across all areas of the business and all departments.

To that end, Lesley implemented a consistent and thorough five-point strategy

  • New performance management process  - Explaining the link between individual and company performance, and how each person contributes and has a part to play in the organisation’s success
  • Integrated functional development activities - Aligning all training and development to ensure corporate objectives were met with consistency across all departments and sites
  • Individual coaching - Assessing individual requirements throughout the company and giving tailored and measurable support
  • Organising and facilitating the annual management conference - A lively two day event with over 60 senior managers in attendance with a wide variety of presentations, workshops and activities
  • Senior leadership events - A series of high profile events covering strategy, marketing, finance, training and leadership

For example, in order to develop the Leadership Programme I focussed on establishing the real, rather than perceived, development needs to achieve business results – really getting to the heart of what the company needed rather than a ‘quick-fix’ training course.

We conducted 360 degree assessments, focus groups and individual interviews as well as feeding in all the appropriate background information such as competencies and skills, talent and performance management data.  This research paid dividends in building a robust and influential programme .

The Results

Despite being an interim role, during the restructure Lesley assumed the role of Head of Organisation and Management Development, a position that was essential in order to achieve maximum effectiveness in reshaping the business.

She says: “We had to raise the profile of development in an organisation which traditionally has been very much more task focused. There has been a lot of change in a very short time and to achieve this we have had work in a highly collaborative manner - working with both individuals and teams to understand their business needs whilst keeping the big picture in view.”

This whole process has proved to be hugely successful, exceeding all board expectations.  The leadership and management teams are wholly convinced of the value of these programmes so will be running more in the future that include a new communications strategy, organisational development process, talent management and employer branding.

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