Food and clothing giant Asda is to embark on the biggest management
development exercise of its recent history as it begins a ‘cultural evolution’.
In an initiative run by people development manager Paul McKinlay and his
deputy Bruce Boughton, 336 managers will each attend a five-day workshop,
called the Walton Institute, after a concept created by US parent company
Wal-Mart founders Sam and Helen Walton. The programme will be put into an Asda
and UK context and will take four-months to complete.
The impetus for the programme comes from Asda’s revamped corporate mission
and values which were introduced in February.
"We are making our culture even better than before," said
The company now wants to be known as "Britain’s best value retailer,
exceeding customer needs always", whereas its previous wish was to be
"the best clothing and food superstore".
Three new Asda values have been introduced, centring on respect for the
individual, enhanced customer service and striving for excellence.
"The challenge now is to change how everyone in the organisation
behaves," added Broughton.
Part of this evolution is that "managers should treat people how they
want to be treated instead of the previous edict that they should treat them as
they would want to be treated themselves".
The success of the evolution depends on Asda managers making the transition
to becoming leaders and as a result some content of the programme is based on
the Kouzes and Posner book The Leadership Challenge, said Boughton.
He is looking at how managers can develop and communicate their vision to
share it and to inspire people.
Diversity is another key element. Boughton said: "We’ve had equal
opportunities in place for a long time, but we want people to understand that
diversity is broader than ethnicity alone. For this reason each group on the
programme will be made up of store managers from across the UK and there will
be three places on each course for our international colleagues."
As the cultural evolution is dependent on changed behaviours, all delegates
will undertake a 360 degree feedback exercise with their staff beforehand and
will receive the feedback information at the start of the course.
By Stephanie Sparrow