Compass maps its future

Food service provider Compass Group points out the direction it took with a
customer service and induction programme to improve company culture after
merging with Granada

Stepping Out
Designed and delivered by: Jigsaw Training, 21 Church Walk, Fulwood Row,
Preston PR2 6SZ
Phone: 01722 703146
Fax: 01722 701528

Compass Group was founded in the Midlands in 1941 to provide food services
to factory workers during the war. From relatively small beginnings, the
company saw sustained growth making it one of the world’s largest food service
providers. In the UK, the workforce currently numbers 100,000 and operates out
of 9,000 locations.

Following the merger of Compass Group UK& Ireland and Granada’s UK food
service business in July 2000, it was decided that the financial services
departments, which operated in Birmingham and Stockport, should be amalgamated
into one location.

Compass was already located at ‘Parklands’ in Birmingham, but when two
adjacent buildings were built on the same site, Compass acquired them on a
15-year lease.

The anticipated benefits of this move included the creation and development
of a common and improved culture between the two companies and maintenance of
internal and external customer care standards during and after amalgamation.
Additional benefits were based around the accounting systems.

The Compass system was chosen over Granada’s as it was decided that its SAP
Model most closely met the longer-term requirements of the amalgamated company
and would increase profitability in terms of technical complexity and cost.

Head count

The final head count for the amalgamated Financial Services Department was
to exceed 500, with departments ranging from payroll (one of the largest
centres in Europe) to accounts payable, credit control, treasury, financial
accounts, unit accounts and HR.

Two hundred and fifty new staff had to be recruited over a six-month period.
This was also seen as the perfect time to address customer care standards.

The challenges facing Compass included short-term tasks such as recruiting,
training and integrating 250 new starters into an existing team of 250 and
maintaining internal/external customer service standards of all 500-plus staff
during the amalgamation. The medium- to long-term tasks included developing a
cohesive team with a common culture, improving inter-departmental communication
and improving customer service.

The objectives translated into a training programme which had to consider:

– Integrating all staff to become a cohesive and effective team as quickly
as possible

– Facilitating the seamless transfer of work from Stockport

– Ensuring that the essential knowledge and understanding of Compass was
achieved swiftly, retained and applied

– Maintaining customer service levels and instilling customer-focused
behaviours among the team throughout the amalgamation

– Improving morale

– Reducing absenteeism and labour turnover

Training design

As the future success of the department lay in the successful integration of
all staff, it was vital that all new starters started their employment with
enthusiasm and motivation.

The Compass/Jigsaw partnership designed two programmes, an induction for 261
new recruits or transferees and a customer service programme for both new and
existing staff, which were factually accurate, challenging and inspiring.

Training delivery

Management teams played an active part in endorsing training benefits by
attending all sessions ahead of their teams to ensure their own behaviours
reflected the new culture.

One induction and one customer service course were delivered each week
between May and December 2001. To gain maximum benefits, no more than 12
delegates attended each course.

The Compass team, and three Jigsaw team members who would ultimately be
designing and delivering the training, piloted both programmes. Immediately
after the pilot, each activity and debrief was reviewed in detail, and it was
found that only minor modifications were necessary.

Since Compass was constantly evolving, operational companies were reviewed
and the induction course updated accordingly.

Following the success of the one-day induction programme, existing team
members became aware that their own level of group knowledge was significantly
lower than that of new colleagues. This positive feedback prompted
Jigsaw/Compass to devise a half-day Induction Programme for the 250 exiting
team members.

An initial concern, as with many company-wide training programmes, was the
inevitable resistance to training and the difficulty of ‘filling places on each
day’. The programme proved so successful that two months into the launch,
delegates were so enthusiastic and committed to Compass that a ‘buzz’ soon
filtered throughout Parklands. The training became a ‘must have’ rather than
‘must avoid’.


The phenomenal achievements of this training could not have been envisaged
at the outset. The scale of the relocation and recruitment project was
challenging, and joined with the amalgamation of systems and site, it is fair
to say all parties commenced their roles with initial concern.

The ‘reduced’ turnover and absenteeism, lack of disruption to service and
smooth integration of all new starters during continuous change were a result
of hard work, clear objectives and teamwork. The exceptional feedback from
delegates, line managers and customers are evidence that all aims and
objectives were exceeded.

Induction programme

This one-day programme drew on some lively and interactive ideas in order to
develop and instil a positive culture with a ‘can-do attitude’, which enabled
delegates to be operational almost immediately. Areas covered included company
size and history, group operating companies, departmental function and roles
and company mission and vision.

The company employed a visual and easy-to-understand method to
deliver what is potentially a difficult subject to grasp. Success lay in the
informative yet interactive training design, which captured and maintained the
enthusiasm of each delegate. These included:

A world map

– A world map was used to locate where Compass was currently
operating in the world. Delegates searched through company information sheets
and used ‘post it’ stickers to locate each country on the map

– The global stature of the company soon became clearly visible


– A selection of laminated ‘dates and events’ cards were made
to deliver the company history

– Once all cards were correctly matched, delegates gave a
sketch in the style of their choice

– This method was an ideal way to convey what is often seen as
‘dull’ information in a fun way

Family Tree

– Using a selection of name cards, delegates worked together to
build a giant family tree of ‘who’s who’ and learned the different departmental
functions within Parklands and how the group was structured in the UK

See Saw

– The balanced scorecard is a fundamental part of Compass

– By using a purpose-made See-Saw, it demonstrated the
importance of equally balancing the four areas of excellence with financial

Customer service

This one-day course improved attitude and behaviour towards customers. The
training was fun and engaging yet delivered the very serious messages of
service and care. It covered areas such as creating a customer-focused
environment and anticipating, identifying and understanding customer needs.

Course activities included:

– An obstacle course

– A non customer-focused environment was staged. With no brief,
blindfolded individuals were led into a room, only to be either ignored or
‘instructed’ to complete simple tasks

– As in the workplace, this became a ‘task focused’ exercise
rather than a ‘people focused’ one, as at no time were any individual needs

– The blindfolds acted as ‘lack of information’ and the debrief
highlighted the need to welcome and nurture relations when someone has access
to more information than the customer

– This exercise was later revisited to generate an action plan
with agreed attitudes and behaviours which would be implemented back in the


– A ‘jigsaw puzzle’ was created to outline a step-by-step
procedure on how to handle difficult people or situations

– The puzzle could be put together in many different ways, so
it was essential to discuss the answers rather than just fit the pieces together

– This method was used as it promoted interaction between group

Soft skills work pays off

Compass has
gained a smooth integration with clearly measurable results. In addition,
accuracy and timeliness of accounting processes didn’t suffer.

Morale is at an all-time high and the entire financial services
team has shown a noticeably more positive attitude towards soft-skills training.

Feedback from employees includes this comment from accounts
payable manager Louise Roberts: "Members of my team returned with optimism
and all the relevant and necessary knowledge of the company structure and
function. This increased productivity in my department as new starters were
confident to be up and running almost immediately."

Examples of further benefits

– Individuals made a tremendous contribution to their job role
since they gained a thorough grounding in group activities

– The training proved to be cost effective when compared
against the potential recruitment/training/productivity costs involved with
high levels of labour turnover and absenteeism

– It was deemed to offer value for money since employees
achieved competency sooner than planned

– Employees are focused, motivated and fully understand their
role in the organisation, resulting in improved retention via greater employee

– The messages of the balanced scorecard are believed and lived
by employees as they understand the purpose and importance of a consistent
approach to customer care and satisfaction

– Local employment and investment in the human capital of the
community have increased

– Improved service resulted in improved productivity

Chris Page – programme director,
Compass, points out the programme benefits:

– No noticeable disruption to business operation

– No noticeable disruption to Stockport service levels

– The ability to bill clients accurately and on time throughout
the transition

– The facility to pay staff accurately and on time was
maintained throughout the transition

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