Drinks giant puts fizz back in management

Drinks manufacturer Britvic has overcome a series of logistical challenges
to implement an in-house training programme for shop-floor supervisors.

Nine team co-ordinators at its Beckton plant took part in the year-long NEBS
Certificate in Management programme – part of a larger strategy to develop the
role of team co-ordinators, who provide the first level of supervision at

The NEBS CIM provides a basic foundation for line managers and aims to
improve performance, while serving as a stepping stone to further
qualifications. Its modules cover the areas of managing people, activities,
information and resources, and the award provides knowledge and skills
appropriate to at least the S/NVQ in Management Level 3.

"We were looking for more than just an academic programme that would
give them a qualification at the end," said Terri Turner, operations
development manager at Beckton.

Against that wish list were the logistical challenges of releasing employees
from a production line that runs round-the-clock, in the heart of east London,
as well as bringing together team co-ordinators who work different shift

The answer was a tailored programme delivered on-site. In order to get
everyone together, tuition often took place as early as 6am – the start of
Beckton’s early, and most popular, shift.

To facilitate bonding, the programme was launched with a five-day, off-site
introductory certificate. Involving senior managers from Beckton, the
introduction built a sense of commitment to the programme among candidates,
also enabling them to bond as a group – difficult in the fast-moving
environment of the shop-floor.

Action learning sets – comprised mainly of candidates who shared shifts –
were formed to promote networking on the shop-floor. Britvic took networking a
step further, setting up an in-company mentoring scheme in which each candidate
was mentored both by their immediate manager, the shift leader, and by a member
of Beckton’s leadership group.

The scheme had the dual effect of expanding the team co-ordinators’
understanding of the organisation and building ‘the coaching and mentoring
abilities’ of senior managers, said Turner. "The mentoring, in particular,
has given rise to challenges for the shift leaders – the team co-ordinators are
coming back with the latest management theory and feeding it up the line."

Britvic put £20,000 into the programme. The timing of the NEBS programme has
coincided with ‘massive reorganisation over the last year,’ according to
Turner. "We’ve undergone huge organisation change without any impact on
production," she said.

"We now have fewer, more highly-skilled people, and that is what we are
continually aiming for,’ she continued, citing the level of shift leader as an

Turner’s message is that to maintain a critical edge: "You have to
invest in people’s development. The NEBS programme is a very practical vehicle
to do that, particularly where you can flex the programme to meet your
operational needs," she said.


By Margaret Kubicek

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