Personnel Today Awards 2001 update

Short listed teams for The KnowledgePool Award for Excellence in training

This award recognises teams involved in innovative training schemes which
have significantly benefited the business or organisation. Demonstrating
excellence in design and delivery, the training programmes have seen results
through boosted employee motivation and improved performance

Training and development team

What they did

The training and development team at office supplies company Lyreco
responded to a business need and introduced an innovative training programme
for the team leaders in its frontline customer service department.

These leaders are critical to the company’s success as the
people they manage work at the sharp end of the business – speaking to clients
daily and handling 600 calls and 5,000 fax orders a day. The training scheme
that the team helped devise and deliver added significantly to the business
growth of the company. The Telford-based firm estimates that after the
three-day training course and follow-up days, productivity increased from 35.7
per cent in September 1999 to 42.2 per cent in April 2001. It calculates that
it has increased sales for the company by more than £650,000.

The team leader development course was attended by 11 staff and
was run twice.

Areas covered included induction of staff, coaching,
counselling and appraisals and team motivation. "I knew the course was a
winner when I witnessed people’s willingness to do presentations, role plays
and make mistakes.  I will never forget
the team leader who delivered a training course on how to make puff
pastry," says Ian Lawson, head of training and development.

Productivity and service levels are up at the company,
absenteeism levels have fallen and the number of disciplinary cases have been

Why they did it

The office supplies business was bought by French company
Lyreco in 1991 and there followed a period of heavy investment in both
technology and people. The business thrived and achieved sales of £114m last
year. Growth and progress, however, were being restricted by the performance of
the customer service department. The training and development team were tasked
with the job of tackling this problem.

Benefits and achievements

The Lyreco training and development team has been described by
its head of customer services Paul Wright as extremely keen. "I really
appreciate such a proactive stance to training". The team leader training
has yielded spectacular results which are quantifiable," he says. Such
results include call answering time dropping from 23 seconds to seven seconds
which means lost business has fallen to below the target of 3 per cent.

The team

Number in team 5
Staff responsible for 1,250
Head of training and development Ian Lawson
Training coordinator Marie Mason
Field sales training manager Paul Price

Foyle Food Group
Human resources development team

What they did

Foyle Food Group is a consortium of four meat processing
companies created by the acquisition of three companies over the past decade.
The HRD team had to design and deliver a training strategy for new staff
joining the business.

The nuts and bolts of the training schemes are based on the NVQ
skills structure developed for meat plant workers by the UK Meat Training
Council. This is complemented by the human values promoted by the Investors in
People programme. The HRD team designed and implemented individual company
development programmes, which set out the values of the group and made sure
that there was consistency across the different businesses. At the same time,
the individual characteristics of the companies were taken into account.

All employees complete training programmes to satisfy customers
that staff are properly trained in areas like meat hygiene and compliance to health
and safety legislation. Tailor-made technical manuals for each operational
procedure, specially compiled open learning packs, an NVQ tracking system and
one-to-one tutorials are among the initiatives set up by the departments.

Employee motivation and self-esteem has been measured by
surveying staff and the company has been encouraged by positive results.

Why they did it

The acquisitions over the past 10 years called for a uniform
training standard – with the emphasis on career development. The HRD team had
the challenging task of communicating "a training culture" to new
employees, informing the affiliates about the training and development
programmes pioneered and refined by Foyle Meats.

Benefits and achievements

The company development programmes have helped to demonstrate
to the main British and European supermarket multiples that the Foyle Food
Group can supply higher quality and safer products than its competitors.

Every employee joining the group can achieve an NVQ or other
accredited qualifications and labour turnover and accidents have been reduced.
"The Group’s commitment to training during the [BSE and foot and mouth]
crises has been contributory in preventing the mass exodus of highly skilled
employees," says Dan Boucher, group training and development manager.

The team

Number in team 66
Staff responsible for 750
Group training and development manager Dan Boucher
Health and safety manager Kevin Tyre
Project manager David Knox
Director Terry Acheson
Personnel manager Jeffrey Boucher

Nationwide Building Society
Contact centre training team

What they did

Head of Nationwide Direct David Rigney has told the outside
world that its sales managers and advisers are not simply "order
takers"  – they want to be proud of
the advice they offer customers.

The Nationwide "Can Sell Will Sell" programme for
call centre sales advisers was set up with this mission statement in mind by
the contact centre training team at Nationwide’s retail training group. Driven
by the business needs of the organisation, it set out clear learning
objectives. To meet tough business targets sales managers had to change from an
administrative role to a coaching role and to confront, not avoid, difficult
issues. The trainers instructed sales advisers on how they could change their
behaviour from taking orders for "bought" products to selling
"sold" products – instead of picking up easy sales they needed to put
their sales skills into action.

The main features of the specially-designed course included face-to-face
learning in a training room where trainers showed the demanding behaviour
required of sales managers. Staff could see themselves on a video to view their
behaviour and spent time with their line manager discussing the course.

Between September 2000 and April 2001 19 sales managers and 139
advisers were involved.

Why they did it

In April 2000 Nationwide Direct’s performance was felt to have
low rates of success – too many customers were not receiving the personal
service that was required. An external consultancy Minerva was hired to work
with Nationwide trainers and with their help, tough business targets were set.
These had the aim of increasing sales on products like accident sickness and
unemployment insurance by 30 per cent.

Benefits and achievements

By April 2001 the improved business results were showing. The
number of buildings and contents insurance products being sold had increased by
33 per cent. The training programme had helped increase mortgage sales as well,
and the average cost per sale had dropped by a half. Analysis shows that nearly
£100,000 of additional contribution to Nationwide’s profit had been made during
the seven-month programme.

"We are proud of these results and believe they contradict
any ‘sweat shop’ perception of call centres. Based on a coaching culture, we
are confident the learning will grow powerfully," says contact centre
training manager Ian McLarty.

Judge’s comment

Paul Kearns, Personnel Works


"An excellent example of how training can become totally
integrated with business operations. Training and development has earned its
place at the senior management table and has made a demonstrable contribution
to the firm’s success."

Foyle Foods Group

"Training has already proved that it can play a
significant part in company performance and yet it remains flexible enough to
adapt to drastic changes in market conditions."

Nationwide Building Society

"Having identified opportunities where training can
generate a commercial advantage, the training systems and processes weld
together business needs, operational realities and the design of a well-blended
training solution."

KnowledgePool is Europe’s leading
e-Learning organisation, with over 35 years experience of designing and
delivering training solutions for clients worldwide. Its extensive portfolio of
training, covering IT, personal and business skills training, are delivered at
training centres across Europe and at clients’ sites, or through its
award-winning e-Learning service

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