Personnel Today Awards 2019: Molson Coors brews up Excellence in Learning and Development

Molson Coors Brewers UK and Ireland collects its award for Excellence in Learning and Development at the 2019 Personnel Today Awards

Molson Coors Brewers UK and Ireland were crowned winners of the Excellence in Learning and Development Award for their new onboarding process, which helped reduce staff turnover and improve field sales capability. We look at their winning entry and celebrate the achievements of our other finalists. 


Molson Coors

The Burton upon Trent-based brewery company, whose brands include Carling, Cobra and Grolsch and imports the likes of Singha and Corona, found in 2017 from focus groups that onboarding and employee experience were poor. There was also high turnover in sales leading to inconsistency for customers and costly recruitment and continuous induction cycles.

To improve this, people development and talent & recruitment joined together to develop an onboarding experience that retained high levels of employee engagement and reduced turnover of employees.

The recruitment and people development teams worked with global teams and new starters in the organisation to improve the recruitment process. A website was developed that provided new starters with a more engaging experience including tasks that needed completing prior to start date, helping starters feel part of the organisation from the outset. All new starters also receive a welcome pack delivered to their home address. This includes some of our brands, branded glassware, t-shirt, bag and lanyard.

Synchronised start dates were introduced, which meant that all new starters joined on the same day of the month, regardless of their role. Each cohort can experience Enterprise Onboarding together, regardless of their role, which should lead to great networking across different functions of the organisation. There is also an improved commercial induction process, enhanced coaching in the field and a capability matrix established to track the development of a wide range of skills.

As a result, turnover in these key roles has decreased from 29% in 2017 to 21% in 2018 to a mid year position in 2019 at 8% and there has been marked improvements in field sales capability.



The insurance, savings and investment firm set out to reimagine its leadership and adviser capability to improve the performance of its 3,500-strong UK customer services operation. After gaining input about what the future leadership role should look like, Aviva engaged Capp to use a strengths-based approach to determine where the current capability was against the future role.

Analysis was conducted to ascertain the core strengths future leaders and advisors would require to be a successful. This included stakeholder interviews, profiling of high and low-performing employees, focus groups and online surveys. The output was a set of leaders and adviser strengths and solutions designed for each of these groups.

Results have been highly encouraging: originally only 53% of leaders had the right capability for the future. Now, 16 months later, 89% of remaining leaders are competent against expectations and there is a measurable increase in willingness to try out new ideas for customers. Nearly half (43%) of leaders have moved to other roles and 129 new leaders have been developed and are meeting expectations.


BT recognised a need for a strong talent pipeline of line managers. And with more than 50,000 non-managers, it needed to be able to successfully identify those with real potential and passion to lead others. Once selected, BT wanted to ensure those colleagues would receive high quality managerial training and have the opportunity to apply and demonstrate their skills in the business. This combination would help them develop capability and build confidence.

The Future Leaders programme would, among other things, draw on diversity, encourage real-life leadership experience, provide an in-depth curriculum to challenge, develop and enhance non-manager skills and offer an externally recognised qualification (BTEC level 3 Diploma in Management). A partnership with Pearson TQ was formed to help deliver the programme.

The results have been impressive with 96% of BT’s 2017/18 cohort saying they felt prepared for leadership by participating in Future Leaders. There has been an uplift in basic functional skills and 30% of the cohort has already been promoted. The 2018/19 Future Leaders course has seen participants’ ‘intent to stay’ within the business is 18% higher than the average BT score. And scores for personal growth needs being met are also well above the BT average.

Close Brothers Limited

This asset finance firm says it has an ageing salesforce and has historically recruited experienced sales people from within the male-dominated industry, limiting diversity.

A previous Sales Academy set up to address the issue was not deemed successful so a new team from HR and L&D was set up to design a new one which targeted existing staff interested in sales roles, in addition to some external candidates. An internal campaign was launched called Step into Sales. Those interested were invited to join a six-month development programme in preparation for the selection process.

Workshops were held at which existing salespeople shared their experiences with the attendees. A key principle of the scheme was the option to withdraw if people decided sales wasn’t for them.

An external agency was used to help select candidates and ensure an even gender split. Training included public speaking and presentations and building confidence in face-to-face interactions.

As a result, Close Brothers is now confident that all trainees are able to pursue a successful career in sales at the firm, having generated just under £5m of new business in year one. Each of the trainees is considered a credit to the organisation.


This Liverpool-based high volume transactional (bills/statements etc) print operation saw rapid growth since opening in 2007 but felt it did not pay enough attention to staff engagement, training and development and succession planning in this otherwise successful period. The result was disengaged staff.

In 2017 it was decided to initiate a radical culture change and create a positive work environment where staff feel listened to, fairly treated and valued and to forge a strong partnership with the Unite union. Programmes were put in place aimed at uncovering hidden gems within the company, to introduce multi-skilling and more flexibility among the workforce and improve the people skills of line managers.

A grading structure was introduced that recognised additional skills and the ability to step up. Shift trainers were appointed to facilitate learning and training on each shift and with the better use of the apprenticeship levy, staff were able to gain formal qualifications.More types of training have been introduced, each of which has contributed to a feel good factor at the Liverpool site, with the HR team working tirelessly with the union to improve understanding and trust.

Great Western Railway

Until around five years ago, 5,000-strong GWR’s training and skills were developed ad-hoc and without proper alignment to the business plan. The firm decided it needed to transform the L&D function and GWR as a whole. The aim was to deliver new leadership with a clear vision on improving, among other things, the talent pipeline, training opportunities and mentoring. In addition, skills shortages in the company’s L&D team were identified and addressed with help from HR. The result is a respected, award-winning team of 34 employees working to build effective partnerships with Network Rail.

Another area that needed addressing was the firm’s relationship with the rail unions. This was vital to secure support for pioneering ideas. Alongside these measures was a programme to cut inefficiencies and increase efficacy involving data analysis to a higher standard than previously, using a blend of internal and external trainers, better use of subject experts across the business and a needs analysis approach to training and its timing. Use of technology has been stepped up exponentially in the training sphere.

Not only has the team revolutionised the way GWR views the relationship between development and performance, it now says it offers company-wide support in unprecedented detail.

To date 500 managers have attended GWR’s leadership development programme, which is continually being updated to offer leaders and managers additional development opportunities.

Despite considerable upheaval at the organisation, the L&D team has met many of its objectives with employee engagement rising from 2% to 79%; increased manager feedback (up 17%) and empowerment measures indicating a 47 percentage point rise.

Lloyds Banking Group

Given an unstable economic, political and technological backdrop, Lloyds recognised that to best safeguard its strategy and look after colleagues it was essential to develop the resilience of leaders, who in turn can develop the resilience of their teams. The company decided to develop a bespoke Resilient Leader programme with its training provider, Wondrous People.

Following CEO Antonio Horta Osorio’s stress-related leave, it was recognised that the most effective way to encourage a resilient mindset was to use a top-down approach and first train senior leaders to role model resilient behaviours to their teams.

The design process began with an in-depth discovery phase involving key stakeholders and senior leaders representing a cross-section of the organisation to identify key business needs. After the initial programme design was completed, stakeholders were invited to a deep-dive design review.

With the realisation that teams immediately needed practical tools a series of one-day face-to-face workshops of up to 15 delegates was approved, taking place at Lloyds Banking Group sites across the country. Wondrous ran two pilot programmes to test the materials and used an iterative design process, continually refining the content and delivery based on delegate and stakeholder feedback.

There has been a positive shift in individual resilience levels as a result of the programme. Across leadership population grades C-F, leaders’ personal resilience increased from an average score of 6.02 before the training to 7.93 after the training. Across grades G+, leaders’ personal resilience increased from an average score of 7, to 8.27 after the training. In grades C-F leaders (the largest swathe of the leadership population) there has been an increase in personal resilience of 32%. This suggests a significant impact on the organisation in terms of colleague wellbeing.

The Resilient Leader programme scored an average of 4.65 out of 5 in evaluation. This is the highest evaluation score across the Leadership Academy curriculum and 95% of respondents would recommend it to a colleague..

The Berkeley Partnership

A management consultancy of 20 partners and 60 consultants, the Berkeley Partnership works for global organisations on high-value projects. To hire the best possible talent, it recruits almost exclusively from the ‘Big Four’ competitors. Counter to industry norms, Berkeley does not offer consultants bonuses, a promotion structure, sector or service specialisms, or sales targets. This model was designed to offer an alternative approach to systemic industry practices and to provide consultants with unparalleled career development opportunities.

The Partnership’s founders all came from Big Four firms and felt that the traditional model can impede rather than support professional development, notably the expectation that consultants increasingly specialise in a sector/service as they progress. Learning and development (L&D) is embedded in every part of the Partnership and is at the heart of its values, with the most valuable L&D opportunities coming from work experience. It argues that some recruits from other firms lack critical thinking due to repetitive work and being employed as part of a large team.

Berkeley’s consultants work on their own or in very small teams and so it is vital they understand that they should ask for help, and initiatives have been launched including assigning each consultant with a “listening partner” and a “personal development partner” to review career progression. A framework has been developed with eight key dimensions to help structure discussions about where an individual is against the dimensions, their future goals and development objectives. To ensure these discussions are as helpful and honest as possible, clients are asked for feedback on individuals.

People are rewarded for individual performance, not measured against others or given bonuses for selling more work. Each partner now undertakes a two-year coaching accreditation with the highly respected Meyler Campbell programme, allowing them to offer confidential internal coaching to all employees. The success of the initiatives is reflected in the fact that 83% of Berkeley’s people feel positive/strongly positive about their personal growth; while 93% were positive/strongly positive about the firm’s leadership.


Comments are closed.