Rising to business challenges

William Templeton, 44, HR development manager of British Bakeries, explains
why he believes managing performance should be a shared responsibility

How long have you been in this job and how long with your organisation?
15 months in both cases.

What does your role involve?
Defining the HR development strategy for British Bakeries in line with
corporate business objectives, and ensuring its cost-effective implementation.

What is your current major training project/strategic push?
To get everyone in the organisation to accept their responsibility for
managing performance in pursuit of business goals.

How and why did you become a trainer?
I had spent several years as an operational manager in the retail sector,
and had a track-record of developing junior staff to take on greater
responsibility. When the opportunity arose to move into training and
development with another retailer, I had no hesitation in making that move.

Which of your qualifications do you most value and why?
I completed an MSc in Strategic Training and Development last year. It has
given me a real sense of professional worth. Studying while working full-time
made me realise just what is possible if you set your mind to it.

Do you think that evaluation is a ‘Holy Grail’ or an impossible dream?
Neither. It is perfectly possible to evaluate the impact of most
development events, provided you have a clear set of learning objectives to
start with, and an agreed set of measurement crtiteria which are applied both
before and after the event.

How do you think your job will change in five years’ time?
I would be surprised if my job still existed in its current form.
Organisations must continuously restructure to meet changing demands, and
individuals need to be equally prepared to upskill and reskill. However, the
need for learning and development expertise will remain a key business
priority.  ‘Recognise that what you do
is critical to the business’s success – even if sometimes no-one else appears

What will be the core skills for your job in the future?
I think most training and development roles will move from a focus on the
design and delivery of events, to grow individual competence to a focus on
organisational development issues. This will require internal consultancy
skills such as influencing, facilitation, teamworking and project management.
It will force trainers to develop a greater commercial under-standing and acute
awareness of organisational priorities.

What is your preferred terminology for what you do?
I use the word ‘learning’ whenever possible, as it emphasises the need for
individuals, teams and organisations to take responsibility for themselves.

Are you good at self-development?
I’m not as diligent as I should be. However, I am more aware than ever now
of the need to constantly review and update my own skills.

What self-development have you undertaken in the past 12 months?
I completed my MSc final research paper last year. I have also achieved accreditation
as an MBTI practitioner, and I have attended several seminars on issues of
professional interest.

How do you network?
British Bakeries is a member of the Best Practice Club, a consortium with a
focus on networking and benchmarking. I find this a very useful way of keeping
up-to-date with the latest thinking, and ensuring new initiatives are founded
on ‘best practice’.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
Wine buyer.

Do you take work home?
I try to avoid it. Unfortunately, having a perfectionist streak means it is
sometimes hard to resist the temptation to do that little bit extra.

Describe your management style in three words or less?
Focused, tenacious, quality-driven.

What is your motto?
I have a strong orientation towards the future, so probably ‘Tomorrow is
another day’.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in training and
Recognise that what you do is critical to the business’s success – even if
sometimes no-one else appears to.

Up close and personal

Which courses and learning experiences have been most useful for you?
Probably an internal consultancy skills course at Sundridge Park Management
Centre in 1997. My most useful ‘live’ learning experience was when I
project-managed training for a brand new 200-seater call centre in Gibraltar.

How would you like to be
remembered by colleagues?
I would be happy to think that colleagues remember me as the person who
helped them to realise some latent potential.

Which is the best management book
you have ever read?
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey, (published
by Simon & Schuster) – it contains so many practical techniques for living
life well, both in and outside work.

Which training gurus, management experts or business people
do you most admire? 
Apart from Stephen Covey, I admire Peter Honey for the way he has
popularised the concept of learning styles; Gary Hamel and C K Prahalad for
their work on core competencies; and the work of the Center for Creative
Leadership in the US for research into links between leadership and
experiential learning. As a business leader, I admire Ricardo Semler, for his
willingness to question some of the most deeply-held beliefs about management.

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