Judith Nelson, head of stores HR at Tesco explains how the retailer took a
novel approach to induction training to ensure its staff learned and understood
the company values
As a major retailer, with more than 970 stores worldwide, and pre-tax
profits of more than £1bn, Tesco has an incredible success story. Supporting
its success are its people – more than 40,000 individuals join the Tesco
payroll annually, from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds. Apart from
being a mammoth induction effort on its own, Tesco also needs to ensure each
new member of staff has the opportunity to understand their individual role in
contributing to the Tesco core purpose and values. This requires an innovative
induction programme that caters for different styles of learning and varying
commitments to the job.
Tesco called on BigPicture Learning – an organisation that specialises in
bespoke, visually-based communication and learning solutions to develop an
induction tool for new recruits that would help them achieve just that.
Frontline staff are the ultimate reflection of Tesco to its customers, but
all employees have an important role to play in turning core values and
customer commitment into reality on a daily basis. A major Tesco challenge is
to ensure all of its employees, wherever they work, are aware of their role and
that they can clearly see how their actions impact the ‘big picture’ of the
Judith Nelson, head of stores HR at Tesco, says: "We have invested a
lot of time and money in understanding and responding to our customers, what
motivates them to shop with us and what they expect from us. It is important
our staff are aware of customer expectations and that they maintain a positive,
consistent attitude. We need to make sure all our employees understand their
role and how valuable their contribution is to the company and its
Initially, BigPicture Learning worked with a Tesco development team to
establish a detailed understanding of how the company operates and how each
department and division supports the Tesco core purpose and values of the
company. This included the strategy and customer focus behind recent Tesco
ventures including Tesco.com, financial services, the different store formats
developed such as Tesco Extra, Tesco Express and Tesco Metro and the
operational logistics of supplying stores. Gradually, a picture of the business
Based around a concept called a ‘ChangeMap¨’, BigPicture Learning created a
graphical journey through the history of Tesco, its core purpose, values,
business goals, financial aims, operations and marketing strategy and its
commitment to customers.
This was coupled with supporting learning tools, structured discussion and
dialogue that enabled the information to be presented to new recruits in an
informal and engaging way. The combination of the visual imagery and
discussion-driven learning ensured it would be easily understood and retained
by a diverse cross-section of employees.
Mapping the future
As the Tesco journey unfolds, the dialogue focuses participants on key areas
of the map for discussion. The journey begins with an illustration of founder
Jack Cohen at a market stall in 1919, to tell the story of how Tesco first
started. Participants are encouraged to consider what might have been the core
purpose and values of the business as it was then, and compare and contrast it
to what is important in Tesco’s business today.
As the journey continues, participants are asked to locate and stop at
milestones represented by visual images. Signposts describe the Tesco customer
service values, delivery trucks contain information on market share, and flow
charts show how the Tesco supply chain operates.
Important learning points on the map are complemented by various cards and
tools to encourage group participation and discussion.
Store Cards describe the rationale and customer benefits of the varying
store formats. Customer Focus Cards discuss and review customer development
strategies and their importance in developing customer loyalty. Performance
Measure Cards are used to encourage understanding of the cause and effect
relationships that affect other areas of the organisation.
Other tools focus on the distribution component of the business and helping
new recruits understand how each of the Tesco values are represented in
For ease of implementation, the ChangeMap¨ and supporting tools were
designed so line managers or HR staff would be able to coach and facilitate
learning. Having easy-to-use tools with a hands-on participative methodology
ensured Tesco was able to make effective use of existing internal resources,
thereby creating economies of scale.
It also had the additional benefit of forging relationships between new
staff and their managers. "Because the ChangeMap¨ is so interactive,"
explains Nelson, "it has been an excellent tool for developing initial
relationships between managers and new staff. It makes managers seem more
approachable and gives them an insight into the new recruit’s personality and
commitment to the job."
Nick Whitelock, founder of BigPicture Learning, says the success of the
ChangeMap¨ concept is because it addresses some of the fundamental principles that
He says: "Adults learn in a very ego-centric way. They interpret
information in a way that is relevant to their individual needs and so
cherry-pick the information they think they need. Communicating often-complex
business issues in an informal, fun and visual way allows people to ‘discover’
the information and assimilate it to their own life experiences, making it more
relevant to themselves and therefore more likely to be retained. Likewise,
encouraging the sharing of ideas within a small group promotes insight and
understanding and for many people unlocks the ‘ah-ah’ factor where connections
are made and real learning takes place."
Feedback from trainers and participants has been very good. Nelson says:
"Our managers find the format very easy to work with and have a tremendous
amount of fun each time they run an induction session.
"The new recruits feel involved from day one, and report an early sense
of ownership about Tesco and its core values. The participative element to their
induction, where they have the opportunity to share their experiences and
discuss elements of the ChangeMap¨, means that they come away from the session
feeling valued and motivated."
The induction ChangeMap¨ is one of several used by Tesco to communicate
messages such as procedures and people management to the organisation,
including to distribution and head office staff. Because of its universal
appeal, the company is planning to translate and roll out some of the
ChangeMaps¨ across operations in Asia and Europe.
Across-board learning that appeals to all
Tesco recruits a large number of
people to work in its stores every year and it is important for us to ensure a
consistent level of service to our customers. It is also very important that
our frontline staff understand how their actions and attitude can affect the
rest of the organisation.
Our employees come from a diversity of nationalities, cultures,
ages and education and so a training course that appeals across the board is
not always easy to find.
Because BigPicture Learning’s training course is in the format
of a visual picture, it crosses the boundaries of employee diversity, making it
easy to understand, fun and interactive.
All of the participants have come away feeling motivated and
valued as an important member of the Tesco organisation.
Ease of use * * * *
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* * * * = Excellent