Centura Foods - Interim Case Study
Centura Foods owns some of the most well-known and best loved brands in Britain’s kitchens, including famous names such as Bisto, Paxo, Saxo and Sharwood’s sauces, as well as Frank Cooper and Robertson’s jam. Initially the company was looking for an interim manager to provide cover whilst its Training and Development Manager was on maternity leave, so Lesley Kaye was recruited on a part-time short-term contract.
However, Centura Foods’ parent company, the RHM Group, was also undergoing massive changes in readiness for floatation on the stock market. In this shifting environment, Lesley realised that her development skills could be put to good use helping Centura Foods.
Having joined Centura Foods initially to take over the reigns of the existing training and development role, it soon became clear to Lesley that there were a number of areas of the business she felt could benefit from her particular expertise and set about showing management the true power of development
Lesley explains: “The initial challenge was to get development much higher up the management agenda, so I had to prove myself and show that development is not just about training courses. This required a lot of influence and persuasion, which I did by delivering results.
“For example, I felt that a leadership programme was a real need, yet the management board was not entirely convinced. However, it gave me its support and the programme proved to be hugely successful. The feedback was excellent, in fact so good that two further programmes have been delivered so far and leadership and management teams are now really bought in to the idea of delivering further programmes.”
With management now well and truly behind her, Lesley began to work on a number of initiatives including a new performance management process, integrated functional development activities, as well as individual coaching and running the annual management conference and senior leadership events.
During the reorganisation, Lesley’s skills were much in demand and the development work Lesley had already undertaken was important in helping to reshape the business.
She says the key to successfully meeting her objectives is to “work smarter, be resourceful, and draw on my own experiences”. But Lesley believes that it is also vital to convince the entire business, from senior management to junior staff, of the need for a strong and effective development strategy aligned with business goals.
Despite still being in an interim role, during the restructure Lesley took on the role of Head of Organisation and Management Development, a job that gave her much greater scope.
She says: “I have had to raise the profile of development in an organisation which is very much task focussed. To achieve this I had to be flexible and willing to quickly learn about the company, working with internal customers to understand their business needs and facilitating whatever has to be done to achieve results while keeping the big picture in view.”
For example, in order to develop the Leadership Programme I focussed on establishing the real, rather than perceived, development needs to achieve business results; we conducted 360 degree assessments, focus groups and individual interviews as well as feeding in all the appropriate background information such as competencies and skills, talent and performance management data. This research paid dividends in building a robust and influential programme .
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