The Co-Operative Group


  • Jill Griffiths, Leadership Development Manager, Leadership Development Programme 

    "A ‘graduate’ of the Leadership Challenge programme was recently appointed to cover a large CDC and has demonstrated the tools learnt and great leadership capability in terms of team structure, one-to-one conversations, and encouraging others to demonstrate their own capability. This has resulted in tangible cost benefits being seen representing a weekly saving of £264,000."




The Background

Phoenix’s involvement with Co-operative Food began when we were asked to provide some professional development sessions for their Leadership Development Advisor population in 2008. Following some challenging but successful facilitation work by Phoenix’s Head of Learning, Martin le Comte, the Co-operative asked us to partner with them in the design and delivery of a large-scale modular leadership programme within Supply Chain Logistics.

The intention was to produce an internal programme that would provide a single leadership framework and underpin leadership standards for years to come. The programme would equip existing front line leaders with a practical toolkit of techniques & skills and develop the attitudes, confidence and behaviours required to lead through a period of transformational change. In order to drive sustainable change in leadership behaviours, a modular approach was adopted, with a number of inputs over several months.

Our Approach

In order to deliver sustainable results and return on expectation Phoenix began a number of consultancy conversations with the key stakeholders and business sponsors. We sought to understand existing leadership development within the business ensuring a seamless development approach utilising models and frameworks that were already part of the Co-operative DNA.

The Leadership Challenge programme is also supported by the Co-operative’s own Behavioural Competency framework and The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership©. These key three elements ensure that in addition to the ‘what’, the participants’ vitally have the ‘how’ of leadership. It is this developing of ‘how’ to demonstrate leadership that is sadly often missing from training programmes.

The following modules were included:

Module 1 – The Challenge of Leadership and Management

Module 2 – Feedback

Module 3 – Coaching

Module 4 – Performance Management

Module 5 – Time Management and Delegation

Module 6 – Influencing Skills

As part of the initial consultation Phoenix also strongly recommended engaging the line managers of the participants. In our experience and that of the Co-operative, many training programmes fail due to a lack of ongoing support once the participants return to their places of work. To sustain the momentum of the training, Phoenix in collaboration with the Co-operative created a line manager pack including a pre- and post-module briefing template. In addition Line Manager Days were held both before and in the middle of the modules to provide them with some supplementary tools and additional support.

One of the key elements of the programme is that it has provided the participants with practical reality and application of all theories and models. This is turn has enabled the participants to apply and demonstrate all the key principles of leadership on an everyday basis. Such practical delivery of the messages rapidly embeds the learning, and results in sustainable leadership behaviour and capability change.

The Results

The programme reached the end of its pilot stage in 2009, and was immediately extended to a wider population, with the rest of the Logistics business scheduled to attend in the first half of 2010. Having recognised that it was imperative for senior management to drive and support the initiatives taking place, the Co-operative commissioned a special intensive version of the programme. This intensive programme for Senior Managers provided them with the opportunity to experience the delivery style and the content. Most importantly the Senior Managers’ event was a practical demonstration of the desire to create a consistent culture and people management methodology across the business, and sustain meaningful change.

As a result of the Leadership Challenge’s outstanding feedback and genuine Return on Expectation, Phoenix has now been invited to design and deliver the Inspiring Leadership Programme which is part of the Co-operative’s Leadership Development Zone – an online portal that acts as a focus for leadership development strategy across all parts of the business, including Pharmacy, Funeralcare, and Financial Services. Delivered over six modules with a follow-up event to conclude, it is aimed at the Co-operative’s top 500 leaders, challenging their existing leadership practices whilst securing alignment across the organisation.

What The Client Says

I first came across Phoenix when I became Supply Chain Controller and The Leadership Challenge was being rolled out to the senior team. I have been on many leadership development courses, but I was so impressed with the content and presentation of this course that when I was appointed Property Director I knew that I wanted my new team and their direct reports to go on the Challenge as part of developing a high performance team. As they have been through the modules I have received amazing feedback about the quality of the course and the facilitation with 100% of attendees saying it was either very good or excellent. My team have since used Phoenix in other training experiences and continue to give first class feedback.

Most importantly I can see genuine improvement in the quality of leadership my team give, that can be directly attributed to this training.

I have since championed The Leadership Challenge with the Estates Executive who have all decided to put themselves through this development programme with Phoenix.

David Roberts, Property Director

My feedback I had written down to share with you was 'continue to keep the passion'.

However there is far more I wanted to say: I personally found the course to be a massive learning curve. The skills and tools that have been passed across are massive and I know they are and will work. I have been on many courses but this one has had the biggest influence on me as a person and leader for many reasons but predominantly due to yourself.

The passion and drive you have shown throughout is infectious and you should be proud of the delivery you have provided to us as a group. I would like to personally thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge to assist me in becoming a successful leader.

Anton Prior – Supply Chain Logistics, Co-Operative Food – The Leadership Challenge

A ‘graduate’ of the Leadership Challenge programme was recently appointed to cover a large CDC and has demonstrated the tools learnt and great leadership capability in terms of team structure, one-to-one conversations, and encouraging others to demonstrate their own capability. This has resulted in tangible cost benefits being seen – this depot delivers on average 2.2 million cases per week, and since period 1 to our last period of trading (Period 5) this year, ongoing improvement has been seen with each case currently costing 12 pence less to the business. This represents a weekly saving of £264,000.

Jill Griffiths –– Leadership Development Manager, Co-Operative Group

What The Participants Say

This isn’t a course, it is so much more than that

Suddenly find myself demonstrating the tools, before I even know it

Today, everything just fell into place; I can see how I can apply the tools everyday (Performance Management)

I wish my manager was doing this, when is it rolling out?

I just thought I would take this opportunity to say thank you for the last 5 months as the programme has not just confirmed how I wanted to lead and succeed in my role but allowed me to deliver some real results from using my new tool kit.

I have thoroughly enjoyed it, as well as learning a lot about myself and the people I work with and for. The way it was presented and the real life examples that back it up were excellent and made it much more interesting and interactive than other 'training courses'!