Pots of gold lie along length of learning curve

Marketing chiefs and professional development specialists answer questions about the current role and possible future trends of staff training programmes in their business.

Rowena Paddon (RP): Learning manager, Learning and development team, Deloitte

We see it as a key part of Deliotte’s brand and positioning. If we can offer our people the best opportunities for personal and career development, compared with our competitors, we can be successful in the recruitment and retention stakes.

We aim to be the market leader for professional, personal and career development, so learning in all its forms is vital to our success. Our ability to service clients depends on the quality of our people and providing continuous training helps to maximise this.

Training is available to everyone at the company, from the most junior to the most senior grades and via different channels. Over the past 12 months we have provided nearly 2,000 training events.

Jemima Bird (JB): Marketing director, Tragus Group (includes Strada and Cafe Rouge)

It is used at all levels, from statutory induction training for new chefs and waiters to senior management development to encourage high-flyers into director-level roles. We know that home-grown operators get good, consistent results and tend to stay longer with us. They know the restaurant operation inside out, so developing them effectively makes total sense.

MW: Which particular areas do you focus on?
: As an airline, safety is our highest priority, and we ensure every employee understands the environment they work in. Most of our training is delivered in-house, although we sometimes bring in external trainers for specific needs such as media or diversity training.

JE: The internal focus is primarily on leadership and management skills, while external training is used to develop areas of expertise such as marketing qualifications.

RP: We offer technical skills training across a wide variety of professional examinations, technical updates and broader areas such as problem solving and presentation skills. This isn’t limited to our client serving staff, as we also offer Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) training, for example.

We also invest in development that helps our people to win in the market and run director development and senior leadership programmes.

Nobody has to sell training to me, if anything it’s more a question of saying we have budget, let’s make sure we make individual training plans Jill McDonald, McDonald’s

JB: Training is a key part of our philosophy and members of the marketing teams have been supported through CIM and other courses including direct and digital marketing.

Good inductions are a focus and we use e-learning to help introduce all our brands.

Basic management training is vital as the list of responsibilities – statutory, employment law and risk assessments – is constantly changing. Good solid leadership and coaching are always a focus for our line management, especially as so many or our shift managers and kitchen management are home-grown. Service is also a perennial priority for anyone in the restaurant business and we try to instil a culture of confidence in food and drink knowledge.

JM: In the US, we have Hamburger University, which has a whole faculty of different programmes, including a two-week residential marketing programme in Chicago, for middle management and agency employees.

Lead marketers in the business from around the world help develop and deliver the content. We quite deliberately send people to Chicago rather than set up something here because it helps staff meet marketers from across the McDonald’s world and its motivating and exciting going over to the head office.

We have also developed a marketing competency framework that breaks down the key skills including: managing and leading people, marketing strategy and planning and project management.

For each marketing role, we identify the skills needed to be successful in that position. Therefore, if you are a brand manager you can see what you need to become a marketing manager before you make that move. It sets a solid foundation for development and articulates training opportunities in a clear way.

MW: How does this help with getting staff to understand the brand?
Our managers are the key drivers that create understanding in their restaurants, so they will take a lead in communicating the brand culture, standards and values to their team; in addition, we have comprehensive paper workbooks and e-learning modules (which focus on the restaurant trade) for every team member.

We have a small team of development chefs, who with our brand and training managers train all our managers and head chefs. We give them hands-on training in our development kitchen before they go away with a launch plan. After that, our field-based area managers and training team support their efforts to inform and engage the frontline team.

JE: The learning and development team supports a programme of activity to educate different parts of the business on key areas. This includes extensive induction programmes for newcomers as well as “lunch and learn” sessions where business specialists present key messages.

For the marketing department, this could mean a presentation on brand development, our latest ad campaign or a new development in email customer related marketing.

NF: We train people on new products and services regularly. Earlier this year, we rolled out our new BA First Class suite, which our design and development team helped introduce. We also use in-house publications to inform and communicate with everyone.

JM: Using our sponsorship of London 2012 to talk about the quality [of the food] is a relevant execution of a strategy that we have been focusing on for about two years. It’s trying to educate customers, key stakeholders and our people about what makes McDonald’s and the quality and provenance of our food.

I wouldn’t see that just as being the job of marketing to talk to people about strategy. When we developed the current execution [which focuses on British farms] that was very much agreed in partnership with the supply chain and quality assurance team.

It is very much a cross-functional group that focuses on how we can build trust in the brand. Therefore, this strategy gets built into training programmes as well as communicated externally. This might be with National Farmers Union or the farms that produce our food.

MW: How do marketing teams learn about other areas of the business?
The best way to learn about other areas is via first-hand experience. The business operates a Back to the Floor scheme where all members of staff are encouraged to spend time in different areas.

The team is encouraged to attend lunch and learn sessions from other teams and read our intranet pages. We also have regular divisional meetings where other departments deliver presentations, while we attend other department open days.

JB: Campaign briefings are communicated at a restaurant level with execution guidelines. This is an area we will be focusing on over the next year to ensure visual merchandising guides are developed for our frontline restaurant teams.

The approach we take is common across all of our brands. Brand managers work closely with product managers to develop the menu and train restaurant managers and chefs across the business; we focus on one brand menu relaunch at a time, following a common training process.

How do you train people in using social media?

JM: Social media is moving at such a fast pace that keeping people abreast of what is happening and linking it back to the core part of their job is something that we are focusing on. In some ways it is no more complicated than customer relationship management or producing great creative.

Our ability to service clients depends on the quality of our people and providing continuous training helps to maximise this Rowena Paddon, Deloitte

Although it requires us to think differently, it is no more challenging than when direct marketing first emerged. Keeping it in context is critical so it doesn’t become an offshoot that sits outside the mainstream of what you need to be thinking about day in, day out.

We have worked with agency Razorfish to look at case studies and best practice from other advertisers and other brands and we run workshops and seminars too. But we try to build it in as a module of Hamburger University, for example, so it’s not something that completely sits outside the overall training curriculum.

JB: We have not specifically trained people in social media – there is a natural awareness among our teams and the marketing team is developing social media sites across Facebook and Twitter.

We are using web platforms to post fun training and team-building videos across our brands, so Café Rouge Edinburgh can see what the Portsmouth branch has been getting up to in their customer service training sessions.

NF: Social media is an important part of our communications strategy, and teams that have direct responsibility in this area receive appropriate training.

BA has an official YouTube, Twitter and Facebook page, which is managed by our digital marketing team.

JE: We are researching how to best train people up in this area.

MW: How do you convince senior management that training is worth investing in?
Our leadership understands how fundamental great learning is to the success of our firm – after all, our only products are the skills and capabilities of our people. It is important to ensure that our development strategy is closely aligned with that of the firm. This helps show proposed investment can contribute to their achievement.

The quality of our performance depends on the calibre of people and we see training as an investment to realise their potential and contribute to the firm’s growth.

JM: It is genuinely an area that the business believes in investing in. We are in a fortunate position as we are doing well as a brand and business at the moment, so training is an area we can continue to invest in and increase our investment in rather than cutting back.

Nobody has to sell training to me, if anything it’s more a question of saying we have budget, let’s make sure we make individual training plans for each member of the marketing department. In previous companies I’ve worked in it has been a much harder sell.

The provision of training is very much the culture of the business. Giving people the ability to go online and re-sit their GCSEs is a really good move both for the brand and for society given that there are so many kids coming out of education without a qualification. I really like what McDonald’s is trying to do in terms of aligning our role as a brand within society.

NF: Each team has an allocated budget, which it can use on training appropriate to specific needs. We also offer free internal training and development courses hosted by our mediators, trainers and experts.

JE: To be a great service provider, training is critical. Our staff need to understand the company values and behaviours, as well as learn the specialist skills to operate effectively. Training is a key part of the business development need and the company buys into this.

MW: What kinds of trends in training have you seen recently?
We’ve seen an increase in training investment, as ultimately a business is only as good as the people who run it. The investment is primarily going into improving cross-divisional working and in equipping staff with the skills to be more empowered in their job
RP: Coaching and mentoring continues to grow in importance. We’ve aimed to increase the provision of formal coaching and have invested in an award-winning support and supervision model for our coaches.

There has also been a huge expansion in less formal mentoring which focuses on linking up people with different levels of experience.
We’ve also seen a trend towards a higher level of leadership-oriented development with an emphasis on using emotional intelligence to bring out the best in yourself and others.

JB: There is more emphasis on self-devised training implementation plans, using an experienced management colleague to coach a small group of people.

This helps to get and keep engagement and buy-in from our management teams. They are the best people to take responsibility for, communicate to, and engage their teams on a day-to-day basis.


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