B&Q is the leading home improvement and garden centre retailer in the UK, employing 27,000 people nationwide.
In late 2015 B&Q launched its first high potential talent programme for its Store Support Office (SSO), based near Southampton. The ‘Aspire’ programme was open to all role types and functions such as Finance, Marketing, Commercial plus field-based teams such as Asset Protection. With a target of having 10% of people in the business on a talent programme at any one time and further targets around promotion from within, this programme was about accelerating the development of colleagues who have the potential and desire to progress within B&Q.
The SSO Aspire programme comprises of three different streams, each specifically aligned to an individual’s aspirations; firstly, ‘Preparation to be a Line Manager’ for individuals who have not managed people in B&Q before; secondly ‘Mastering Management’ for those already in a managerial role but aspiring to a role with greater complexity or larger teams; and finally ‘Increasing Expertise’ for those without managerial responsibility who have chosen to develop their career following a more technical expert route.
Whilst planning the programme and developing the selection criteria Holly Hurkett, SSO Learning & Development Manager and Alana Inness, Performance & Selection Partner at B&Q, identified two key challenges; "Firstly, how do we help the individuals who come on the programme understand themselves better? We needed everyone to have a full understanding of their strengths and opportunities to develop their behaviours; and secondly how do we measure the impact of the programme and track performance throughout,", explains Alana. B&Q were also simultaneously in the process of refreshing their Behavioural Framework, so they needed a tool to help them to create that common language and to help socialise a new set of behaviours in the business.
In Autumn 2015 B&Q started looking for a 360 provider. 360 degree feedback surveys provide a unique opportunity for individuals and organisations to gain an insight into what has made them successful in the past and what they need to do to be more successful in the future. It provides employees with a better understanding of their strengths and development opportunities and a sound basis for development planning. It also provides in-depth data to enable an organisation to track performance and measure the impact of talent development programmes.
Although B&Q were familiar with doing 360 assessments, previous surveys had always been paper-based, which were cumbersome to administer. When looking for a 360 provider Alana Inness explains the two key criteria for B&Q; "Firstly, we needed the flexibility to create our own questions - we did not want an off the shelf 360." A bespoke 360 survey that uses an organisation’s language and is precisely aligned to their goals is going to yield the most valuable information for employees to work with and act upon. Creating a survey that has a look and feel that employees connect with can also help to reinforce the company’s behaviours for its people.
"Secondly, we wanted the ability to be able track performance over three points in time," continues Alana. B&Q wanted the participants to take part in three 360s; the first at the very beginning of the programme, the second at the end of the formal elements of the programme and a final one six months later, to enable B&Q to track how participants have progressed over time and whether development had been truly embedded. After drawing up an initial shortlist of four potential 360 providers, Holly Hurkett made the decision to work with GFB, based on both the flexibility and functionality of our system.
Abigail Clayton, Client Director at GFB explains, "At GFB, we pride ourselves on the flexibility of our platform to meet our clients’ project specific requirements. We have a number of options which clients can select as part of a bespoke 360 set up - such as the spider display of data utilised by the team at B&Q; we also the technical capability to develop new insights and data displays like including 360 scores from 3 different points in time as required by this project.”
The first intake of 47 people have successfully completed the SSO Aspire programme, with around 15 people on each of the three streams. At the Aspire launch event, the programme participants were briefed that they would be undergoing a 360 at three different points in time and the first 360 was launched using GFB’s intuitive self-administration survey system.
"GFB turned everything around very quickly - within the month that we created the questions, GFB had got the bespoke 360 online and launched. Any questions we had were answered very promptly and the self-administration system worked very well for us. The whole process has been extremely straightforward," confirms Alana.
As part of the programme, the participants were offered the opportunity to attend a bitesize 360 workshop. The participants came to the workshop with their individual report and were helped to understand how to gain insight from the report, understand their strengths and to raise awareness of any potential development areas. GFB's 360 reports are designed to present the results of the survey clearly, concisely, and in a way that is easy for an individual to understand. Participants also buddied up with someone else in the room to work through their reports and were encouraged to continue that outside of the workshop itself. Action learning Sets had been included as part of the programme, so participants all had access to peer support as well.
At the end of the formal element of the Aspire programme, B&Q then launched the second 360 as planned and found that across the group, the average score for all 11 behaviours had increased; Developing Self and Others saw the largest increase, closely followed by Building Confidence. In four months’ time, B&Q plan to run another 360 to see whether those changes have been sustained.
At a recent B&Q internal ‘Spotlight’ event, where participants talk to senior business guests about their Aspire journey, a number of programme participants used the 360 tool to demonstrate their progress and mentioned how useful it had been for informing their development objectives.
"The 360 allowed me to write a thorough PDP for the first time in my career. It was especially great to get a second opportunity at the end of Aspire to re-do the 360 to see how we had moved on," says Sean Callis, National Fraud Investigations Partner and Aspiree, B&Q.
B&Q has also been nominated for the Retail Week Rising Star Award, where the group results from the 360 were used as part of the presentation to the panel.
"Aspire is the beginning of a development journey and we continue to encourage participants to make the most of their talent and support them in driving their development forward, beyond the end of their formal training," says Alana Inness.