YSC’s role was to partner with the Sainsbury’s Board over a sustained period of time to help clarify and drive the leadership and culture change that was needed within the business. We also worked extensively with the Top 60 leadership team to help them lead the change effectively. At regular intervals, YSC provided an independent evaluation of how successful the culture change initiatives were, and what needed to be done to embed things further. In addition, we supported individual leaders through coaching as well as evaluating external hires.
With 557 supermarkets and 377 convenience stores, Sainsbury’s is one of the UK’s largest retailers. It has 150,000 members of staff and a central HR resource of 80.
In 2004 after a period of poor business results, Sainsbury’s embarked on a turn-around programme: Making Sainsbury’s Great Again.
- When Justin King came to the helm in 2004, the company was in serious difficulty, having fallen into 3rd place behind Tesco and Asda, and continuing to lose market share.
- There was a distinct feeling that the supermarket had lost its way and was now in a ‘no-man’s’ land between Waitrose/M&S Food and Tesco/Asda.
- Stock and supply chain issues dogged the company’s ability to meet customer needs.
- The challenge was to ‘Make Sainsbury’s Great Again’.
- We worked closely with Justin King to pull together customer, marketing, and other data from different sources in the organisation to create a vivid, multimedia presentation that was presented to the Operations Board.
- YSC and the Board of Sainsbury’s came up with a new purpose and goal, values and leadership behaviours that would help focus the company to achieve its goals. The behaviours identified were: winning, tough love, commitment is earned, on my watch, try something new and customers pay our wages.
- To embed the new values and leadership, an innovative programme of activities was deployed, including: powerful symbolic steps, structural changes, an organisational upward feedback process and a focused approach to the introduction of new talent.
- The Board met repeatedly over the three year period to evaluate the change process and to identify ways to maintain momentum. The Top 60 leaders in the business also met regularly to review, with the Operating Board, progress on the culture change agenda.
- On the basis of cultural insights, a variety of focused programmes were developed to change leadership behaviours. These included high performance coaching, authentic leadership workshops and working across boundaries skills training.
- YSC evaluated talent coming into the business above a certain level of seniority. YSC also ran developmental workshops for emerging talent.
- A two day programme for the retailer’s top 1000 leaders was set up. 35 events were held nationwide consisting of store managers and above over the course of 3 months.
- The programme involved 360° feedback and role play and Board directors were present at every event.
- Having completed this programme, another 237 one-day events took place for the next rung down, consisting of departmental managers.
- A 60% increase in profits was reported.
- Half year sales growth grew 8.3%.
- The company’s internal staff opinions survey showed a 10% rise in indices measuring employee engagement and leadership capability.