Developing Leadership Skills in Experienced Managers

There has been a significant change in ‘the way we do business daily on site. We are more open to each other, more direct in our communication, more agile and we aim higher in all that we do. I believe that the Dale Carnegie courses will enable the team to grow further together to achieve even more.Mark Wilkinson, General Manager

The Premier Foods Story

One of Britain’s biggest listed food companies, employing over 4,000 people at 15 sites and offices, Premier Foods produces many of the UK’s most iconic brands. The group is committed to developing a pipeline of highly skilled talent and operate a values-based appraisal and performance management system created by colleagues for the whole business.

In 2015 when Dale Carnegie and the Premier Foods Andover site began
their partnership, the small and highly skilled team were performing well as individuals and small groups, but the general manager recognised that there was strong potential for improved overall performance if they could learn to cooperate as a single, cohesive unit.

Relationships between two key departments were sometimes strained and communication between shifts was often lacking. “They were very good at pulling together to fix problems,” recalls General Manager Mark Wilkinson, “but with better communication and personal responsibility, the problems could be stopped from happening in the first place. They were a good team that just needed to work together better so they could stop things going bump occasionally.”

The Challenge

In 2015 the mill was running at less than 50% capacity and a project
was underway to attract new own brand customers by improving logistical and storage capabilities. To meet the expected increase in demand that this investment would bring, Premier Foods recognised that the Andover staff needed to improve their flexibility, inter-shift communications, front line management, cross-functional cooperation, proactive problem solving and personal responsibility.

How we did it

The management program began with two key department heads, who attendedthe Dale Carnegie Course. As relationships between key individuals and departments improved, communication increased, and technical issues began to be resolved earlier, resulting in less down-time and more recognition for personal ownership of problems.
As the next small cohort of team leaders underwent the training, the department heads supported them and helped them to apply what they were learning backin the workplace. This widened overall awareness of the new behaviours and a‘new way of working’ began to emerge in team meetings and cross-functionalproject groups.
By the time the final pair of supervisors completed the training there was a significant upward trend in performance metrics and employee engagement was at an all-time high. Line management practices had become significantly more effective at encouraging personal responsibility and a new recognition system had been created by one of the supervisors that was being rolled out across the group. Commenting on the improvements, Mark said, “There is support and encouragement throughout the team and everyone is feeling the change.”