Kathryn Scordino and Karen Polymniou stepped into a new role three months ago as Head of Leadership and Talent. Here they explain their plans to develop our leaders of the future and help all colleagues fulfil their potential.
Kathryn and Karen are leading a new team in our Co-op, and they’re leading the way when it comes to flexible working having job shared for the last five years in a leadership role.
After setting up their job share at Barclays, an opportunity came up in our HR department. With their joint CV bagging them an interview (the first they’d had as a duo), they were successful and are now enjoying their third job share leadership role in the Co-op.
As well as helping our leaders develop skills for the future, Kathryn and Karen are keen to help Co-op become better at offering all colleagues opportunities to be flexible in their role, and want to see more women at all levels across our businesses. You can read the interview they did with Aspire, our women’s network.
Leaders of the future
“If you take it back to its basics we want to make sure we equip colleagues with the skills they need now and in the future,” says Karen.
“We’ve achieved some of that through the Back to Being Co-op and Being a Co-op Leader events last year, but now we need to go back to grassroots. What are we providing now? Is that fit for the future? Then we can build up our leadership portfolio which looks at the fundamental things needed to be a leader in our Co-op.”
Right now the organisation focuses on three capabilities:
- Leading change
- Managing performance
- Commercial acumen
“We’ve also got the Ways of Being and the skills we learnt on Being a Co-op Leader but we’ve got nothing that draws them all together,” admits Karen. Are those enough? Will there be different skills we need in the future? Resilience, agility, digital capability?
“How do we join up the how with the what? The idea is that next year we’ll launch a new leadership capability framework. That will provide the base for everything you do as a leader in your career here.”
My Co-op Career
Talkback last year showed a low score when it came to the question: Do you think there are opportunities to progress in our Co-op?
Rebecca Palmer, from the Leadership, Talent and Learning Team, is doing all she can to reverse that by taking My Co-op Career Group-wide in 2018.
“Our aspiration over the next 12 months is to put some solutions in place to define ‘this is what you do to get on around here’” says Rebecca.
At the moment Food are using a model called My Co-op Career which has three pathways:
- Core (looks at induction and being brilliant at the basics)
- Excellence (the skills to take you from good to great in your role)
- Boost (the skills to help you progress to the role you want in the future)
“The challenge for us is how do we get people to reach their full potential,” says Kathryn. “For one person it might be about getting promoted, for someone else it might be about being an expert in their field.
“Everybody needs certain foundation skills whatever their role. How to coach your teams, how to do a performance review, how to hold a disciplinary, what it means to be a leader from a community and Being Co-op perspective.
“We need to make sure we’re building products and helping people to access those products whatever their role is in the organisation.”
Karen continues: “It’s also opening people’s eyes to the possibilities of working in a different Co-op business and equipping them with the skills to move across. That’s already happening a lot to an extent, but people might not know it.”
Shining Stars or something else?
In 2014 our Food business started Shining Stars, which takes a small group of colleagues on a 10-month development programme to set them up as future leaders. This year the programme was opened Group-wide.
But do we need a more tailored programme for different types of colleagues across the business?
“Shining Stars touches a small number of people,” says Kathryn. “There were 180 applicants and we’ve only been able to put 28 people through. There are lots of fantastic people out there but we haven’t yet developed ways we can reach them.”
Karen continues: “We’re going to link up the leadership development we offer with the talent that’s out there and their needs.”
Young, old or in between – it doesn’t matter
“This is not about your age,” says Kathryn. “It’s about how do you want to drive your own career. We want to support everyone.
“We know we’re not as strong as some other organisations are at this – but we’re working hard to build up our own team capability to open up leadership development options whatever your role is in the organisation, and whatever age you are.
“We’ve shown through our apprenticeship programme that we span age groups. People are stepping into leadership roles in their 50s. What we’re doing is inclusive – we’re developing people wherever they are in their life stage.”
Ways of Being – begin at the beginning
Kathryn and Karen readily admit that we’re on a journey with our Ways of Being, and they still need to be woven into our processes and how we do things.
“We need to recruit people with the right values and behaviours in the first place, or we’ll always be rushing to keep up with ourselves,” admits Karen.
“There’s been some great work done last year linking the Ways of Being with store goals and they invested in some launch events which gave some high intensity training on how to hold a performance review, how to bring the Ways of Being to life.
“To properly change the culture as an organisation we have to get it right from the start with recruitment or we’re never going to be sure we’ve got the right leaders. We’ll be working closely with the recruitment team to make sure that happens.”