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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Training spreads success at Kerrygold
A Kerrygold Company factory has developed into a manufacturing unit whose first-line managers now cope well with ever-increasing change and the rapid response needed by suppliers of the major retailers.
Kerrygold is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Irish Dairy Board. Its factory in Leek, Staffordshire, is the largest independent cheese-packing plant in Britain. More than over 90 per cent of its business involves packing major supermarkets’ own-label products. The plant employs more than 400 people, producing 2.5 million consumer packs a week, and has an annual turnover approaching £200 million.
The factory was performing well enough back in 1988, but it was recognised that the way the plant operated made it unlikely it would cope with changes being forced on it by retailers. A new culture was needed. Tim Hancox, an independent management trainer with a reputation for helping to create an environment for change in organisations, was engaged to support Kerrygold in its change programme. The programme he helped to develop has won a UK National Training Award.
Two workshops with senior production managers identified a number of areas where the business could benefit from a more integrated structure, with a team of first-line managers who had the right skills and competencies and believed in themselves as part of the management team. In the first phase, combining workshops with distance learning, 36 first-line managers from production, engineering and warehousing attended five one-day workshops covering motivation and teamwork, communication, development skills and technical skills. In a second phase, 13 managers attended 13 workshops at a higher, “certificate” level.
“The support and involvement of, not just line, but senior managers as well, were essential to success”, said Tim Hancox. “Held on-site, all workshops enabled managers to get involved whenever they felt the need to drop in and support the project. Feedback from line managers and senior-management mentors on the numerous assignments also played a big part in achieving the changes. The assignments themselves were agreed with management so as to achieve the changes in behaviour, and thus performance, that the programme was designed for”.
“In 1998, we had four departments where people were protective of their own area of the business”, said Carl Ravenhall, Kerrygold’s production director. “Now we have one department where everybody works together and I consider we now have a more flexible labour force. For instance, team leaders take responsibility for all resources – waste, quality and safety as well as output. They are fully responsible for the profit and loss of their zone. They now show confidence, get involved, and take decisions on a wide range of issues.
“Team leaders have worked to reduce absenteeism, in some areas dramatically. Change is seen as an opportunity rather than a threat. Complaints from customers have fallen significantly and Kerrygold was named Tesco Supplier of the Year for its service levels to that company. Output has risen considerably with the same number of staff. Line efficiency has increased and wastage has fallen. The new atmosphere and the training programme as a whole are playing a big part in the increased competitiveness of the company”.