Co-operative Group

Driving the Coop's Performance Culture

The Challenge

Amidst challenging times, the Co-op recognised the importance of establishing a performance-driven culture for sustainable, long-term success. In late 2015, they initiated a competitive tender process to find the right partner who could help elevate organisational performance through comprehensive employee development, particularly focusing on equipping managers with the necessary skills and processes.

The Co-op’s primary objectives included maximising their budget for the highest return on investment in upskilling managers, driving performance in 2015/2016 and beyond. They also aimed to create, launch, and embed effective interventions and tools for manager development while ensuring the consistent application of models and techniques throughout the organisation.

Additionally, the Co-op sought to implement innovative solutions that were simple, sustainable, and scalable. They aimed to leverage available technology whenever possible but also recognised that certain business areas faced limitations in this regard. By achieving these goals, the Co-op aimed to boost performance and deliver lasting benefits to customers, consumers, and members.

The Solution

Innovation Central partnered with Co-op to conduct an extensive investigation, examining the current state of performance within the organisation. Over 30 days, sixty-five managers and colleagues were engaged through face-to-face meetings, phone interviews, focus groups, and site visits to identify best practices and establish a roadmap for high performance.

Four key themes emerged from this investigation:

  • Maturity – promoting adult interactions throughout the performance cycle, creating value in performance management
  • Capability – developing essential skills, knowledge, and behaviours to drive high performance in the workplace
  • Accountability – clarifying and reinforcing accountability for performance management at all levels
  • Consistency – defining excellence and applying it across the Co-op Group.

With these insights, Innovation Central designed a collection of practical, timely learning resources to support Co-op’s performance management cycle and empower managers to foster a positive performance culture. The design principles focused on simplicity, scalability, and sustainability, emphasising real-world application and building on existing best practices and materials.

Over the next few months, Innovation Central collaborated with the Co-op to create a variety of digital and print learning resources, including:

  • Performance Animation: a captivating 3-minute animation introducing the significance of performance and upcoming learning resources
  • Pocket Guides: concise digital and print guides outlining excellence in performance management, from goal setting to review processes
  • ‘How to’ Guides: a series of best practice tools for HR business partners to ensure consistency in goal cascading, talent, and calibration
  • Behavioural Assessment: a manager-driven tool evaluating the demonstration of new organisational values.
  • HIT sessions: bespoke High-Intensity Training modules for managers and HR business partners, covering engaging learning sessions in bite-sized chunks.

By prioritising practicality and coherence, Innovation Central equipped the Co-op with the resources needed to drive a performance-oriented culture geared for long-term success.

The Results

Innovation Central collaborated closely with Co-op’s Centre of Excellence leaders and HR business partners during the creation of all resources that would drive the Coop’s performance. This collaboration ensured ownership, influence, and seamless integration with the organisation’s project planning while maintaining strong stakeholder management.

To support each launched resource, various engagement activities were conducted, such as conference calls, face-to-face meetings, and train-the-trainer sessions. These activities aimed to make those responsible for delivering and embedding the materials feel confident and at ease.

As a result of this performance-focused approach, Co-op experienced a measurable increase in colleagues who had:

  • SMART goals aligned with organisational strategy
  • Substantial performance reviews with their managers
  • Performance ratings accurately reflecting their performance levels
  • Timely and accurate performance information input and reporting
  • Enhanced capability in using the online performance system effectively

By homing in on performance, Innovation Central contributed to a more cohesive, productive, and goal-oriented culture at Co-op, ultimately driving better results for the organisation.

"The printed 'How-to' guides have been the most in-demand product we have ever produced in the Performance Team - they are flying off the shelf."

Head of Performance

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