I’m Amelia – I’ve worked for the co-op as a store manager for 10 months in the Bristol area, and I recently completed a secondment with the One Best Way programme.
The main goal was to get out to visit stores to understand the complexity in our back and middle office processes, and how we can make them leaner.
During my secondment I visited 15 stores, and I loved engaging with store managers. It was great gaining insight on how we could better support our stores with simplified processes to better serve our customers. The reaction from colleagues to the work we were completing was fantastic! I couldn’t have asked for more openness and honesty to aid myself and the team in gathering the data.
I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of the secondment, engaging with key stakeholders, working with store colleagues and experts in the business and challenging the norm by being constantly curious. At times I surprised myself- I even participated in a One Best Way Podcast – I wouldn’t have put myself forward to take part in a podcast before! I also particularly enjoyed looking into the stream surrounding fuel, as this is in area I have never worked with before.
Although I found it intense at times – seeing the outputs made it all the more worthwhile. We’ve now mapped the theoretical and actual processes and identified some key opportunities and recommendations for the business to focus on.
One of the most important things the secondment taught me was the need for change and how I could play a part in co-creating it. I worked with a fantastic team of people across the country and have further built my own personal network. I was made to feel so welcome by all at the Retail Support Centre at 1AS and can honestly say it felt like home for the 4 weeks I was there.
I would definitely recommend secondment opportunities as a great experience to anyone. I now feel like I’ve walked back into my store re-energised with my eyes wide open, and have already been looking at the way we complete tasks in a different light.
Over the past 3 months our Field Risk Support Officers (FRSO’s) have been out across the estate visiting stores and connecting with colleagues, embarking on a huge programme of Store Operational Assessments.
These assessments are critical to our achieving one clear objective – to make our stores safe and legal for colleagues and customers. They are key to helping us identify where our risks are, identifying improvements and opportunities in store, and to help us gain insight on how our operating model is being executed. Through the course of Q1 the team has now completed 270 operational assessments, each one measuring over 200 standards in stores, covering all elements of operations and compliance.
Understanding what is and isn’t working
The assessments have brought a more collaborative approach than the previous audits, and our FRSO’s have been spending hundreds of hours in stores, talking to our colleagues to really understand how we can improve. It’s a new approach for us because we aren’t just looking at Health & safety, but at our entire operating model.
Learning from colleagues
As well as aiming to understand how our operating model is landing, and how we are meeting our legal requirements, the key element is ensuring that we learn from colleagues on what is working and what isn’t. It’s been a huge success and we’ve gained some fantastic insight from our colleagues. Colleagues are helping us to understand how complex our processes are for them, and whilst we need to protect our stores, we need to do this in a way that removes complexity for our colleagues. The assessments also help us to validate and check that the changes we make as a business are working and continuing to make our co-op great.
Coaching for performance
Its important that this activity isn’t just an information gathering exercise. The SOAR report is also a great tool to help store teams create their own action plan to improve standards. And our FRSOs are making the time to coach and upskill store teams based on their findings and using How Do I as a reference guide.
It is important to remember that the assessments are not a change but they can be the catalyst for change. The Retail Risk health & Safety Team are now engaging with key stakeholders across the business to review these insights and understand what activity is in progress to protect against risks and make things easier for stores whilst agreeing next steps and commitments. As we move in to Q2 the second Operational Assessment cycle has already started and will see our FRSO’s complete a further 400 SOARs in Q2.