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Developing the cream of management at Dairy Crest

Chilled dairy foods company Dairy Crest is enhancing the leadership and management capability of its senior and middle managers, to help ensure its businesses will be able to compete effectively in the future.

Executive education specialist Roffey Park is running separate competency-based programmes for Dairy Crest’s leaders and managers, featuring Development Centres, business-related projects and one-to-one mentoring. As well as supporting the brand portfolio and ‘maximising talent’, the programmes also promote cross-functional working relationships.

"We wanted to commission a management and leadership skills development programme to provide more support to managers in our individual businesses and functional areas," said Gareth Hopkins, Dairy Crest’s Group HR Director. "Research revealed there were different needs at different levels so we decided instead to develop two programmes: one for senior managers and another for middle managers."

12 senior managers are now undertaking the ten-day Leaders’ Programme, which is delivered in four modules, at Roffey Park, over a period of 15 months. Dairy Crest has around 60 senior managers. The participants are selected for each cohort of the programme by the company’s Trading Board, which comprises the managing directors of the various business units.

The programme begins with a two-day Development Centre, which involves exercises based on Dairy Crest’s management competency framework, 360 degree feedback and personality questionnaires. The four modules, each of which lasts two days, cover leadership, strategy, managing change and business finance.

16 middle managers are now undertaking the six-day Managers’ Programme, which begins with a three-day Development Centre. The participants then meet again, a few months later, for three days of core management skills training and group work on a business project.

Judith Bufton, the company’s Management Development Manager, says that one of the key benefits is that the two programmes bring people together from across the organisation.

"The programmes enable cross-functional groups to network on a personal level and to work together on business issues," she said. "We’re already seeing tangible benefits from that. The participants also have one-to-one mentoring and this has had a very positive impact as it encourages them actively to pursue their development plans."

"This is a growing company with a substantial number of talented people," said Hopkins. "The leaders’ and managers’ programmes support the business by helping us to get the best out of that talent. The programmes therefore fulfil a strategic need as they have a direct influence on our ability to sustain our success."

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