Group 1 Harrods Career Development


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Developing a career path in retail PEOPLE Introduction ‘Harrods of London’ is a British institution. It is probably the most well-known and respected retail store in the world. For 162 years, Harrods has built its unique reputation supported by its key brand values – British; Luxury; Innovation; Sensation; Service. Harrods employs approximately 5,000 people from 86 different nationalities who deal with up to 100,000 customers a day at peak times. Harrods needs employees who can face the challen
  Introduction ‘Harrods of London’ is a British institution. It is probably the mostwell-known and respected retail store in the world. For 162 years,Harrods has built its unique reputation supported by its key brandvalues – British; Luxury; Innovation; Sensation; Service. Harrodsemploys approximately 5,000 people from 86 different nationalitieswho deal with up to 100,000 customers a day at peak times.Harrods needs employees who can face the challenges that itsreputation and standards bring. It needs people who are lookingfor an exciting and rewarding long-term career with responsibilityand prospects. Its challenge is to find (and retain) employees withthe right mix of skills and abilities, who can be developed tobecome the managers of the future. To achieve this, Harrods has to counter some of the negativeperceptions about working in retail. Working in a shop hastraditionally been seen as low-skilled – with long hours, poor payand little chance of promotion. However, because quality is key atHarrods, employees are well-paid, respected and have clearcareer paths open to them. Senior managers at Harrods havecome from all walks of life and started out with various levels of qualifications. All have benefited from development opportunitiesprovided by the company. The importance of trainingand development  Training and development is vital to any business. Its purpose atHarrods is to better the performance of employees to enableHarrods to meet its business goals. For example, at Harrods theSales Academy develops employees’ sales skills, leading toincreased sales when they return to the shop floor. Allowingemployees to acquire new skills, expertise and qualificationssupports employee progression which leads to increasedmotivation. This supports Harrods’ retention strategies. Training is about gaining the skills needed for a job. These maybe learned at the place of work (on-the-job) or away from work(off-the-job). On-the-job training tends to be more cost-effectiveand relevant. However, off-the-job training is usually carried out byprofessional trainers. It also occurs away from the distractions of work. Training tends to have very specific and measurable goals,such as operating an IT system or till, understanding a process, orperforming certain procedures (for example, cashing up).Development is more about the individual – making him or hermore efficient at a job or capable of facing different responsibilitiesand challenges. Development concentrates on the broader skillsthat are applicable to a wider variety of situations, such as thinkingcreatively, decision-making and managing people. In short, trainingis typically linked to a particular subject matter and is applicable tothat subject only, while development is based on growing broaderskills which can be used in many situations.Harrods employees come from diverse backgrounds and differentnationalities. They have differing levels of competency, educationand experience. Harrods offers comprehensive Learning &Development opportunities. These opportunities are offered at avariety of levels to suit the needs of all Harrods employees. Theserange from workshops for Sales Associates and WarehouseOperatives to developmental programmes for senior managers. Amber is a Harrods Retail Manager who started as a Sales Associate at Harrods through an online application. Harrods hascreated a web sitewww.harrodscareers.comto enable candidatesto apply for roles easily. ‘I wasn’t sure I would get the job but it seemed a really challenging role and I was keen to try. I had only a little background in retail and none at all in the luxury retail market.Mostly I had been working in the hospitality sector.’ Amber ?? Developing a career path in retail       P      E      O      P      L      E Curriculum topics covered: ãTrainingãDevelopmentãRetentionãRoles and responsibilities ?? However, Harrods Learning and Development ensured Amberacquired the skills she needed to carry out her role.Development atHarrods is linked to the company’s Business Competencies whichfall under four headings: Working at Harrods, Your Impact onOthers, Making Things Happen, Focus on Improvements.Each Business Competency is supported by workshops so thatevery skill can be improved. Learning is offered off-the-job in‘bite-size’ sessions. These sessions give employees the chance tolearn more effectively over a much shorter period, reducing timeaway from work and bringing a tightly focused approach to skillsdevelopment. They have been described as concise and punchyand a workshop typically lasts 90 minutes. All the BusinessCompetencies are supported by self-help guides which are run eitheron-or off-the-job and include activities such as observation andreview, reading, and ‘one minute guides’ offering top tips and tactics.Identifying key competencies also helps Harrods to design itsrecruitment process to ensure that it attracts the best candidates. They must have the right approach to sales, customer service anddecision-making and support the ‘theatre of retail’ that underpinsHarrods’ reputation. This is about flair, showmanship andexpertise. Harrods Learning and Development department mustbe proactive in responding to changing customer needs. Forexample, Harrods has introduced cultural awareness training foremployees better to serve the increasing number of customersfrom the Middle East, China, Brazil and Russia. Developing a career path Harrods stands out from its competitors by providing a wide varietyof development opportunities for all employees. This means thebusiness can recruit and retain good managers and maintainimprovements in sales and business performance. Individuals’self-esteem and motivation is raised. Once a year, managers talk toemployees about their progress and ambitions during appraisals.Employees then identify their personal development targets. The sales and service programmes include the ‘Harrods Welcome’. This induction provides essential training for new employees, suchas Harrods’ brand values and The Theatre of Selling. Other coursesensure the effectiveness of Harrods sales associates:ã‘Your Theatre’ is a two-day programme to improve sales skillsand provide the highest level of customer service. It introducesthe idea of selling as a ‘theatre’ requiring specific skills andexpertise. ‘The Theatre of Selling’ element covers personalpresentation, effective questioning, product selection andclosing the sale. ‘The Science of Selling’ develops employeeawareness of customer types and needs.ã The Harrods Fashion Programme is run in partnership with theLondon College of Fashion. It enables sales associates tounderstand the entire ‘product journey’ from design to sale.ã The School of Communication offers voice, body language andpresentation skills workshops.For suitable candidates, the Harrods Sales Degree provides thehigh level sales skills the company needs. This is the first and onlydegree of its kind in Sales. It is recognised globally and can becompleted in two years.High Potential programmes are concerned with successionplanning. They are aimed at ensuring there is a strong pipeline of potential senior managers. The Harrods Management Programmedevelops ambitious and career-focused employees into amanagement role. Jessica joined the company after graduating witha degree in Art History. After just 3 years she is now a HarrodsRetail Manager. She runs the Designer Collection sales floor,managing 26 employees and controlling a substantial budget. ‘My quick progression to Retail Manager was helped by the fact that Harrods allows people to take control of their own development to a large extent. Harrods supports you if you are keen to get on. The Harrods ManagementProgramme gave me eight months of training, both in- house and external. This, together with the support of my  mentor, has equipped me with the specific skills I need tocarry out my job effectively.’ Jessica  Harrods offers other programmes:ã The Business Academy which supports managers as theyprogress into more senior positions.ã The Oxford Summer School which is a challenging academiclearning opportunity held at Keble College, Oxford. This isdesigned to highlight some of the problems, decisions andchallenges of running a retail business. 10 prized places areawarded to high potential managers.ã The Buying Academy which develops our Assistant Buyers intoBuyers of the future. Retaining talent Employee retention is important for businesses. A low employeeturnover can keep recruitment costs down. It also ensures a skilledand experienced workforce. Employee development is beneficial forboth the employee and the business. However, sometimesemployees think that their new-found skills will enable them to gaina better job elsewhere. Harrods, therefore, has put in placestrategies to keep its talented Retail Managers. It has found thatemployees who develop within the company tend to stay. Thosebrought in from outside are more likely to leave. Another vital part of retention for Harrods involves identifying the ‘DNA’ (key factors) of great sales people. It then matches applicants to these factors. To reduce employee turnover Harrods has developed a bettermanagement structure, improved benefits and created initiativeswhich make Harrods a ‘great place to work’. Harrods has put inplace a system of rewards and incentives:ã An excellent package of employee benefits including good pay,employee discounts and a good working environment.ãCommission and sales bonuses for individuals and teams.ãImproved work schedules which help to give a betterwork-life balance.Harrods also has systems to improve employee communicationsso that it can listen to feedback and address any issues. There isan Internal Communications department, regular performanceassessment meetings and SMART targets for employees to reach. These initiatives have seen employee turnover fall from 51.4% in2006 to 25% in November 2011. Careers at Harrods Harrods ensures there is a clear career path for any employee,from any background. Three key levels in Harrods are the salesemployee, department managers and senior managers. At eachlevel, employees can benefit from Harrods developmentprogrammes in order to build a career.James is a Sales Associate and one of Harrods first Sales Degreestudents. When an injury prevented him from following hispreviously chosen career in contemporary dance, he applied toHarrods. He has never looked back. Harrods training has givenhim transferable skills. He has been able to work within more thanone department, providing the same high levels of customerexperience. ‘The course is absolutely fantastic. I feel very privileged to be on it. It is very much focused on work-based learning.It provides real insight into consumer psychology and  behaviour - why people do what they do and how they  shop - and how to deal with challenging situations. My  managers are very supportive. If I need to take some timeout during the day to make notes on an interesting situation, then I can. It has offered some amazingopportunities, such as giving me behind-the-scenes information on how Harrods works and increasing my  awareness of its global influence. I have realised thatHarrods offers great benefits, good conditions and anopportunity to work amongst fantastic people.’ James James will complete his BA Honours in 2012. He believes that thequalification will provide the additional skills he needs before hesteps up to the next level at Harrods. James now expects hisfuture to be with Harrods. Amber’s application was successful because of the customer skillsshe was able to bring from previous experiences. She is now theRetail Manager of Childrenswear. Her responsibilities range fromoverseeing budgets to managing both stock and people, as wellas upholding the Harrods standards of service. By takingadvantage of the Harrods Management Programme, Amber hasrisen to a better paid and more responsible job. ??  ?? ‘Retail is a challenging environment but I find it exciting. Although the company aims to hire the right people for the job in the first place, there is a whole range of training available to ensure we are equipped with key skills, for example, brand training for all the different ranges we offer.Harrods promotes the view that all employees should  manage themselves responsibly and take advantage of opportunities offered.’  Amber Sabrina joined Harrods 10 years ago as a part-time Sales Associate whilst studying for her degree. After graduating sheworked in Human Resources (HR) and, with Harrods support,gained further qualifications. This led to a series of promotions andexperience in other roles including Business Manager. Her currentrole is Head of Personal Shopping, managing a team of 50people. Personal shopping is about creativity and exceptionalservice. Her role requires strong organisational skills, commercialunderstanding and practical and strategic thinking. Sabrina’sexperiences at Harrods shows how diverse a career in the retailenvironment can be. ‘Knowing that my senior managers recognised my ability  and supported me in my career development has made me eternally loyal to the company. Before coming toHarrods I hadn’t really considered a career in retail, now Ican’t imagine working anywhere else. The thing I enjoy  most about working at Harrods is that every day is unique and the work is interesting and innovative.’ Sabrina Conclusion People may have negative ideas about retail work based on theirown experiences of part-time or vacation work. Harrods isdifferent as it is possible to start building a career from any level.Harrods is about the ‘theatre’ of retail. As with a theatreproduction, however, excellence is built on hard work and basicskills. The flair must be underpinned with discipline and attendingto day-to-day issues, such as unpacking and displaying stock andmanaging employees.Providing development opportunities is a key factor in howHarrods maintains its high levels of employee retention. Thebusiness looks after its employees and helps them along theircareer path. As a result employees are loyal to the company andcontinue to offer exceptional levels of commitment and service. Harrods |Developing a career path in retail E x am- s  t   yl   e q u e s  t  i   on s 1. Describe the difference between training anddevelopment. (2 marks) 2. Explain the importance of developing employees. (4 marks) 3.  Analyse the methods by which Harrods ensures itrecruits and retains its employees. (6 marks) 4. Evaluate how training and development leads to careerprogression at Harrods. (8 marks)
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