Ladbrokes improves retail performance through new HR initiatives and training

Ladbrokes, Britain’s biggest bookmaker, is aiming to further improve the performance of its UK shop business by introducing a series of HR initiatives and creating a more supportive management style. The HR initiatives include a new focus on performance management and talent management. The company has also created a leadership framework and it is working with learning specialist KnowledgePool to design, develop and deliver new training programmes. After establishing nine leadership competencies – insight; capacity to learn; analysis; empathy; drive for results; resilience; judgement; creativity and influence – Ladbrokes commissioned KnowledgePool to design and deliver a development programme, on the top two competencies, for its 24 area managers, 148 district supervisors and 100 head office managers. “Our assessments revealed that ‘insight’ and ‘capacity to learn’ were the most critical competencies for the business,” said Jeremy Trevor.

“We wanted to help drive our business improvements by giving our managers an insight into themselves, and their characteristics, so they can achieve their performance goals by getting people in their teams to work better together.” The two-day residential programme, delivered for cohorts of 12 at a time, showed how a coaching style of leadership – built upon a firm understanding of each individual’s style and characteristics – can help managers to provide greater support and encouragement to their teams. The programme included a psychometric profile and one-to-one coaching from KnowledgePool’s associate coaches to help the managers apply their learning and create their own personal development plan. “The programme gave our managers a better understanding of their own leadership style and how they can more effectively manage their business plan and their people,” said Jeremy Trevor. “There was a real sense of appreciation that we were not just telling our managers what to deliver, we had instead invested to help them understand how they can best fulfil their plans by using their own strengths and capabilities. KnowledgePool designed and managed this programme with a high level of commitment and consistency not usually found in a learning partner.” Jeremy Trevor believes the HR initiatives introduced have significantly contributed to improvements in customer satisfaction, business performance and loyalty. “Our ‘mystery shopper’ results have already improved,” he said. “What’s more, senior managers now see HR as a key element in the delivery of the business plan.” Ladbrokes’ new performance management process – for the company’s 12,200 shop staff and 500 head office staff – includes new performance measures around four areas – customers, competitiveness, contribution and compliance – as well as performance reviews and performance-related pay and rewards.

Ladbrokes has also developed an internal IT solution to manage performance measurement across the retail estate. This supports the identification of talent and high performers and has lead to improved career management. “In the retail sector, bonuses are usually paid based on shop profitability,” said Jeremy Trevor. “But our performance metrics are far more about behaviour. We’re striving to create good presentation standards in our shops, and good relationships amongst the teams, so that we can provide a great service and attract and retain more customers.” Ladbrokes plans to introduce additional management training covering its seven remaining leadership competencies. “Through performance reviews, we’ve seen a strong improvement in the first two competencies which shows that the initial training has been very effective,” said Jeremy Trevor. KnowledgePool has also been commissioned to develop first and second line management programmes for 2009, covering aspects such as leadership behaviour, people management and strategic development. “We believe it is strategically important to develop our middle managers and to create learning opportunities across the business that will not only reinforce our commitment to the people that achieve our success but will also help to differentiate our service in a competitive and changing market,” said Jeremy Trevor.

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“We’ve aligned our HR activity more closely to the business strategy,” said Jeremy Trevor, Retail HR Director at Ladbrokes. “We realised that to achieve our objectives, we needed to ensure our managers bought into the concepts and that they had the skills and abilities to support the changes we wanted to deliver.”

Jeremy Trevor, Retail HR Director at Ladbrokes