Photo: Amanda Gibbons, Personnel Manager at the Heart of England Co-operative Society

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Heart of England Co-operative Society has named Amanda Gibbons as its new Personnel Manager.

The move to the 187-year-old Heart of England marks a return to roots for Amanda, who was born in Coventry – the home of the Society’s new head office – and raised in the west of Ireland.

After graduating with a BA in Human Resource Management from the Galway / Mayo Institute of Technology Amanda went on to work as HR Manager for leading Irish retailer Dunnes Stores, overseeing the west of Ireland and the Midlands.

She later joined SuperValu, also in the west of Ireland, as Group HR Manager.

Between the two, Dunnes Stores and SuperValu hold the largest grocery market share in Ireland.

Amanda is a Chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, the professional body for HR management professionals – an accreditation which demonstrates her ability to operate at a strategic level.

She is also a certified trainer having successfully obtained QQI training delivery and evaluation certification (Quality and Qualifications Ireland).

Amanda joined the Society as she recognised its values epitomised her own. She also recognised it would be a perfect platform to progress her own professional development.

Since her arrival she has worked closely with senior management and Catherine Evans, Training Manager, to devise the nine-box grid, designed to give herself and her colleagues in senior management a clear picture of the capabilities and the potential of every member of staff in the business.

The nine-box grid measures an employee’s performance against their capability, identifying opportunities for every employee to continue progressing through the business with the right support from their line manager and the right training and development opportunities.

There are nine different types of staff identified in the grid, including key contributors and star performers. The aim is to move every member of staff through the various boxes in the grid as they continue to progress, until they reach star performer level.

Amanda said training and development, along with retention of staff, were among her key aims for the Heart of England.

As of this academic year Food Division employees who sign up to the Society’s own new internal trainee manager programme are also now encouraged to complete a Level 3 Team Leader Apprenticeship, delivered by North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College.

The trainee manager programme looks at six modules including health and safety, people management, store standards, stock management, cash and security and commercial awareness, while the apprenticeship modules include team management principles, leadership techniques, performance management, relationship management, communications, human resources and operational and project management, and financial management.

Amanda said the trainee managers are already reaping the rewards of the apprenticeship and she, together with the Society’s Training Manager Catherine Evans, is already looking at ways to add to the programme, ready for the next intake of trainee managers later this year.

Similarly in the Funeral Division every member of the team is trained to the highest standards, learning their skills through the National Association of Funeral Directors’ Diploma in Funeral Arranging and Administration, and the Diploma in Funeral Directing.

Amanda said: “The Society already has an excellent track record for the training and development of its staff, and for staff retention, with many of our colleagues seeing at least 25 years and some even reaching 50 years with the Society.

“We now want to work on this across all levels of the business. While we aim to provide training and development opportunities to our core employees in the first instance, we are aware that we may also have customer service assistants that are with us part time while studying at university. If at the end of their course they are interested in a career in retail we can give them every opportunity to progress through our business through the trainee manager programme, supervisor programme, personal development and academic programmes.”

Existing trainee managers are undergoing an internal programme alongside an apprenticeship in partnership with Warwickshire and Leicestershire College.

It is the first year the Society has embarked upon apprenticeships for its staff but Amanda said the scheme has already proven to be a huge success and the Society is already looking at ways to take the trainee manager programme to the next level in time for the next intake of apprentices.

Amanda said: “Succession planning is key for us. To recruit individuals with behaviours and attitudes that are aligned to our Society’s values and ensuring we have the right people in place who are willing to take on new rewarding challenges and move in the same direction as the business.”

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