Beyond Survival – delivering growth through your people #cipd10
This was the last session of day one at this years CIPD annual conference. It was led by Carl McPhail CEO of New Look the large UK retailer.
After showing us a short (1min) promotional video showing the business time line from conception as a market stall to its current multi million operation. McPhail introduced the business as “always being about change” and that to be successful in a sustainable way “you need to engage with customers as well as employees”.
McPhail talked about the cycle of products, the number of times the average customer visited (on average twice a month) and the need to have new products on the shelf for every visit and a complete stock change every 8 weeks. He highlighted that just 5 partner suppliers provided 50% of all new products and that while many would consider this narrow supply chain as a risk, McPhail considers this to be a strength for both the supplier and themselves.
It was at this point that it really dawned on me – here is a CEO at a HR conference talking business not HR. the language he was using was more about profit, than retention or other HR measures. This was refreshing. It was not that he was ignoring HR – he wasn’t, what he was doing was truly integrating HR & the business.
McPhail went on to talk about the strategy to achieve their aggressive growth ambitions. It included the following:
- Being the #1 in the retail market space
- Aggressive targets
- Sales & profits
- Cash & returns
- UK space
- World class benchmarking
- Obsessive customer focus
- Best people
McPhail highlighted the last three:
Benchmarking, this is not within the sector to other retail providers – but best in class – logistics, finance etc
Customer focus, in that they have created social media channels, Facebook, “MyLook” – they own network, so that they can take temperature checks on a daily basis so that they can react to what the customer experience is
Best People – McPhail himself says that he has his strengths and weaknesses, and that he knows his weaknesses and engages with the best people he can find (in and outside the business) to address this. The examples he gave was the introduction of online shopping and social media, as it was his team that recommended the change of channel.
On the people agenda – all leaders (himself included) have been assessed and personal development plans put in place. He said that he relied on his HRD to provide honest information on the people in the business and to act as a trusted adviser. The HR leadership approach aspires to provide:
Overall this was a refreshingly honest and business led session (rather than many fad based sessions), good to hear the value a CEO puts on HR, when HR works with the leadership to deliver a successful business.