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The right people for the right job at the right time

| On the move

Ensuring your business has the right people with the right mix of skills will be critical as the food and grocery industry continues to undergo dramatic change, according to IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch.

IGD is a research and training charity that helps the food and grocery industry deliver the needs of the public.

Speaking today at the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI) International Retail Summit in Switzerland, she argued that greater automation of jobs in food and grocery and throughout the economy will open up opportunities for new, higher skilled jobs.

“There is a need to plan for a very different future,” she told delegates. “That plan needs many components, but the most critical element of all is people and skills. Everything else flows from having the right people with the right skills.

“The critical skills for tomorrow will include digital, food science, design and display, product knowledge, data analysis, communications, supply chain and cost control. All of these will be rooted in the skills of the past, but some will remain unchanged, some will be reinvented and some will be revived.”

Denney-Finch outlined a five-step formula for food and grocery businesses to ensure they are equipped with the right skills to meet the challenges of the future:

Step one: Build the reputation of retailing as a career

“Retailing needs to raise its reputation as a dynamic and attractive career. Companies can do good work on this in isolation, but they can achieve so much more by working together.”

Step two: Recruit more change managers

“Concentrate in particular on attracting and developing more change managers,” she continued. “For a high-performing team it’s about getting the right mix – analysts to spot the trends, creative people to find new solutions, project managers to push through change and plenty of practical, flexible people to keep the business running smoothly day to day.”

Step three: Invest in developing your people

“It is always tempting to make training next year’s priority rather than this year’s, because there’s always something urgent that has to be fixed right now. But this can be a trap. If you don’t invest in skills this year, then next year’s issues will be even bigger and more urgent. In particular, thinking in departmental silos is dangerous during times of change. Everyone needs to understand how their role can contribute to the company strategy and to understand enough about the contribution of others to work effectively as a team.”

Step four: Empower your people on the frontline

“The world is speeding up,” she says. “Shoppers are becoming more spontaneous, new competitors are emerging and over-centralised companies will find they are constantly being outmanoeuvred. Agility is the new watchword in business. You need to trust your people on the frontline to make rapid decisions, but you also need to train them so they can operate within guidelines and feel confident to make the right decision.”

Step five: Capitalise on the inbuilt skills of the next generation

“We are also starting to recruit a new generation into our businesses,” added Denney-Finch, “people that have grown up with social media like Facebook and Twitter as the norm. For this generation, multi-tasking comes naturally. This generation is used to finding new ways to do the job faster or better. And they have high ethical standards and expectations and a very open outlook on the world. So they have many of the skills inbuilt that we will all need. We need to pass on our wisdom, but also give this new generation the space and the trust to reshape our business culture.”

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