Taking performance management at British Sugar from good to great

British Sugar produces more than one million tonnes of sugar in the UK and an additional 500,000 tonnes of animal feed from sugar beet pulp. It also recycles stones for building, lime for soil conditioning and soil for landscaping.

In keeping with its aim of transforming all raw materials into sustainable products, the company uses combined heat and power plants to create enough electricity for 160,000 homes. The resulting combustion gases help to grow around 140 million tomatoes. British Sugar has also invested in the UK's first Bioethanol plant, producing 70 million litres of renewable fuel.

Best known for its Silver Spoon consumer brand, British Sugar is part of AB Sugar, which is wholly owned by international food, ingredients and retail group, Associated British Foods plc.

The client's need

Following the launch of the company's Performance Review Cycle, which aimed to bring consistency to British Sugar's processes, the talent development team recognised further improvements needed to be made.

Although the new process was fundamentally sound, it was not widely understood or adopted by the business. Changes needed to be made to allow for more regular reviews and managers needed training in how to conduct effective performance management reviews.

Managers had not taken the new approach to heart and failed to act as advocates for the benefits.

The team also identified the opportunity to address feedback from a recent employee survey indicating that underperformance was not being addressed and regular feedback rarely provided.

In short, British Sugar wanted to move from a good Performance Review Cycle to great Performance Management.

They asked Change Associates to help.

What we did

Building on an internal report we conducted a gap analysis to understand what needed to happen to get British Sugar to where the company needed to be.

Our approach was challenging and positive, helping to uncover some potentially hidden requirements.

The needs included

  • Creating a line of sight between the performance review and overall business performance.
  • Setting clear, aligned and SMART objectives.
  • Addressing underperformance and recognising great performance.
  • Creating management skills and advocacy for the Performance Review Cycle. 

We designed and delivered a two-day course for managers and the staff who would be reviewed.

Subjects covered included:

  • Setting performance objectives
  • Assessing performance
  • Managing underperformance
  • Effective development planning
  • Performance feedback skills

On the second day, the delegates were able to test their new skills in a series of role-plays. To ensure the experience was as realistic as possible we used a team of professional actors with skills in improvisation and an understanding of the business environment.

We supported the talent development team in securing wider buy-in from the business at senior levels. The Managing Director had always been a supporter of the performance review initiative and the reasons for this were widely communicated in the workshops.

The result

At the start of the project it was agreed that the key measure of success would be that performance management was no longer seen as an HR process but instead as an integral part of the way the business runs.

Following the successful delivery of the training, on time and within budget, behaviours and attitudes began to change. Line managers used the Performance Review Cycle more widely and quarterly reviews were embedded into the process. We instilled a coaching culture that helped bring out the best in people while ensuring underperformance was addressed.

As a result, the Performance Management Cycle gained advocates throughout the business and became embedded into business as usual. 

"In a world where tradition and routine are valued, it was hard to create any traction for a shift in behaviour. But with Change Associates' facilitation skills, coaching and general expertise we successfully challenged some of the existing practices. They do exactly what their name suggests: working with you as your supporter and challenger, bringing in the expertise to change and helping you nurture good practice."
Alison Hollas, Talent Development Manager, British Sugar plc

Do you want to take Performance Management to the next level? Send us an Email, call 0207 1011 979 or fill in our contact form. Or click here to download our free report, Performance Management - What's the Point? 



Last updated: 10 Jan 2019