Asda Case Study: Development Using Emotional Intelligence

Client Profile

Industry Sector: Retail
Number of employees: Over 140,000
Location: Nationwide


Following the successful launch of their new company-wide Leadership Framework, Asda wanted to fully embed the new leadership behaviours into the organisation’s DNA using a variety of interactive and engaging workshops aligned to each of the leadership behaviours.

Asda selected a&dc from a number of suppliers because of our strong track record designing and delivering leadership and management programmes across the organisation. The project involved the design and ongoing delivery of Emotional Intelligence workshops for different leadership levels with the purpose of helping these individual colleagues to develop their skills to be ‘at my best.’

Asda’s People Team work to provide colleagues in the organisation with opportunities to leverage their strengths and address their development opportunities. They balance the need for 80% of development to happen on the job, with 20% occurring off the job, through solutions they make available.

During the launch of the new Leadership Framework, all colleagues were given the opportunity to identify their own strengths and opportunities from the framework. Following this launch, the behaviours were further embedded into the way Asda develops colleagues, by including them in mid-year and end of year reviews. Soon, leaders and colleagues alike were using the language included in the framework and had a clear idea of their strengths and development opportunities.

The ‘Leadership Academy’ is both a real and a virtual concept for colleagues to access on the job and off the job opportunities to aid their development and progression, all of which are aligned with the Leadership Framework. An internal website supports access to on the job activities, ideas on how to learn through others using coaching and mentoring, and the ability to book onto different workshops aligned with each leadership behaviour.

‘I am at my best’ is one of the leadership behaviours that falls under the ‘leading our people’ pillar. This behaviour focuses on understanding yourself and others, being personally motivated and understanding how to behave around others to motivate and get the best out of them. The concept of Emotional Intelligence is linked to this leadership behaviour, which forms the basis of the workshops.

During both the design and delivery of the workshops it was important for us to align with Asda’s ways of working and those of the broader business environment. The Leadership Academy is open to colleagues from within Asda’s Home Office, as well as colleagues within Retail, Distribution and their clothing label, George. These different business areas have varying cultures, needs and challenges and it was important to reflect these within the types of activities we included in each workshop and the way they were delivered. The content within each workshop designed for different levels of leaders needed to show consistency in the messages we were giving, whilst accounting for the different challenges we needed to pose to colleagues. A further part of the design included a shorter, half day version of the workshop for internal Asda tutors to deliver.

From our experience in working with Asda we knew it was essential to design workshops that were high in impact and value, as colleagues would be required to take time away from their day-to-day responsibilities to attend. They needed to provide colleagues with personal insights, the opportunity to reflect, take part in group activities, open discussion and sharing as well as takeaway tools to embed the learning. By having a clear understanding of the Asda culture, a&dc were able to provide appropriate, innovative ideas for the programme. This gave both parties confidence in the workshop content, which is naturally sensitive in nature, as it deals with people’s emotions and interactions.


Prior to commencing design, we spoke with leaders at the levels we would be delivering to, in order to understand what was expected in relation to the demonstration of Emotional Intelligence within roles and across the different business areas. Understanding these similarities and differences meant that we could design workshop content that would be valuable for all colleagues.

Through a blended learning approach and considering individual learning styles and the culture of Asda, a&dc designed a fun, fast pace, interactive day, which provided all colleagues with the opportunity to contextualise the content within Asda and to share views, experiences and strategies for development.

To structure the workshop we chose to focus on Emotional Intelligence and were able to use the morning of the workshops for colleagues to focus on themselves and their own self-awareness, motivation and emotion management. Colleagues completed a personality tool prior to the workshops, enabling them to understand their personality preferences in terms of their behavioural and communication style. This enhanced their self-awareness and enabled them to understand their motivators, while also helping to facilitate discussions and understanding of triggers and stress-points which caused emotional responses. We were then able to explore the use of different tools and techniques to help in managing

Using video clips throughout the workshop brought the content to life and allowed real life observation of emotional intelligence at work. Easy to use takeaway models and a development workbook with additional activities helped to embed the learning taken from the day. The workshops were designed to be flexed depending on the colleague objectives and the discussion occurring throughout the day. A key role that the facilitators played was to challenge colleagues and help to provide them with key insights and tips for development. To enable Asda tutors to sustain the knowledge and ability to deliver these workshops internally, we also took the tutors through a ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop.


The ‘I am at my best’ workshop continues to be a popular offering as part of the Leadership Academy. Over 450 colleagues have attended this course over the last year and more workshops continue to be booked. Consistent colleague feedback has emphasised how useful the workshop has been to help colleagues understand themselves, work better with their teams and have tools to help them further develop their Emotional Intelligence.

As the number of workshops run increases, a&dc constantly adapt the style of facilitation to suit the challenges faced by Asda, which are ever changing. Our knowledge of the latest research and information associated with the area of Emotional Intelligence also ensures that the workshops and discussions contain fresh thinking and up to date content.

a&dc’s Perspective

“I’ve really enjoyed working with the Asda L&D Team during the design and delivery of these workshops. They knew what they wanted out of the course, yet relied on our expertise related to the area of Emotional Intelligence and experience in working with Asda to shape the look and feel of the workshop. The implementation felt like a true partnership approach and we’ve continued to work together to continually improve the way we organise and implement the workshops. I’m always struck by the different types of challenges we discuss and the dialogue we have in the workshops; being able to flex to their needs means that they get so much more out of the content. The continued bookings and great feedback we receive for this workshop shows what a success it has been.”  Tracy Coomber, Senior Consultant, a&dc

What the client says

a&dc have worked with us for a number of years, and when we were looking for a partner to work with on Emotional Intelligence, their proposal of activity, their approach to working with us and expertise in this area made it a very comfortable choice to develop the ‘I am at my best’ master classes with them.

Following the development of the master classes across the different leadership levels, we moved into pilot mode, where a&dc spent a number of days with Asda colleagues running the sessions to make sure they were fit for purpose for all involved. a&dc were collaborative, open and very responsive to delegate feedback throughout. They also helped us to work through using the online personality questionnaire – the first time we had used anything like it in any great volume. It was a logistical and commercial challenge for us, but it became clear that it was a real ‘jewel in the crown’ of the course.`

We’re now 18 months on and the course continues to be a success with great colleague feedback, and we’ve been able to develop internal tutors to deliver to a couple of levels of colleagues. It’s an experience that provides colleagues with developmental support whilst challenging their current ways of thinking – it really goes hand in hand with what we’re about as an organisation.”
Charlotte Speak, Learning and Development Manager, Asda Stores Ltd