Asda Case Study: Senior Leader Assessment & Development 

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Client Profile

Industry sector: Retail

Number of employees: 175,000

Location: Nationwide

Challenge

Asda, one of the best known supermarket chains in the UK and one of the UK’s top ‘Every Day Low Cost’ (EDLC) retailers, recognised a need to support the development of their senior leaders: leaders who can not only inspire and provide direction, but also continually adapt, be values-led and operate with an ever-present focus on cost-consciousness and pursuing competitive advantage.

Whilst they would continue to recruit world-class external talent where required, Asda wanted to focus attention on developing their existing senior leaders.

Solution

Initially, the objectives of the project were both to develop internal talent and to inform decisions relating to succession planning. Over time this focus was moved onto the development of individual senior leaders – that is, to provide deep personal insights for the individual to inform their personal development. This would be achieved through conducting a number of assessments with the senior leaders, a process which became known as the ‘Mapping Day.’ Above all, the key requirement was for an intervention that would provide a positive developmental experience to senior leaders.

a&dc’s LIVED™ framework was used as the theoretical underpinning for assessing and understanding leadership effectiveness. This framework encompasses Learning Agility, Intellect, Values, Emotion and Drive.

Thorough research was a key phase of the process and helped to ensure that the LIVED™ model was fully contextualised to identify what makes a great Asda leader (at different levels) under each of the five areas. Following this research, the assessment design was finalised and individual ‘Mapping Days’ began. These sessions involved individual Asda senior leaders spending a day 1-2-1 with an a&dc consultant and comprised provision of an existing 360 degree report, a business simulation exercise, psychometric ability test, LIVED ‘deep dive’ interview and 1-2-1 feedback.

This multi-source method of assessment provided a holistic picture of the individual, whilst allowing robust coverage of all LIVED areas. By reviewing past experiences, current performance, work style preferences and assessing potential, it allowed an exploration of the individual’s level of learning agility and how readily they could transfer their knowledge and experience, and apply it in a different context. This was supported by a deep dive interview to review the individual’s strengths, areas for development and career aspirations.

Outcome

Bottom-line business benefits will be seen in the longer-term, but a number of other key benefits have already been derived. Immediate feedback following the Mapping Days indicated high levels of perceived value and satisfaction, such as senior leaders valuing the opportunity to have some quality thinking and reflection time, gaining deep personal insights and identifying practical next steps to inform their Personal Development Plan.

The project delivered significantly in terms of Return on Expectations. Asda has gained insight into the strengths and development needs of their senior leadership cadre as a group. A number of shared developmental priorities across the group have been identified, which align with other ongoing initiatives as part of Asda’s People Strategy.

As such, these insights have helped to inform and redirect ongoing cultural refinement activities. Elements of Learning Agility in particular are now viewed as key ‘levers’ to pull, in order to not only improve individual leadership effectiveness, but also to broaden organisational effectiveness.

This successful project has provided insights that have helped to shape a number of other key activities for Asda, eg group development activities, integrating a new leadership model and introducing a model of performance-potential.

What the client says

“Working with a&dc we developed a robust assessment approach to help develop our senior leaders across the organisation. This provided a range of deep insights relating to their own leadership effectiveness to provide a kick-start for a tailored programme of developmental activities for this crucial population. a&dc worked as genuine partners with us, responding quickly and flexibly to our evolving needs, whilst still maintaining the highest professional standards. Our Director population, and wider HR stakeholder group have all been impressed with a&dc’s credibility, understanding of our organisation and culture, and their balance of intellectual rigour with commercial pragmatism.”  Maria Salkeld, Leadership & Director Development, Talent Training Team, Asda