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25 RECRUITMENT He believes the industry is suffering as a result of a lack of high


quality training resources. As well as his capacity as mentor to senior management staff, his new initiative is drama-based learning. In partnership with his friend Richard Brimblecombe, a trained actor who also has extensive knowledge of estate management and property, and who has been running training courses in the corporate arena, Cliff intends to help shopping centre staff to improve communication and service.


The modular based approach will start with a two day diagnostic


workshop with team members, in order to analyse what the centre’s specific needs are. Cliff and Brimblecombe will then produce a bespoke drama-based


learning programme – usually delivered in two sessions per day, with groups of 12-15 in each - using role play to see how people deal with different situations and suggesting new techniques. The aim is to produce a DVD and online training materials to back up the physical sessions. Cliff is currently working on getting a pilot study off the ground. For the team at Manchester Arndale, training is at the heart of


everything they do. Passion was launched by recently-retired centre manager Glen Barkworth in September 2009. The Passion framework is a set of ideals (outlined by a mantra of six


key words) that staff should adhere to at all times – freshness, family, action, heroic, feel and passion. • Freshness represents a can-do attitude. • Family helps staff to feel proud to be part of the centre and encourages them to work together to make it a better place – any member of staff should pick up litter, for example, rather than leaving it to cleaning staff.


• Action encourages staff to be proactive, share knowledge and experience, and work with retailers in their own space.


• Heroic encourages staff to get involved, listen to each other and enjoy working.


• Feel demonstrates that an open-door policy leads to success. • Passion represents communication – there is a management brief every day, and departments are encouraged to improve communication between them by planning for success so that things are done quicker and easier. The whole programme is underpinned by a welcome briefing for new staff by customer experience managers Jayne Turner and Diane Mullen. During the introduction, the pair outline the centre’s history, playing a poignant video (complete with REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’) of the devastation caused when an IRA bomb ripped through Manchester city centre, and Manchester Arndale, in 1996. The centre is described as a “phoenix from the ashes” and new


staff are shown a timeline from before the bombing to the end of regeneration. “Passion is an attitude,” says Mullen. “It brings departments closer


together and improves relationships and communication. Yes we work to get money to live but we also enjoy working here – that’s the key. We’re one team and we’ve got one passion.” On top of the Passion introduction sessions, there is one-to-one


training, a staff consultation forum and daily team briefs. The centre also utilises Government-funded training in numeracy, literacy and language skills to give staff the tools to be better at their jobs. Turner gives an example: “It’s important to help staff who previously


couldn’t read or write. We have a Polish lady who’s worked here for 30 years but she still had strong accent – we enrolled her into a learning programme and now she’s got English and maths equivalent to GCSE.” All this has meant that Manchester Arndale has been highly


recommended by the British Institute of Facilities Management for customer service.


Belam and his team introduced a new uniform, an internal staff


survey and an external mystery shopping programme for retailers as well as mall staff, in which they consistently score 100 per cent. The 106 mall staff (working across three contracts) were also given


on the job training, security staff completed an NVQ in customer service and role play has been introduced at the second interview stage, to find out how candidates respond to a problem and ensure they are able to articulate. Since implementing the changes, The Oracle has won several


awards including three at the 2010 ACE awards. And one of the by- products of the whole process is that staff churn is down dramatically. But Belam and the team aren’t going to rest on their laurels. The next step is to introduce spot checks in order to maintain


what has already been achieved and to implement customer service refresher courses with the inclusion of telephone manners. “We didn’t enter in order to put silverware on the shelf,” Belam


explains. “We wanted to create an environment for constant improvement. “This business is tough and we can’t stay still. We’re going to look


at how we can do better at a time when other shopping centres are upping their game.”


Find out more: For more information, please contact the author: mia.hunt@jldmedia.com


www.shopping-centre.co.uk November 2011 SHOPPING CENTRE Similarly, The Oracle in Reading has embraced training to the extent


that they’ve changed the culture of the scheme and its staff. General manager Steve Belam first entered The Oracle into the ACE


awards in 2007. They centre didn’t win but the feedback Belam was given formed the beginnings of a drive to improve customer service and experience by empowering staff to learn, evolve and in turn, improve the perceptions of the customers. “Feedback from the 2007 ACE Awards taught us a lesson – we


weren’t that good compared to other shopping centres and we needed to change,” says Belam. “We turned the whole thing upside down and started again. “When you enter, it forces you to look very deeply at your own


business. It’s most valuable when you lose, because it forces you to listen. We discovered why we didn’t win and converted that into something really positive. From then on, we knew what we had to do and developed a training programme.”


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