Once I had seen the vacancy I started to look at Halfords from an employer point of view by searching for details of what others had experienced, and this was positive. There was also a lot of feedback from a customer perspective, this is great as usually happy, motivated colleagues strive for good service and there seemed to be a lot of that reported. Coupled the reviews with the Times Best Companies results and there was a pattern emerging. I also looked at the financial results given to the city for the past few years around turn over and profit, these too were positive and consistently strong.
When I looked through the Halfords website a quick run through explained about seven key values that were being promoted within the organisation and some testimonials from colleagues that reaffirmed these values. Finally my perception of Halfords as a high street retailer from a customer point of view had always been positive, I grew up with a Halfords store in the city and when I was able to drive I would frequently visit to buy products from the audio range and the odd spanner!
As a Team Manager in the Distribution Centre, I have a team that varies from 27 – 32 colleagues which consists of a mix of both permanent and flexible workers. It is my role to ensure that these colleagues are operating safely as defined in their training, trained in the roles they perform with a view to increase skill base around the many roles in the DC. I promote our values and strive to ensure that we communicate with one another both individually and throughout the team to ensure we understand the pressures, constraints, and road blocks on our journey to delivering our individual and collective objectives.
The day starts early as currently my shifts operate from 05:30 – 18:00. The first part of the day is the handover from the previous shift which entails a walk around the department to discuss about the level of standards, including any issues and how these have impacted on service or output.
At 06:00 I hold a brief to communicate the expectations for the day. This brief will focus around the previous day's performance and recognition, the service level, outstanding volume left to be picked, concerns or constraints we need to overcome, two-way feedback, and any other business before the individual roles and responsibilities for the day.
Once the team are up and running I collate the reporting data and compile specific facts ready for a shift meeting at 07:00, which looks at the wider DC and how we are going to operate throughout the day. This meeting consists of the Shift Manager and the other Team Managers on site where we all run through the expected performance for each department and discuss how we can best provide the service to our stores.
Throughout the day its all about moving the plan to react to the work flow and continual checking and monitoring to ensure any potential issues are overcome and reported, these can be anything from breakdowns on the mechanical side of the track, system glitches etc.
At the end of the shift we have a handover with the next Shift Manager.
Currently the shift patterns are awesome, with these aside, I would say my colleagues are the best.
For my department, the biggest challenge is the system we work with and the way it interacts with the warehouse management system and the physical working of the track. There are many sensors, moving parts, and contributing factors that can cause delay in the movement of products. On top of this, the operating system has control over the input and output of the track which is in some respect out of my control. To overcome these challenges I have worked with our Engineering team to better understand what causes problems so I can educate and change the behaviours of those who work around the track. I work alongside our System Support team when we have problems to understand how the operating system controls the flow, to better influence how we manage what we do and when, which maximises what we push through and limits the restrictions we see. As with any role experience is great and from this you learn for next time, and continually improve.
Also with any leadership role the people make a large proportion of your workload, on the whole this is positive and general day to day doesn’t cause any concern. On occasion though inevitably there are times when these are more serious and or disappointing. These are dealt with through procedures that are in place and support from the Shift Manager and the People Team, all of whom are knowledgeable and supportive in reaching the right outcome.
Over my time in Halfords, I have attended workshops on subjects from managing attendance, discipline and conduct, to leadership and learning styles. I have also learnt about changes in process for drug and alcohol awareness, engagement and inclusion. We have regular opportunities to attend courses around the region through our e-Learning Hub. Finally as a progressive organisation there are updates and new tools which arrive on site for testing or roll out throughout the business. These are well communicated and training is given on how to operate and use them best.
Within Halfords my biggest achievement is the formation of the team when the delivery schedule changed and this led to a new shift pattern. As with any change this can be a challenge and it was quite a big change for all involved. From this I have been able to mould the team and develop a larger proportion of colleagues in to the key roles, through training and experience. Due to this approach the team I lead have a greater length and breadth of experience as we have roughly twice the amount of people trained in specific pivotal roles than prior to the change, and that of the other shifts.
Personally I feel that if you’re honest and strive to do the best for your customer, your team and yourself, you can’t go far wrong.
Look around at the market, research the business, competitors and other roles you may be interested in, make a decision on balance, I’m glad I did.