Cottage Delight has been supplying high quality speciality foods to the independent retail trade since 1974 - from their renowned handmade fudge, to delicious chutneys, marinades and marmalades to gourmet dressings, and wide range of ales and ciders.
People focused, Cottage Delight is loyal to its family of employees, many of whom have worked for the company for decades, with some progressing from the shop floor to supervisory and managerial positions.
Managing Director Jason Moody explains, "In many cases our supervisors and managers had reached those positions of responsibility without any training or staff development. A staff survey we conducted revealed a general feeling that staff felt unsupported so it was something we had to address." Jason had experienced poor management training at other companies he'd worked with and wanted something better for Cottage Delight's employees.
"We weren't looking for certificates or an accreditation or a tick in the box, we were looking for something that would actually benefit our staff and our business; things like how to deal with day to day people issues and how to manage and get the best out of others."
Of the three training providers he interviewed, only Total Excellence Centre demonstrated a bespoke approach and commercial understanding. Total Excellence Centre Director Michelle Mercer took two trainers from her team. Jason recalls: "They were just in a completely different league to anyone else we met. They sat and listened and came up with ideas and suggestions rather than just saying 'this is what we offer'."
Total Excellence Centre ran a number of programmes and initiatives for Cottage Delight, starting with a bespoke course for 10 of their senior managers. Jason said, "I think one of the reasons the training worked so well for Cottage Delight was the fact that the trainers spent time with each of the delegates before the course . It meant they could put their minds at rest, talk to them about what to expect and get an idea of what they hoped to get out of the sessions . They also spent an hour in each department so they already had a good idea of what happened day to day and how things might be improved."
As part of this programme, Total Excellence Centre also provided one-to-one coaching and four to five follow up modules throughout the year . Other initiatives included 360 degree appraisals which gave Cottage Delight valuable feedback about individual managers and the strengths and weaknesses of its management team as a whole.
By the end of the very first programme there were immediate and obvious benefits to the individuals who had attended, including increased confidence and a greater desire to challenge more, do things better and be more productive. The shift was almost physical in some cases. Jason said; "With certain individuals you could see a massive transformation; they literally became more confident and outgoing in front of our eyes ."
There were tangible business improvements too. Jason continues, "Since introducing the Total Excellence Centre team into our business I've felt very reassured that training was working for us. We've had a couple of individuals who have progressed further through the business and others who have introduced business improvements . One of the operational managers developed their own objective-based system for the supervisors in their area encouraging them to take more ownership in the knowledge that performance could now be measured . It meant any problems could be identified and resolved at the earliest possible stage. The system was such a success that this system has since been rolled out to other areas across the business."
With the response to the management training and its obvious benefits to the business, Cottage Delight has built a long term relationship with Total Excellence Centre over the past five years . In a true partnership approach Total Excellence Centre has helped to secure funding through the Growth Accelerator initiative enabling Cottage Delight to extend the leadership and management training to benefit even more supervisors and managers than they originally anticipated .