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FILM: Managing Personnel
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26 mins, 2006
Jenny Wooledge has one of the most important jobs in a supermarket - personnel manager. Crucial to her job is a computer system. This film tells the story of what she does in Sainsbury’s, Thanet branch.
First you need to get the workers to manager. Sainsbury’s goes in for what’s called “reality recruitment”. Candidates for jobs are given ten minutes to check out the store and then questioned about what they think of it. They’re also given typical supermarket scenarios and asked how they’d handle them.
KEEPING AN EYE ON THEM:
Once someone’s recruited to Sainsbury’s, they’re assigned to a particular department. Here a manager is supposed to keep an eye on them – and it’s Jenny’s job to keep an eye on the managers! Control self-assessments and mentoring are two methods Jenny uses to monitor managers’ performance and at the same time get feedback on their problems.
The schedule is the plan which says who’s going to be doing what and when. It’s central to the supermarket’s drive to squeeze their staff’s efforts for maximum efficiency. Producing the schedule is maybe the most important part of Jenny’s job - and for this, she turns to her computer.
Jenny uses a number of information systems – such as Workbrain. Everyone who works in the supermarket has a record on Workbrain. Workbrain knows what skills staff have, when they’re due holidays and their reasons for being off-sick. But the most important thing Workbrain knows about staff is exactly when they’re due to be working.
Jenny has to match the staff available with the work coming through the door. The problem with this is that sometimes they’re busy, sometimes not so busy. Jenny has to make sure she doesn’t have too many or too few staff on hand on any particular day. So they have to do a FORECAST of how busy they’re going to be - based on the business going through the checkouts….
WORKING TO BUDGET:
The system tells them how many hours of staff time they’ll need. But that doesn’t mean they can actually HAVE those hours. They have to work to a budget laid down by head office - and Jenny often has to make cuts. Basically this means looking at the different departments, seeing how many hours they need in theory - and making cuts where she thinks she can get away with it.
THE PEOPLE JUGGLING ACT:
The nitty-gritty of scheduling work begins as Jenny, in consultation with the departmental managers, changes people’s working hours - and maybe even what they do - to meet the changing workload. It’s a kind of juggling act – a people juggling act in which the computer system plays a key part.
In the final analysis, Jenny’s job, as personnel manager, is a trouble-shooter. She has to solve ALL and ANY people problems Sainsbury’s has. As part of what she calls an “open and honest” culture, the store goes in for what’s called “360 degree feedback.” In other words staff don’t just have to TAKE criticism from their bosses, they can give it back.
PEOPLE WITH PROBLEMS:
But not EVERYONE seems to get their problems solved – some staff complain about being too cold and the checkouts are often under-staffed. One checkout operator, Lucy, was so fed up with the way she was treated by Sainsbury’s managers that she quit.
Probably the toughest problem a personnel manager has to deal with is staff who break the rules. It’s the part of her job Jenny says she likes the least. She and the store manager sack a member of staff for stealing.
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