Aiming Higher through self development
How to create a culture of personal development

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As the fastest growing independent UK Toy Retailer, developing talent and promoting internally is critical to future success. Nothing is more important than our people, their engagement in our vision and their career with us is of the utmost importance.
To discover, engage and develop the Store Managers and Operational teams of the future we launched an “Aim Higher” programme.
Successful applicants are involved in challenging projects within head office, gaining insight into departments and careers available. Showcasing their skills alongside gaining new ones is all part of the programme along with exposure to/time spent with Directors and department heads.

The programme delivered many benefits, most visibly is the culture change towards training courses and personal development within the ASM population of the business.
Other impacts include;
Clear delivery of our company values providing greater commitment to both the company vision and personal career plans.
Reduced recruitment costs through internal promotions both at retail and within the operational departments at head office.
A visible group of candidates ready to aid the growth plans of the retail business. Internal promotions provide the steady hand of experience and business understanding for our new retail stores.

With people being our most important assets, ensuring they engage with our vision, deliver it to our customer and want to personally develop meant it was vital to have a highly visible opportunities programme. The candidates are the front line of the business and are given the opportunity through the projects to really make a difference to the company’s success. They have the opportunity to talk to and discuss issues with the senior team and directors in a constructive and informal way. Learning s gained from this have already had wide reaching business effects which they and others can see.[/one_half_last]

As the first year of the program was a trial, we identified some challenges and made changes before rolling it out fully. Firstly, managing the time scales, the initial plan for the candidates was too long. We shortened it to finish before our peak trading period the following year. Feedback from the candidates caused us to increase the induction days for the projects at the beginning, this increased momentum and gave candidates a better focus in year two. Holding the de-brief at an affiliate site provided additional insight for them. Candidate s feedback is used to shape the following year s program.


We created the programme to assist with managing talent within the business, ensuring our ASM Population felt supported within their career pathway. Highlighting potential candidates for promotion was also a vital part of the programme.

The additional benefits included invaluable feedback on procedures that could be improved, higher engagement levels for other training programmes we run and the opportunity to visibly deliver on our company values.
From a trial with minimum engagement to over subscription in year three, it s now a vital tool to develop and engage our ASM population. A similar scheme is now running for Store Managers.[/one_half_last] Speaker
Michelle Hazeldine
Learning & Development Coordinator
The Entertainer

Having a career in Retail that spans over 20 years, the last 13 years have been with The Entertainer. Joining as a Store Manager in 1999, Michelle has progressed as the business has expanded and having previously held the role of Retail Trainer within the training department, she is now the Learning & Development Coordinator.