Pret a Manger Company: Strategic Manager’ Skills

Introduction

Pret a Manger is a coffee and sandwiches UK company that has operations in the UK, the USA, Hong Kong, Shanghai, France, and recently, the UAE. The company serves more than 350,000 customers daily in its outlets. It majorly focuses on making natural handmade coffee and sandwiches among other products (Daley 2006). The company’s culture is centered on high-quality products and services to attract and retain customers. Further, the company ensures satisfied and highly motivated employees to deliver first-class services to its market.

The success of Pret a Manger, just like any other business, is dependent on the quality of the management and leadership offered. The business operates in a highly competitive market. Hence, it is essential to have strategic managers at the company who will offer sound and effective guidance and leadership to guarantee a competitive advantage to the organization.

To meet the needs of strategic leadership and management and to achieve the business’ strategic goals, managers need to have an in-depth understanding of the organization’s vision, mission, and long-term objectives. Further, it is critical to have the necessary skills and competencies to drive the company toward the achievement of the strategic goals.

Personal and Professional Skills to Achieve Strategic Goals

To become a strategic manager requires unique personal and professional skills. As a leader, an administrator plays an important role in guiding the organization towards its strategic goals. Hence, the personal and professional skills are very critical. Specific skills are required to become a strategic manager at the Pret a Manger.

Personal Skills Assessment

Time Management Skills

Time management is an imperative skill for any manager. It makes all the difference in an organization. While time is an equating factor, how an organization manages its 24 hours is a central determinant of its competitiveness (Pedler, Burgoyne, & Boydell 2006). A strategic manager must adequately schedule and plan his or her time, as well as that of the subordinate staff to attain the success of any business.

Time scheduling is a vital management skill, which ensures that roles, individuals, and the expected timeframes are met to the extent of leading to timely delivery of services (Gold, Thorpe, & Mumford 2010). A central tenet of time management is the ability to set SMART goals and deliverables, thus ensuring the achievement of the set objectives within the stipulated resources and timeframe. At Pret a Manger, customers rely on the timeliness of the services as an important competitiveness area for the coffee and sandwiches industry.

Communication Skills

An effective leader must be a good communicator. Without good communication skills, it is difficult to rally employees to strive towards the accomplishment of the organization’s goals. Also, good communication allows a manager to not only share the vision, mission, and strategies for achieving them but also easily solve problems for smooth operations in the organization. Also, good communication facilitates the establishment of better working relations, thus creating a highly motivated work environment. An environment where decisions, roles, complaints, and success stories are communicated effectively leads to a highly productive work environment. Hence, a strategic manager at Pret a Manger must have these necessary communication skills.

Professional Skills Assessment

Counseling and Mentoring Staff

A manager is a person of influence to the subordinates. Hence, he or she should set good examples to guide employees towards becoming better individuals in their work. In this case, the ability to counsel and mentor the subordinate staff is an important skill of driving the organization towards maximum productivity (Owen 2009).

Employees face a myriad of personal and work-related issues that may affect their performance. As a mentor, a manager can motivate subordinates into becoming better workers through learning and practice (Megginson & Whitaker 2003). Consequently, a strategic manager should facilitate the necessary support through mentorship and counseling, thus ensuring a vibrant and stress-free workforce that can guarantee better productivity.

Leadership Skills

One of the most important skills for a manager is the ability to lead others towards the achievement of the set goals in a given setting. At Pret a Manger, it is crucial for a manager to have the leadership qualities and skills, which will lead to a highly motivated and satisfied workforce (Megginson & Whitaker 2003).

Indeed, this factor has been essential in reducing the rate of employee turnover by 90% in the last 10 years, an outcome that has made the company a leader in employee retention in its industry (Gold, Thorpe, & Mumford 2010). A good leader is a transformational boss who not only guides the employees towards the realization of the organizational goals but also ensures that they are trusted and/or have the autonomy to undertake their roles to the best of their abilities.

Self-development of Managers

The business environment is highly dynamic. Hence, contemporary management approaches may not work in the future. To ensure that a manager remains relevant to his or her role, it is important to progressively learn and gain new management skills and approaches for the ever-changing workplace environment (Adair & Allen 2003). Consequently, an exceptional manager at Pret a Manger is a one who improves his or her skills through learning and training to face or adequately address management issues that arise, thus remaining relevant and effective.

Achieving Strategic Goals

Creating a Learning Culture

The culture of an organization is crucial in facilitating the consistent achievement of the established strategic goals. At Pret a Manger, one of the most important management roles is the creation of a learning culture (Gold, Thorpe, & Mumford 2010). In this case, a learning culture ensures that employees and the management continually upgrade their skills to adapt to new changes and dynamics in the industry. The above claim upholds the assumption that no industry is static. Therefore, firms such as Pret a Manger need to keep abreast of strategic changes of competitors to remain competitive.

Opportunities for Meeting Individual Needs

Employees have individual goals, aspirations, and motives for working for an organization. The organization needs to facilitate an ideal environment where the employees can achieve and/or meet their needs as much as possible (Adair & Allen 2003). If this atmosphere is not provided, the workplace becomes toxic, thus jeopardizing the ability to achieve the set strategic goals.

Change Management

The work and business environment are very dynamic. Organizations that resist change are doomed to fail. New organizations with better employee management and superior customer relations are emerging and entering the market. The existing market players can only beat the competition through change adaptation (Adair & Allen 2003).

For Pret a Manger, the most important change management approach is through active and progress learning and training for the management and employees (Pedler, Burgoyne, & Boydell 2006). Such an approach ensures that strategic managers have the necessary management skills to drive the organization to even higher success while the subordinates have the necessary skills to perform their tasks to the extent of contributing to the achievement of the strategic goals.

Skills Audit for the Identification of Learning Style

Skills Audit

A skills audit is an important approach that determines the gap between the available skills, which a manager has concerning what is required in an organization. The identification of the skills gap provides a guide that managers can use to determine the kind of learning that is necessary for them to perform maximally in their respective roles. The skills audit can be performed using different approaches (Daley 2006). However, these approaches must consider the required skills for the organization, in this case, Pret a Manger, and consequently measuring the manager’s competencies against the expertise that is appropriate for the company. ‘

In the case of Pret a Manger, a strategic manager must have various skills and competencies. Firstly, one important management skills for a manager at the organization is a leadership (Pedler, Burgoyne, & Boydell 2006). At the company, a good leader must set goals for the store or a department and develop organizational capability (Megginson & Whitaker 2003).

Also, it is important to remain calm and consistent in difficult situations, especially in times of high traffic or unusual events (Megginson & Whitaker 2003). Also, a good leader must demonstrate the ability to create action plans that guide the employees towards the achievement of the strategic goals. It is important to coach and directs the core team towards achieving operational goals.

The second important skill is planning and execution. Pret a Manger has a busy work environment that requires a manager who can develop a strategic and operational plan to guide the organization towards its strategic goals (Owen 2009). The skill is crucial in ensuring the management or the execution and measuring of results.

A good manager should monitor and manage store staffing for optimum delivery of services (Gold, Thorpe, & Mumford 2010). Further, this role should include the ability to facilitate the recruitment, nurturing, and retention of talent to guarantee optimal operations (Adair & Allen 2003). It is also important to plan and execute communication in a manner that is effective and transparent to ensure that the core team and all other employees are aware of the requirements of the organization.

The third important requirement and set of skills for a manager at Pret a Manger involves the Employee Development and Team Building capacity (Megginson & Whitaker 2003). The ability to facilitate continually an environment of continuous learning and cohesive team is very crucial in the achievement of organizational goals at the company (Pedler, Burgoyne, & Boydell 2006).

A good manager must build a highly motivated and “one the same page” team to ensure few or no conflicts. This atmosphere calls for high motivation towards the attainment of individual and collective goals (Daley 2006). To achieve this goal, the manager must have good coaching skills, excellent communication expertise, and the ability to establish and maintain good working relationships among other tactics.

The following table presents a guideline for skills audit necessary for a manager at Pret a Manger Company.

Competence I have evidence that I have the skill I have evidence I do not have the skill I do not have any experience Development Needs
Leadership
-Development of Organizational capability
-Ability to remain calm
-Creation of action plans
-Coaching and directing
Planning and Execution
– Develop a strategic and operational plan
-Monitoring and managing
– Recruitment, nurturing, and retention
-Planning and executing communication
Employee Development and Training
-Facilitate continuous learning and
cohesive team
– Good communication skills
-Good working relationships

Various essential approaches to skill audit should be undertaken for a manager at Pret a Manger to identify and fill knowledge and skills gaps that are crucial for a successful career at the company (Daley 2006). For instance, psychometric tests are crucial in establishing competencies and areas of weakness for a manager. Also, other approaches include the use of SWOT analysis where the manager can identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Through the method, a manager can identify the areas that he/she is strong and opportunities of growth and build further on them, while at the same time identifying weaknesses and threats, thus taking the necessary approaches to reduce or eliminate them.

The other important approaches include an assessment by others or against the established occupational standards (Owen 2009). For example, an individual can assess by comparing his or her skills against the relevant National Occupational Standards as well as the NVQ competence standards for the respective industry (Megginson & Whitaker 2003). Another important approach is through feedback from other parties such as peers, company’s appraisal approaches, line managers, and performance reviews among others.

Identifying Learning Style

Learning styles comprise a set of cognitive, physiological, emotional, and characteristic factors that indicate how a learner interacts, and/or responds to the learning environment. Honey and Mumford developed one of the common learning styles based on the work of Kolb. The learning style is founded on four learning preferences that include Activist, Theorist, Pragmatic, and Reflector (Megginson & Whitaker 2003).

However, the most common learning style and the most preferable for managers at Pret a Manger is the Neil Fleming’s VARK model, which contains four learning preferences, including Visual, Aural, Red/Write, and Kinesthetic (Gold, Thorpe, & Mumford 2010). Based on the VARK questionnaire, an individual can obtain his or her learning preference, thus ensuring the learning outcomes are positive and helpful to his or her management role at the organization.

Implementation of a Personal Development Plan

Personal Development Plan

A personal development plan is a crucial tool for guiding an individual towards gaining the necessary skills and competencies for the performance of his or her roles in an organization. In this case, the table below presents a 6 months personal development plan that will facilitate the acquisition of the necessary skills for a manager at the Pret a Manger Company.

Skill Current Competency Target Competency Development Opportunity The approach of Determining Success Evidence
Leadership Good knowledge and experience in leadership To be an excellent leader with exceptional organizational development skills and coaching skills Training and mentorship from senior management Better organizational outcomes and employee satisfaction Employees and customer satisfaction feedback
-Development of Organizational capability
-Ability to remain calm
-Creation of action plans
-Coaching and directing
Planning and Execution Moderate skills in planning and execution To be an excellent strategic and operational planner
To gain more skills in recruitment and talent nurturing
Training in selection and recruitment for a talented workforce More employee satisfaction through the matching of competencies and roles in the organization Employee assessment on their satisfaction in the respective roles
Appraisals of employees to determine their performance against their skills
– Develop a strategic and operational plan
-Monitoring and managing
– Recruitment, nurturing, and retention
-Planning and executing communication
Employee Development and Training Good skills in employee development and training To become an important support for employee learning and teamwork Training of employees in areas of weakness More uptake of training opportunities by employees Increased competence and results in employee roles
-Facilitate continuous learning and
cohesive team
– Good communication skills
-Good working relationships

Assessing the Outcomes of a Personal Development Plan against Personal Work Objectives

The implementation of the personal development plan should involve continuous monitoring and evaluation to ensure that it achieves its expected outcomes on the target manager (Owen 2009). The first approach towards effective monitoring and evaluation is through keeping an efficient working document that will keep the individual focused on achieving the expected outcomes.

As identified in the personal development plan table above, the approach of determining success and the available evidence presents important indicators of the accomplishment of the personal development activities (Gold, Thorpe, & Mumford 2010). It is also important to put in place periodical review mechanisms that will provide progress feedback on how personal development is doing relative to the overall goal of achieving the expected competencies (Owen 2009).

A good monitoring and evaluation plan seeks to compare the results against the original objectives, thus ensuring that the personal development plan is on the right course. Lastly, the review should not end with the completion of the personal development plan. Instead, it is important to undertake a follow-up review, in this one year, after the completion of the plan, to ensure that the competencies that have been learned are reflected in the future performance.

Impact of Own Learning against the Achievement of Strategic Goals

Regarding my learning, I suggest the need to address the barriers that hinder the achievement of the strategic goals. The personal development plan faces different obstacles that must be identified and/or addressed accordingly (Adair & Allen 2003). For the achievement of the development plan, the organization needs to be dedicated to the betterment of the manager, as well as the other employees (Daley 2006).

The dedication of the organization is through the allocation of resources, including the offering of leaves for employees to undertake necessary training and learning activities if they are not offered in-house (Megginson & Whitaker 2003). Also, it is advisable for the organization to pay for the training and learning activities, where necessary, to ensure that more individuals are motivated to go through the learning activities. Salary increment or other incentives should also be availed to those that seek further learning and skills improvement.

Conclusion

As discussed, a strategic manager in the current work environment requires important skills and competencies that can allow him or her to guide the organization towards success. One should demonstrate various personal and professional skills to have the authority and capability to lead an organization. Based on the above reasons, managers should undertake a skills audit while at the same time taking the necessary measures to have a personal development plan to improve the areas that they are lacking in competency.

References

Adair, J & Allen, M 2003, The concise time management and personal development, Thorogood, New York, NY.

Daley, D 2006, ‘Strategic human resource management’, Public Personnel Management’, Current Concerns, Future Challenges, vol. 5, no. 1, pp.120-134.

Gold, J, Thorpe, R & Mumford, A 2010, Leadership and management development, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, London.

Megginson, D & Whitaker, V 2003, Continuing professional development, CIPD Publishing, Wimbledon, London.

Owen, J 2009, How to Lead, Prentice Hall, New York, NY.

Pedler, M, Burgoyne, J & Boydell, T 2006, A Manager’s Guide to Self-development, McGraw-Hill Education (UK), London.