IT ALL HAPPENS BACKSTAGE
Delivering a great customer experience in store starts well away from the public eye. Backstage, there’s a team of people checking deliveries; ensuring fire, health & safety requirements are met; looking after food operations; making sure the store is spick and span; dealing with routine maintenance – and more – to make every moment special.
Neil leads a team of 17 doing these vital tasks at our Pantheon store. He joined us as a 16-year-old part-timer and he’s still with us an amazing 33 years later. After working at several stores in roles including Food Section Manager, Neil’s now in his ideal job. “I’m happy to be at the level I’ve reached,” he says. “But I still get real satisfaction seeing people I’ve trained climb the M&S career ladder.”
It’s a 7am start for Neil, checking on the status of deliveries having been alerted to any serious issues that have cropped up. ”I’ll look at the breakdown productivity and make sure all vehicle scanning has been completed. Then I’ll check the runners on food – are we flowing the delivery out as required?” Neil’s team is spread out over nine floors, so he liaises with his Section Coordinator to make sure that everyone has clear instructions on what they’re supposed to do, and looks ahead to the day’s requirements such as store visits.
Preparation in this first hour is crucial: the Food floor opens at 8am, Clothing & Home at 9pm. There are a number of entrances to the Pantheon store and Neil casts an eagle eye over everything to make sure customers won’t be kept waiting. Then there are the facilities to monitor – perhaps there’s a till issue that needs resolving. He makes sure the emergency team and first aid rotas are completed and joins in the team huddle.
Hardly time for a quick bun and coffee before the WhatsApp group is buzzing with questions for Neil from colleagues. His experience is valued across M&S and he was instrumental in delivering our Backstage Excellence project at Pantheon. “I was proud of the way the project immediately resulted in an increase in productivity and availability for customers. Backstage Excellence was then communicated to other stores and our best practices have led to improvements elsewhere.”
Neil’s ‘management’ role is anything but office-based. He walks the backstage areas, talking to team members, finding out whether there’s anything on their minds and pointing out areas (such as cleaning) that need addressing. “Engaging with my team is vital. It’s important to know what makes people tick, and you have to be accessible and approachable.”
At noon, the store goes into what Neil calls ‘power hours’ and he makes sure we can provide the best possible service to customers. “I deal with all sorts of questions. Have top-up orders been completed? Are the tills working perfectly? Have we met our SLAs for binning? If a lift has broken down – is there adequate signage to help customers?”
Neil’s involved as the morning operations team hands over to the evening team. But there’s still plenty do after a well-deserved bite to eat. A self-assessment on premises security, cleaning audits, staffing models, an email from the Chairman about a customer incident to respond to – anything.
4pm and time to head off. Fortunately, there’s still some of the day left for Neil to indulge in his hobbies. He relaxes by tinkering with motorcycles – “I currently have a 1954 Triumph speed twin in pieces which I’m restoring.” Or Neil will catch up with the most important thing in his life: his 22-year-old son.
Learn more about Section Manager opportunities available here.Inside M&S
GREAT INDIVIDUALS KNOW THE VALUE OF A TEAM
We inspire quite a few customers over the Christmas period. We didn’t know it at the time, but we inspired a future Section Manager too. Joseph was doing his degree in Accountancy and Financial studies when he decided to take a Christmas job with us to support himself. Later on in his studies, he was offered a Relief Section Manager job, and jumped at the chance.
“I absolutely loved the five months while I was in this role, leading a team and learning a new job,” he says. “I’ve been supported all the way through my journey from Customer Assistant on a 16 hour-a-week contract to where I am now, a full-time Section Manager.”
Joseph’s original career plan was to go into banking. The financial world’s loss was his team’s gain, as he’s convinced that they enhance the customer experience, and inspires them to do that each day. “Your team will always look to you for the direction they need to make every moment special for our customers. I do daily team huddles and try to keep them fun and memorable so that the information is easy to take on board. I’ve even done briefings in the style of game shows.”
It’s an approach that’s paid off for Joseph. His team were involved in a décor project that Head Office colleagues wanted to trial, which involved transforming the food hall in a short space of time. That meant they had to adjust their hours at the last minute and work around what Head Office needed.
“It was a challenging couple of days but they didn’t whinge once,” he says. “Every team member worked their socks off from early morning to late night so that we delivered the perfect food hall for our visit, while maintaining the highest level of customer service.”
And is the team really what makes M&S different from other retailers? Joseph thinks so. “Each member of staff is committed to driving the customer experience in store and inspiring our customers to continually shop with us. They understand our values and want to deliver the service customers have come to expect from us.”
Joseph has his own career aspirations too, and would like his next job to be Food Store Manager. His team will miss him, but we’ll all support him.
If you believe you could be an inspirational leader like Joseph, click here to join us as a Section Manager.Inside M&S
A LASTING FIRST IMPRESSION
As we open for the 2018 early careers intake, we are very proud to take a glimpse at some of the wonderful first impressions we left during our class of 2017’s first days. And we hope the new faces this year will be the ones shaping the future of our business and welcoming graduates to the company many years from now.
When Lara posted “Last day of my first wonderful week with M&S!!!” followed by a few funny emojis, it warmed our hearts.
That’s because, at M&S, we strive to be an inspiring, supportive and amazing place to be for all our people, whatever stage they are in their lives. However it is of no small importance to us that we make sure our annual intake feel especially welcome and at home with us. It can be incredibly daunting stepping into what for many is probably their first big job. At M&S we’ve made it our habit to listen carefully, collect feedback and to always do better, year after year.
“The Brent Cross store is an amazing place! Everyone here is very friendly and helpful, and they have been extremely caring and supportive in helping me understand how the business works. So far, I could not love this placement more; it is exactly what I wanted and more. All I can say is thank you so much for this opportunity and I can't wait to see where it will take me!” – Kate.
“I just finished my first week on the School Leaver Management Apprenticeship with M&S! I can’t believe that I’m 19 years old, just finished my A levels last June and I’m already part of something I enjoy so much” surmised Fiona.
We are all looking forward to welcoming 2018’s intake and it is our hope that their first impressions of M&S will be just as positive. Applications open soon: mandsearlycareers.com, register now for job alerts and you’ll be notified as soon as the roles become available.Inside M&S
THIRTY ONE YEARS AND NOT COUNTING
It’s 1986. Prince Andrew marries Sarah Ferguson. The M25 opens. Plans are announced to construct the Channel Tunnel. And Nicky becomes a Saturday Girl at M&S in Harlow. She’s still with us 31 years later.
We’ve worked with Nicky over the years to make sure her M&S career can dovetail with her family life. She’s stepped up, stepped down, gone on maternity leave and come back. Nicky’s been a Food Commercial Manager, Late Night Commercial Manager and Store Manager. She’s covered Foods, Womenswear, Menswear and Childrenswear. For the last few years, Nicky has worked in hospitality. She’s now Café Manager in Cheshunt – a job she absolutely adores – and Food Safety Expert Level 3.
And there’s no chance of Nicky slowing down. She’s in at 8am every day. Not to enjoy the coffee but to make sure everything is in hand for the day ahead. “After checking overnight emails for anything urgent, I’ll go into the café and offer support to team members,” she says. “That could mean filling the fridges, looking after deliveries, making sure due diligence has been carried out, checking dates or for spillages. I’ll do my PACE checklist –Presentation, Availability, Commerciality and Experience – and work with my Section Coordinator to make sure the staff rota is in place for the day.”
Nicky will have a welcoming word with her team members when they arrive and fill in where necessary, even clearing tables, so the early-bird customers get the service they deserve. “That’s what it’s about. Managing at M&S is all about being hands-on, setting the example.”
After that, Nicky will go into management meetings to discuss the previous day’s takings or any Food Safety and Environmental issues, and then update the communication board with anything her team needs to know. From 11am to 3pm, the store and Nicky’s café will go into ‘power hours mode’.
“Power hours are when all the managers are on the sales floor, supporting the store so staff and customers are aware that they are there to help them,” Nicky says. ”We have a lot of regular customers and it is always nice to catch up as we may sometimes be the only people they see or even speak to all day. Standards and service are the two most important thing we must get right. Without these, how can we achieve greatness?”
Afternoons are usually spent with her team. It’s time for performance reviews or discussing training needs. Nicky wants her team to be the best in the store and engagement is crucial to achieving this. “I engage them in team briefs and update them when we have new lines in. I try to get to know them on a personal level as well so they can feel they can come and talk to me at any time about any issue. And I wouldn’t ask my team to do anything I wouldn’t do.”
Nicky also has to look beyond the present day. M&S Cafés are busier at certain times of the year such as Father’s Day, Easter and of course Christmas when seasonal shoppers want a break. So Nicky has to plan ahead.
As 5pm approaches, Nicky is preparing to hand over to the Late Night Manager and head home to her family. She shares her children’s interests, watching her son play cricket and her daughter dancing – the latter hardly surprising. Apart from spending 31 years at M&S, Nicky’s claim to fame is to have once reached the final auditions at The Royal School of Ballet. Her daughter is obviously following in her mother’s pirouettes.
Find out more about Section Manager opportunities here.Inside M&S
DARE TO BE YOURSELF
Here at M&S, we know that the first step to achieving a culture where people can truly be themselves is by creating an environment where people can talk freely and honestly about diversity, inclusion and wellbeing without fear of saying the wrong thing or being judged.
Dare to Be Yourself brings together National Inclusion Week (25-29 Sept) and World Mental Health Day (10 October) to help break down those barriers to having those conversations.
Research shows that diverse businesses are more successful – they attract the best people and represent customers from all backgrounds. We passionately believe that anything that makes us and our customers unique contributes to our diversity. Inclusion creates an environment where difference is valued, EVERYONE feels included and can be themselves.
Dare to be Yourself is an exciting campaign for our colleagues that’s happening over three weeks. Through a range of events, guest speakers from networks within M&S (Gender Equality Network, LGBT+ at M&S, BAME at M&S, The Buddy Network and Parents Net), and all-important Q and A sessions, we’ll be supporting our colleagues’ wellbeing, increasing their awareness and knowledge, and celebrating their diversity. We know that focussing on inclusion and wellbeing is not just good for us but good for our business too.
We want M&S to be a place where we are each valued for our differences and supported with our wellbeing, so that we can all truly be the best version of ourselves.Inside M&S
PRIDE OF M&S AWARDS 2017 – A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
Since 1999, we have held our annual Pride of M&S Awards. The black tie ceremony is always an eagerly awaited event in the M&S calendar, and this year proved to be no exception.
We don’t just focus on our day jobs at M&S. The awards recognise all types of achievements, from individuals who have gone the extra mile to help their local community, to the outstanding successes of people who have joined us through our employability programmes. They are a glittering platform to recognise our local heroes, showcase our people’s stories and inspire others to get involved – ultimately building a more engaged and stronger workforce. This year the winners received a £100 gift card and a £1,000 donation from M&S to a charity of their choice.
Mike Barry, M&S Plan A Director, said: “The Pride of M&S Awards are a great way for us to recognise some very special colleagues who really go above and beyond to help each other and those in their local communities. We’re very proud of all the winners who came from across the UK to join us for a celebratory evening. It was also great to be joined by Ruby Wax who kicked the night off by sharing her passion for mindfulness and encouraging us to take care of our mental health and finished with a comedic set that ended the night on a real high for all involved.”
John Fletcher, a Sales Advisor from Dover, won The Inspiring Individual Award. John was born with Down syndrome, but this hasn’t stopped him being a DJ with his local MENCAP centre or helping to run coffee mornings at his local church. He said: “Working with great people and being part of an incredible, friendly community always motivates and encourages me to reciprocate everyone’s kindness by giving back to my community.”
The Charity Champion Award went to M&S Oadby Customer Assistant Lindsay Rajczyk who works tirelessly for Leicester charity Adapt, running three weekly support groups for families of pre-term babies and children. She said: “The group I run with Adapt is something that is incredibly close to my heart – my own son, Alex, was born 18 years ago at 26 weeks, weighing just 1lb 6oz. if I can make an awful time more bearable for the families of premature or unwell babies, then it’s all worthwhile.”
Christopher Hall, Section Co-ordinator at M&S Falkirk, won the Volunteering Award. Christopher has been with M&S for 15 years while working as a special constable with Police Scotland, contributing over 30,000 hours of voluntary work within his local community. He said: “Volunteering has been a significant part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’m passionate about giving back to the local community and helping in whatever way I can to make even the smallest difference.”
Customer Assistant Michael Wright from Cleveleys, picked up a Community Award. Michael volunteers for the Blackpool Lifeboat centre for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) and is a mentor at the Streetlife homeless charity. He said: “I’m delighted to win this prestigious award through my work with RNLI volunteers. I’m dedicated to helping young people and I really enjoy my job and being part of the community, so this award is extra special.”
Many congratulations to them all!
Be a moment maker
We’re set to welcome an additional 1,000 colleagues at our Distribution Centre as we gear up for Peak. Interested candidates can find out more about opportunities at the 900,000 sq feet site and register for seasonal contracts through our recruitment partner, Staffline.
Furthermore, those who are looking for permanent opportunities in our state-of-the-art distribution centre can do so from January 2018.
The site which is our largest distribution centre processes up to two million items every week during peak. New recruits will help ensure M&S is making every moment special for its customers this Christmas, picking and packing orders and coordinating their delivery to homes or for collection at stores across the UK.
Jon Adams, Head of M&S Castle Donington said, “Making every moment special for our customers is our mission and it’s never more important than at Christmas time. Every year we value the additional colleagues who can help us deliver an excellent and convenient service. We’re looking for enthusiastic colleagues who can be part of a hard-working team at our innovative distribution centre.”
Lee Holland, Account Director at Staffline said: “There are lots of opportunities for eager candidates at M&S Castle Donington. The modern, automated site is an energetic place to work and there is plenty to learn. We’re looking for new joiners with a can-do attitude to deliver a great service for M&S customers this Christmas.”
Since opening in 2013, many seasonal workers continue to work at M&S Castle Donington.
Supervisor, Lubos started as a seasonal worker three years ago, said, “I really like the environment at M&S Castle Donington and enjoy working in a lively team. There are good opportunities to progress. I started as a warehouse operative, trained in several departments and I am now a supervisor.”
All new colleagues will have induction training and rates of pay are competitive. For more information or to apply, click here.Inside M&S
TAKING THE PRODUCT FROM DEVELOPMENT TO ONLINE
Our web merchandisers for food are proud that all our products are developed and sourced by M&S. None more so than Amber who’s only been with us for a short amount of time but already lives and breathes everything M&S. Whilst it’s not a pre-requisite of the role, it certainly helps!
Taking a product from development to online is a long process, and Amber assures us every step is necessary. “In our team – and on our own time, we’re making our way through the new ranges. Decisions about products are based on a mixture of data and putting the customer first. Instinct and analysis.”
Amber works on the foods online site, which also offers flowers, wine and hampers. While she’s only been with us a few months, she’s already notching up achievements.
“I’ve organised Christmas in advance for foods.com, and have been nominated twice for Star of the Month. Plus I’m managing the transition of Cards and Wraps into the foods site, and improving the customer journey all the time.”
“It feels like I’ve been working here for years,” she continues. “You can always voice your opinion. And you can change how things are done – just because a process has happened the same way for years, it doesn’t mean you can’t alter it.”
Amber welcomes the real family feel to the teams, as that’s what makes it a joy for her to come into work every day. She also appreciates that she receives praise when she really impresses.
“My manager has given me the opportunity to manage a category for the next stage in my career. It’ll be a challenge – but I’ll still be putting the customer at the heart of decisions.”
Did Amber have any parting thoughts? “People are envious when I say that I work for Marks & Spencer, and I’m proud to say I work here.”
Some people are devoted to M&S products. And some are equally devoted to technology. We have more than enough room for individuals with passion. Find out where you could fit in here.Inside M&S