M&S Line Managers Training

City & Guilds Kineo created a new line managers’ learning portal with open source LMS, and a suite of focused elearning modules for M&S.

Marks and Spencer line managers case study

The Challenge

As part of their HR transformation, M&S needed to create a series of new modules for line managers across the business. Key challenges included:

  • Create a reusable design – adaptable for other subjects, to maximise return on investment
  • Design creatively for the end users – we needed to get under their skin
  • Be creative and efficient in content gathering – SMEs each had just one hour available
  • Find a delivery channel – M&S had no Learning Management System (LMS) and needed a tactical, low cost way to provide access and track completion
  • Leadership endorsements – a wide range of video interviews and podcasts with subject matter experts and leaders to get their views

Our Solution

Working closely together

We needed to work fast, which for us means being flexible and working closely and ideally on site with our clients. We:

  • Spent at least one day a week on site so that communication was continuous and we could absorb the culture
  • Got to working versions quickly and then updated as required, often the same working day
  • Kept the production team size small – designer/project manager, writer, developer – so that everyone got close to the project and kept communications simple

Designing for the users

Users told us they wanted practical advice and quick answers to questions such as 'what’s the interviewing process?' They also wanted examples from those who had lived and breathed the role. We aimed to keep it short and focused. We created a flexible four-quadrant model that allows for quick answers and more in-depth walkthroughs, and is adaptable for other subjects:

  • Take it in: all you need to know in five minutes, through simple, conversationally written Q&As
  • Take me through it: a twenty-minute run through of the process
  • The key steps
  • Who does what in each step
  • Try it yourself: short simulation with questions for each step
  • Top tips: short nuggets of advice/anecdotes, sourced from M&S SMEs
  • Take it further: links to policies, templates and further resources

Accessing and tracking: Open Source LMS

As this was a first elearning project for line managers, we needed to control the cost of the LMS. A full blown proprietary system would have been too much. Thinking smartly, we created a customised Moodle, branded for M&S: the “Line Manager Performance Centre”. Building on the core Moodle functionality, we created a portal that has:

  • A strong M&S corporate identity
  • A ‘magazine’ feel to create a visually appealing home page
  • Easy navigation to core modules
  • Self-registration of learners
  • Tracking and reporting functionality
  • Ability to extend with further elearning modules, links to URLs, intranet resources and downloadable PDFs
This delivered an efficient and high-quality result, at a substantially lower cost than a commercial LMS might have done.

The Results

We collaborated to create a highly creative and effective elearning solution, both in terms of the end product, and in terms of the streamlined process applied in its production. It set a tone and expectation for elearning within Marks & Spencer, and has received plaudits from learners and stakeholders in the business. Pilot learners said the following about the design approach:

  • “User friendly and easy to follow”
  • “Fantastic tool - very clear and simple, and an efficient way to learn”
  • “Very easy to use, good examples to back up the policy”
The City & Guilds Kineo-designed Moodle provided a cost effective learning delivery and tracking mechanism for the organisation. We have since gone on to collaborate with M&S on a wide range of rapid and bespoke elearning and web development projects and continue to add to and develop the Line Manager Performance Centre.

“The highly flexible approach means that while the elearning stands alone, we can also take a blended approach if we want to – running workshops and using the elearning as supporting information."

"We’ve run a performance management up-skilling session where this elearning has worked extremely well as a level-setter before the workshop."

"It’s also a global solution – our international line managers can access the learning from anywhere, and line managers on the road can access it too, extending our reach as an L&D team.” - M&S Learning and Development Manager

“A lot of costs can be saved here; for example, our store people generally travel to the local training academy for this type of workshop. The savings on travel costs, and in some cases accommodation costs, would be enormous.” - M&S Head of Leadership and Development

Find out more in our M&S Customer Service case study.

Marks and Spencer line managers case study 2