William Hill Bookmakers have been trading since 1934. They employ 16,000 people in 9 countries. There are 4 key businesses – Retail, Online, William Hill Australia and William Hill US. William Hill’s online business is headquartered in Gibraltar. Their marketing and customer service functions are operated out of Israel, Bulgaria and the Philippines. William Hill US operates in the states of Nevada and Delaware and has a workforce of 400 people.
18% of the 2014 Group net revenue came from outside the UK. There are 2360 licensed betting shops in the UK and they have 26% of the market by the number of shops.
William Hill’s Online business is the largest provider of online betting and gaming to UK customers. Today, they provide a vast array of betting and gaming opportunities. Football is their largest online betting product, accounting for some 55% of their Sportsbook net revenue in 2014. In-play (betting during the course of a live game) has become increasingly popular in recent years and was just short of half their sports turnover in 2014.
This is a growing business and the Head of Talent for William Hill got in touch with the intent of working with a group of 20 senior managers who had been identified as leaders of the future. The expectation was to work with this talent group to enable them to explore and identify who they were as leaders, to identify how they were going to continue to engage their employees and customers and to increase their commercial awareness so that they could help the business to continue to develop.
The leaders were aware of the strength of their brand and they also had a strong understanding of the behaviours they need to demonstrate to effectively lead the business. Their HOME behaviours have been embedded in their business and they receive feedback on a 6-monthly basis from employees on how well they are demonstrating these behaviours. (HOME – Hungry for Success, Outstanding Service, Making it Happen, Everyone Matters).
We were appointed to design, co-deliver and evaluate this talent programme which was called ELEVATE. The participants were from 3 of the 4 William Hill businesses – Retail, Online and William Hill US. As a result of that, it was decided that each module should be delivered in a different country.
THE SOLUTION: THE ELEVATE PROGRAMME
The ELEVATE programme was delivered in 4 modules over an 18 month period and was supported by the following interventions, which ran alongside the core programme:
Webinars were used to introduce the ELEVATE programme to the business. The webinars were run for the talent group who were participants of the ELEVATE programme as well as for the managers of those participants.
The purpose of both was to excite them about this development opportunity as well as give them an overview of all four modules including their responsibilities for the pre-work, the 360 degree feedback and the business projects which would be completed between each module.
THE ELEVATE PORTAL
A specific ELEVATE portal was created to allow the talent group to communicate with each other and the facilitators during the 18 months. Pre-work was published there as well as appropriate articles, video clips and post module business projects. Delegates were able to access all the material at their own convenience.
POST MODULE BUSINESS PROJECTS
After each module, each delegate had to complete a project that would be helpful to the business as well as use the skills and knowledge they had learnt on the previous module. Some of these modules required them to work in partnership with others and to explore their partners part of the business, others required them to work individually.
Each delegate was offered 3 coaching sessions with one of our network of facilitators. Each session lasted 90 minutes and they took place between each of the 3 modules. Delegates were given the opportunity to be coached on areas that were covered on the previous module and how they wanted to apply their learnings. The coaching sessions made a huge impact on the engagement levels of the delegates between sessions.
ELEVATE MODULE 1 - ELEVATE YOURSELF
Pre-work: Delegates completed 360 degree feedback based on their leadership competencies and they had feedback from approximately 10 others including peers, direct reports and their manager. They also completed the MBTI.
This was a 3-day module held in Gibraltar. The purpose of the module was to give the delegates an opportunity to increase their self awareness as well as their ability to influence effectively in the business.
The module was a mix of input delivered by the facilitators as well as experiential activities which allowed delegates to receive feedback ‘in the moment’ on their impact.
The group of 21 was split into 3 groups of seven delegates (Action Learning Sets) so that they could build strong support and challenge within their groups as soon as possible. Delegates received the result of their 360 feedback and the MBTI to help increase their self awareness and received input on influencing techniques.
The experiential activities built on this and by the end of the 3 days they were able to create individual action plans to discuss with their manager and complete before Module 2.
ELEVATE MODULE 2 - ELEVATE THE BUSINESS
Pre-work: Delegates had to bring examples of a vision, mission, values, strategy and goals which related to their business.
This was also a 3-day module, held in Tel Aviv and the purpose was to broaden the commercial awareness of the delegates in the areas of strategy, marketing and finance.
Input on strategy, marketing and finance were interspersed with a business simulation which was completed in 6 parts over the course of the 3 days. Each Action Learning Set needed to create their own business and run it for a period of 6 years using the knowledge and information that was delivered to them during the 3 days. Each delegate was encouraged to take on a role they were not familiar with so they pushed themselves to learn about a different discipline. The module culminated in each group giving a presentation to the senior leadership team in Tel Aviv who had to decide which business was the most sound business to invest in from a commercial perspective as well as a leadership perspective.
The business project for the delegates was to create a strategy for their part of the business and present it to their manager in order for them to identify any changes they want to make to their goals and objectives.
ELEVATE MODULE 3 - ELEVATE THE CUSTOMER
Delegates had to complete a Competitor Analysis to determine their key competitors and their competitive advantages , their customers and the key benefits they expect, and the key success factors in their industry.
This was a 2-day module which took place in the UK. The purpose was to learn from other organisations which show best practice in customer engagement and transfer this knowledge to improve customer experience.
The format of this module took the form of a Study Tour – the delegates visited 3 organisations who have won awards for their customer engagement – Argos, The Amex Stadium and O2.
The delegates received input from each of these organisations on their own experiences of creating customer and employee engagement. Delegates were encouraged to ask questions and explore how they could take these learnings back to their functions in William Hill. This was further reinforced with an input from the Futurologist – James Bellini – on his predictions for customers in this digital age.
The business project following this module was for them to visit another delegate’s function, to assess its customer activity and to offer feedback on strengths and improvements.
ELEVATE MODULE 4 - ELEVATE YOUR FUTURE
Pre-work: Delegates were asked to reflect on their learnings to date and their application in the workplace. Their 360-feedback was repeated to measure the improvements over the last 18 months.
The final 2-day module was held in Sofia. The purpose of this module was to increase their ability to further engage their teams in the future, to develop techniques to build their resilience and perform at their optimum and to identify what they need to do further to continue their learning as leaders in William Hill.
Delegates received input on storytelling to increase their ability to engage others and were given the opportunity to practice their stories and receive feedback on their impact. They were offered techniques to improve their resilience so they were equipped to perform at their optimum. Finally, each Action Learning Set was given one of the previous modules to review and present back their learnings.
This final session allowed the Head of Talent to map out their future plans and he set interviews up with each individual to identify what they had gained from the ELEVATE programme and what further development they needed in order for them to continue to progress.
We worked alongside William Hill to evaluate the programme by repeating the 360-degree feedback at the end of 18 months. The results showed a marked increase in the competencies of the participants on the Elevate programme. In addition many members of the programme have since progressed to senior roles via promotions and secondments, thus fulfilling the goals of the programme.