When Biffa started, 100 years ago, waste management meant simply taking it away. Biffa now collects 15,000 tonnes of waste every day, but they also help organisations reduce their waste, recycle more of it and transform it into valuable resources, serving 95% of postcodes across the UK. It’s a very different business, one that needs great people managers who make a difference for teams, customers, operations and projects.

The challenge: leading, engaging and developing Biffa colleagues

Biffa wants every team and individual in the business to realise their potential and they know people managers play a central role in making this happen. In recognition of the different ways managers are leading their teams since the pandemic, Biffa asked the CIPD to review LEAD, its new management development programme, and consider it for endorsement.

Launched in February 2023, LEAD (Lead, Engage and Develop) is offered to all Biffa managers. It supports people from their first management role, helps them progress their careers, and it defines consistent management practice throughout the business. Its modules cover hiring and engaging, policies and procedures, behaviours and values, development and wellbeing. LEAD enables managers to create happier, resilient teams, where people feel secure to be themselves at work and perform at their best. The endorsement of LEAD strengthens the partnership between managers and people professionals, and further enables Biffa HR teams to work strategically across the business.

I am particularly proud that LEAD, developed by Biffa’s in-house Learning and Organisational Development team, is the first general leadership programme to be endorsed by the CIPD. Managers are clear about what’s expected of them and are supported to become more effective, so it’s been well worth the time and investment to get this right.

Michael Topham, Chief Executive Officer, Biffa

The solution: a thorough review of Biffa LEAD

Having partnered with the CIPD for some time, the team wanted to ensure Biffa LEAD delivered for their managers and the business. This meant spotlighting the huge impact managers have on creating high-performing teams and contributing to Biffa’s inclusive culture.

By scrutinising content, structure, and delivery, the CIPD focused on aligning the programme with the standards defined in the CIPD Profession Map. Biffa colleagues were impressed by the rigorous challenge and support provided by CIPD colleagues, and the time and attention they gave. Through a process of review, knowledge sharing, continuous improvement, evidence generation and ongoing feedback, Biffa LEAD was endorsed by the CIPD in October 2023.

The value of the partnership approach has strengthened Biffa’s commitment to development. Biffa is working towards People Development Partner status, embedding and sustaining world-class people practices by benchmarking its HR teams against the CIPD’s internationally recognised standards and investing in CIPD accreditation for its people professionals.

There were three drivers for introducing LEAD. First, to continue the great strides we’ve made in employee engagement and recognise the vital contribution of our people managers. Second, to challenge assumptions about the knowledge managers have, and what’s expected of them, particularly when they’re new to the company. And third, because managers themselves told us they would value the additional support the programme provides.

Jane Pateman, Chief People Officer, Biffa

The outcome: positive feedback and CIPD endorsement

The CIPD’s endorsement of Biffa LEAD celebrates Biffa’s determination to deliver the highest quality learning to its managers, who it sees as pivotal. External recognition matters to managers too.

Open to all, so far around 650 managers have signed up to Biffa LEAD and half of them have completed the modules. Their feedback demonstrates the programme’s positive impact. Managers feel valued and recognised as critical to Biffa’s success. They feel clearer about the Biffa way of doing business and sharing the big picture with their teams. They feel supported in the challenges they deal with, and they welcome the chance to network and learn from each other.

I’m really enjoying the course and look forward to the sessions. As a fairly new manager, with Biffa for 12 months or so, it’s been fantastic to understand more about the business and the people who make it. The sessions are informative and interactive, I’ve learned something new in each one, and it’s helpful to hear other people’s examples of how they’ve overcome challenges.

Danielle Simons, Head of Corporate Accounts - Estates, Biffa

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