Training feedback

Beam Suntory UK had started their LEAN manufacturing journey and were in the process of rapid change. To kick-start their vision and strategy for the manufacturing teams, they brought in James Garrett, owner and founder of Sustrain UK Ltd, to help team members step up to their new roles as team leaders. Developing their confidence and interpersonal skills at an early stage in their overall training helped the teams to exceed many of their operational and efficiency targets.


A subsidiary of the third largest producer of premium spirits worldwide, Beam Suntory UK had developed a new vision and strategy for its manufacturing teams. This included advancing a number of team members to team leader roles with new, heightened demands. About half of them had no previous supervisory experience and would be leading colleagues who had recently been their peers.

Craig Mochrie, Senior Manager at Beam Suntory UK

“We realised it was going to be a journey rather than a quick sprint,” says Craig Mochrie, Senior Manager and one of the sponsoring directors of the training. “When we scoped all the detail out, we saw part of the early development of our team leaders was around the softer skills – engaging with a team and setting targets and objectives across the wider team.”

They realised they needed an external trainer with specialist skills. They looked to James, who they had successfully worked with before and who understood their business.

HR Manager Jade Milson described the learning objectives: “Being able to communicate, being able to give feedback, understanding their impact and being able to adapt their style as required. I guess the confidence to give things a go, you know? And when it doesn’t go right they’d be able to say, ‘Right, okay, so what could I do differently?’”

Integration with other change programmes was also key. This included their global leadership competency framework and coaching for managers course directed at the line managers.

“It had to fit in. There’s no point in doing one thing over here and something different over there. We have a leadership framework which defines the expectations we have of our leaders so the training had to be anchored from there.” says Jade.


Working closely with Craig and Jade, James designed the programme to meet their specific needs.

“What we started with was a one-page proposal. And then where we got to was James used all the competencies from the leadership framework and mapped that to the training content,” says Jade. “So this is the training content, this is what it will achieve, and this is where it maps to the leadership framework.”

To engage the team leaders themselves, it also had to fit with their day-to-day working lives. The programme was made up of three half-days, followed by one-to-one coaching sessions with James. These were spread over several weeks with time in between to practice what they’d learned and to review progress with their line managers.

“The course design required a high degree of pragmatism. A little bit of theory was fine for some. And a model was interesting here and there,” says James. “But everybody in the training room quite rightly would have interrupted me and said, ‘This has got to work on the line downstairs’ if the course had been too theoretical. We designed an intervention that was very pragmatic from the outset.”

James and the sponsoring directors made sure that the learning continued beyond the training room. “They’re not just spending a day in a room training. There’s development, there’s some homework to be done, there are feedback sessions as well. So it’s all very interactive and supportive of what we’re trying to do,” says Craig.


“The feedback was very positive,” says Jade. “I think the team really warmed to James and really valued his guidance. I think they’ve been able to test some things out so that, for me, it has given them a bag of tools to use in different situations and some confidence that they can go do it.”

An image showing James Garrett, founder of Sustrain UK

James Garrett, Trainer & Coach

“What he does is he draws feedback from the room from those who are hesitant,” adds Craig.

As well as the usual delegate feedback forms, the training was evaluated with a bespoke self-assessment tool designed by James. Team leaders log their points of progress, with evidence, and show how these map to their KPIs, the leadership framework and/or company values. They discuss this with their managers, and any gaps can be addressed through coaching.

Craig says, “The team leaders are now driving their KPIs at a local level. I’m pleased to say that every single function that our team leaders are attached to is either ahead of or on target for this year. So I’m delighted with the outcome of where we are. There’s been a combination of things that have contributed to that, but in terms of giving these team leaders the early confidence to get in and get their sleeves rolled up, James’s training has really helped.”

The sponsoring directors enjoyed working with James. “He really seeks to understand what I’m looking for and will adapt,” says Jade. “And, you know, maybe I don’t always have the right answers! It’s a really good relationship and I think that helps us get to the right solution.”

“I think our vision in terms of training is that we start with our team leaders, getting them fully bedded in, and then we move towards our teams,” says Craig. “And that’s a tall order because as you can imagine, at the end of the day our main focus is getting cases out the door. We can do that to a high standard of efficiency, and focus, and ownership when we train our people properly. So that’s the real philosophy behind this.”

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C.M, Senior Manager

“Wiki-words worked well to keep our interest and refresh our brains!”

NB, On Trade Manager

“Great delivery, and very knowledgeable, great workshopping”

JC, On Trade Manager

“A very helpful, eye opening seminar”

RM, National Account Manager

“Very informative on all subjects, these techniques certainly help, thanks!”

SE, Regional Sales Manager

“Training was excellent”

MH, Area Director

“Very beneficial course, covered important issues – relevant to my role”

TB, Regional Account Manager

“Good trainer, well worth the training day”

RR, Warehouse Manager

“Excellent session”

RR, Warehouse Manager

“Well presented”

CT, Health & Safety Manager

“Good course, well pitched, enjoyable”

AL, Distillery Manager