Image of Andy Moat People Director at B&Q

The Big Interview with Andy Moat

Rosie Jenkins spoke with Andy Moat, People Director at B&Q to hear more about his career and how, as an essential retailer, the organisation has navigated the challenges of the pandemic.

How did you get into HR? Have you specialised along the way? What do you love (are you most passionate) about being a People Director?

My first role in HR was as Reward Manager having moved across from finance – I’m a qualified CIMA accountant. 

My motivation for this move was a realisation that the number one most important thing in any organisation is the quality of its leadership and I wanted a bigger opportunity to influence this. 

I always remember the quote, “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care” and that for me has always stood out as a fundamental requirement for any leader – and I think is often the thing that’s missing when you find dysfunction in a leadership group. 

Most of my roles have been generalist ones, but I guess I’ll always have an interest in reward with my finance and first role history and I have a personal passion for leadership and learning and future ambition to become a teacher when I hang up my ‘corporate boots’.

What challenges are you and your team currently facing? 

B&Q is in a really interesting position as an essential retailer and customers have reconnected with their homes and gardens through the Covid crisis and we believe that ‘anyone can improve their home to make life better’. 

We’ve demonstrated agility and progress as a multi-channel retailer that is unprecedented in our history and a huge credit to our operations team who have kept colleagues and customers as safe as possible with their operating standards and all the teams in the centre who support them. 

Continuing that focus through what looks like will be a very challenging January and February is our top priority but of course, we need to keep investing for the future so areas like culture, capability and organisation design are also top of the mind as the world has changed so much in the last nine months and we need to respond to that and embrace the opportunities it brings to set B&Q up for the long term. 

I think our communication in the business has been one of the keys to how we’ve coped during Covid and I believe that the connection and trust between the board and all leaders and colleagues is the best it’s ever been which is vital and something I’m really proud of.

ED&I is hot on the HR agenda at present, what actions have you taken around this topic? 

We’ve invested significantly here and commissioned an independent culture review with GreenPark which has spoken to more than 500 of our colleagues over the last few months to understand the lived experience of all our colleagues. 

This has set us up to launch our first-ever comprehensive D&I strategy and three-year plan and we are very committed to making significant progress here over the next three years which has clear commercial benefits as well as fundamentally being the right thing to do. 

I’m really passionate about the progress we can make here and the difference we can make to people’s lives.

What impact has the use of technology had (the fourth industrial revolution) on how you deliver HR to the business? 

After wrestling with readiness for a potential global introduction of success factors which was hugely ambitious and complex, in 2020 we reverted to a more localised approach following a change in the KF strategy. 

This has enabled us to introduce a new ATS and LMS which are significantly better and digitally-enabled than we’ve had previously and I believe these will be good strategic partnerships for us, which is important. 

We’ve also embraced Microsoft Teams and invested in the basics of the bandwidth of our WiFi to all stores and the basic tech required in each store to enable all our leaders to participate in Teams Live events. 

The connectivity this offers us for customers and colleagues is tremendous – we can now doing kitchen consultants digitally and we can speak to any group of colleagues that we want to incredibly easily now – that’s a significant step forward.

What would you change within the benefit of hindsight?

I wouldn’t change anything at this stage. I believe we’ve tried to make the right decisions, at the right time for the good of B&Q and the safety of our colleagues and customers. 

I’m really proud of how we’ve behaved and led through this crisis and we mustn’t get complacent and we just need to continue this good work – which fundamentally means continuing to listen to our leaders and colleagues.

What advice/hints/tips would you give an aspiring HRD?

My top four tips would be to always think of yourself as a business person who specialises in the people agenda. The ability to listen well to the business to understand problems and opportunities, to generate solutions/options and recommendations and then to engage and communicate so that those solutions really work are all great general business skills – we just happen to apply them to people problems because its what we are most passionate about.

Remember that the key to success is partnering with the business. We don’t have exclusivity on the answers around people and working with brilliant leaders everywhere is the most powerful way to achieve real sustainable change. So embrace ideas and challenges from all leaders – you’ll come up with better solutions that way, even if those ideas are different to yours! I’ve done my best work when I’ve had my best relationship with key leaders – when you genuinely trust each other and are committed to the same goal, there is very little you can’t solve together.

Invest time in building healthy relationships with your board and CEO especially. I’ve made the mistake in the past where I thought that my work spoke for itself and neglected to invest time here with my board colleagues. Stakeholder management is an important part of doing the job well and creating a platform for the team to do great work with the business.

Lead from a place where you genuinely care about everyone on your team as ‘the whole person’ and are doing the right thing for the business. If you are able to do that in a way that is authentic to you – I think people see that and will trust you and follow you, even when you have to make the tough decisions. With the cultural challenges around wellness, Diversity and inclusion and Covid itself, I’m convinced if you as a leader can create an environment where people are ‘flourishing’ then they will naturally do their best work – it isn’t possible or relevant these days to just consider the person you might see 9-5.

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