Oct 11, 2011

From Toxic Culture to Amazing Engagement With Engaged Leaders




Have you read recent interview with Douglas R. Conant, just retired CEO of Campbell Soup? In this interview, he talks leadership and engagement, and few other things.


Douglas R. Conant was CEO of Campbell Soup from 2001 to 2011 (11th leaders in company's 141 year history.) He helped Campbell reverse sagging market share and achieve world-class engagement levels.


As I enjoy good stories/examples and know you are interested in engagement, corporate culture and leadership (and you better be), I will comment on the part of the interview that covers that.


Leadership challenge this CEO was facing in 2001 was that Campbell Soup Co, had the lowest level of engagement among the 300 Fortune 500 companies Gallup had assessed. (they used Gallup Q12 Benchmark described in earlier post Improve Company Performance - How and Why Engaged Employees Will Help You.)


Gallup's gold standard is 12: 1 engagement ratio. This means 12 engaged employees for every one employee looking for another job.


We already know that engagement impacts profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction, retention and probably job creation.


Campbell Soup Co's ratio was 2: 1. For every two employees, one was not engaged and looking for another job. As Conant puts it ''We clearly had toxic culture.''



First three Q's that would come to mind if I was that CEO are:


1. Whose fault (responsibility sounds better, right?) is that ?

2. What can we do about it?

3. How long does it take to change/improve?


What Q's would you ask, and what would you answer to your and my 3 questions?


I learned it took them 3 years to arrive from 2: 1 to 4:1 ratio. No quick fix, and no quick change that produces great result. Even if you are the brightest and most talented CEO. Agree? Feel free to challenge me, providing an example you were a part of.


By the end of year 3, they fired 300 out of 350 leaders replacing them with 150 new leaders from the inside and recruited 15o ''blue chip'' leaders from the outside. Not that I celebrate anyone's firing, unless he is on leadership position and not producing leadership results.


''With a lot of hard work we achieved a world class 17 : 1 ratio in 2011 and the ratio for our top 350 leaders was amazing 70 : 1. '' said Conant.


I would like you to remember ''lot of hard work.''


Another sentence I would like you to consider from this interview is


''We realized that the managers were key to unlocking the full potential of our culture in that they touched everything in a proximal way.''


Do you feel like investing 2, 3, or even 5 years in repairing culture and engagement? I don't, unless it must be done. Prevention is better than cure. Simple as that.


Simple things and logic are often the first thing to be overseen. When someone remarks something is ''to simple,'' I am nearly sure they are not doing it (right).


As a reminder, you or your managers might like to check out 10 Things that Influence Your Company Culture. Why Should You Care?


I sincerely wish it is not already too late.


You might also find related posts helpful:





Good luck, and let me know if you would like some support.


Full interview with Douglas R. Conant can be found on Incentive mag., and the new book Touch Points, examining corporate leadership is available on Amazon.






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