Fonterra Foodservice ASEAN-MENA (“Fonterra”) is a global brand sourcing secure, high-quality milk. It offers a complete suite of dairy products and tailored solutions. In Australia, it is a leading dairy consumer business. It also sells ingredients to many of the world’s leading food companies, operates a dedicated sales channel for the food service industry and provides a full range of dairy products specifically designed for commercial kitchens.Our journey with Fonterra began when its Regional Leadership Team completed the Investment in Leadership Excellence curriculum, followed by the first High Performance Team workshop.
The focus of the High Performance Team workshop was to recognize that people working in teams needed the right skills to be able to give effective feedback as well as know how to receive and respond to it. In addition, why the organization wanted to make a jump from good to great. Before the workshop, the Regional Leadership Team set targets for specific behaviors and discussed with The Pacific Institute what its ideal High Performance Team would look and behave like. It also discussed why the organisation wanted to make a jump from good to great.
To support the changes as outlined at the start, the team assessed each meeting using the Group Style Inventory and were ready to provide each other with insights into our own behavioral style and receive feedback from team members about areas for development. We started with Erikson’s Stages of Development, outlining the importance of trust that underpins the move forward and recognizes that people also need the skills to give and effectively receive feedback. For example:
- Focus on specific behaviors and keep it impersonal
- Align it to the agreed goals
- Make it well timed and ensure understanding
- If negative, make sure that the behavior is controllable
- Tailor the feedback to fit the person
How to respond to feedback
“I wasn’t aware of that. Tell me more.” “Why is that an issue? ”
“Can you give me an example?” “When do you see me behaving like that?”
“In which situations am I performing like this?” “What do you suggest I do about it?”
“Who is the best at this?” “Who are the role models in this area?” “Who can help me in this area?” “When can we start?”
It is important to address why people may be reluctant to get involved in the feedback process.
Passive people are often worried about staying on people’s good side; providing feedback thus becomes stressful; they may be reluctant to challenge the feedback for the same reason. Aggressive people may be happy to give feedback to others but often take any suggestions for improvement personally, perhaps responding with, “After everything I have done for this company, you criticize me about being abrupt with new staff!”
It is important to respect the effort people may have gone to in order to give the feedback.
“Don’t react just because you didn’t like the feedback. You have got to be bigger than that. That person is actually going out on a limb to help you be better at what you do (‘TeamWorks’, McLean). The team then shared their results, discussed their implications and discussed ‘agreed behaviors’ and tools such as: What I like about what you are doing… What I would like you to do more/less of…This gave everyone the chance to ask for examples and clarification. The final element was personal action planning.
“Really good discussion; thanks to everyone for their feedback, never too old to learn, never too old to change. From a team perspective, this is a major step forward. Most teams never get close to this point in engagement and openness. I believe we are now at a “tipping point” to be able to go and build something meaningful as a team if we choose to do so. Lots of work to do, but pretty inspiring in reality.”
- Geoff Meyer, participant
“A big step forward. We started to open up; to share what we really think; get some of our frustrations out on the table but deal with them in a very professional, open and honest way. I have heard the word trust a lot. We may not be fully there but are most definitely heading in the right direction and have shifted the boundaries from where we started only four months ago.”
Alastair Bruce, General Manager, Fonterra Foodservice AME
Next steps… to focus on the process of honest and direct feedback and look at situational, shared leadership within a High Performance Team.