Headquartered in Vancouver, B.C., Weldwood of Canada Limited is a major forest products company manufacturing pulp, lumber, plywood and engineered wood products. The company employs 3,400 people and in 2003 had sales of approximately $1 billion. Weldwood is a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Paper (IP), the world’s largest forest products company with more than 80,000 employees worldwide and operations in 52 countries.
Weldwood’s strategic business focus is to deliver value to customers through operational excellence. This means our company is committed to delivering value-added products and services that give our customers a competitive advantage, while profiting our business. From a company perspective, it is essential that all employees understand our business focus and how they contribute to the achievement of our goals. To do this effectively, Weldwood has pursued a culture based on employee engagement. As articulated in our corporate values, being engaged means that employees offer their “discretionary” effort in contributing to the success of the business. In other words, they don’t just do what’s expected or what’s written in a job description – they surpass expectations in all aspects of performance to help Weldwood deliver value to customers and meet profitability targets.
As a means of measuring engagement within the organization, Weldwood uses the Q12 engagement survey. Developed by Gallup, the survey links organizational engagement levels to a set of 12 specific questions. According to Gallup, the higher the level of engagement – the more involved employees are in driving business performance and financial results. In 2003, Weldwood scored 3.27 (out of a possible 5) on its second Gallup engagement survey. These results indicated that employees were only “moderately” engaged and that we had only improved slightly from our 2001 score of 3. XX . Results also highlighted key gaps in areas like recognition and supervisor/employee communication that are vital to building an engaged workforce.
To improve the company’s engagement score which was vital to support Weldwood’s strategic focus, a communications training program specifically for frontline supervisors was developed and launched in 2003. This particular audience was chosen for a number of reasons. First, Gallup insists that engagement at the employee level is driven directly by the one-on-one interactions each employee has with their supervisor. Second, a recent internal communications audit clearly revealed that employees were not receiving information via their desired channel – their supervisor. And finally, a survey conducted by our company’s training department indicated that supervisors desired to improve their on-the-job communications skills. The audience for the supervisor communications training program was as follows: Approximately 250 people; about 95% white male; non-unionized - but responsible for supervising crews of unionized, mostly male employees, organized in groups of between 5 and 25. Generally long-term employees (10 years+), with significant supervisory experience. However, almost all have been promoted to the supervisory level based on their technical competence and not on their interpersonal communications skills or one-on-one interactions. Geographically dispersed between 13 mills in British Columbia & Alberta. A large majority of the group have some type of post-secondary education. A recent training department survey indicated these supervisors desired to improve their on-the-job communications skills. Summary: This long-tenured, mainly male, non-unionized workforce of highly-technical individuals both needed, and wanted to improve their on-the-job communications skills .
The bottom line was this: we needed to train our frontline supervisors to be more effective in their role as communicators, specifically in one-on-one interactions with employees, to help drive a culture of engagement within Weldwood, which we link directly to our organization’s ability to achieve its strategic business focus.
Our initial outlook was that developing a training program would be a relatively straightforward process. Our original intent was to purchase a “canned” face-to-face training program and utilize existing materials. After meeting with various supervisors on an ad hoc basis to get a better understanding of their needs, however, it was clear that a “cookie cutter” approach just wouldn’t work at Weldwood given our unique audience demographic. After a preliminary meeting with Ken we decided to formalize the research portion of our training program to ensure we clearly understood the complex and varied needs of our audience prior to developing the actual training solution.
We organized two focus groups with 20 frontline supervisors in both B.C. and Alberta, and concurrently interviewed the same number of senior managers. The goal was to explore the engagement concept and identify what specific skills were required to support engagement through one-on-one interactions with employees. Through the research, we identified key themes that laid the foundation for our overall training program: Supervisors needed a clear understanding of what engagement was and how it could benefit the organization. Supervisors wanted to improve their communications skills and abilities. (i.e. active listening; conflict resolution; handling challenging situations; dealing with negativity.) Supervisors wanted a chance to connect with others in a similar role so they could share tips, best practices and provide each other with support on an ongoing basis.
The skill development needs were as varied as one could imagine On a location by location basis On an individual basis This meant we had to design a program that allowed for maximum flexibility in each session – no two workshops could be the same if we were going to meet the needs of the participants One-on-One Logistics Peer Support Sponsorship and alignment This meant we had to design the day to ensure each of these items were addressed “somehow”
Modelling behaviours associated with an engaged workplace, participants in each session were involved in identifying the skills to be explored over the course of the day. This meant that each session conducted was different from all others. We needed to help them understand what engagement was What it looked and felt like Why it was important and Why they were central to the process This meant that we had to “engage” them through an experience that modeled the vision of engagement from start to finish – and we had to allow them to learn for themselves rather than be told
After reviewing the research, a comprehensive one-day training program was developed to address the varied needs of our supervisor audience. It included the following key elements: An introductory section designed to allow participants to explore and develop their understanding of engagement: what it looked and felt like; why it was important; and why supervisors were central to the process. Working in breakout groups participants identified in the many issues facing the organization, business goals and the behaviours associated with the desired engagement culture. This was manifested through the development of a “roadmap” whereby participants worked together to create a large scale graphic representation of their explorations. A review of the corporate expectations for engagement and one-on-ones. A skill development section tailored to each individual group, but linked to a core set of communications skills, to provide maximum flexibility and relevance to each individual audience. The core skills included active listening, dealing with difficult/negative people, effective questioning, getting past superficial conversation, etc. . A review of available resources and tools and a self-assessment exercise to support continued skill development following the workshop.
3 breakout groups – each exploring 3 central questions The business environment The goals and objectives of Weldwood Engagement – what is it, what behaviours are associated with it, what characteristics would be present – visible and experienced in the workplace.; how would it help move through the environmental challenges to achieve the vision.
You Want Me to Do What!
You Want Me to Do What! Building supervisor support for face-to-face communication in a dispersed workplace Eduarda Hodgins, ABC, Director, Communications Weldwood of Canada Limited Ken Milloy, President, Strategic Connections Inc. IABC International Conference Los Angeles 2004
What we will outline for you <ul><li>Why Weldwood needed to develop the program </li></ul><ul><li>What we learned was needed and how we addressed those needs </li></ul><ul><li>The impact the program had </li></ul>
Delivering value to customers through operational excellence <ul><li>Essential that employees understand our business… </li></ul><ul><li>And how they contribute to the achievement of our goals </li></ul>
Gallup’s Q12 engagement survey tells us how we are doing… (5.0 is maximum) 2001 3.17 2003 3.27 2004 (fall) 3.47
True engagement begins with the supervisor / employee relationship <ul><li>Approximately 250 people </li></ul><ul><li>95% while male; well educated </li></ul><ul><li>Non-union – supervise unionized, mostly male employees </li></ul><ul><li>10+ years experience on average </li></ul><ul><li>Supervisors because of technical expertise…not people skills </li></ul>
Communication at Weldwood <ul><li>Centralized communications function </li></ul><ul><li>Small department – multiple issues (!) </li></ul><ul><li>Annual communication plan linked to business strategy endorsed by President </li></ul><ul><li>Communication audit revealed: </li></ul><ul><li>- strong integrated print/online tools with good readership and excellent marks for value </li></ul><ul><li>- Misalignment in tool/messaging </li></ul><ul><li>- Insufficient face-to-face interactions </li></ul>
The Project Driven By… <ul><li>Response to multiple communications issues </li></ul><ul><li>Desire to move communications from one department’s role to “everyone’s job” </li></ul><ul><li>Requirement (and pressure) to improve Gallup Engagement Survey score </li></ul><ul><li>Face-to-face interactions mandated by senior management to bridge gap in Gallup score </li></ul>
The bottom line… <ul><li>Frontline supervisors capable of and committed to embedding a culture of engagement…to maximize our ability to achieve our strategic business focus </li></ul>
We set some specific goals <ul><li>More than 80% of supervisors say the understand engagement and role of one-on-ones </li></ul><ul><li>More than 80% of those trained report having effective one-on-one’s </li></ul><ul><li>.20 increase across Weldwood on next Q12 score </li></ul>
Early explorations made it clear that an ‘off the shelf’ program would not meet the needs of supervisors RESEARCH DESIGN TEST DELIVER EVALUATE
If you want me to do that, then I need… <ul><li>Clear understanding of what engagement is and how it will benefit the organization </li></ul><ul><li>Improved interpersonal/ communication skills </li></ul><ul><li>Connections – with peers, best practices, ideas, … </li></ul>
And the challenge at hand was even more complicated… <ul><li>250 people…many more different needs </li></ul><ul><li>Varied understanding - context & need </li></ul><ul><li>Questions regarding senior support </li></ul><ul><li>Task view - to improve GES results </li></ul><ul><li>Time constraint - impact production goals </li></ul><ul><li>However, we also found that they would be very supportive if the potential was real. </li></ul>
We needed to develop a session that balanced flexibility and logistics while providing an experience that modeled engagement
“… Teach him to fish and he will eat for life….” <ul><li>We modeled the session design so as to model the ideas of engagement from start to finish: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Involvement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flexibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-exploration </li></ul></ul>
The day was fairly standard in terms of the agenda <ul><li>Welcome / Background / Overview </li></ul><ul><li>Exploring Engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Expectations and Logistics </li></ul><ul><li>Skill development / enhancement </li></ul><ul><li>Resources and tools </li></ul><ul><li>Self-assessment and evaluation </li></ul>
The first step was to have them look at the business, its challenges and the potential of a culture based on engagement The Business Environment The Business Goals Engagement Behaviours Experience
One-on-Ones: Definition and Logistics <ul><li>Provided a definition </li></ul><ul><li>Set out guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Allowed dialogue to enforce self-design </li></ul>
Communication & Interpersonal Skills Development <ul><li>Active Listening (all session) </li></ul><ul><li>Difficult/negative people </li></ul><ul><li>Effective questioning </li></ul><ul><li>Getting past superficial conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Balancing inquiry and advocacy </li></ul><ul><li>Moments of awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Constructive openness </li></ul><ul><li>Avoiding long to do lists </li></ul><ul><li>… </li></ul>
Learning through experience, observation and immediate feedback <ul><li>Small group exploration </li></ul><ul><li>Identify core element of strategy /tool being discussed </li></ul><ul><li>Fill in blanks where items missed </li></ul><ul><li>Role playing (groups of 3) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>employee, leader, observer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>small/large group debrief </li></ul></ul>
Beyond the Workshop – integrating resources for supervisors <ul><li>InfoNet Engagement Centre </li></ul><ul><ul><li>best practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>planning tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>skill reference sheets </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Managers as the medium </li></ul><ul><li>Each other </li></ul>
Self-Assessment <ul><li>A simple self assessment form </li></ul><ul><li>3 point scale </li></ul><ul><ul><li>need to improve </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>feel competent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>area of personal strength </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Encouraged each person to focus on no more than 2 “need to improve” areas </li></ul>
We knew we were on the right track when at 8:30 one morning a Union Leader said…. <ul><li>“I am hear to listen to what this is about and to hold management accountable – I do not like where this is headed and don’t trust the intent.” </li></ul>
And followed that up at 3:45 with… <ul><li>“I stand corrected…This is exactly what we need to do – I will be meeting with our members over coffee and lunch to tell them their participation is essential.” </li></ul>
9 months later - Survey Results 97% understand process/intent of engagement 96% understand how one-on-ones build an engaged workforce 90% say they are doing one-on-ones 88% say course was valuable 60% rate quality of one-on-ones excellent or very good
9 months later - Survey Results More training required! Listening, negativity, planning Agreement that one-one-ones help employees feel more engaged! Multiple success stories shared by conducting one-on-ones