Feeding America National Office found an ideal partner in Hillshire Brands to help provide momentum to its organizational culture campaign. Feeding America re-focused their cultural journey in 2011 to re-imagine their organizational values and behaviors. But Daphne Logan, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, wasn’t satisfied with simply creating words on paper. Logan wanted to develop tools for staff to “live” the culture and to support a thriving and vibrant work environment at the national office in Chicago.
“We’ve done some significant work defining our culture and creating our guiding principles but the next step was thinking about how to link our values, guiding principles and aspirational culture into the organization’s DNA,” said Logan.
Happily, Hillshire Brands was in Feeding America’s backyard. Hillshire just recently overhauled their organizational culture, as the organization transformed from Sara Lee Corporation. Scott Syer, training manager at Hillshire, and his team of culture design experts worked to help develop a culture resource guide for Feeding America based on a similar process they led for Hillshire.
Hillshire Brands professionals met with Feeding America leadership to understand the existing culture of Feeding America. They had in-depth conversations about Feeding America’s clients, reasons people choose to work there, and how they define themselves.
During their done-in-a-day project session, the group divided into three teams, each presenting a different way to articulate the mission. The goal was to come up with a creative and organic way to describe Feeding America that focuses on showing rather than telling employees about the values that are important to the organization. Feeding America participants shared their thoughts on the organization’s existing culture and methods of improvement, and Hillshire Brands participants shared their own perspectives after having recently created a culture plan of their own.
“I wanted to make sure that they felt the same way I do about our culture. To help them do that, they needed to have full ownership. It’s almost hard to describe in words the feeling at the end of the project – when you see your client lit up and ready to get things started. It is rewarding you know you had a small part in that,” said Syer.
Feeding America began to infuse the lessons they learned from Hillshire into the organization immediately. The team created a resource guide for new employees that incorporates the personality of Feeding America. They also created an infographic for each guiding principle. This graphic was launched at Feeding America all-staff meetings and loaded onto each staff member’s computer. They plan to use Shutterfly, an internet-based image publishing service, to make small photo books available for all visitors that can be constantly updated with pictures. In their break room, they placed a magnetic chalkboard with pictures of employees putting the guiding principles into action. They have future plans to redesign wall space that reflects their culture in support of the mission.
In the long term, Feeding America has an annual health survey that includes a culture index. Through this engagement survey to staff members, it can further understand the impact of the changes as they are implemented.
“Every organization has a culture to manage and grow, and if anything, it’s an opportunity to learn from each other.”
Both Hillshire Brands and Feeding America are proud to have participated in this high-impact opportunity.