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Engaging Employees Takes Time and Leadership
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To win the marketplace, first win in your workplace.

Recently, Campbell Soup Company President and CEO Douglas R. Conant said, "You can't win in the marketplace unless you win in the workplace," in an interview published in the Gallup Management Journal.

Nine years ago, when Conant joined the company, trust and engagement were measured using a Gallup assessment called the Q12, for the 12 employee engagement questions it asks. And a number of Campbell workgroups were in the bottom quartile of respondents. Under Conant's direction, the New Jersey-based company began a long process of re-engaging employees.

Big Company Lessons, Small Company Feel

Conant's approach relies on visibility and individual engagement - with follow-up as the key to its success. At Campbell, the managers were the first group to receive attention. As they began to engage more with the company goals on one hand and with their employees on the other, they also found themselves working more closely with one another, which naturally reduced functional disconnects between teams. Even union leaders became active supporters of change for the better when they were involved in decision-making.

Conant keeps up the momentum by modeling the behavior he wants to see, using simple techniques that can be applied in any work environment. He:

  • Walks the workplace daily, talking to people and making himself visible.
  • Handwrites positive, personal notes to a few employees every day.
  • Mentors leaders and expects them to do the same for their employees.
  • Advocates diversity and inclusion in what the company does and how it does it.

When he first arrived at Campbell, Conant said, the company wasn't ready for the level of engagement he envisioned. But nothing they had tried was working. He said he's sure the employees thought this engagement program wouldn't work either.

But Conant believes leaders have to keep working the territory and pushing the organization as far as it can go, bringing "fierce resolve" to embed engagement into the culture. "For me," he said, "there simply is no other way."


The article you read was prepared for general information purposes by McMurry. These articles are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. PNC urges its customers to do independent research and to consult with financial and legal professionals before making any financial decisions.These articles may provide reference to Internet sites as a convenience to our readers. While PNC endeavors to provide resources that are reputable and safe, we cannot be held responsible for the information, products, or services obtained on such sites and will not be liable for any damages arising from your access to such sites. The content, accuracy, opinions expressed, and links provided by these resources are not investigated, verified, monitored or endorsed by PNC.