Let’s be honest. All of us in the consumer-packaged goods industry do basically the same thing. We’re trying to sell more items to our retailer and drive consumption on our portfolio to grow our company’s sales. So, what differentiates one company from another? How do we create a competitive advantage for our company when it comes to finding and recruiting top talent? And more importantly, what is it about our company that will help us to keep that top talent we spent time, effort, and money developing so they continue to grow sales? Values. Values should not be something we just post on a wall. They must be kept relevant throughout daily conversations and during work projects. We need to remind our people that the going will always get tough, and when it does, we will never ask them to do anything to violate our company values or force them to undermine their own integrity.
A good example of this commitment to values is my current company, The Campbell’s Soup Company. Four years ago, Campbell’s went through a massive restructure that significantly altered the demographic makeup of the company. Almost overnight, Campbell’s had a higher percentage of millennial employees than ever before. After this swift shift, Campbell’s began the journey to reexamine its core values – were those values still relevant in a changing environment? Campbell’s determined that the company needed new values that would better represent the new faces of Campbell’s. With this decision, Campbell’s made sure the new values were created by Campbell’s employees, for Campbell’s employees, to capture who Campbell’s is and how Campbell’s operates. The employees who helped to create these new values modernized the verbiage and made the wording more accessible and less formal. When the new values were unveiled, they were embraced immediately and became part of everyday conversations within our buildings.
I heard the story about this “Values” work shortly after I joined Campbell’s in April 2018. I was impressed that Campbell’s had even thought to ask whether their core values were still relevant to a younger generation of employees. More striking, the company leaders had taken the time and effort to update the values, thereby helping to ensure a strong connection among employees going forward.
Last year, I was looking for a new job in the CPG industry. After 14 years in the industry, I had just returned from a sabbatical year of traveling, so was completely unencumbered during my job search. I interviewed with several large CPG companies, and I ultimately chose to join Campbell’s Soup Company. It was the values of Campbell’s that attracted me, that differentiated the company from others. During the Campbell’s interview process, I spoke with 14 people either on the phone or in person, all with different amounts of tenure ranging from two weeks to 20 years. Everyone I interviewed with referenced Campbell’s values such as “Do Right & Be Real” and “Own it Like a Founder”, during our discussion. Most cited the values as their reason for joining Campbell’s. These consistent references made it clear to me that the value of Campbell’s “Values”, what I consider their True North, is woven throughout the organization and held dear at every level of leadership. That True North was the deciding factor when I chose to join Campbell’s.
What do you value as a person? Does the company you work for value similar things and does that make you passionate about working there? If so, then shout it from the rooftops! Remind your team members every day of how important they are to the company. As a Team Leader, I try to remind my team we’re doing more in Northwest Arkansas than just “selling stuff to Walmart.” Help your team understand what their True North is so they can always come back to it when the decision-making is difficult, and they are unsure of what to do. Equally important, remind yourself of the value you bring to our industry. If what you do every day is based in strong, meaningful values, then you are improving the landscape for your team, your customer, and your consumers.
*Team Leader, Walmart and Sam’s Center Store – Campbell’s US Sales
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written.
The opinions expressed here by guest bloggers are their own, not necessarily those of Stout Executive Search.