Managing Conflict/Influencing -- Ricola, U.S.
To meet the challenges of business growth in a tough market, William D. Higgins, president of Ricola U.S., and his team worked with Guttman, used a phased approach to drive up performance, not only of the senior team but throughout the organization. Says Higgins, “When I joined Ricola, we had a typical ‘Stage 2’ culture, with lots of departmental tension, personalization of issues, attacking and blame-gaming, and a ton of control issues. First, we developed the listening, assertiveness, and conflict-management skills of our senior executives. We then cascaded these to everyone else. This gave us a common language, a sense of safety when disagreements arose, and a baseline of skills to move ahead. Next, we aligned the senior team and then continued the process right down to all levels of the organization. Every team has the foundation and skills training to perform as a ‘Stage 4,’ high-performance entity.”
According to Higgins, the business results speak for themselves: steady, consistent sales growth of 9.6 percent over five years; market-share growth of more than four points over three years; and profit growth that exceeds sales growth. But, beyond these, he says that what really excites him is, “When I see team members who are two levels down from me in the organization truly excited about the company’s opportunities and looking for ways to make a difference. The feeling in the office on a daily basis is probably the best indicator of results. People are excited, committed, and working together better to grow Ricola.”