Jenny Lawrence, HR Director of Lindt, on embedding purpose

Jenny Lawrence, HR Director of Lindt joined HRD Connect to discuss bringing purpose to life within their organisation. Their recent successful initiatives have earned Lindt a top 30 place in the Great Place to Work Award, Winner of the Organisational Culture Excellence Award and 2015 Winners of the Sunday Telegraph’s Britain’s Healthiest Company.

Lindt conducted a strategic review to identify the key initiatives required to continue the growth agenda. What are the key initiatives for Lindt?

When we looked at our organisation we conducted a review of where we needed to grow and develop. We named a number of projects, some of them commercial and some of them more about our culture and our people.

The big one that came out strategically was around leadership. So we started the journey about our purpose, and identified leadership as a strategic priority, and we did it in an unconventional way.

People go through leadership programmes in a very structured process type of way. But what was unique about what we did was that we crushed the hierarchy and we said, ‘Right, okay, first of all we need to understand why we do what we do.’

We know what we do: we make fab chocolate.  We know how we can build our competencies.  What we’re not really clear about is why we do it.

So we took our wider leadership team – our directors and their reports – through a leadership programme to help us identify our purpose. Through that, we used a lot of leadership techniques to try and understand ourselves and how we operate as leaders within that framework.

For you, what does ‘inclusive company purpose’ look like?

That’s where you really see a purpose coming alive because you’re not telling people, ‘This is how we’re going to do it’.  We’re saying ‘How do we want to do it?’  It’s got to be led from the top, so if your CEO is sitting at the top going ‘Well that’s all very nice but that’s not for me’ then the purpose-led culture probably isn’t the right thing for that organisation

Where can companies start to create and embed an inclusive company purpose in their organisations?

You need a CEO who believes in that kind of thinking and I think it’s great if you can immerse yourself – go and talk to people who do it, and do it really well; what is it that makes them successful?

But it didn’t come to us initially – it took probably four days’ work of being away together for us to build something that resonated as a team around making people feel special.

What has Lindt’s journey been like in “Bringing purpose to life” within the organisation?

We’ve been looking at our culture for four years now and in December we won the Excellence Awards for Culture with three other companies. And our CEO Joel Burrows said he thought we’re about 25% of the way there.  So I think we’ve got a really good framework now; we really believe in it.  We’ve got people who really get it and want to make that difference.

For us now I think it’s taking that and helping work with other organisations in partnership, to look at their purpose, what they’re trying to achieve. I think one of our criticisms to ourselves would be we took on too much in the beginning and thought great, we’ll change the world and what you realise is it’s a slowly, slowly catch the monkey type thing.

So you have to think quite long term with this and not, and while you can get some immediate initiatives on paper, it takes a long time to change a culture.

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