improving plant workplace culture

improving plant workplace culture

freeing up supervisors to focus on the right work

At a paper production plant outside of Toronto, Canada, the leadership team was frustrated by the performance issues they were seeing at the plant floor level:
• Supervisors were spending too much time solving problems instead of elevating problem solving in their teams, and
• Employees were disconnected from the work because they weren’t empowered to work on solving their own issues, resulting in high levels of tension and grievances.
A training program was implemented to build stronger leadership skills in the plant supervisors, to help them develop coaching and delegation capabilities, resulting in a significant reduction in grievances and an overall improvement in employee satisfaction.


The client is a regional plant, part of a global paper goods company employing more than 10,000 people in North America and Europe.

The program impacted 150 employees, most of whom work at the plant floor level.

project details

the challenge

The leadership team needed to shift the mindset of plant supervisors to help them understand and apply the tools and mental models to shift problem solving to their frontline employees, primarily through redefining the roles of supervisors as well as by improved communication and coaching skills.

the process

Plant supervisors participated in a six month program, focused on shaping plant culture, including:
• Leadership skills and behaviours
• Self management as a leader
• Critical thinking
• Leading difficult conversations
Each monthly culture discussion and skill development session was followed by 30 days of using the Habit Builder, where supervisors rated their progress on implementing new skills, and shared notes on their progress with each other, their leader and the change consultant.

the outcomes

Changes in work satisfaction, quality and issue resolution changed across the plant as a result of the program.

From the first weeks of the program, plant supervisors reported experiencing improved morale and mindset shifts from their teams. Supervisors reported changes from the outset of the program, and it was continued with high levels of participation and success.

Grievances dropped across all shifts, including changes in labour tension, lack of issue engagement and work ownership. Plant supervisors also shared that their own work enjoyment changed as a result of focus on coaching and staying calmer when issues occurred.

Client Feedback
  • “Focusing on the hard questions with the optimistic outcome has benefited myself my team and the business for a smooth transition from day to day on the plant floor.”

    Plant Supervisor – Production Plant

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