THE BAMA COMPANIES, Inc.
Growing Pains and Decreased Employee Engagement
As a privately held food service business, founded in 1937, the founders and the CEO of Bama Companies, Inc. enjoyed a close relationship with the workforce. This resulted in a climate of favorable morale and high employee retention. Over time, however, while developing overseas opportunities, the CEO was regularly away from the main facilities, during which time she depended on trusted individuals to maintain employee engagement, productivity and product quality. A human relations crisis situation developed, threatening a contract with a key client. The EQIQ (dba Staub Leadership International) team was brought in to assess the situation and to recommend important remedial action steps. They also provided training and coaching to prevent future human systems failures. This resulted in greater trust, transparency and engagement at BAMA, with a fresh capacity for handling challenges.
Founded in 1937, The Bama Companies, Inc. is a leading, innovative manufacturer of wholesome bakery products that focuses on business-to-business relationships in the Quick Service and Casual Dining markets. As a privately held business, the founders and the CEO of Bama Companies, Inc. enjoyed a close relationship with the workforce. This resulted in a climate of favorable morale and high employee retention.
Over time, while developing overseas opportunities, the CEO, Pamela Marshburn, was regularly away from the main facilities, during which time she depended on trusted individuals to maintain employee engagement, productivity and product quality.
During those few years, the closeness and high morale the company had enjoyed degraded to the point where a crisis situation around quality outcomes emerged with a key client.
The situation required a review of human systems within the company. The leadership team, including the CEO, COO and CFO began assessing people practices in the main facility in Tulsa, OK. Marshall even spent two months at the facility, seeking the source of the problems. The inquiry uncovered some of the problems. However, it became clear that a more in-depth analysis was required to identify the root cause of the breakdown and to help design effective intervention.
Dusty Staub of EQIQ , dba Staub Leadership International, was chosen to do this work.
The process included a 6-week investigation of all personnel, at every level, at the main plant. This analysis included surveys, interviews and focus groups to look at job satisfaction, trust in management, management practices, work environment, communication & feedback flow, supervisory behaviors, leadership modeling, performance culture dynamics, and employee engagement.
By utilizing EQIQ (Staub Leadership), an objective third party with decades of experience in uncovering motivations and causes of specific behaviors, Bama received a candid and well-documented assessment. The comprehensive report disclosed that numerous company policies related to human resources were being violated and that leadership behaviors were problematic, with supervisory practices exhibiting excessive variation. The result was a breakdown in morale, management effectiveness, quality and safety.
Based on Staub’s recommendations, Bama systematically employed corrective measures, including installing temporary senior management, and relocating the COO, senior managers and the head of HR to the main facility to help support team members there and to intensify focus on product quality and safety. Many personnel changes were also made.
Bama also re-engineered their HR department to better serve the workforce and Marshall received the new title of CPO, or Chief People Officer, to signify the company’s new focus, “People Helping People Be Successful.” The company also appointed an officer of EQ (Emotional Intelligence).
As part of one new initiative called “People and Customers Are Wildly Important,” Bama started to focus on placing employees in jobs that maximize their skills and challenge them accordingly. Furthermore, the company rewrote many job descriptions to better acclimate and prepare candidates. Individual development plans and integration training was also instituted to help individuals in new positions succeed.
In addition, Bama implemented a customized training process on six core EQ methodologies, designed by Staub, that all company “Change Agents” (anyone in a supervisory role all the way up to the CEO) attended and then had to use to train and develop others in the organization.
Employee benefits packages were overhauled to build loyalty and improve morale. Initiatives included special grants, a health and wellness program, the Bama clinic, fitness centers with trainers, on-site chiropractic care, preventative safety training and workers compensation prevention training.
Not only was the client crisis resolved, the leadership at the company gained new skill sets and self-discipline. Bama Companies regained a healthy and sustainable culture that contributes to client satisfaction, quality, productivity and safety.
Courageous Conversations have replaced damaging behaviors. The training and coaching provided can help prevent future human systems failures. There is greater trust, transparency and engagement at Bama, as well as a fresh capacity for handling challenges. Improved employee morale and empowerment are naturally expected to deliver not only a more joyful work environment but also open the path to sustained and/or increased profitability.