Kellie Garrett, ABC, MA Leadership
Senior VP, Strategy, Knowledge & Reputation
Farm Credit Canada
National Managers’ Community 9th Annual Professional Development Forum
March 2, 2010
1. Why does employee engagement matter?
2. Who is FCC?
3. How we transformed FCC’s culture
4. Sustaining the culture and engagement
5. Lessons learned
Employee Engagement Defined
The degree to which your employees:
SAY good things about you
STAY (retention) and
STRIVE (give their discretionary effort)
Engaged employees are good
for your organization
Stay Perform Influence Recommend
• Internal job • Profitability • Organization • Prospective
movements • Productivity achievement and customers
• Employee • Service levels momentum • Prospective
satisfaction • Quality employees
• Speed • Public opinion
Source: Padilla Speer Beardsley
Remarkable consistency between
the FCC experience and business literature
• Trust is foundational
• Open communication fosters trust and vice versa
• Authenticity and fairness drive trust
• Leaders must show interest in employees as individuals
• Perceptions of fairness augment or erode trust, and impact
• Engaged employees are interested in a higher purpose
Engagement takes place within a CULTURE
Cultures have norms, policies,
practices, internal politics,
corporate values, reward systems,
and many other factors
What is culture anyway?
1. How we do things around here
2. How we achieve the what (the mission)
3. A body of knowledge, beliefs and attitudes
employees have about how they think, behave
and work together.
High or low engagement:
It all boils down to trust
• “Passion and trust are the most significant in engaging
employees” - Kevin Thompson
• Two key dimensions of trust are “openness & concern for
employees” (worldwide study on organizational trust)
• “Openness of action, honesty in stating causes for
activities, open doors & open minds - all make for greater
trust up and down the hierarchy”
- Prusak, Harvard Business School
“Culture is not one big thing.
The onus of building culture rests at the local level.
You have as many cultures as you have managers.”
Curt Coffman, Global Practice Leader, Gallup
Where do cultures come from?
Cultures can just happen
or can be created
Why care about culture?
Employees who Results AND engagement
want to make a
A familiar culture by design
So who is FCC?
We have gone from a
lender of last resort
We’re a federal commercial Crown
And we’re kind of a GMO
• We don’t take
• We’re profitable and
• High customer loyalty
• Strong employee
for more than a decade
Six out of ten customers
give FCC perfect scores
We’re #9 on the 50 Best Employers list
How do we do it?
We believe a great customer experience
is only possible with engaged employees
without engaged employees
A strong customer experience
drives loyalty and referrals
which drive revenue and
We chose to design our culture
rather than have a default culture
everything was going great
• Visionary CEO
• Customer loyalty
• Sustained growth
Except for engagement.
Why weren’t employees happy?
• They were listening to
WORDS, but paying
attention to ACTIONS.
• The message: RESULTS
matter more than PEOPLE.
• Staff blamed other areas in
front of customers
Something was getting in the way
We had talented, thoroughbred VPs who were
focused on business results rather than people
We didn’t have enough trust
“Low trust organizations have a culture of pervasive
fear, and rely on blame and control to accomplish
their goals . . .
fear can achieve results in the short team, but it is
non-renewable and has little impact on long-term
So the CEO started with leaders
He took us to the
mountains to one
retreats” and he
didn’t look happy.
Instead of blaming us,
he took accountability
He quizzed us on how he was getting
in the way.
And then we found out how we were.
we had to look
in the mirror
an explicit code of
conduct to guide
The building blocks of our
Committed behave and
partnerships work together
Committed partnership means:
• We look for positive intent from
• We freely give and receive coaching
• We speak up responsibly
• We don’t avoid difficult conversations
• We regularly acknowledge others
means looking inward
“How did I
contribute to this
“What can I do to
help make things
100% accountability is not:
“I’ll do my
share if you do
There was pushback from managers
“You want us to be 100% accountable
even if the other person isn’t?”
One year later, we rolled the cultural
practices out to employees
Have you ever tried to change
someone else’s behaviour?
How about 1,600 people?
#1. We are accountable for our impact
on business results AND on people
#2 We deliver on commitments,
agreements & promises
Are WE as leaders accountable for
modelling this practice? Do we deliver
what we promise, WHEN we promised it?
Or do we have different rules for
ourselves, keeping employees waiting…
We build committed
Do we act like some areas or
people are more important
Do we project distrust about
some leaders to staff?
#4. We are accountable for creating a safe
environment where people can speak up without fear
It’s tough to listen to an
and not react defensively,
but it’s vital for future
#5. We measure our success by how others
perceive us, not our personal point of view
Perception is reality.
Intent often does not equal impact
We talk straight
No beating around the bush.
We “listen for”
We do not listen
against people or
#8 We are highly coachable
How I can
have ideas to
It takes major trust for an employee to coach upwards.
Leaders must actively ask for coaching.
We clean up and recover quickly
#9 No matter how hard it is
#10 We acknowledge others often and
celebrate successes, LARGE and
The result? Valued and engaged employees
“I believe this is one of the best initiatives I
have seen at FCC and in my prior career
as well. The cultural changes have
allowed more open dialogue and a safe
environment for everyone.”
“I have grown as an individual as a result of
cultural transformation and there is
nothing I can do that would ever repay
FCC for that experience and growth”
FCC is #9 of Canada’s 50 Best Employers
Our customers say we’re different
Play one video if you want at end
Sustaining the culture and
• Monthly articles from the CEO on cultural
• Cultural practice training for all new employees
• Coaching training as phase 2 for all employees
• Leadership training and 360-degree feedback
• Posters, screensavers, laminated wallet cards
• Tool kits for management team
We made the culture one of our
top three corporate priorities
Culture is an expectation,
not a “nice to” do
• All employees and
leaders are trained on
• Expectations are clear
• Recruitment and
on “cultural fit”
• Formal recognition program
(Encore) to celebrate and
reward behaviours in
keeping with cultural
• Visible executive
sponsorship is critical
• Use dedicated
• Culture isn’t a one-
time program – it’s a
“way of being”
• Work with coaches
who can see your
• Enlist champions throughout the
• Connect culture to business results
• Focus on leaders at all levels: are
they modeling the behaviours?
• Link culture to compensation: what
gets measured gets done
Cultural transformation is a journey
• Redesigning culture is a long-term process
• Employees need to understand the need for change and learn
• It takes constant reinforcement to avoid “flavor of the month”
People thought we wanted them to be
We had to stress:
• it’s ok to make
mistakes because no
one is perfect
Culture starts at the top
But it doesn’t end there
as you have
You don’t build trust
by talking about it.
Actions speak louder than words
“What you DO
speaks so loudly,
I cannot hear
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The most important thing leaders communicate isn’t what we say,
it’s who we reward and what we tolerate
Impact on People
Gaps in our leadership
Employee survey revealed two main themes persist:
1. Inconsistency (actions not matching words, living
culture only when convenient)
2. Avoidance (not taking on difficult issues)
Good leaders are essential for engagement
“Forty to 50 per cent of people who feel
discriminated against just have a bad
A major roadblock to straight talk
“I want people to like me.”
We know that our culture is the
foundation of our employee
And the employee experience
“Employees' good feelings rub off on customers.”
June 2007 Harvard Business Review
At FCC, we leaders
continually ask ourselves:
Am I living the cultural practices?
When I don’t, am I quick to sincerely apologize and recover?
Am I honest about my flaws?
Am I earning the trust of employees?
Do I trust them?
Our goal is to have every employee feel
like they make a difference
Can one person make a difference
in your area?
“We must be
we wish to
see in the