Unleashing the power of the team


Despite all the talk of workplace automation, employees continue to be the lifeblood of any organisation. 

In this environment, high performing teams have never been more important. Director Strategic Capabilities & Organisational Health, Vincent Vuillard, explains how Fonterra is unleashing the power of teams. 

Where does the true power lie in any organisation? Where do we find the greatest creativity and productivity? Where is the fun, the laughter and comradery? The answer is simple, it’s in our teams. At their best, high performing teams can drive an organisation forward. How do we make that happen at Fonterra? It starts with ownership.

We believe strongly that teams perform at their best when they are trusted to make the right decisions. We do this in a couple of ways. Firstly, we work hard to empower our people, giving them the scope to apply their skills and expertise, in their part of the business. It’s about creating a culture of opportunity and collective ownership. 

Secondly, we work hard to ensure employees feel they have an opportunity to be heard and understand how their role contributes to the overall purpose of our co-operative. One way we do this is through the annual survey of our 22,000 employees around the world. After the research is complete, teams meet to discuss their results, celebrate their strengths, and develop a plan to continually improve team performance. Everyone is involved. Everyone is encouraged to have their say. Everyone’s opinions matter. It’s a true collaborative effort.

Teams that own the process see big increases in performance – and not just in terms of output. People enjoy being part of a team, they find meaning in the work they are collectively doing and they seek to support each other. That shows up in stats ranging from retention, engagement and productivity. Surely that’s the goal of any organisation? To have high performing teams that effectively contribute to the bottom line, innovate, have fun and support each other at the same time.

As a Co-operative, Fonterra is built on the belief that by working together we’ll achieve a mutually beneficial result. In many ways that means team-work is at our core. It’s still something we have to work hard at though – just like any other business. By empowering our people and creating a culture of collective ownership we give ourselves the best chance of unleashing the power of our teams though – and that’s where the real magic happens.