E&J Gallo Winery, headquartered in Modesto, Calif., is a leading producer of wines and beverages. More than 5,000 employees work globally to produce, distribute and market the company’s wines. When it came time to plan for an implementation of a PeopleSoft HR Information System, HR and IT leaders worked together to plan for the change. As they poured over lessons learned from past implementations, it was clear that new technology provided the capability to work more efficiently. However, getting people to do things differently loomed as a large challenge. CIO Kent Kushar and HR Vice President Mike Chase were confident that “the opportunity to drive the adoption of behaviors that enabled employees to operate efficiently with self-service capabilities and to think globally” would produce wide-spread value for the organization.
Susan Parsons-Hensley, HR director of organizational development, and Dan Kish, IT director, shared the responsibility to define desired changes and drive new behavior throughout the organization. Their charge was to introduce the opportunity to change and then to ensure the changes were embedded in work practices. Kish, who drove the technical development, participated in the organizational change process. Meanwhile, Parsons-Hensley grasped the notion of how both leaders and employees could change with the new technology. Together, along with a core team, they used a multitude of learning and communication techniques to encourage adoption:
- Clear definition of goals and capabilities that focused energy and resources on what needed to change.
- Immediate involvement of senior leaders in an active steering committee that involved executives in the change process.
- Shared responsibility across the organization for the change process, including HR, IT, finance, labor relations, legal, international and operations.
- Creation of a “Trellis” program that helped employees relate to the nature of the change. (The Trellis represents the supporting system for growth.)
- Development of a multi-faceted effort that linked change design, leadership, job and role alignment, training and communications.
- Involvement of employees in the design of training and communications to create attractive learning approaches linked to stakeholders’ needs.
- Assurance that learning was taking place at every step and in every form to reinforce the change messages.
- A stakeholder plan that ensured the right messages were delivered to the right audiences.
- An incremental learning plan that delivered the messages in a multitude of ways.
Coaching was the link across the entire process. Project leadership received coaching that permitted them to reflect on their decisions and expand their options. Internal coaching from project leadership provided guidance both upward to senior executives and across the project team. Adaptive coaching, in this sense, delivered immediate and tailored learning moments when needed.
“We were trying to help people not only learn how to use a new HR system but how to work more efficiently,” Parsons-Hensley said. “And we wanted that ability to change and adapt to be personal and as much the outcome as the capability to use the system.”
While the realization of long-term incorporation of change remains to be seen, it is clear that the Gallo Trellis program has captured the interest of employees and accelerated the adoption of the new way of working. The learning leadership role, shared across the executive team, enabled Parsons-Hensley and Kish to drive major change across the organization. Three corporate-wide newsletters, a portal site, hundreds of hours of robust training, nearly 50 presentations and demos at business unit meetings, recognition events, messages from key leaders and 12 Trellis executive steering committee sessions have touched nearly 5,000 employees with key learning about new systems and the common message of change. The widespread adoption of the systems and changes continues to evolve with minimal disruption.
Maryann Billington is senior vice president for executive education at Lore International Institute. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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