Case Study

How Nestlé Germany upgraded its leadership culture

Nestlé wants to make its products climate-neutral and its entire product range healthier. And to do so in the shortest possible time. It quickly became clear to those responsible that such major tasks would require an adaptation of the management culture.

Nestlé is the largest food manufacturer in the world. The traditional Swiss company, which began its journey over 200 years ago with the sale of soluble milk powder, has today become a global corporation with over 2,000 brands and more than 350,000 employees in 186 countries. In Germany, Nestlé employees work at the Frankfurt headquarters and in 11 factories to implement the company’s credo “Good food, Good life” on a daily basis. However, the context in which we live is undergoing major changes. To meet the challenges of climate change and the urgent need for healthy nutrition, one also needs “good leadership”.

Challenge: Empowering leaders for big changes

A new form of collaboration, an open feedback and learning culture to tackle the pressing tasks together. How do you get there?

Working together more flexibly, more openly, more innovatively - these are just words for now. But they should soon become actions. Complex solutions need experience, exchange and ideas from the whole team across different disciplines. On this basis, managers can then make forward-looking decisions. But despite all the innovation and openness to try new things: In the food industry, everyone involved must meet the highest standards of precision and reliability.

“We have incredibly big challenges. We have to make our products climate-neutral in the shortest possible time. The product ranges have to become healthier. We have to align our entire portfolio accordingly. And we don't have 50 years to do that now. It has to happen immediately. [...] And that has a lot to do with leadership and how you deal with people.”
Marc-Aurel Boersch
Chairman of the Board, Nestlé Germany
The program in the app
Nestlé executives worked with a customized program in the TheNextWe app.

Solution: Mindset change in 12 weeks

Nestlé already had a vision of future collaboration and leadership culture in 2019. The practical implementation was initially to take place in face-to-face workshop formats. Then came the pandemic - and the decision to work with TheNextWe. Thorough co-creation resulted in a customized program for Nestlé Germany. The survey of about 100 employees from all areas was incorporated into a pilot program: Based on the identified wants and needs, three individual learning paths with different focuses were developed, all supporting the envisioned vision of leadership and collaboration.

In three core areas - new leadership culture, more innovativeness and better collaboration - a collective motivation for change was to be ignited so that the transformation that had begun could really be lived.

“In today's world, we can't continue as we have in the past. It has become more important to focus more on trust, less on control, to give teams more creative freedom and to use the diversity we have in the company.”
Ralf Hengels
Chief Human Resources Officer, Nestlé Germany

50 colleagues started the pilot program, and the entire top management team (including the CEO and board members) took part. The twelve-week program began with an analysis of the personal mindset, i.e. the inner attitude toward the most important professional topics.

The exchange took place in a concentrated manner via the TheNextWe app, where participants talk to their coach via chat and audio call. This distraction-free exchange allows for a high level of concentration in which important leadership questions are answered: Am I listening more than I am speaking? Am I leaving room for answers? Do I believe that I can only achieve real performance by working overtime - or does the best leadership consist of developing employees and valuing them with tasks? In this way, participants identified very practically what they themselves wanted to change in order to promote an open learning culture - and to increase their own well-being.

In the weeks that followed, practical application took place: New behaviors were practiced - with the help of weekly tasks and impulses from the coaches and other offers in the app.

Ready for big changes

Willingness to dare something new

The pilot program was successfully completed and the rollout began: In one year, over 370 managers participated. The extremely high participation rate shows how important the program became for the participants: Only 9 of 2,298 scheduled coaching sessions did not take place. The participants report major improvements on the way to achieving the goals they have set themselves:

  • “I listen more than I speak” - this behavior saw an increase of ↗ 37%.
  • “I leave room for answers” - this self-awareness grew by ↗ 21%.
  • “I dare to do new things every day”: this experienced an increase of ↗ 28%.
  • Over 96 percent of the participants:inside expressed full satisfaction with the program.
  • More than 90 percent found that their new mindset contributed greatly to their personal development and to the development of the corporate culture.

With the positive mindsets that were identified and developed as a goal, employees became drivers of change, protagonists of an open leadership culture. Many thanks to all participants for the trust, the commitment and this best practice of a collective mindset change!

“The more people we can motivate to reflect and change their mindset, the greater the overall movement and impact in the company. This is our path to the future - and we are looking forward to it!”
Ralf Hengels and Boris Stojevic
HR Director and Head of CoC Talent

Do you want to start a movement among your leaders? We are here for you.

Request a consultation