Good cooperation and a positive atmosphere

When Mariëlle Veraa started as HR manager of Kraft Heinz in Utrecht in 2021, dissatisfaction on the shop floor was an acute problem. While the recent introduction of a middle management seemed promising, it was not yet a success. That changed when, in consultation with the management team, she introduced Fair Field coaches on the shop floor. Thanks to the efforts of Heinz Kraft and Fair Field, there is now a positive atmosphere, absenteeism is drastically lower, management is better able to focus on its tasks and the factory runs better.

Middle management at the food producer consists of team leaders from different departments who work intensively together. They are responsible for managing quality control, logistics and the production line. They also serve as a liaison between senior management and the production floor. 

"We switched from team coordinators to team leaders in early 2022. In the process, they have also been assigned HR tasks, such as managing employees and dealing with sick leave," Mariëlle explains.

 Intensive team leaders meant a turnaround for Kraft Heinz. "Previously, we had production and logistics departments with team leaders who hardly communicated with each other. We had already started getting them to communicate more with each other through a monthly meeting. We had also started training them to be good middle managers." 

But that proved difficult. To achieve that goal, Fair Field was called in. Mariëlle: "They train on the shop floor using proven theories and philosophies. But an operational team leader does not need to know Maslov's pyramid. What he or she does need to know is how to make people work for him or her."

The trainings proved very effective. "Fair Field's coaches speak the language of the team leaders. They can coach them well and ask the right questions," she explains. "As a result, the team leaders like the programme so much that they look forward to training."

"And what they learn, they can apply on the shop floor. They are actively guided in this and notice the benefits. The result is that the club with team leaders has grown closer together. They no longer have to force anything to go into consultation. In addition, the MT also gives them the confidence and space to make mistakes and learn from them. That is a crucial link between Fair Field's trainings and day-to-day practice." 

It certainly has its effect during meetings as well. "You notice that the team leaders describe situations differently, handle their emotions differently when they disagree with something. For us, that's incredibly nice to see."

Perhaps the best thing about the process with Fair Field is that the intended benefit of using collaborative team leaders is proving itself in practice. Mariëlle gives an example: "In the summer holidays of 2021, we had to force necessary overtime on weekends first. That obviously did not help the atmosphere." 

"In the summer holidays of 2022, we had overtime again. Our plant director was very anxious to leave it to the team leaders to organise that. They managed to arrange it in harmony and with the requirements set. I am proud that they managed to do that."