Yara, with roots going back more than 100 years, remains the world’s largest supplier of plant nutrients. With operations in more than 60 countries and sales to about 160 countries, it has a major share of the global mineral fertilizer market.The company has production sites in 16 countries and holds strong positions in niche markets as well, from emissions reduction products to animal nutrition. Yara is also the largest trader of ammonia in the world. From its corporate headquarters in Oslo, Norway, Yara runs worldwide production and support operations that employ close to 15,000 people. The Norwegian state is the company’s largest single shareholder.
Chief Compliance Officer Ezekiel Ward and his senior team had spent years creating a compliance framework and culture. Initially, the needs of the company required a rules-based compliance approach that involved setting clear policies and procedures and then enforcing them. However, as the company’s compliance culture matured, the needs changed.
The team set out to transition from a “rules and enforcement mentality” to a “values driven” compliance approach. The big change was to move from “doing” compliance to becoming more of a monitoring and support function. It was necessary to work differently both as a team and with the larger business located around the world. They needed to collaborate differently, involve regional management teams, and empower the businesses to take ownership of compliance.
CCL partnered with key Yara stakeholders to help them change the current compliance culture. Through team member interviews, themes emerged that involved the need for more collaboration, clarity around the new vision, and skill building with the larger organization to cocreate what the new culture could resemble.
An initial 2-day session in Oslo brought the entire Ethics and Compliance Team together. Over the 2 days, the team clarified the vision and gained new perspectives and awareness both as a group and individually.
The team used these experiences and insights to empathize with what others throughout the business might be feeling or thinking regarding the new vision. They also started to anticipate how regional business leaders might react as they went about working in new ways. Through this new “other person” lens, the team had a chance to practice change conversations with one another by leveraging CCL’s Change Leadership Framework.
This framework helps people think about leadership as a collective, social process through which all members of an organization can participate. Thus, the onus is not just on the formal group leader to “create a vision” and “make changes.” It is also the responsibility of each team member and the business managers outside of the team to work together to engage in new behaviors that most benefit the larger organization.
Three major outcomes of CCL’s Change Leadership Framework include Direction, Alignment, and Commitment (DAC) and were assessed throughout the change initiative. CCL’s framework focuses on the leadership behaviors and practices that are important to create DAC, as well as the underlying beliefs, assumptions, experiences, and
knowledge (i.e., Leadership Beliefs) that can best inform effective leadership practices. The team spent time exploring both the leadership beliefs and practices that were most likely to result in sustainable transformation.
While the team is still actively engaged in the change work, follow-up sessions and a reassessment of Direction, Alignment, and Commitment (DAC) reveal a number of business results. The Ethics and Compliance Team reported:
- Direction, or agreement on what the collective is trying to achieve together, increased 15% in 3
- Alignment, or effective coordination and integration of work so that it fits together, increased 11% in 3
- Commitment, or willingness to make the success and well-being of the collective a personal priority, was the component rated highest at the beginning and after 3 months and still achieved a 14%
Individuals also noted increased communication and collaboration within the team. For example, the team highlighted greater support, interaction, and collaboration between those working in the field and in headquarters. Field managers have shifted from asking for support to also offering support, signaling an important mindset shift.
Business units outside the Ethics and Compliance Team are also experiencing the impact of the new approach to change. According to one team member, the business managers outside of the team responded so well to the change conversation that, “Now they are pushing me to go faster!” she said that this was a good problem to have.
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