Butterball: No Chicken When It Comes to Talent Management

 -  3/4/08

If you like poultry, chances are you like or have at least tasted one of Butterball’s products.

If you like poultry, chances are you like or have at least tasted one of Butterball’s products. The growing national organization has decided its talent management strategies should be as varied and deliverable as its consumer product offerings.

Targeted programs for different employee populations and outdated systems bear reconsideration as the company focuses on the importance of enterprise-wide process consistency, new technology implementation and building a culture of employee development. Beverly Hinson, director of organizational development and training, with responsibility for the company’s talent management process, offers more insight into the company’s forward-thinking strategy to ensure a continuous pipeline of talent.

TM: Describe Butterball’s approach to talent management.

Hinson: We are using an integrated approach with an emphasis on people development. We link our performance processes to both learning management and our succession planning process. Our senior management and ownership group decided they were interested in doing succession planning this year, and we began to look for a talent management system to help aid us in managing the process. In 2006, our ownership purchased Butterball brand and acquired five additional processing facilities. Overnight we went from 2,600 employees to a little over 5,000. With the organization growing at that rate, it’s very important for us to maintain the continuity of our leadership and have successors to fill key positions as they become vacated.

TM: What processes or programs has Butterball established to improve workforce performance?

Hinson: We use an annual review process in addition to the programs we have established. We currently have a team leader development program, a supervisor apprentice program, and we perform required annual training with over 100 hours of leadership training which is developed internally. And we have access to thousands of off-the-shelf programs ready to be delivered according to our business needs. The training we design or have selected is used to support the development of the core leadership and management competencies that we use in both our hiring and performance management processes. Our immediate implementation plans include establishing a mid-manager development program, a senior manager development program, and we’re implementing talent management software which includes performance management, learning management and succession management. We’re also looking at implementing individual assessments, including multi-rater review of talent and potential and individual assessments on the job-specific competencies. By the year-end, we expect to have our senior leadership team conducting talent discussions with employees to review their career goals and to discuss their development needs and opportunities. Our longer range plans include implementation of mentoring programs and online knowledge banks. Our intention is to have professionals document their processes and capture any information pertinent to people who will come in and fill these positions later.

How is performance management linked to Butterball’s strategic objectives?

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