Case Fazer: How the Traditional Family-Owned Company Defined Its Fazer Behaviours

They apply across the company.

Photo: Fazer

Ville Blåfield, 28.06.2017

Mika Videman, former Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Fazer, explains how the traditional family-owned company defined its Fazer Behaviours, which apply across the board from top management to chocolate factory employees.

“It all began with wanting to think about ways to make better use of employee potential through good leadership. What does good leadership mean at Fazer? We began to define it. The next step was to talk about how employeeship is defined at Fazer. Quickly we realized these go hand in hand. There is no point separating good leadership and good employeeship in the work community, as we need both to succeed. The same principles and values apply to everyone.”

The process was beneficial all around, and the behaviors have resonated well in the work community.”

The process that lasted over a year resulted in a shared understanding of Fazer Behaviors divided into three subcategories. The idea is for the same notions to apply equally to everyone from top management to employees on a bakery line. The main principle was to create a clear and concise model towards which we can work together.

"We avoided tricky words like strategy”, says Videman.

This meant condensing long, distancing terminology into a simple form. “It really made us think about the company’s foundation, what we believe, our ethical principles, and our recipe for success and growth”, states Videman. He feels the process was beneficial all around, and the behaviors have resonated well in the work community.

Employees from all levels and different countries took part in defining the Fazer Behaviours

"The philosophy was that each of us contributes to the work community and impacts corporate culture.”

Mika Videman explains the circle divided into three segments that was created on the basis of discussions.

1. We engage

“Everyone understands where Fazer is heading and how they can contribute to the company’s success. We respect and listen to each other.”

2. We develop

“Everyone develops themselves and their team. Renewal takes personal courage. Employment relationships are lengthy, and there is little job rotation between functions, business areas, and especially countries. We need to encourage ourselves and others to do something outside of the comfort zone, otherwise new ideas and competence won’t arise.”

3.  We perform

"We do what we promise, and take responsibility for what we do and for doing it well.”

The interview with Videman takes place in a meeting room called Fazermint at Fazer premises in Vantaa, just outside Helsinki. Year after year, Fazer continues to be one of Finland’s most recognized brands, and in 2016, its best-known product, Fazerin Sininen (Fazer blue), was ranked as Finland’s most valued brand already for the eight time. Fazer Experience center is located next to the office building, with groups of schoolchildren delving into the company’s history – without forgetting to fill their mouths and bags with chocolate from the factory outlet at the end of the tour.

"We operate in many sectors that are not growing as such”, says Videman. “This means having to find renewal inside the current business areas, and enter into new areas, become more international. We continue to be rather dependent on Finland.”

Also training offered to the company’s top management is now based on Fazer Behaviors

A training program called “Fazer Energizer” was launched last fall, arranged together with Aalto University Executive Education (Aalto EE).

Fazer Energizer consists of different elements, such as an online kick-off and energy survey, 360 questionnaire with feedback, a three-day, in-classroom module in Helsinki, and follow-up through online team coaching.

The strategy is communicated through exercises. Participants receive feedback, presentation experience, and see issues from different perspectives.”

“The main reason for choosing Aalto EE was that they seemed to understand us the best overall: the operating method is highly customer-oriented, and we built the program together. The whole package is established on Fazer values and Behaviours.”

The first Fazer Energizer module was arranged in fall 2016, and the next program for 25 participants will have the same concept as the first one.

According to Mika Videman, the Aalto EE program had a particular strength in combining practice with theory. “The program provides practical tools that can be put into use straightaway. For instance, the strategy is communicated through exercises. Participants receive feedback, presentation experience, and see issues from different perspectives.”

“We value lecturers who are international and consider the needs of the audience, steering the course along the way according to interest. Our group was particularly interested in the concept of energy, and how it shows in the work community and management.”

The program received excellent feedback from participants, and gained positive resonance also wider in the organization – partly thanks to the Echo Team method, which involved Fazer executives and senior managers also from outside the Energizer program in the learning process.

“The Echo Team spread the learning wider in the organization”, says Mika Videman.

The Echo Team is a group of co-workers with whom participants meet before and after the training module to discuss and experiment ideas and lessons learned from the program. The Echo Team shares experiences and insights, and suggests steps for applying ideas in practice. The goal is to enhance learning, and leverage ideas and insights wider in the organization.

Mika Videman has worked at Fazer for six years.

He is increasingly certain that “an employee’s motivation is vital and plays a major role in business”

“People can come to work mainly to drink coffee. The difference is huge compared to someone whose heart beats for what they do. I believe when people are motivated, they also enjoy work more and feel better in themselves. It also brings better results.”

To develop an awareness on how your own wellbeing affects your ability to execute focused and energizing leadership.”

As HR director, Videman knows that aiming for a high-performance culture is not just down to hard work. “It’s important to take care of yourself. You need a balance.”

Also Fazer training programs emphasize employee wellbeing. One of the goals of the program planned together with Aalto EE is “to develop an awareness on how your own wellbeing affects your ability to execute focused and energizing leadership”.

Videman remarks that working life is changing more and at a faster rate than we even realize right now. It’s his job to envisage the type of employee experience Fazer will be offering in, say, five years’ time.

“Simply polishing the surface is no longer enough anywhere”

“Attracting the best people means you have to examine what the company is like as a workplace, how it is managed, what its processes and culture are like, and how it supports an increasingly digitalized life – can employees work from anywhere, have routines been automated, and so on.”

According to Videman, values and pillars of corporate culture documented on the intranet are not of much use if the reality is something else.  

"Transparency will only increase in the future. It doesn’t matter what a workplace claims to be. What matters is what employees feel about their work and how they communicate it to others.”

Fazer is a Finnish family-owned company with operations in eight countries and products sold in over 40 countries. The company founded in 1891 offers bakery, grain, biscuit and confectionary products as well as food and café services.

Co-operation with Aalto EE:
Leadership program for Fazer leaders: “Fazer Energizer”.
The goal of the program is to develop and drive a high-performance culture built on Fazer Behaviours and Values.

With almost 50 years’ experience, Aalto EE develops world-class solutions for its customers. Read more about Aalto EE's customized solutions. We will help you to find the best solution for your organization.

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