Ep. 41 – John Kelley: Chief People Officer at White Castle Systems
Today we’re excited to have returning guest John Kelley, Chief People Officer at White Castle Systems. We discuss how the skills of improvisation relate to change management, and how being a family business affects their company culture.
Change management is the process of identifying and implementing necessary changes during a major business transition, whether that is a merger, a shift in culture, or a new building.
White Castle Systems moved into their headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, in 1934. Currently, it houses four or more generations of family and team members, from the Baby Boomers to the youngest generation of workers.
They need a bigger space, and a space that better aligns with White Castle’s mission, vision, and core values moving into the future. They’re building a new headquarters that the company can use for another 80 plus years, and that requires a great deal of change management.
John faces cultural change management decisions to at almost every level in the company:
- How are the work spaces designed for both collaboration and to allow privacy?
- How can they make the space a place where people want to work, while offering the freedom to work anywhere?
- How can they make shared spaces that people want to go to?
- How do they keep things both open and secure?
To answer these questions, John is practicing one of the key pieces, and often most difficult pieces, of improvisation: listening. They are listening to consultants, touring the buildings of other companies in the industry, and conducting in-depth one-on-one interviews with their team.
John won’t be able to please everyone. However, by focusing on the company’s mission, vision, and core values – and asking why every decision they make is in line with those three things – they will be set up for success during the transition.
- Take the Yes, And Challenge
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