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Turning a business around means rethinking the hiring process

It was a tall order. As the former head of Sales & Marketing for Vitality - the orange juice division of Nestle Beverages, Foodservice, Paul Henderson was tasked with one job - to turn the business around.


After making some core decisions, Paul decided to focus on his people strategy. “I knew that we needed to build stronger, more resilient teams to help us progress, but I was unsure how to do that.” Paul brought John Harper in to establish a process that would ensure they would consistently and predictably find the right fit for any job they needed to fill.

No-nonsense, pragmatic approach

“Hiring the right people begins with understanding what we want them to do,” says Paul.  “John’s approach was to simplify and distill the problem down to the three or four most important behaviours needed for the position. We tailored the solution to the problem so we could consistently execute it.”


After conducting hundreds of  employee performance assessments on various candidates, John helped Paul build several high performing teams. John’s entry point was after the recruitment had taken place, which meant that sometimes hard decisions needed to be made. “We would select individuals that we believed had the skill sets we were looking for - and then engage John. Unfortunately, after performing our own employee selection tests on our candidates, he told me a few times that we had recruited the wrong people and we had to start over,” says Paul. “As tough as it was, we would start again.”


John’s honesty and candid nature is precisely why Paul works with him. “I appreciate that John has a pragmatic, no-nonsense approach supported by data,” he says. ”John is willing to have those tough conversations. It’s not always what you want to hear, but he will make your business better.”

A new language opens the doors for constructive feedback

Words carry a lot of weight. The wrong choice of words can easily be interpreted as a personal attack taking an individual off kilter, or significantly setting a whole team back. John taught the teams at Vitality how to speak to each other in a constructive way. This was achieved in John’s one-on-one debriefings with each leader, during which they created a common language that became extremely efficient and respectful.


“With John’s help, our teams gained a language of resilience. We were able to give each other very difficult feedback without offending. It’s a massive help, and it actually allowed the team to grow,” he says.

Tighter teams and a positive environment helped turn the tide for Vitality

Find the right people for the job, give them an environment in which to thrive, and the results can be directly correlated to your bottom line, as evidenced by the results for Vitality.


Employee satisfaction surveys showed that Paul’s teams, which numbered in the hundreds, had one of the best engagement scores in Nestle North America. What’s more, the Vitality group successfully righted the ship. Vitality was the best performing team in Nestle Professional in 2016, improving profitability by 20 million dollars.


Paul credits John Harper for helping him employ talent that would move the needle for Vitality. “Having an ‘outsider’ at the table when you’re making a hiring decision really helped the business. We got away from the bias to pick the familiar, and instead picked talents that would make a difference. As a result, the people who worked with us at Vitality felt it was the best time of their lives, and most rewarding time in their careers.”

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