Empowering our colleagues creates more engagement

Behind the 2018 results are more than 700 hardworking and dedicated employees, in all our four regions. Grieg Seafood Shetland has used the Scandinavian leadership model to get its people to do their best for the business.


“Our people are our DNA. Without them onboard, we will never be able to achieve any targets or strategies”

Chief Human Resources Officer
Grieg Seafood

“Our people are our DNA. Without them onboard, we will never be able to achieve any targets or strategies,” says Kathleen Mathisen, Chief Human Resources Officer at Grieg Seafood.


“It is important for the Company that we do not only increase employee competence in the various disciplines that we need, but also that they develop on a personal level,” she elaborates.


Over the last years, Grieg Seafood Shetland has focused on developing its managers on both a professional and personal level. The company is the result of mergers and acquisitions, of many small farmers on Shetland. Naturally, all of them brought their own culture and expectations into the company. That made collaboration and team work problematic.


“It was challenging for people from all these different backgrounds to get invested in the common goals of the Company,” says Jon Walden, Fresh Water Production Manager in Grieg Seafood Shetland.



Since 2013, the company has run annual AFF courses, a leadership- and organizational development program, originating at the Norwegian School of Economics.


“We identified improvement projects in the organization and have worked on developing managers through these projects,” says Henning Lampe-Olsen, senior consultant at the AFF program. He has been engaged in the courses, at Grieg Seafood Shetland from the beginning. The Company has run several rounds of the program, as new managers and employees have come along.


“An important principle is to delegate decision-making as far down in the organization as possible. More employees get more responsibilities and are held to account. That makes more people engaged in the company goals and strategies,” Lampe-Olsen states.


Jon Walden, who took part in the first round of the course, explains that delegation of decisions has freed up more time to follow-up management responsibilities properly.


“It takes energy and time to manage people in a healthy way. Back in the days, I got this job on a short notice. I didn’t know how to manage people, and that was the case for many others in the company as well. The AFF course has provided us with management tools, which have improved our management ability significantly,” Walden says.


“For example, we are now aware that as managers, everything we do sends a message. How we behave, what we say and what we do is important. We must act in a way that motivates our people. That has changed the Company culture,” he elaborates.



Working in groups, where people’s competences are acknowledged and where everybody is properly listened to, is another central part of the AFF program.


“We were pushed out of our comfort zone and learned to get comfortable when speaking to groups.  In my opinion, the success of the program was to allow us to practice speaking to our peers in a semi-formal setting,” says Niall O’Rourke, the Factory Manager at Shetland.


Each year, several real improvement projects are identified and implemented, throughout the course. For instance, team leader positions in the factory, have been removed and replaced with a single factory floor supervisor, Health, Safety and Environment resources have been increased and a new induction programme is put in place.


“The program enabled us to apply knowledge and practice to real workplace projects. The fact that the projects could be monitored throughout the program was beneficial. It has provided the Company with a base for new projects and more importantly the experience to see it through,” O’Rourke says.

“The factory has made major savings since AFF and continues to use the principles from the program to form future projects.”put in place.



Employees in Grieg Seafood Shetland have surely noted the difference.


“Before the first course started, the staff at the farms were asked what they thought about management. To say the least, we did not get a very good grade. At the end of the session, they repeated the survey, and the score we got increased significantly,” Walden explains.


“Since then, we regularly refresh the course, and put new managers through it. We still have a way to go, but we keep improving. Good management will always be an essential work in progress.”