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Gaining Insightful Feedback from Frontline Workers: Cargill’s Tabatha Cronin

by Dani Johnson and Stacia Garr | June 28th, 2023

Frontline workers can have an outsized influence on the success of an organization. They are often the only interface our customers have with a brand.  

At RedThread Research, we have been diving into how to support frontline workers more holistically which is why this season we are focusing on the unique challenges that frontline workers face. We’ll also explore the changes organizations are making to empower them, as well as the good things happening on the frontline and how organizations can adapt those practices more broadly. 

Frontline workers face unique challenges so organizations are making changes to empower them. On this season of Workplace Stories, we’re exploring the unique challenges and positive situations happening on the frontline.  

On this episode, we chat with Tabatha Cronin to learn how Cargill is supporting its massive frontline labor force. Listen in to learn how Cargill dug in to understand the motivations driving their employees. You won’t want to miss how this changed the way the company approached its solutions.  

Tabatha Cronin’s bold ideas help Cargill feed the world 

Tabatha Cronin has such a lengthy title that it won’t even fit on this page. What is important to understand about her role at Cargill is that she leads the tech and leadership development for Cargill’s plant operations.  

Cargill is one of those organizations that you may not have heard of, but you have definitely come in contact with. They are a massive producer of food products found in everyday life. Their bioindustrial ingredients range from McDonald’s McMuffins to roasted chickens, to hamburgers.  

Tabatha isn’t your typical L&D leader. As a first-generation college grad, she is a bold thinker who is fanatical about learning. You won’t want to miss what she has to say about supporting frontline workers.  

Why is Cargill focused on supporting frontline workers? 

The pandemic created the perfect storm for frontline workers at Cargill. Feedback was already showing that the company wasn’t meeting employee expectations. The executives realized that they needed to find a new way forward.  

As a company, their job is to feed the world, so leadership needed to learn what was important to front liners and what wasn’t and fix what wasn’t working fast. 

How they went about discovering problems and coming up with solutions 

The executive ops team partnered with third parties and went on a listening tour of several chosen plants. Their goal was to give back in a bold new way while solving the problems with the employee experience.  

What was different about this listening tour was that they asked questions without judgment and asked the people at the facilities who they should include and what questions should be included.  

Leadership came in with vulnerability and a low ego and was able to build credibility with employees. They partnered with the plant managers to design the right questions to discover where the heart of the problems lay.  

What they came to discover was that they needed to question the status quo and discover the motivations behind the employees' problems to design solutions that work. They weren’t afraid to experiment to test different answers.  

If you found this conversation interesting, make sure to subscribe to hear more. 


Resources and People Mentioned

Connect with Tabitha Cronin


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