Search past winners/finalists

Tenneco - Internal Communications Campaign

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 International Business Awards

Company: Tenneco, Chicago, IL, USA
Entry Submitted By: The Grossman Group
Company Description: Tenneco is a $8.6B leading global manufacturing company, pioneering global ideas for cleaner air, and smoother, quieter & safer transportation. Tenneco serves customers from 91 manufacturing facilities and 15 engineering and technical centers around the world. They're headquartered in Lake Forest, Illinois and has more than 31,000 employees globally.
Nomination Category: Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, & Public Relations Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications or PR Campaign/Program of the Year - Internal Communications

Nomination Title: How Tenneco is Helping Improve its Plants with Best-in-Class Plant Communications

Tell the story about this nominated campaign since 1 January 2017 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.TEXT REDACTED FOR PUBLICATION

With Tenneco’s 80 plants and 31,000 employees, manufacturing employees are the heart of the company, turning strategy into results by ensuring quality products are made to specification and reach customers on time.

Tenneco has significant growth opportunities, and leadership is committed to being world-class in every way—including employee engagement. However, Tenneco’s 2016 engagement study showed variance in plant engagement scores, ranging from 90+% to 35%. Tenneco was standardizing and improving operations globally to meet rapid growth demands; yet plants with the lowest scores struggled with the pace of change and were targeted for improvement to fully capture growth opportunities.

Challenge: Boost engagement at targeted plants to build sustainable communications capabilities and support the accelerated rate of change and growth.

Listening sessions with executives, plant leaders and HR managers uncovered plant challenges, corporate priorities (e.g., goals for increased standardization, best-practice sharing, common metrics), processes needing to take root, and “maturity models” used to standardize operations. We determined plant communications needed to mirror standardization and CI efforts in other functions, share practices between plants, and socialize for support.

The team benchmarked “great” plant communications, including highly-regarded customers (GM, Ford, Toyota, Harley Davidson, Navistar) and found:

1) plant communications standards;

2) communicating mission, goals and strategy was an everyday plant activity;

3) communications were structured yet localized; and

4) communications were measured.

From this, our approach needed to define global guidelines with flexibility, and offer practical, measurable solutions that could be incorporated into the everyday plant rhythm. We identified that 10 plants with the lowest engagement scores needed “triage” support.


To improve engagement by 25% (defined by Tenneco Viewpoint Survey) for triage plants by end of 2018 (when next engagement survey is deployed).


  • Define world-class plant communications at Tenneco.
  • Establish plant communications maturity model to show a path to world-class that leaders can understand.
  • Develop triage plan to assess, plan and implement communications at targeted plants.
  • Establish plant communication expectations and SOP, including minimum requirements for leaders.
  • Develop customizable tools to guide plant communications consistent with Tenneco’s global standards/best practices.
  • Coach plant leaders on timely business/communication challenges.
  • Measure progress against maturity model using engagement survey (pulse survey of some plants in 2017 and all-company survey in 2018), and post-assessment touchpoints.


Set a standard with Tenneco’s own Plant Communications Maturity Model, minimum requirements, and scorecard.
Be a partner, make participation voluntary. Of 10 plants initially identified, all but one signed up.
Make resources practical, with a Plant Communications Playbook for all 80 plants meeting minimum requirements for town halls, walk-arounds, shift huddles, and display boards.
Socialize with leaders to speed adoption.
Triage targeted plants in U.S. and Europe. The first plant launched in January 2017, five others have since started, and more are scheduled for 2018. The 10-month-per-plant program includes:

  • Plant/HR leader intake and assessment (e.g., vehicle audit, 360-leader diagnostic, on-site observation, walk arounds, and interviews).
  • Maturity Model scorecard, findings, and action plan.
  • One-month follow up meeting with plant leadership to commit to actions.
  • Ongoing coaching.
  • 8-month follow-up assessment.

Iterate, staggering when plants begin triage to apply learnings from previous plants.

All triage plants are on track to meet the goal of improving engagement by 25% (defined by Viewpoint Survey) by the end of 2018. In 2017, Tenneco surveyed engagement at some plants, including three in triage. All three dramatically improved their engagement scores (up 9 to 20 percentage points). All 80 plants will measure engagement in 2018.

Engagement/Manager Effectiveness Scores
% increase in scores from 2016 to 2017


Plant #1

Plant #2

Plant #3 (early stage of program)

Overall engagement (% favorable)




Overall, I am extremely satisfied with Tenneco as a place to work.




I would recommend Tenneco as a great place to work.




I trust my local leadership team.




I am proud to work for Tenneco.





In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief features and results of this nominated PR program since the beginning of 2017 (up to 150 words).

Since launch:

-Three additional plants asked to participate.

-Communications was invited to join a company-wide operations plant program, led by a plant manager, to integrate the Model/program to drive change.

-The team is asked often by plants to share best practices for continuous improvement.

-One participating HR leader said, “We are fans for life because you’ve helped us, made life easier for us and I know I can count on you.” A plant manager said, “You’re a breath of fresh air in our daily lives, and you’re always welcome here.” Three additional plant managers pledged to advocate for the program with peers.

-For two plants, in-the-moment coaching helped employees know about pressing issues. Communications counsel, Playbook tools/templates, and execution support contributed to one plant saving a major order, said the plant leader.

-HR leaders not in triage asked for the Playbook/templates. One said, “You just made my life 80% easier.”