Johnsonville Sausage Uses the Predictive Index for Leadership Development

Predictive IndexA family business faces unique challenges as it grows. As employees come on board, they may look to the family to provide guidance and guidelines. Eventually, the company is too large for everyone to rely on the family to make decisions – and this reliance on family can create a bottleneck, slowing operations and growth. There comes a time when additional leaders must take on decision-making power. This was the scenario with Johnsonville Sausage, where the Predictive Index became an important tool for training new managers and leaders.


The Wisconsin-based Johnsonville Sausage was founded in 1945 by Ralph and Alice Stayer, using a recipe handed down through the generations from 19 century Austria. They named the butcher shop after their hometown. During the 1970s and 80s, the company enjoyed significant growth, expanding to distribute bratwurst, Italian sausages, smoked-cooked links and fresh breakfast sausage across the country to 47 states.


Today, the company has over 1,000 employees, referred to as members within the firm. The company is headed by Ralph C. Stayer, the son of the founders of the company, who is the President of Johnsonville Sausage and runs the company with his sister Launa.


As the company grew, Ralph C. and Launa noticed that a general reliance on their own decision-making was slowing productivity and growth. They recognized the need to develop additional leaders in the organization that could make effective decisions for the good of the company.


During this time, Ralph C. was introduced to the Predictive Index and was intrigued by the tool’s accuracy in identifying the behavioral tendencies and motivations of employees. He encouraged the leadership team to examine the possibility of using the Predictive Index at Johnsonville Sausage to identify and train leaders. The management team was likewise excited about the Predictive Index, and they made a commitment to use the tool for the development of future leaders in the company.


Ralph C., Launa and all key senior managers were engaged in information, training and new strategies using the Predictive Index System. In addition to using these tools as a general part of their employee development process, Johnsonville Sausage continues to use the Predictive Index for focused leadership initiatives.


Today, the leadership impact of the PI System is still a part of the company’s successful formula. Johnsonville Sausage includes the Predictive Index as a key part of their “Learn to Lead” program, which is a nine-month course for first line managers and supervisors. With the Predictive Index, managers can learn about their tendencies and motivations and better understand why they work well with certain types of employees. They can also identify and understand the areas in which they may struggle, developing strategies for addressing situations where they may need additional training.


At Johnsonville Sausage, the development of employees for leadership is a foundational part of the company culture. Likewise, the senior management of the company expects employees to develop an insightful understanding of their own behavioral strengths, as well as modifying those behaviors that may be preventing positive interactions and growth.


If you would like to implement similar development strategies in your own organization, contact PI Consulting Group. We offer strategies for good companies that want to be great, with data-driven solutions for all your leadership challenges.