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  • Writer's pictureHassan Younes

How Sodexo’s CEO is Rejecting Complacency in Their Office – The 5 Ways

Complacency is one of the biggest problems any business can face. But Sodexo CEO Sophie Bellon is ensuring it no longer takes root in the company by fighting it in 5 different ways.

Today, the need for food management is greater than ever. With more people demanding a better quality of life, many firms are now tasked to keep billions fed.

And at the forefront of this crucial responsibility is the French powerhouse, Sodexo.

For over 50 years, the business has handled the food service needs of firms worldwide. And it’s managed to do this well thanks to its decades of time-honed practices and processes.

As it heads strong into another decade, Sodexo is set to achieve even more under its new CEO, Sophie Bellon. And what you need to know about her is that her management style focuses on one goal:

Rejecting complacency in the office.

Bellon knows that being complacent is one of the biggest business-killing issues that different industries face today. For small businesses or large corporations alike, complacency can lead to various problems, like:

● Losing a competitive edge

● Tolerating mediocre performance

● More opportunities for other competitors to take over.

In today’s article, I’ll talk about how Sodexo’s new CEO is actively rejecting complacency in the office.

And to give you a bigger context, let’s explore the company’s history with complacency.

How Sodexo Struggled, Recovered, and Triumphed

In 1966, Pierre Bellon started Société d'Exploitation Hotelière. His goal was to serve the food management needs of different organizations like:

● Company restaurants

● Schools

● Hospitals

After much success in its first few years, the company expanded throughout France. Then, its operations reached Belgium, Africa, and the Middle East in the 1970s. And thanks to its continued success, Sodexo partnered up with other global food firms. This key move helped it further expand to North and South America, Japan, South Africa, and Russia.

As of today, Sodexo now enjoys its rightful place on the Fortune Global 500 list. And like many others on that list, the company is no stranger to problems.

In its rise to power, Sodexo eventually grew complacent and ran into a few problems with its operations, like:

● Incorporating horse meat in all its frozen beef products that were used and sold in the U.K. in 2013;

● Being accused of using unfair labor practices (like paying low wages)

● Criticism for unjust practices in its justice services subsidiary.

Luckily, Sodexo moved past all these issues by going to the root cause. By actively addressing complacency, it found solutions to its problems and prevented them from coming up again.

And as the company’s new CEO, Bellon aims to continue working on this.

The 5 Ways

Way #1: Always Seek Transformation

When it comes to fighting complacency, Bellon follows three words:

Always seek transformation.

At its very core, this method goes after the root of what causes stagnation in the first place. In fact, this simple approach can make the biggest difference in any organization.


It’s because by always going after transformation, you prevent your business from getting stagnant.

This is because you’ll have the drive to evolve no matter how successful your company is. And once this sets in, you and your team won’t have to worry about getting too comfortable with things.

Way #2: Make Gender-Balanced Leadership a Reality

Workplace sexism is a fast-dying issue in today's world. And it so happens that Bellon’s drive to achieve gender-balanced leadership is also her secret to beating complacency.

You see, she believes corporate diversity leads to success. And gender-balanced leadership is vital for this.

By making sure that opportunities are equal for all genders, it becomes easier to:

● Encourage creativity

● Improve team performance

● Elevate productivity.

The reason why gender-balanced leadership achieves these is that it encourages diversity and inclusion. These two things lead to an easier time in avoiding complacency and failure since you can end up:

● Creating the conditions for authentic dialogue and exchange

● Questioning established practices

● Ushering in better behaviors, interaction, and collaboration, not to mention new and innovative approaches

Way #3: Challenge Assumptions

Another effective way that the Sodexo CEO uses to fight complacency is by challenging common assumptions.

It’s a problem-solving strategy that involves testing "truths" in a company. Usually, these are common assumptions that managers and leaders have about the business.

It may not seem like much, but challenging assumptions is a key part of Sodexo's success.


Having people challenge the ideas they have helps them avoid getting too comfortable. This is especially important because some “truths” may not be as effective as they were before, or have even become wrong at some point.

So, when a business challenges its assumptions often, it has an easier time avoiding stagnancy. This means the chances of complacency taking root in the office become a LOT lower.

Way #4: Eternal Process Improvement

Think of your business as a blade.

To cut, slice, and chop as best as it can, it needs to have a sharp edge. And when that blade gets dull, you’ll end up with something that isn’t as effective.

So, how do you prevent it from getting dull?

Of course, you need to always sharpen it.

Now, in the context of business, the sharp edge of this metaphorical blade is the set of processes you have in place.

The dullness is complacency…

And the act of sharpening is the idea of process improvement.

Makes sense?

Well, it always has for Bellon and Sodexo.

You see, when you constantly improve your processes, you don’t only make them more effective. Your business ends up staying a few steps further ahead of complacency every time.

And once you start tweaking and evaluating often, you’ll pick up a habit that will bring you success.

Way #5: Always Searching for Expansion Opportunities

When a business becomes successful, it has a higher risk of getting complacent.


You see, its higher-ups end up feeling like they don’t need to improve what they’re doing. And as a result, they end up staying in their comfort zone. But it’s in this comfort zone where they end up sabotaging their company – after all, they no longer take the initiative to develop.

So, what’s the best way to beat something like this?

For Bellon, it all boils down to always searching for opportunities to expand. In fact, Sodexo’s story proves exactly how doing this has helped them succeed.

Not long after it started, the company already had a firm grip on France’s food management needs. And unlike other businesses, they decided to try expanding to other countries. That’s why in the early 2010s, Sodexo was already handling the food needs of businesses worldwide.

But this wasn’t enough for the French powerhouse—so it decided to expand some more.

And ultimately, that’s how it ended up forming many successful subsidiaries like Sodexo Justice Services.

Fight Complacency the Right Way—Just Like Sodexo

Every business owner dreams of having a successful company. Yet, most of them don’t get to achieve this because they don’t know how to deal with complacency.

But Sodexo managed to do just that. Bellon and the rest of the team dealt with complacency that has taken root in their business and they were triumphant. This is why they found even more success.

The good news is that you can follow in their footsteps and actively fight against complacency. And you can start by following the five ways that Bellon shared above.

But what if you want to really get ahead of the curve and eliminate the risk of complacency in your organization?

All you need to do is get in touch and find out how my speaking services can help you out.


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