HR leaders gathered recently to discuss managing and leading change through transformational leadership at ChapmanCG HR Leaders’ Roundtable event, co-hosted by, and held at the offices of, Essity in Munich. Essity’s Vice Presidents for HR, Bogdan Radakovic and Peter Hemmingsen stressed the importance of sharing ideas in a positive environment and we were also pleased to be joined by an inspirational group of HR leaders.
Creating a legacy culture
Our hosts, Bogdan and Peter, kicked off the session by explaining the challenge they had on their hands with a company that only two years ago had no name and 48,000 employees. Essity was part of the hygiene and forest products company SCA until 2017, when the company spun off the hygiene operations that then became listed as a separate company.
They had to re-identify themselves in a new company constellation and talked a lot about their set of four beliefs and behaviours, one of which being ‘collaboration’. Without collaboration they felt they wouldn’t get far. Another of their big drivers was ‘courage’; working hard to investigate what prevented people from being courageous and recognising courage with the organisation.
It’s wonderful to hear the story of the ‘Essity’ name, a name for the ‘new’ company born out of a combination of ‘essentials and necessities‘, a concept which came about through the workshopping and involvement of the employees.
Essity had to go through a cultural evolution, from the bottom up and the top down and strategic communication was key to leading change. All partners at the event agreed that change is a leadership commitment, not just an HR project, and that global executives need to champion this culture.
The conversation steered towards defining a culture and what does your company culture look like. Looking at the current state of the culture and conducting ample research helps to present a culture picture, portraying the positives and negatives. The evolution of culture is ongoing and should never be a completed project, continually integrated into the leadership development agenda.
Barry Phegan, Ph.D. quoted: “A company culture evolves if it develops in a direction that is good for people, and good for business. The process mirrors biological evolution, where genetic changes survive because they are advantageous to the species. Similarly, desirable corporate changes are those that ensure the health and long-term survival of the company.”
Employee feedback and measurement
Culture Amp suggests that communication needs to be a loop and that without closing that loop a change management programme may take longer, be harder to implement, cost more money and be more complicated than hoped for.
Discussed during the event was the working environment and what kind of input employees should have when shaping organisational change, across all levels including business units, functions and countries. Different tools and resources are being used to effectively manage employee feedback, including pulse surveys and one question a month style polls. These short and sweet surveys tend to receive more engagement than longer annual surveys and follow a change in real life.
Employee feedback provides a rich insight into what may or may not be working for any change programme and alongside this sits organisational performance. HR analytics can present a variety of useful insights and trends including leadership and team assessment data, business performance and cultural shifts.
Sandoz reported that culture impacts on their performance factor by up to 50% and sometimes the simplest of changes can be symbolic, for example abolishing allocated parking to senior executives.
Sandoz also stated that they consider Diversity and Inclusion to be significant to cultural change, and while diversity is present, inclusion can always be a choice. Their flexible working policy was there, but the workforce was afraid to use it. After their Diversity and Inclusion Council approached this issue by way of analysing a maturity model on various markets, in ten months there had been a significant change and uptake of flexible working.
Through both the presentations and input from participants, cultural change is believed to be driven by the business as a whole and not just an HR innovation. Culture is built on a story that will help shape, evolve and sustain an organisation and as such, leaders and role models need to become good ‘storytellers’ to motivate the workforce. These storytellers will be across all levels of the business, from the bottom up to the top down, driving a positive push and pull factor.
Cultural change is evolutionary and therefore the pace of change should be adjusted to the audience and organisation as it also evolves within the marketplace. Transformation is unique and the overall goal is to keep things simple, think long term and recognise failures.
In the below recording, ChapmanCG speak with Essity’s Vice Presidents for HR, Bogdan Radakovic and Peter Hemmingsen further on Change and Transformation.
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