FoWlab

It’s Official: Mergers and Acquisitions are Back

Posted on Updated on

SONY DSC2015 was a record year, with $4.2 trillion of transactions pending or completed at the end of December. This news leaves shareholders and Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) bankers gleefully rubbing their hands together, however history has repeatedly shown us that after too many mergers employee engagement is lost. So what should you do if you’re the person left with the herculean task of curating these two very separate groups of people into one cohesive body with a shared purpose, values and community?

Let’s take a look at why disengagement sets in. Organisations have an unnervingly brief window of opportunity after announcing a merger to create a single community with shared values and purpose. If they don’t act fast, this opportunity is lost and the “us and them culture” sets in; individual employees ask “where do I fit in?”; and the values of the dominant company swallow up those of the smaller company. This makes the chance of cementing a truly joint purpose, from an engaged community with shared values, unobtainable.

So what should you be doing to avoid this? Well for a start it is fundamental that organisations engage employees from both sides of the merger in the co-creation of shared values as soon as possible after the merger announcement. This must be an engagement at scale, and in a way that enables them to contribute to the discussion and formulation of the shared values. The very act of focusing your people on co-creation establishes a sense of community across both sides of the merger. This sense of community in turn pushes the newly formed organisation over a tipping point of engagement. You can capitalise on the renewed energy created by heightened engagement to rapidly sense-check shared values across the organisation and enable employees to feel ownership over these values. This process creates a sense of belonging, motivation and engagement on an individual level, to maintain the energy and drive needed to push through the stress of the merger.

By following a process of acting both rapidly and inclusively you ensure that, instead of creating a sense of loss at the changes made by the merger, you’ve created a community. This is a community with a shared purpose, driving engagement, around the values of your newly formed company. This engagement has the added bonus of contributing to the success of the merger, ensuring your shareholders are still happy.

Do you need to cement values across silos? Contact harriet@hotspotsmovement.com for further information on how to achieve this.

We have the tools – but what about the attitude?

Posted on

Tina Schneidermann - Portrait 03 by LK - CONTRASTby Tina Schneidermann, COO, Hot Spots Movement

It seems paradoxical that in a world where we can communicate with anyone in the world at any time, employees are still in the habit of sharing bright ideas only with their manager in the hope that they will be pushed up the food chain. An unfortunate result of this custom is that valuable pockets of expertise can remain untapped due to poor inter-departmental communication or managerial oversight. It’s hard not to notice the way teams and their managers become anxious to gain status by “owning” a project or issue – with the frequent and unfortunate consequence that the company’s leading expert might be left out of the process because they work in another team.

This is at odds with the communication habits most of us have outside work, where people are becoming increasingly used to commenting on, amending and even criticising the decisions, actions and statements of others. Social media democratises communication and makes it possible for people to share their knowledge – and benefit from that of others – regardless of location or status. This is the sort of spirit that exists within our FoWlab Jams, where we seek to level the field when it comes to communication and draw out the best ideas from around an organisation based on their relevance to the issues being tackled rather than the relevance of the job titles held by the commenters. Breaking out of the work communication structure doesn’t come naturally – our jams are facilitated conversations – but the benefits it brings can make a tangible difference to your business.

Hopefully companies will soon be comfortable updating their communications practices to ensure valuable contributions are heard irrespective of where they sit in the organisation.

Catch up on Collaboration Week

Posted on Updated on

Our Collaboration Week events on April 14-17 were a great success – something we feel is a testimony to the growing realisation that collaboration is hugely important. Whether you joined in and would like to revisit some of the week’s activities, or were unable to make it and would like to catch up on the fun, we have a range of content available online for you to enjoy:

  • Webinars: Leading a Collaborative Organisation: Professor Lynda Gratton launched Collaboration Week with two webinars on why collaboration starts at the top, featuring Farooq Chaudhry of Akram Khan Company and Anshoo Kapoor of Tata Consultancy Services.
  • Collaboration articles – Enjoy perspectives from guest contributorsHoward B. EsbinJohn Milne and Sally Harrison on topics such as serious games, virtual coffee breaks and making teams work.
  • Collaboration lightning talks – Watch talks from our Collaboration pop-up event, including presentations from the Hot Spots Movement, Vodafone, Venda and Save the Children. For more information about these events, please contact sarahlouise@hotspotsmovement.com and get in touch with Tina Schneidermann to hear about how our team can support your organisation in building collaborative capability.

As part of our commitment to the collaboration theme, we work to help companies collaborate in a practical way. Our FoWlab jams are an effective way of getting people from around your business to collaborate on key themes and pressing issues at the heart of your organisation. Contact Keith Dalton ((keith@hotspotsmovement.com)) or on +44 (0)207 759 1848 to learn more about jams.

Why Enterprise Social Networks Fail

Posted on Updated on

Maxphoto

Companies have understood the benefits and pitfalls of using social media to engage customers for some years now, with Facebook and Twitter now commonly used as platforms for identifying new customers, fostering brand recognition, and building or harnessing engaged communities. However, few companies have successfully replicated the success of these social platforms internally.

Engaging employees and motivating them to embrace new ways of working often proves difficult, with companies often seeing low uptake rates of enterprise social networking platforms such as Microsoft’s Yammer and Salesforce’s Chatter.

Though enterprise social networks can take off, they tend to end up supporting a small group of core users, whose interest in the platform ebbs over time. We have spoken to a number of companies who have been frightened away from internal social media after they have failed to gain traction.

The problem with internal social networks is that they often lack purpose, they are rarely facilitated, and they tend to lack sponsorship from leaders. Providing a platform is a prerequisite for enabling new ways of working, but it is rarely sufficient. People need to have a reason for engaging.

The importance of purpose

One of the most successful enterprise social networks we’ve seen, Tata Consultancy Services’ Knome platform, creates engagement by encouraging people with common interests to share their experiences. Building on people’s preexisting passions is a quick way to create engagement with a platform, as it taps into a nascent desire to connect.

Uniting a large and more diverse audience often requires the identification of a broad challenge that everyone in the organisation has a vested interest in addressing. For our FoWlab Jams, we always identify a big strategic challenge, and try to tie the Jam itself to an existing organisation-wide change program. This frames the platform as a vehicle for change, and as a unique opportunity for employees to contribute to high-level strategy.

Facilitation

Personally, I don’t like networking events because I’m rubbish at striking up conversations with people I don’t know. I’m sure it’s a common trait, and one that I know translates to the online world. Though we’re often given a confidence boost by a cloak of anonymity on certain online platforms, most if not all enterprise social networks build on our existing work identities and reputations.

To avoid everyone lurking around the canapés or pretending to check their phones, you need someone facilitating interactions. Someone to introduce them to others and reveal common interests they can talk about. We’ve found that facilitators in online platforms are almost a prerequisite for engaging a diverse audience. They may not be expert in the area under discussion, but they are expert in creating exciting questions and connections between ideas and people.

Motivated sponsorship

Unlike customers, employees have a reason to be scared of sharing their opinions. They think they are being observed by people who want an excuse to fire them. This is the default assumption, and the mentality arises even in the absence of overt authority. It’s something that needs to be actively and continually refuted by leaders in order for their employees to feel they can be honest and open.

Transparent and authentic leaders, who value and act on the opinions of those working for them, are invaluable in getting employees to embrace enterprise social networks. Even for those lucky enough to work in ‘flat’ or ‘horizontal’ organisations, there needs to be a shared understanding that your opinions matter, and that you won’t be penalized for openly collaborating with others.

By providing enterprise social networks with purpose, facilitation, and sponsorship, the chances of people engaging with them will increase dramatically. In our FoWlab Jams, we tend to see 50% of our target audience engaging with the conversation – and that’s just over three days. Employees won’t naturally transition to these new ways of working, but if you give them a reason, guidance and leadership support, you’ll remove the main barriers in their way.