Finally- what really worked for us
Finally, what really worked for us – Change @metaBeratung
As a last part of our change management series, we would like to share our personal story with you and how transformation worked at metaBeratung. Nicole Neubauer, CEO of metaBeratung shares her story:
2016 has been my year of change. As one of the leaders running a family-owned business, not only external influences were disrupting our business but also internally things felt as if we were moving in a dead-end street. Fueled by the start-up spirit growing around us with more and more companies moving towards flexible work space and working hours, agile methods of working together, engagement level of our own team had dropped significantly. Did we not see the early signs urging a change?
Besides that there were emerging external threats that we hadn’t had on our radar screen at all. Ever imagined RedBull being an assessment provider? Well, think again.
Driving our organization through change to better serve current and future customer needs would be something we could only achieve with a highly engaged team.
We embraced change wholeheartedly: mid-2016, we moved to a new, open office space introduced flexible working hours, offered our consultants the possibility to work from home. Of course, a new IT was a pre-requisite to make all of this happen: we moved all data and applications to the cloud, introduced laptops for all and use VoiP to be able to work from everywhere with a mobile phone app.
This all sounds easy and quite logical. “There you go, team”, is what we thought. “What do you think, team”, is what we forgot to ask. “What is in in for me?”, is what we forgot to answer. (Remember part one of our series? Number 3 of the common mistakes to avoid: underestimate the “small stuff”.)
We invested. Financially. And we invested in our people: Extended trust- Increased transparency. Although this is what everyone praises, being the one who has to invest, to trust, and to open up, honestly, except the initial excitement, this was no desirable experience.
And then it started, we saw the first results.
The initial excitement and support the team showed, wore off. Frustration took its place as the new reality hit. Here is what we had to listen to: From “The office space looks great!” to “Does my desk have to stand right in the middle?’’. From “This was worth it – I am much more involved now, hear what is going on.” to “I just can`t focus with all that noise.” or “I just feel I am getting much less done (we talk all the time).” Talk wasn`t all. We had people resign. They couldn’t adjust to the new environment (open space) and were missing the rest of the team when working from home. Ridiculous? I am honest: not only did I myself have a hard time adjusting to working in an open space, there were several moments where I was close to just put my head in the sand. Why did we not see this coming? Could we have prevented it?
Then there was that big elephant in the room. Added value for the customer, more market share, innovation. How we go about that?
It is not that we weren`t prepared. We hold a team workshop talking about the changes we were anticipating moving into the new office space and having new flexible settings. We shared a vision, had a strategy in place. And here is our biggest mistake. We prepared, then went from A to B. And we thought we were done. However, some of the rules, we had established and agreed upon as a team for our new way of working together did not work at all in the new real life. The vision we had faded as the results kept us waiting. The strategy failed to show significant progress.
What we experienced, is that change today is no longer a race from start to finish. It is a path of constantly reinventing ourselves. As we wrote in the first part of our series. It is less about the actual change and more about an organization learning to be adaptable, agile.
Here is how we got back on track of becoming an agile organization. We constantly re-consider and adapt, review and adjust. With the whole team. We as leaders focus on being a role-model – not being the best in class but being transparent. Sharing what we struggle with and engaging others in finding solutions. Internally as externally. Turning to our customers. Accepting and embracing that we experiment. We no longer target “B”. We strive to be and stay flexible and adaptable and let our customer`s needs inspire the way we work together. We listen to what the team needs to be successful and empower them. We take risks and learn from failures.
Today, about 16 months down the road, we have grown stronger together than ever. We experiment. We are taking risks. It is now or never. We explore new business models, embracing startups, exploring the platform thought. Frequent, professional and honest feedback with each other up and down across all levels – this is my major take away – will make change work.
What worked and still does?
· Listen, rather than talk.
· Ensure collaboration. Weekly stand ups, regular video sessions, brown bag meetings and monthly team meetings which we’ve made compulsory. Off-site meetings on a regular base
· Utilize Yammer to share successes, ideas, feedback from the client, as well as events/client meetings across the team
· Use interactive workshop methods to see whether our strategy is still on track or where we need to adapt. Whether the whole team is aligned, where there are different views and how we can include them
· Feedback culture. And formal feedback rounds every 6 months or after a project has been completed
· Empower the team. Support disruptive ideas, delegate decision making
· Remind each other: where we are today, what we do and how we are structured, is a moment in time. We stay open and flexible
Leading through change requires engagement. This is much more a listening skill.
This is the last part of our five-part series about change management.
Part 1: The agile organization - how to get there
Part 2: What is new for organizational change: a check
Part 3: The actors within change processes
Part 4: Digital transformation - ho do culture & values need to change?
Part 5: Finally, what really worked for us – Change @metaBeratung