The climate crisis, digitalization, a shortage of skilled workers – our businesses are changing and adapting. Those who want to remain fit for the future must not only adjust to change, but proactively engage it. This is only possible with employees who don’t see alterations as a threat but confront them with curiosity and confidence. They have to know the meaning of their work and be passionate about it - whether it is on the shop floor, the office or whilst working from home.
Engaging the future through transformation
For decades we have been supporting companies that embraced change through a sustainable transformation. By sharpening their corporate culture, developing the new ways of working and jointly ensuring that their organization meets the requirements of an everchanging world. The following topics are the essentials of our work.
Companies that see their purpose only in the pursuit of profit are long gone. Customers, investors, and employees have long expected them to create value for the common good. This so-called purpose is becoming the central raison d'être of companies. It attracts talent and enhances the company's image. It ensures growth, profitability, and thus the survival of a company.
However, the purpose is much more than the slogan on a poster. It reflects the core of the corporate identity. It releases passion and has an enticing effect on people. This helps, for example, in the search for qualified personnel. The purpose also facilitates customer loyalty by making the product and company brand attractive. In the long term, this has a positive effect on a company's earnings. In other words, the purpose is a prerequisite for growing sales and increasing profits in the future.
Be purpose-driven – change the corporate image
Not quite clear yet what the purpose is? Let's take an example: An automotive supplier may decide to do business with excellent products. That in itself isn’t bad. But its overarching goal may also be to make mobility more sustainable and our cities more liveable. Such a meaningful mission changes the image of a company - among employees, customers, and business partners.
To live a corporate purpose
When we work out a company's purpose, we first focus on its strengths and compare it to competitors. Then we look at existing and potential customers. What needs do they have and how can their wishes be fulfilled? In the third step, we look at the employees and their motivation. What goals are important to them and how can they authentically commit to them?
On this basis, we formulate the purpose of a company together and embed it in the organization. Together we draft the appropriate strategy and ensure that the purpose does not remain lip service but is perceived as meaningful and lived by.
The pressure to adapt is increasing - companies must become more flexible, adapt to everchanging customer requirements, and keep their employees motivated. But traditional structures often stand in the way of proactively engaging change. Therefore, a fundamental transformation of the organization is necessary. We help companies to adapt their organization to new conditions, to make it more agile, reactive, and thus more resilient. In doing so, we proceed according to a tried and field-tested concept.
Strengthening flat hierarchies and personal responsibility
In the first step, we define the company's mission. This means that we develop a common goal with which everyone identifies equally. This common positioning is the starting point for further action. In the second step, we focus on the people in the company and the processes in which they work together. We are convinced that flat hierarchies are crucial to keeping an organization adaptable. At the same time, all employees should have a great deal of leeway of their own. They must be able to act on their own responsibility without having to involve the higher levels in every decision they make. Important issues should only be escalated in exceptional cases. In this way, the willingness to change becomes an integral part of the identity of people in the company. This increases the chance that change will be lived with curiosity and confidence.
Managers have a new role in these organizations. They are no longer seen as all-knowing superiors who are involved everywhere. In a time of constant change, where new complex topics can pop up at any time, this is hardly possible anyway. The range of tasks of managers is therefore changing. They need to moderate their teams rather than prescribe precise tasks, moving from controllers to mentors who inspire their employees rather than supervise them. They should only stop decisions made by their team in emergency cases and engage with them constructively.
Transformation of corporate culture
Some industries have been hit hard by external changes that force them to act. For example, the automotive industry, stationary retail, or oil companies. Some of them have already developed a new, possibly digital business model with future-proof products. Things are actually going in the right direction for them, at least that is the view of the management.
However, the perceptions of the employees can be different. They are skeptical about new products and reject the work processes that are new to them. They have spent many years of their lives in the company and don’t want to part with cherished habits.
Making corporate culture visible
In other words, there is a problem with the underlying corporate culture. Waiting for it to resolve itself, however, is risky if culture and strategy have been running in different directions for too long. Companies should therefore drive the solution themselves. We offer them suitable tools for this purpose.
In interviews, workshops, and online surveys, we work together with employees to find out what is important to them and where the obstacles to change lie. From this information, we design a map of your unique corporate culture. On this map, for example, blue stands for rules, red for fighting spirit, purple for security, and yellow for knowledge. These are qualities that make up a company culture. As a rule, some of them are particularly pronounced, others rather less so. From the different color combinations, we work out two patterns with the participants. One shows the current corporate culture, the other the desired state in order to successfully face the changes.
Changing organizational culture
The challenge now is to consider how to bring the new corporate culture to life. Further training could be one of many measures or the establishment of an incubator that takes up and promotes innovative business ideas. Greater transparency of decisions could also be a consequence of this process.
This approach, developed by the Culture Institute in Sankt Gallen, makes problems with the corporate culture tangible, discussable, and designable. The employees accompany this process from the beginning. In this way, outdated patterns are dissolved, and a new understanding of corporate culture can emerge and be anchored.
Hybrid working - combination of home office and presence
Some employees see working from a home office as an opportunity, while others miss direct contact with their colleagues. The cohesion and productivity of teams suffer from an uncoordinated juxtaposition of work locations and forms. The challenge for new employees is increasing.
If hybrid working is the new normal - what are the right approaches and methods for it? For companies, this question not only means setting a framework for productive working. It is a matter of meeting the changed expectations of employees and enabling new, self-determined forms of collaboration with hybrid work.
Hybrid Work - Creating the Conditions for Collaboration
In order to make hybrid work successful, you first have to know the needs of the employees and the framework conditions of the company. This is where our approach begins. What does productive work mean from the perspective of employees and teams? What are the most important needs? Where can these be mapped and lived in a model of the hybrid working world?
Once we have clarified this, we look at complementary and possibly conflicting interests. How can personal ideas contribute to productive collaboration? And where is it necessary to negotiate suitable hybrid work collaboration models in the interest of a higher-level team or company goals?
On this basis, we support the creation of concepts and binding agreements on hybrid forms of cooperation – be it as an employee, consultant, coach, or management.
Hybrid work models - successful with New Work methods
Once the company has a clear idea of the framework conditions for hybrid work, it is important to act on them. How can teams organize themselves in the best possible way when they work locally and are virtually distributed at the same time? How do we bridge possible gaps? How can New Work succeed under the conditions of Hybrid Work?
We offer a toolbox that makes the methods of New Work successfully implementable for hybrid teamwork. Furthermore, we offer special formats and interventions for implementation support so that hybrid work models succeed – through coaching, moderated workshop, or support for managers.
Change & Communication
The new manager does not manage to gain the trust of the staff. The newly implemented software is perceived as harassment. The sudden merger of two rival teams triggers a feud. Change projects companies don’t always bring what they promise. Studies even show that four out of five of all change projects fail.
When change processes go wrong, it is not only frustrating but often times also expensive. Many people had prepared the new processes and structures ahead of time. So, the problem is rarely sloppy planning. Often, those affected were informed inappropriately. Clumsy communication is considered a major cause of failed change processes.
Goal-oriented communication in change processes
In order to address employees the right way, you first have to know their individual needs. This is where our approach begins. We ask where individuals currently stand and what the change means for them? From these insights, we write a tangible change story. A vision of change with a clear direction that shows the common path of change.
In addition, it is important to state the individual benefits for those involved. "What's in it for me?" - Employees expect an answer to this question. This encourages them to join forces in the change process and to shape it. In addition, it is important to determine whether the requirements profile of individual positions will change as a result of the change process and whether, for example, additional qualification measures will become necessary as a result.
Driving Change Processes with Change Communication
This results in a plan for the change process. It includes building blocks such as further training, workshops, information events or dialogue formats across all hierarchies. It has often proven effective to deploy a network of change agents - i.e. people who answer all questions relating to the change process, create transparency about progress, act as role models and act as multipliers for relevant information. A binding schedule is also helpful - after all, no change project should become permanent.
Markets are changing, product cycles are becoming shorter and customers have increasingly unusual wishes. Success increasingly depends on how quickly companies adapt to a changing environment. A H&Z study in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich underscores just how advantageous flexible organizations are. According to this study, teams with high agility are up to 70 percent more efficient than those with low agility.
Agile companies with collaborative leadership style
But agile does not mean free of structures. On the contrary. A common north star is a prerequisite for teams to work successfully. However, the path to this goal should be designed in such a way that rapid adaptations are made possible and not hindered. This is helped by flat hierarchies, cooperation characterized by team spirit, and employees who take on responsibility with conviction.
This requires a shared perspective based on trust and not on skepticism or suspicion. Experimentation must be welcome in an agile company. Mistakes are also allowed - because mistakes offer the opportunity for reflection and thus learning.
Agile working as the key to success
Agile working is not only something for pioneers who want to completely turn their culture upside down or are looking for new ways on unfamiliar terrain. Numerous everyday processes can also be better managed with agile concepts. For example, by streamlining processes in purchasing or sales and expanding the scope for creativity.
We are convinced that agile working is a key to success. That's why we support companies that want to innovate in this field. With joint concepts and strategies that we develop in workshops or in consulting projects. In doing so, we involve and empower all employees concerned. Because we only generate the necessary transformation when the individual lives the principle of agile working with conviction.
Volatile, complex, and unpredictable - attributes like these characterize entire economies. This has consequences for training and further education in the company. One example is the Corona pandemic. It forced companies to establish hybrid working as the standard as quickly as possible. Employees had to acquire the necessary skills in the short term. This would not have been feasible without rigid curricula.
Online training with video and podcast
Companies need flexible learning systems that make a wide range of content available to large parts of the workforce at short notice. One way to do this is through online training or e-learning that uses videos or podcasts to introduce a large group of people to a topic in an entertaining way. Participants can immediately test their newly acquired knowledge in the online training courses, for example by working on tasks electronically and receiving feedback within seconds. Participation is possible at any time and from any location. The time-consuming search for training dates is eliminated. Face-to-face and guided training can also be combined with digital formats in this way. Whether it's a quick course or a multi-day event.
Hybrid training with real projects
H&Z designs from numerous formats up to complete learning journeys, where real projects like an introduction of new software or the restructuring of procurement, of participants are worked on. Virtual formats can be combined with personal coaching sessions or group discussions. Style and content can be adapted at each stage of the learning journey. Our trainers not only have the necessary expertise but are also proficient in many different methods of conveying their knowledge. The content learned can be put into practice immediately and the participants have to discuss their work as a team several times. In this way, they train their social skills and develop them personally.