Justyna Kubicka-Daab: In what kind of change process(es) have you been involved?
Hanne Dannulat: My experience with mergers and acquisitions is quite rich – I personally experienced four of them, always as a management team member of the acquiring company.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: Which one was more challenging for you / you company?
Hanne Dannulat: As the most challenging, I recall the 2001/2002 merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, mainly due to the fact that between the first announcement and physical integration there was a one-year gap, during which we could observe the majority of mergers’ shortfalls. During this critical year, we lost quite a number of valuable people, in the same time facing a hiring freeze. I remember the atmosphere of paralysis and frustration.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: What kind of role did you have during the process?
Hanne Dannulat: I was Commercial Director of Glaxo Welcome for Denmark, managing 90 people. It was the merger of equals worldwide, but in case of Denmark, the SmithKlineBecham commercial forces were more modest – app. 30-40 people. I was a member of the integration committee comprising of 5-6 top managers, including Commercial, Medical, and Financial Directors from both companies.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: What were your responsibilities?
Hanne Dannulat: I was responsible for development – in coordination with other team members – of the new structure of the future organisation, new processes and synergy targets to be set and achieved. Right from day one of the actual merger, we made the structure transparent and we were honest about that redundancies could not be avoided. However, we were able to create some new jobs in the combined structure in sales and marketing, and we added new positions in HR and IT due to the size of the new company. We encouraged people to apply for the new positions even though it meant that they would get new responsibilities but also new challenges and competences.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: What would you say was the most challenging part through that change?
Hanne Dannulat: The most difficult was this first year with almost no real activity but a lot of speculation, gossip and ncertainty. To maintain the morale of the staff was challenging indeed.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: What did surprise you most?
Hanne Dannulat: The biggest, and unfortunately, very negative, surprise, was the attitude of certain employees, usually those who felt uncertain because of their previous performance. As an experienced manager, I could and did expect this to happen, but still the level of disloyalty, negative emotions and destructive activities did surprise me.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: Retaining talent could be one of the most important missions during such a change process – what did you/your company do, to retain the talent?
Hanne Dannulat: When publishing the new organogram, we encouraged everyone to feel free and apply for the positions they thought would be interesting as a next career step. At the same time, everyone was told to continue business as usual at their current positions. All this was well perceived by the employees. We obviously observed some disturbances, but as employees knew there was new openings and they would be considered in the recruitment process – those highly motivated remained highly motivated and performed well. My role at this stage was also to conduct all the “recruitment” interviews, which also served as a very good communication and “ventilation” measure. As for the employees of the SmithKLineBecham, we had access to their performance track records and reviews which was helpful during decision making process. Overall, we made approximately 10-15 people redundant.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: With your experience today and looking back at the change process then, would you do anything different?
Hanne Dannulat: I think I should have paid much more attention to the early signs of discouragement and frustration of the low performers. As an integration team member with positive and pro-synergic attitude I was focusing on new structure and securing talent on key positions, maybe not appreciating enough the fact that not all were equally enthusiastic. Today I will probably try to surround myself by “scouts” who will be tuned up to allow me to deal with any disturbing and worrisome signs, I am sure I was the last person to hear of problems arising and therefore the magnitude was bigger compared to if I had dealt with it earlier.
Justyna Kubicka-Daab: Is there anything you took away from the changing process?
Hanne Dannulat: Going back to this experience of one-year gap between the communication and the actual merger, I am sure that speed is of crucial importance. The basic principle should be to follow up the announcement by the immediate action plan, or not announce anything. The other must, once the news are announced - is the ongoing and constant communication process– there is always some information to put forward or you can just say “nothing new we are on track”. The realistic, true, consistent and timely communication is the best cure for uncertainty and fear. Even if we are not ready on time with some decisions, it is always better to communicate and shift the deadline; anything else creates frustration and speculation. The third lesson I will always remember is to take care of the best talent at the earliest stage possible. They should be treated with special care, by which I mean not only direct and comforting talks but also well-defined retention plans. What is also extremely important is “business as usual” during the merger process. The burden should be on the management team and line managers should not be constantly distracted from their normal duties, which ensures the continuity of the business, which was probably an important part of the reason for the merger in the first place.
The Governance Revolution: What Every Board Member Needs to Know, Now! SpenglerFox CEO, Jens Friedrich, invites Deborah Hicks Midanek to discuss her recently published book 'The Governance Revolution: What Every Board Member Needs to Know, Now!' Deborah is a veteran independent director, a pioneer in the corporate restructuring industry, and a serial entrepreneur. Widely respected for her turnaround skills, she has diagnosed and remedied problems for over 60 corporations and facilitated the growth of nearly 30 other ventures, including her own. Described by the late Fletcher Byrom, CEO of a Fortune 25 company, as a “pure thinker” – quickly gaining a deep understanding of complex problems and demonstrating an extraordinary ability to assimilate information and craft resilient solutions. More_on_Deborah_Hcks_Midnek.pdf Size: 161 KB Deborah_Hicks_Midanek_Slide Deck.pdf Size: 920 KB
A White Paper/Conversation with Industry Leaders What GlobalBusiness Leaders Have to Say about Successful Product Roll-outs and Meeting KPIs. The following paper includes insights from executives representing a handful of global companies. These individuals serve in roles such as general manager, business unit head, regional marketing leader and supply chain manager. They have experience working all over the world and represent markets such as Asia, the Middle East and Africa, North America and Western Europe. When speaking with them, the team at SpenglerFox sought to map the current environment for acquiring new leadership and managerial talent. Our discussions also focused on how this talent helps their organizations ensure the success of launching new products on the markets where these businesses operate and how these manager-leaders set KPIs to evaluate and measure the success of said launches. WhitePaper_TheEssentialsOfTalent.pdf Size: 1.07 MB
Rex was hired as a Project Director for a multinational factory in China. He held a similar role with another multinational before accepting this new position. The recruitment process was rigorous and exhaustive with many rounds of interviews with various department heads at regional and global levels. Rex was offered the position and accepted, reporting to his new boss (The Global Head of Supply Chain) who was based half way around the world. In his new role, Rex did not directly manage a team, however, he was responsible for managing several department heads that did not report to him. Rex was also responsible for updating all key stakeholders at headquarters on a project’s status. Sadly, Rex only lasted one year in this role, since he was not able to match the performance expectations of multiple stakeholders. This is a situation where Rex would have benefited from executive coaching. Amidst the daily demands of his job and the expectations of his stakeholders, Rex needed to better manage his focus while making strategic decisions at every moment to achieve goals and make progress. Like Rex, every level of management can benefit from coaching. But the individuals who benefit the most from executive coaching are those who are motivated to pursue growth in their personal and professional lives. In most cases, new hires at every level do not receive enough support for grasping an organization’s culture. Michael D. Watkins, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at IMD and author of “The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels,” explains that all new hires at every level must gain insights into the values, norms, and guiding assumptions of an organization. At the same time, they must navigate the very fine line between working within the existing culture framework and seeking to change it. Executive coaching is a natural next step in working with companies transform their businesses and aligns perfectly with my own life purpose and passion. I have been working as a retained executive search consultant for over 10 years, helping companies succeed by finding the right leaders as a search consultant, and then coaching these senior executives to reach their fullest potential. Transitions are always difficult for any organization. Whether through an internal promotion or an external hire, most senior executives receive only a basic orientation and onboarding. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Onboarding Isn’t Enough,” co-author Michael D. Watkins finds most companies are doing little to support the onboarding process. “Nearly all large companies are competent at the administrative basics of signing leaders up, but that level of onboarding does little to prevent the problems that can arise when working with new colleagues and grappling with unfamiliar cultural norms and expectations,” Watkins says. In my discussions with HR decision makers and business leaders about their biggest challenges, I have learned that many companies are trying to transform their organizations in a marketplace where disruption is constant. In this VUCA environment, some of their strongest business leaders were not performing as successfully as they once had and were having difficulty adapting to change, new market landscapes and new processes. These are very common themes and challenges that I consistently hear from companies in my travels. I realized that as an executive search consultant, my value in impacting a company positively stopped at the recruitment and hiring process. I knew that I wanted to continue helping clients and executives succeed beyond the appointment of a senior leader, and this is why I began executive coaching. Technology advances in the last several years have created a much faster and more complex world. According to the renowned mindfulness expert Rasmus Hougaard, our attention in the workplace is under siege. We are constantly under pressure, always on, overloaded with information and trying to work in distracting environments. Executives today face many more challenges in adapting to change and successfully keeping pace with these complex work environments, compared to ten years ago. Authors Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck in their book, “The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business”, advocate that understanding and managing attention is now the single most important determinant of business success. Coaching positively impacts a company’s bottom line by helping executives remain present, be focused and make optimal moment-by-moment decisions that deliver optimal results. As I look back at my work as a search consultant, my most fulfilling moments were helping executives achieve their goals. Many senior executives in Asia, Europe and the US have reached out to me to explore job opportunities, but also seek career guidance. With every inquiry, I always tried to take the time to share my thoughts and advice. In doing so, I felt I was giving back to those who mentored me throughout my own corporate career. Many search firms like SpenglerFox offer executive coaching and HR consultancy services in addition to traditional retained executive search. To receive further information about the executive coaching services, please contact Mary Kramer at firstname.lastname@example.org. About the Author: Victor Filamor Victor Filamor was SpenglerFox’s Country Manager Hong Kong and Asia Consumer Practice Leader in 2007/8. He is currently a Partner and Certified Executive Coach with a retained executive search & leadership advisory firm in Hong Kong and Singapore specializing in the Consumer & Retail and Industrial sectors. Prior to his executive search career of over a decade, he had 25 years of P&L management, as well as marketing, sales and operations management experience with Consumer and Industrial Fortune 500 companies and Asian multinationals. He has lived in four countries across Asia Pacific.