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.
SpenglerFox wraps up the summer with discussions on talent motivation and agility with clients in the Czech Republic On Thursday, 30 August, SpenglerFox consultants led by Michal Vajskebr met with between 20-30 of the firm’s top clients in Prague to wrap up the summer holidays with some good food and drink and exciting discussions. The event took place in the Černá labuť (Black Swan) Gallery with its splendid view of parts of Prague's Old Town and Letná Hill. The main draw for the event was two very successful and interesting speakers, who came to share their experiences in executive leadership teams throughout the region. The topic of the evening was how to inspire and motivate good talent with a focus on retention. The expert discussion panel, moderated by Michal Vajskebr, included Martin Horčička, COO at Wüstenrot and Ján Čarný, managing director at COFACE. Comments by the panelists led to some interesting discussions and delivery of insights on what attendees’ personal leadership experiences and challenges they faced in the past taught them about team-building and motivating managers to perform. Martin Horčička (Wüstenrot): Martin’s experience is specific in that he has done a lot of interim management consultancy and worked in teams where he was brought in to manage a business turn around. His biggest challenges related to building and nurturing trust among members of the teams he managed. He pointed out in his remarks that the best first step, when new to a leadership situation, is to find the commonalities that you have with your team; specifically, when working in multicultural environments. One issue that Martin pointed out is that many managers, workers, team leaders, etc. are looking for a higher purpose in their day-to-day jobs. They want to be part of something bigger. He noted that when discussing difficult operational changes with teams he led in Western Europe, there was greater comprehension and respect from his employees once he convinced them he shared their concerns and passion for the future of the company. He noted that during his time in Belgium, the workers in the team he led had a personal investment, feeling-wise, in the company they worked for and wanted to ensure its viable future. Martin pointed out that one way to involve team members and secure their commitment to business plans was to seek their input in defining the company's business strategy. On the executive leadership side, he recommended taking the time to evaluate managerial talent and measure their personal investment in or commitment to the company vision or strategy. He noted that team members are more likely to deliver better results when they know they are trusted and company leadership is willing to give them the freedom to be creative. He underscored the need for executive leaders to foster constant dialogue with their managers and team members: help your talent understand there is no shame in asking question or seeking assistance. You'll be surprised at the results you can achieve when you set talent free to be creative and engage. Ján Čárny (COFACE): in his opening remarks, Ján reiterated Martin's comments that people really should like their work. He noted that local and regional markets have evolved quite a lot since his first years working in the Czech Republic in the investment banking industry. He pointed out that during that time most business leaders in Central Europe had yet to come across the concepts of corporate vision or company mission. Ján mentioned that, for him personally, one of the key motivators for excelling at work is the challenge that a given job or assignment poses. He had worked on finance-related projects on the Czech market, but then moved on to take on regional roles in Poland and later Ukraine. He noted that managing teams in diverse markets in the CEE region was fulfilling for him, because he got to see how corporate structures function in other regional markets. He also had the opportunity to contrast leadership roles in corporate vs. more family-style businesses. Over the years and across various national teams, Ján has come to see understanding of a company's business model as being mission-critical. He is constantly speaking with managers and their team members to find out what they do and why. He noted that problems most often arise when people do not understand their role in the business. It is important that executive leadership support teams in the creative aspects of defining and implementing business plans: executives should empower their teams by saying what to do, the team then says how to do it. Remarks from the two main speakers were followed by contributions from local and regional business leaders contributing to an open discussion forum. Some key points raised included the following: it’s important for executives to assess and define what existing operational systems work and not just pursue slash-and-burn policies (what to keep vs. what to discard); executive leadership increasingly appreciates how value for the company was achieved over the mere creation of value (teams should achieve results based on honest, transparent business plans); observe your talent, especially among younger generations, and find a way to balance their need to create and achieve with the results your company needs to deliver; focus on inter-personal relationships and building trust and mutual respect among your employees (corporate life produces a lot of unforeseen and sometimes unpleasant situations; you may perhaps have to fire your colleagues but, with politeness and respect, you can nurture those relationships and build new ties in the future); foster an environment that supports openness, honesty and authenticity (even regional cultures that have a tradition of operating based on 1:1 or closed-door meetings can be rebuilt). For further information please contact Michal Vajskebr. Image : Pixabay
Even though the Middle East emerged much later than Europe and the US on the international business scene, numerous conglomerates and multinational companies have established some kind of a set-up in the region. Attracted by the promising growth potential, many multinationals have built large local and regional teams in the main cities such as Istanbul, Cairo, Dubai, Casablanca or Riyadh. Just like anywhere else on the planet, the progress of telecommunication, the increasing interconnectivity of cities by plane and the hiring of the first millennials, have shaken the established organizations to their core. Working space is expected to be friendly of modern design and even a place where you can have fun in. Permanent email and phone connectivity blurs the boundaries between home and work space. Businesses in the region are now challenging the traditional office space, where employees worked a rigid 9am to 6pm shift sitting at their desk. Video conferencing, informal meetings, and work on a project-basis require additional facilities. One of the growing trends in the Middle East, which is gaining popularity day by day, is the flexibility for employees to work from home. Some of the cities in the region, more particularly Istanbul and Cairo, face horrendous traffic. It is not unusual for employees to spend 3 to 4 hours a day commuting. It is thus no surprise that home-office flexibility becomes as important as remuneration, benefits and job content, when it comes to attracting or retaining talent. In the recent years, multinationals have started to adopt an open space set-up to reflect their values of transparency and teamwork. Directors and Managers are now invited to join their teams in an open space. Meeting rooms offer the required confidentiality for conferences and sensitive conversations. This is sometimes hard to digest in a region where a private office stands for position and status. An even more advanced form of this trend is desk-sharing. The idea came as a solution to reducing office costs, which may well be the second largest expenditure after payroll, while desks are often underutilised. Consultancy firms whose teams often spend most of their time at client sites, lead that initiative, which enabled them to improve their P&L significantly. Newly-founded businesses are early adopters of nomadic work habits. Co-working is booming in cities like Dubai, a hub for regional start-ups. Flexible desks and meeting areas are offered by well-known global players in flexible workspace solutions, however independent co-working spaces are flourishing. Even the government-managed free-zones are now offering workspace to newly registered companies. This whitepaper attempts to highlight trends on the workspace evolution in the Middle East region, and how the latter impacts on international businesses. We believe the best way to explore these trends would be through testimonies of people that have led and/or coordinated their implementation in their business environment. We selected key note speakers, each one representing one of four key markets in the region: Dubai, Egypt, Turkey and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia(KSA) and asked them the same questions for consistency. We hope that our exercise will provide you with interesting insights and perhaps some food for thought. Africa_MiddleEast_FLEXIBLE_WAYS_OF_WORKING.pdf Size: 2.98 MB
We are delighted to announce the hire of Dr Eva Wuellner, Regional Practice Group Leader, MEA - Family Businesses and Technology “Based in Dubai, Eva will support our clients in both Executive Search assignments and Human Capital Services projects (Leadership Development, Assessment Centres, HR organization…). Having worked in multinational enterprises and family groups (Unilever, Amazon, FANUC, Lindab, Wadi Group), Eva has gained a broad cultural and professional expertise while working in Germany, Luxembourg, Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Egypt and Kuwait. Along her career, Eva grew her expertise in Talent, Change and Performance Management and Recruitment/Talent Acquisition. Eva holds a Master degree in Economics from the University of Passau, Germany, and an MBA General Management from the European University of Economics and Management in Luxembourg. She earned a Doctorate of Business Administration from Surrey Business School, UK, with the doctoral thesis titled “Talent Management in Luxembourg”. Eva is a fellow of the University Forum of Human Resource Development (UFHRD) and the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM). Eva speaks German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and Portuguese.” Says Cedric d'Halluin, Partner, Emerging Markets - Middle East, Africa, Russia, Turkey. “I am thrilled to join a multi-cultural team of Executive Searchers and HR professionals in a company that is grounded on high ethical values and family spirit with a strong customer-centric approach.” Says Dr Eva Wuellner, Regional Practice Group Leader, MEA - Family Businesses and Technology.