Below are a few examples of the cases that are representative for our work regarding intercultural collaboration, culture and values, team development and change.
1. Intercultural Collaboration - FMCG Fortune 100 Company
A global FMCG company had introduced a new operating model. This included the creation of international category teams for the regions, meaning that different nationalities needed to work closely together, both within teams as well as with their stakeholders in the markets. To set the teams up for success and avoid potential misunderstanding around e.g. communication and decision-making that can occur in an intercultural environment they requested us to develop a solution.
Together with the customer we co-created a 1-day workshop ‘Working Across Cultures’ that was aimed at building intercultural competence and supporting working effectively in the new teams. The workshop covered the impact of culture, provided a frame of reference for intercultural differences and an opportunity to discuss the application of the framework to come to agreement around communication and decision making in the teams. The workshop was implemented across teams in both Western and Eastern Europe.
The workshops led to increased understanding and more effective cross-border collaboration, both within the central teams as well as with their counterparts in the countries. The workshop is currently part of the standard curriculum offer regarding intercultural collaboration.
2. Culture and Values - Regional Hospital
This organization went through a rigorous re-structuring process in which a few former smaller entities were merged to one central healthcare organization. After this program there was a need to align the culture and organisational identity and re-establish a sense of team cohesiveness among the members.
In a series of three workshops for each team - starting with the most senior level and continuing down in the organisation - we reviewed the corporate values and their relevance for the teams. Based on that we identified the critical desirable and undesirable behaviours for each team and made agreements on how to live these. Also, we identified the key dilemmas and created win/win solutions and facilitated upward feedback sessions for the leaders with their team, thus linking cultural aspects to the leadership development program.
The customer mentioned that the project enabled a culture change from senior level down through the organisation, creating ownership and engagement of those involved. It also increased organisational effectiveness through behaviour change, improved collaboration and fit with strategic objectives.
3. Team Development - Large International Beer Brewer
A large beer brewer set up a new Sales and Marketing team for the Eastern European market. The team of consisted of 40 individuals from 15 nationalities. The team manager wanted to engage them around a new vision and mission and set behavioural expectations in a cross-cultural context.
With the customer we co-designed a three-day team workshop to cover the journey. On day 1 we started with briefly looking back at what had happened, bringing closure to earlier restructurings. Then we discussed the mission and vision and articulated changes where required. On day 2 we talked about values and how they connected the teammembers, created a Charter-of-Behaviors moving forward and also reviewed cultural characteristics of the participants. On day 3 we worked on the teams key dilemmas and found ways to reconcile and created an action plan moving forward.
The team started to build more cohesion and already developed mutual understanding already during the workshop. The mission and vision, together with the the core values and agreed behaviours helped to give the team direction in the months following the workshop and the diversity was used more as a source of creativity rather than conflict. The next step was another off-site to extend the process in subgroups.
4. Leading Change - Major Oil Company
The company was confronted with substantial organisational change. Threat of job losses, associated uncertainty and motivational issues were potentially having a big impact on business continuity and performance. The key challenge for the HR director was how to support team leaders to deal with these changes effectively and help them to support their employees in these difficult times.
We developed a training programme that helped team leaders become ‘reflective change agents'. The programme consisted of a one-day interactive workshop, providing tools and lenses for understanding the critical role of the leader in the transition, as well as reflecting on their own behaviour. This was followed by a self-reflective period to experiment with materials in one’s own working environment. After a six weeks period a second workshop served as a peer coaching process with a cross-business work teams of six to eight fellow participants. In total ab. 60 leaders attended the workshops.
Benefits have been clearly visible: the team leaders handled change in a much more conscious and reflective way, e.g. by understanding workplace tensions and their own role, resulting in higher engagement, reduced uncertainty and higher effectiveness of team members. It has raised the level of self-confidence of team leaders to deal with ‘difficult’ issues, thus allowing them to confront these issues instead of avoiding them.