To help in business transformation at Siemens a “Living our Vision” program was developed to boost employee morale, drive deeper understanding of the Siemens regional company Vision, build awareness of the business’ strategic focus and collectively drive the organisation toward its goals.
Following research, a program was developed which began with management training and coaching on their leadership and communications role. Following this, a range of innovative company-wide communications initiatives were implemented and supplemented by work group based communications, events and incentives.
Results were improved employee morale and better understanding of the company’s business direction and its Vision.
[N.B. This entry was made under the previously existing category 'Employee Relations' but now falls under Category 7 'Internal Communications']
In 2003 Siemens made a strategic decision to move from a product focused organisation to one with a customer orientation. The company faced an uncertain future due to intense competition, price sensitive product supply arrangements and a tender orientated sales approach. Siemens needed to transform itself into a high performing business with defined ‘value-adding’ offerings, driven by a proactive sales and service focus to achieve organic growth targets.
To support the future sustainability of the company the regional Vision of “We make the INVESTMENTS of our CUSTOMERS BETTER through people, technology, processes and financial strength” was adopted. The Vision communicates that Siemens’ innovative offerings are aimed at producing investment returns for the company’s customers.
Despite there being many operational opportunities to adopt the Vision, after its launch, there was limited follow-up to explain its relevance to individual employees or to encourage them to adopt behaviours critical to achieving business goals.
Even more ambitious business goals for 2004 and 2005 meant that Siemens leaders needed to re-inspire and further motivate employees to achieve outstanding performance aligned with the Vision.
As a result employee communications were strengthened and a specific “Living Our Vision” program was developed to help management achieve this outcome.
Formative research involved the Corporate Communications team interviewing senior managers regarding their views on the desired elements of a “Living the Vision” program and conducting focus groups to ascertain employee attitudes.
Business Fields conducted “pulse tests” or email surveys to benchmark employee knowledge of the Vision, to understand any obstacles or business specific challenges and to gather employee recommendations.
Corporate Communications also conducted secondary research into best practices in Vision-related programs and benchmarked their proposed activities against those of Siemens Corporate Communications Departments internationally.
Key findings were that:
1. Employees did not feel well-informed about the company’s business nor understand the Vision’s meaning (“the difficulty is trying to explain what it means …why it matters”). Improved and more frequent communications were necessary;
2. Whilst senior management were aware of the importance of “living the Vision” there was no formal benchmark of whether their staff understood the Vision or could articulate their role in achieving it.
3. To impact behavior change Vision communications had to be tailored to employees’ work areas as Vision-related actions were different for office staff compared to technical staff;
4. Managers lacked skills in delivering supporting activities and needed coaching in communication techniques; and
5. Role models, supported by rewards and recognition programs were crucial in engaging employees in the Vision.
As a result it was decided to conduct the communications program at both a corporate and departmental level with the first step being the training of managers to spearhead personal communications with staff.
Research continues to be conducted to gauge staff reactions to specific initiatives, to share intra company best practices and to track overall progress.
*See Appendix A for example of research undertaken.
Target publics were Siemens 3,300 employees within Head Office, Regional offices and the eight business units.
The program involved:
- The leadership group including the CEO and CFO and the Executive General Managers who were responsible for leading the program’s implementation;
- Ninety business managers with supervisory responsibilities who needed to make it meaningful to their work areas;
- A wide range of staff with differing needs, for example, office, field, warehouse, technical, service and marketing personnel; and
- New staff through a Vision-led induction program.
The approach was to help move employees from being aware of the vision and being able to recite it to being able to understand its application to their work and “living” it in their daily behaviours.
Key strategies were to:
- Demonstrate leadership commitment to the Vision so that others had examples on which to role model their behaviors;
- Engage the Business Fields through their involvement in planning. Each Business Field was challenged to develop a strategic plan for their employees group, covering how they would lead their employees to better embrace the Vision and identifying opportunities to incorporate the Vision into their work practices;
- Increase visibility of the Vision across daily business touch points, for example, making it mandatory on printed materials and at events and also encouraging its inclusion in everyday conversations;
- Find supporting evidence of how different business areas were implementing the Vision and publicising this to staff;
- Provide useful information resources and support tools; and
- Celebrate Vision successes and implement a reward system.
*See Appendix A for examples of Communications Strategies.
The program was implemented through:
1. Leadership communication capability development
This involved off-site workshops in July and August 2005, followed by managers developing individual “Strategic Influence Plans” in September and October with objectives and measures to encourage staff to adopt Vision-related attitudes and behaviours. The Corporate Communications Department provided planning resources and follow-up communications coaching. Managers then had their plans assessed by a small group including the CEO.
2. Existing and new corporate communications tools and channels
From July onwards the Vision became a standard feature on business cards, screen savers, email sign-offs, PowerPoint templates and banners in the company’s cafeteria.
An employee intranet was established with Vision-related information and “Siemens News”, the employee newsletter, started highlighting “Vision in Action” case study stories.
A new-style event, Communicake, a “coffee and cake” staff gathering, launched the Vision program in July. Held quarterly it featured customer presentations showing how Siemens “had made their investments better” with employees being congratulated for their efforts.
In addition a monthly employee Feedback@lunch program was introduced where small groups met with the Managing Director to discuss Vision success stories.
A new staff induction program was developed which devoted half of its content to the Vision and Departmental meetings have a regular agenda item to discuss the Vision. Vision messages are incorporated into talks given by staff and media publicity stories.
3. Tailored communications at the Business Field or Departmental level
From September onwards Business Field Strategic Influence Plans were implemented. These varied according to the type of staff being targeted but comprised of a mix of face-to face activities supported by more frequent communications about the Vision. For example, the Victorian Regional Office produced a Vision Tool Box Kit for staff with a Customer Conversation Starters Sheet. Vision related testimonials or positive comment from customers were distributed by email to staff. Other Departments created office wall photo displays of vision success examples or organized customer visits.
4. Employee Vision Awards
In September the Vision Awards were introduced as an added incentive for employees to adopt Vision-related behaviours and be rewarded. Entrants need to provide a case study which shows a return on investment for the customer from a Siemens project. Quarterly prizes and an annual cash prize of $10,000 represent their importance. Posters were produced for the Awards and Champions appointed to encourage case studies to be submitted.
In addition managers are encouraged to provide unscheduled staff rewards for Living the Vision behavior and recognition in front of peers.
*See Appendix A for examples of implementation.
The program has helped turnaround Siemens business result in Australia and New Zealand and has actively engaged employees in “living the vision”.
Managers are proactively supporting the program through a variety of localised activities. Corporate Communications-led activities have also been well received with Communicake events attracting maximum staff numbers. Exit surveys in 2005 stated the Communicake was very successful with 47% of employees rating the event as Excellent and a further 11% claiming the most recent event as the Best Ever. Response to customer Vision presentations has also been strong with 98% of employees stating the customer presentations provide a good example of the Siemens “Vision in Action”.
The number of “Vision related “stories collected by Corporate Communications grow in number each month. Six strong entries for the Vision Awards have been received, all of which illustrate employees ‘Living the Vision’ with accompanying documented customer return on investment data. These entries have also identified repeatable business opportunities.
Analysis shows that the program has exceeded its objectives.
A staff survey showed that between August 2004 and May 2005 there was a 19 percentage point improvement in employee morale. The original target was to reverse the 2004 morale measure of 52% unfavourable to 52% favourable (four percentage points) by September 2005. The 19 percentage point improvement has far exceeded this target.
Survey responses from 228 employees attributed the change in morale to improved communications (75%), better understanding of business direction (63%) and more visibility of the Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer (50%).
By June 2005, a survey of 123 Melbourne-based employees demonstrated 83% favourably agreed with the assessment that their understanding of the Siemens business direction had improved (target 80%).
By this same date, 89% of employees claimed the Siemens regional company Vision “makes good sense” in response to a series of Communicake and “Siemens News” activities and stories (target 80%).
Staff surveys conducted by Siemens Business Fields in 2006 show a marked improvement in managers communicating with employees about the Vision and in their understanding of their role in delivering it. For instance, in August 2005, 48% of 192 Building Technology employees claimed that had never had their manager speak with them about the Siemens Vision nor their part in it. By April 2006 this measure had reduced from 48 % to 18%.
Managers report increased recognition of Vision successes by their teams. A Finance Department staff survey in August 2005 staff survey showed universal awareness of the Vision, but little conscious living of it. By February 2006 at monthly meetings all staff could provide examples of Vision-related behaviour in their everyday work
The program continues and more research is planned for September 2006. A full company wide staff survey is planned for 2007.
*See Appendix A for example of evaluation.