Becoming ONE company across multiple locations
Culture. Communication. Consistency.
Sounds simple enough? How in today’s changing world do you add the three C’s to your core values? Especially across multiple locations, and sometimes countries.
At Puzzel we’ve learned how to adapt rapidly. In May 2019 we started our partnership with Marlin Equity Partners, by September we had rolled out an enormously challenging Operational Excellence/Lean Transformation programme across 6 countries, and in December we completed our first acquisition, bringing Scottish based Logicalware into our Neighbourhood.
More changes came at the beginning of 2020 with a new CFO, new CMO, and a second acquisition; UK based U-WFM. Suddenly in one year we had grown our workforce by 18% and added a further two office locations and consultants spread across three continents! All while delivering continuous innovation to the Puzzel Customer Service Platform.
Culture is critical in a rapidly adapting environment
Naturally one of the biggest questions Puzzel HR has faced throughout this all is: How do we expand and communicate a consistent culture across multiple locations (and time zones!)?
“In Puzzel we believe in constantly challenging and changing the status quo. Our company values give us a robust ground to stand on, and help us through changes, but as time and people evolve so does our culture”, says Anna Oom Lindroos, HR Director at Puzzel. “To be able to re-invent Puzzel and keep up with the changing world we gather strength from our values and our diverse workforce. Diversity is one of the core elements of the company and helps us achieve innovation and adaptivity as one of our primary goals”. “One thing to remember – and this is important – is that diversity without inclusion will make you lose out on the power of diversity” Anna adds.
How do you, as a HR leader, accomplish this?
To live the three C’s you have to actively work on it and have concrete routines for employees and managers. “If you are going to include all, you also have to see all” Anna says. “And you need to do it consistently, not just ad hoc, otherwise you risk missing people. To see all sounds simple in theory, but is not so easy when your team is spread across multiple countries. As a manager you must see and acknowledge employees regardless of where they are located – to only focus on the ones that are geographically close doesn´t cut it”.
“Puzzel is a matrix organisation and our flat hierarchy exists outside country boundaries. We are divided into teams depending on function rather than nationalities. Starting from day one at our induction days for new employees, we make sure that new joiners are welcome to the family. We invest time and money bringing employees together and we see the pay off in the long term”.
Six tips to help you create Culture, Communication and Consistency:
- Create a system and process for employee follow-ups – like monthly reviews
- A management team that are available for all employees
- Include your company values and culture into your interview process
- Include your employees in your culture from their very first day
- Measure your employee experience and evolve it based on their feedback
- Introduce leadership trust as the basis for a trust-based culture
Turning theory into practice – the Puzzel way
You need to break concepts like employee engagement, one united company, and employee experience down into concrete actions and actively track, understand and adapt. “We make sure not only to talk about ONE Puzzel – we live ONE Puzzel”, Anna says. We are guided by and base decisions on this foundation.
Create system and process for monthly review
At Puzzel we have monthly reviews with a clear structure and all managers and employees follow the same pattern. The review is a combination of a 1-to-1 meeting with soft status, discussions on company values and a follow up on monthly focus areas and KPIs. “This is a time where the employee has the full attention of the manager and regardless of geographical placement the managers follow up with all of their employees”. We use HR software where all monthly reviews are conducted. This facilitates the discussion and enables us to put structure and measurement in place.
Availability of the management team
Technology and online tools such as Skype and Teams are good but they can’t fully replace the power of meeting face to face. Puzzel’s CEO Børge Astrup has implemented a monthly information Forum. For each Forum the Board of Management travels to a different location and broadcast the meeting to the rest of the organisation, alternating between each office. The whole management group spends the day in the local office and are available for meetings and ad-hoc conversations with the employees; they are around for a coffee and a chat. It is an opportunity for our employees and our management to regularly meet face to face, despite being geographically spread.
Børge Astrup, CEO, at a Puzzel Forum in London, congratulating Rob Meah for winning a place on Puzzel’s Wall of Excellence. Rob received the award for his achievements and for demonstrating and living the company values.
Include your employees in your culture from their very first day
Being included counts. Every new Puzzeler has an induction within their local office, and then visits our Head Office in Oslo for a full three day induction. We see this as an investment in our culture as well as an investment in our team. Our main focus is to keep the momentum going for new Puzzelers. We want them to get to know Puzzel, our values, culture, strategy, people, and we never want our employees to stop learning. Anna adds. “Since our company culture is the core of Puzzel I find it very powerful that our CEO starts each Induction session with values, culture and strategy. He goes through the history and how the Puzzelers are key to our values. We also introduce our internal mascot – The Puzzeler – that embodies the culture and values in a playful way.” We actively encourage feedback on our induction – in fact communication at this stage is crucial for making any new starter feel welcome and recognised into Puzzel. “The culture stands out and our employees actively talk about this. It is shown in our Employee Engagement Surveys. When I read the employee reviews of Puzzel on Glassdoor it really warms my heart.” Anna says.
Introduce leadership trust as the basis for a trust based culture
At the core of Puzzel’s culture, you find trust. “Trust is fundamental, and it is the heart of Puzzel’s leadership philosophy”, Anna elaborates. “You can easily say that the building blocks of Puzzel consists of the high trust the company has in its employees, and this starts with the management team and continues throughout the organisation”.
Bringing it all together
- When promoting employees: choose the ones that live the values.
- When making tough decisions – let your culture lead the way.
- Ensure HR is enabling and not just policy drive.
The three C´s and the future
At Puzzel we have built the foundations for a strong culture but like every piece of art, there are always details that could have been created with a slightly different brushstroke, or a little lighter texture, or even should not have been included at all. Puzzel is no different. We have come a long way. The next stage is to take what we have created and expand it.
Interested in hearing more? Drop us a message to arrange a call or why not a coffee and let us guide you through our neighborhood? We can’t wait to hear from you!