Support for a change process
at ITT Bornemann GmbH
Formerly a family-owned company, Bornemann was acquired by the American ITT Corporation in 2012 and is now part of an international group structured as a matrix organization.
The corporate takeover compelled the company to accept and adapt to a new, much more complex corporate structure. Employees had to learn to cooperate with international colleagues and integrate them into local work processes. Furthermore, the company had to adjust to new market requirements following the collapse of oil and gas prices in 2014, when investments were stopped and business took a sudden downturn. Orders were lost under the influence of the uncertain business climate. Consequently, ITT Bornemann was compelled to restructure in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and has since downsized its staff at the Obernkirchen location significantly. The situation was further complicated by the decision of the former CEO to leave the company. He was replaced by an interim CEO until Mr. Schwarte assumed the position at the Obernkirchen location with the remaining workforce of slightly less than 200 employees in June 2016, at which point Coverdale came on board in a supporting role within the context of the reorganization process.
The initial aim of the workshops was to strengthen the local management team and prepare it for the challenges posed by the altered market requirements. The company suffered losses in 2016. Thus, the goal was to put the company back on course by adopting clearly defined, coordinated objectives.
Coverdale’s job was to give the local management team a sense of stability during this period of uncertainty by conducting a series of workshops developed specifically for the company. Corporate managers were coached on such topics as change management, motivation and dealing with insecurity among members of the staff. One of the most important goals of the workshop series was to learn to take care of oneself and others and provide mutual support in the face of major challenges in times of change. Aside from these topics, emphasis was placed on reviewing in-house processes and identifying more efficient approaches to cooperation in day-to-day business operations in small brainstorming sessions. The definition of rules for cooperation and the role of managers were also on the agenda.
Since last year, two workshops tailored to identified needs were conducted with Coverdale trainer Martina Miegel for the new core team. In these two workshops, she focused on developing a common concept of the role of managers in change processes and cooperation with the ten-member team. Guidelines and principles were established, procedures adopted and goal-agreement systems developed for the purpose of achieving a consistent and clear definition of goals for the German branch. The subject of motivation was addressed in the course of the change process. In addition, it was determined which individuals belong to the next management level – the Communication Circle – in order to expand the group of participants in subsequent advanced workshops. During the following workshops, Martina Miegel and the core team welcomed 10 other participants, who took part in the process of defining shared goals for 2017 and putting together specific action packages. Coverdale focused on the objective of achieving a balance between self-support and support for others among the participants. In addition to encouraging self-reflection, these workshops were concerned with the process of identifying and eliminating personal stress factors. Emphasis was also placed on developing awareness of colleagues and employees in order to get a sense of how individuals perceive what goes on around them. Attention was also focused on the need to help managers learn how to maintain employee motivation during periods of intense work-related pressure and to strengthen their loyalty to the company. The workshops took place regularly in simple, remote facilities in order to enable participants to concentrate on the essentials. Another unusual feature was the self-catering service organized by the participants, who planned, shopped and cooked for the entire 20-member group every evening.
The general mood among employees stabilized in a positive sense after only four workshops. Having had the opportunity to get to know each other better, they could be heard laughing together and exchanging stories more often. Yet everyone is aware of the need to keep working hard in order to achieve the specified goals. Still, however, people now find it easier to deal with challenging situations. Regular reviews are conducted for the purpose of assessing the status of work packages and project milestones. As a result, the employees and the organization itself have now developed a sense of orientation and are able to provide orientation to each other.
“What we do is now closely coordinated. It is understandable, and the objectives are clear.”, said one participant. Up till now, feedback on the structure and conduct of the workshops has been consistently positive.
ITT Bornemann finally found itself in the black once again in June 2017 and has budgeted accordingly for 2018. Thus, the company has now returned to a positive course and has even announced that it will begin hiring trainees again in August 2017.
Personal statement by Franziska Landt (HR Manager):
“I’ve been working for the company since 2014 and now head the Human Resources Department. I’ve managed a number of different HR projects and programs in connection with our integration into the ITT Group. In 2016, for example, we implemented the group-wide “Workday” personnel management software at our location. This enables us to administer goal agreements between managers and employees digitally and thus to review goals and corresponding progress on a continuous basis. Getting to this point has not always been easy. The year 2016 left a particularly strong imprint in my mind. We were unfortunately compelled to carry out the largest restructuring phase in collaboration with the interim CEO, and that meant dismissing 130 employees. Yet that process propelled me along a tremendous learning curve. Now, I sense that a climate of trust has emerged. The mindset change is in progress, and we are placing strong emphasis on getting and keeping the entire staff on board through continuous, transparent in-house communication. It is simply great to see the core team and the Communication Circle working effectively with our employees and gaining acceptance and trust from the entire staff.
I would recommend that every other organization combine workshops with group cooking in the evening. The resulting team feeling and sense of responsibility are immense. At first I was confronted with astonished faced when colleagues heard that they were responsible for feeding 20 hungry people – but now I see nothing but happy faces. This ah-ha effect, the realization that good results can be achieved quickly, within a very short period of time, when everyone pulls together, is simply wonderful. People take time for each other and have started to get to know their colleagues as human beings.”