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1. One director for Communications, HR and Facilities – you don’t see that often! How do you manage the collaboration between these three disciplines?
"I've always believed that Communications, HR and Facilities are three different disciplines and should stay that way. That said, I looked at what the three departments have to deal with, where the connections are, and what benefits we could reap from joining strengths in a smart way. We now work on projects in multidisciplinary teams, and see that we get results much faster this way. Take our approach to the Covid-19 crisis, for instance. That asked a lot of the three departments: we needed to make it possible for people to work from home, ensure the offices were safe, and manage a lot of internal crisis communication. Now, we’re seeing more and more cross-discipline teamwork happening organically on strategic issues.”
"My mission is to make sure both Communications and HR are optimally aligned with the business and add value for employees in their daily work."
2. Getting faster results in multidisciplinary teams – that sounds good. Is that your ultimate goal?
"My mission is to make sure both Communications and HR are optimally aligned with the business and add value for employees in their daily work. For HR, this is a bigger challenge than for Communications. In general, communications professionals are used to stepping outside of their domain and looking for external connections. HR professionals tend to work more as specialists and are more focused on their own field of expertise, which sometimes makes them feel less connected to the rest of the organisation. There’s a risk of HR being too isolated. I want to break down that barrier. For instance, our HR connectors support managers and employees in the various business units in their daily work."
3. Great mission – and a challenge that many will probably recognise! How do you tackle it?
"I started by setting goals and priorities and explaining very clearly to the team what my objective is, why, and what I expect. Then I started to work with the MT to align the organisational and HR visions. In parallel, we as the MT talked to the business to find out what their needs were in terms of the HR agenda. We have put all our priority projects into a three-year masterplan.
"We’re no longer the only energy company that is fully committed to sustainability. So we have to make clear choices about where to invest and how to organise ourselves. But people's behaviour also plays an important role."
4. How is that masterplan linked to the mission of ‘everyone’s sustainable energy’?
"We’re no longer the only energy company that is fully committed to sustainability. So we have to make clear choices about where to invest and how to organise ourselves. But people's behaviour also plays an important role. That is why we have also taken a close look at our values and the corresponding behaviour of employees, as well as the leadership principles that go with them. We asked a big group of managers and employees from all countries what mindset and behaviour were needed to achieve our goals. This allows us to build on our strengths, improve where needed, and innovate to develop any missing pieces that are essential for success."
5. And once you have defined that mindset and behaviour, how do you ensure that employees actually change their own behaviour?
"We also steer on mindset and behaviour in our performance management. In our communications, we make sure we are seamlessly aligned with the business plan. It’s also important to make performance management concrete and personal: what does our mission mean to me in my daily work? That’s how you help managers and employees move forward. The most important tool of all is dialogue – ongoing, open dialogue. And you have to continuously feed back to the organisation how we are progressing towards our mission, what is going well and what can be improved. And work on modelling the right behaviour at every level of the organisation.”
Want to know more about how happy employees make change sustainably successful? Read all about it in PROOF's sixth book, Happy change. Order it here.