You can certainly merge two companies, but as management, you don't get to decide that employees have to get along well with each other and share the same values. This has to come from the employees themselves. That's why twenty-two people from Vodafone and twenty-two people from Ziggo came together to form the Culture Crew. It is their mission to help bring the two cultures together and develop common core values.
"Human behaviour fascinates me," says Gert-Jan Bos, senior capacity manager at VodafoneZiggo. He has been a Culture Crew member from the very beginning. "Why do we do the things we do? And what happens during the formation of a culture? When I first heard about the Culture Crew, I immediately signed up. It was exciting from the very first meeting, because we immediately saw a major difference: at Vodafone, the official language was English and at Ziggo it was Dutch. We discussed the matter immediately: how are we going to deal with this on the ground? We came up with a polder solution: all communication is in Dutch with the English version beneath, and at management level, English is the working language."
The Culture Crew, then, forms an important bridge between the shop floor and management. "We find out what's happening in every corner of the company," explains Gert-Jan. "How are things going in each department? Is there any frustration? What about the workload? We are, as it were, the organisation’s thermometer. We also ensure that everyone at VodafoneZiggo becomes acquainted with our core values: Open Up, Team Up, Step Up. These core values, incidentally, stem from input from no fewer than 700 employees, with the Culture Crew facilitating the questionnaire that garnered this input. As a result, these values are widely supported by staff, with the organisation really getting behind them."
It goes without saying that new VodafoneZiggo employees are introduced to these core values; enter the Culture Crew. "All new staff members go through a two-day introduction programme," says Gert-Jan. "Among lots of other things, they learn how we work together at VodafoneZiggo. The Culture Crew presents this part of the programme. We give a workshop in which new staff members put the core values into practice themselves, and so learn to better understand each other's perceptions."
Personalising core values
"In order to give our core values substance, it is crucial that employees translate them into their personal circumstances," says senior internal auditor and Culture Crew member Tamila Baste. "What do they mean to you in everyday life? A slogan is one thing, but only gets you so far. The Culture Crew helps colleagues make this personal connection. I studied business sociology, so I find such processes extremely interesting. The Culture Crew is a great opportunity for me to share my knowledge about human behaviour and help colleagues understand our values, so that they feel even more connected to VodafoneZiggo."
Connect through coffee
"I think it's great that we have so many people coming together to help our organisation move forward," says Tamila. "It's inspiring to be around people who have a feel for the organisation. But our role as ambassadors doesn't stop there. We are constantly coming up with new ways to connect colleagues with each other and with the organisation. We regularly schedule Coffee & Connect Sessions, for instance. During these gatherings, staff can pose questions to the management team and the management team, in turn, shares personal stories. It’s a wonderful, unique way for everyone to get to know each other a little better."
The VodafoneZiggo feeling
Gert-Jan and Tamila will continue to spread their VodafoneZiggo message throughout the organisation in the period ahead, and hope other colleagues will join them." The bigger the Culture Crew, the better - and more fun! When we have meetings, I get a real VodafoneZiggo feeling," explains Gert-Jan. "And I want others to share it.” Tamila concurs. "With a larger group, we can explain our values even better. Through workshops, for instance. Perhaps you’re already thinking about participating. If you are, feel free to approach one of us. We’d be delighted to explain exactly what we do and why having a group of ambassadors like us is so important."
Also read the interview with Nynke Hagen from the Culture Crew