"You define a culture together"

"You define a culture together"

Nynke Hagen on the culture at VodafoneZiggo

"A strong corporate culture creates connectedness", says Nynke Hagen of HR. "Not only the success of your company depends on it, but also the job satisfaction of your employees". How does VodafoneZiggo go about this?

VodafoneZiggo is a huge organisation, with many people in different positions. "After the coming together of Vodafone and Ziggo in 2017, we set a common goal: fun and progress in every connection," says Nynke Hagen, who is responsible in HR for culture and engagement. "This kind of purpose provides guidance and connection. That way, everyone knows what they're doing and why.

Behaviour determines success
Corporate culture is subsequently about how you achieve that goal. Hagen: "The way you do things determines your success. That's why the behaviour of our employees is an important foundation for our strategy. How should we behave in order to achieve our ambitions? It’s a dynamic process.

Culture Crew
In that process, VodafoneZiggo has set aside a role for the Culture Crew: a group of colleagues who committed to fostering a great culture. "Culture belongs to us all. It is not imposed from above, but is ours, together. The Culture Crew is a community of diverse staff members from all corners of our company. They organise meetings, garner opinions from within the organisation, and compile and share what they learn. In this way, they stimulate continuous dialogue between employees and the management".

Corporate values
Open Up, Team Up, Step Up. These are the three VodafoneZiggo corporate values. They were not imposed from above, but were drawn up together with employees. Ever since, the company has continuously highlighted these three values through campaigns and narratives, but above all by stimulating conversation about values and behaviour in teams. We organised a 'Team Up Relay Race', for instance, challenging staff to talk to other teams to promote cooperation. And we also put colleagues who stand out in terms of behaviour in the spotlight through the Open Up, Team Up and Step Up Awards".

Honest about blunders
"We have encouraged openness by asking all our directors to introduce themselves personally on the intranet. They did so with great honesty, unafraid to share their vulnerabilities. In podcasts, we give managers the opportunity to speak honestly about their mistakes, and what they have learned from them. Only the other day, I went for a walk and listened to two of these podcasts one after the other, something that was really inspiring. It says something about our culture that people, even at the highest level, dare to talk about blunders, often embarrassing ones at that. It makes it clear that we are all human, something that gave me a sense of relief: 'Ah, so they feel insecure sometimes, too.' This openness helps enormously in understanding one another better and in daring to seek each other out for help."

From entry to evaluation
Ultimately, we embed these values in everything we do, says Hagen. "From hiring new colleagues, to the way we conduct development interviews and the layout of our offices. In order to help both employees and managers, we offer various skills courses. For example: how should you give and receive feedback? And, if you’re a manager, how do you create an environment in which people dare to step out of their comfort zones to try something new? In this way, we ensure that colleagues know our values, embrace them and behave accordingly. At the end of the day, that is what improves our company."

Feeling at home
The ultimate goal is a culture where everyone feels good and can be at their best, Hagen believes. "A strong corporate culture makes colleagues feel at home in the organisation. You understand one another, work well together and get the best out of yourself. Culture is the glue that keeps us together."

Also read the interview with two members of the Culture Crew