Change Management: Keep it Transparent
Lone Roervig interviews Christine Schönfelder – Vice President Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, Advocacy and Change Management at Styrolution
Lone Roervig: In what kind of change process(es) have you been involved?
Christine Schönfelder: I have been involved in several change processes. The formation of the joint venture Styrolution, which was founded in October 2011, as certainly the biggest, the most challenging and most exciting.
Lone Roervig: What was your role during the change process?
Christine Schönfelder: I joined the company March 2011, so half a year before the JV was founded. I was brought on board in order to build up communications from scratch, including investor relations, public relations, marketing communications, advocacy, online, crisis, internal and change ommunications – a function that as such was non-existent at that point. As part of the extended management board my role was to bring the communication erspective to the table, to demonstrate the need for communication, position Styrolution externally and build one team internally.
Lone Roervig: Was there a common understanding and acceptance of the communication perspective?
Christine Schönfelder: There was a general excellent agreement about the strategies and scope of the work. I designed and presented the strategies for the different fields of communications, discussed them in the board and/or with respective stakeholders and then implemented them.
Lone Roervig: What would you say, was the most challenging part throughout a change process?
Christine Schönfelder: I would not say one specific part was more challenging than the other – it was rather the multitude of things at once and the speed with which we went about with a lean team. In the beginning you could compare it with “Building a plane while it is taking off” – the whole process was challenging and great experience.
Lone Roervig: How did you cope with it?
Christine Schönfelder: The process in itself was motivating for me, and this is needed in such a process – a lot of determination and passion for change. Styrolution has a great and energetic team – it’s the people that are great to work with no matter the task.
Lone Roervig: Retaining talent could be one of the most important missions during such a change process – what did your company do, to retain the talent?
Christine Schönfelder: From the perspective of communications we strongly focussed on employer branding and transparent communication from day one in order to mitigate insecurity that is naturally inherent in all change processes. That involved enabling a clear understanding on our company’s vision, objectives, values, strategy and constant information on individual implementation measures. Integral communication and consistent messages internally and externally throughout all channels is key, not only from the communication department, but from top management and middle management. Saying what you do and doing what you say.
Lone Roervig: With your today’s experience and looking back at the change process, would you do anything different?
Christine Schönfelder: There is certainly no “one right way”, but I don’t think we could have done anything different within the same level of resources. We have built up a strong, reliable brand in the market and one team internally. I think we can be very happy with the result, how we drove the change. Our business results certainly prove that.
Lone Roervig: Is there anything you took away from the changing process?
Christine Schönfelder: In general, a successful process is so dependent on people and their ability and willingness to embrace change. It’s about giving the people a sense of purpose. Building up communications from scratch and driving the company’s identity and positioning with all stakeholder groups was an opportunity and privilege.
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Regional Practice Group Leader, MEA – Life Sciences, Human Capital Solutions