A recent article in a Danish online magazine called F5 outlines well our CEO’s usage of an executive blog for communication with colleagues across the world. It is in Danish, but with the strengths of Google Translate I made a quick translation. So please keep this in mind when reading it…
All credits to the author Asser Bøggild Christensen and the interviewee Thomas Asger Hansen, AND Mads Nipper of course! Original article in Danish published on August 28th at Magasinet F5.
At Grundfos, the CEO is not afraid of spelling mistakes and openness. Therefore, his blog on the collaboration platform Yammer has become a forum for lively debate
Grundfos is a company of 18,000 people spread around the world and 14,000 of them are for the most part behind a computer screen. Even then a large part of the employees still have a good personal relationship with the director of it all, Grundfos CEO Mads Nipper.
He has his own blog on the social collaboration tool Yammer. Here, employees can read about his thoughts, worries and everyday life. And they can comment; like on a classic social media like Facebook.
”Mads is very communicative, and he is good at it. His blog on Yammer actually started already a few months before he took over as CEO. The way he uses Yammer, helps to strengthen an open and transparent dialogue. And this was quite new for the employees, since there was no one in the company who had previously experienced a CEO who was so open and engaged in the daily debate “says Thomas Asger Hansen, Head of Global Working Culture.
Not afraid of misspelling
According to Thomas Asger Hansen the success lies in that Mads Nipper is not afraid of making mistakes and a more up front communication. It is not flawless management messages and press releases. Instead it is a rather a realistic view of what is going on as a CEO.
“He has enough confidence that he can make typos and other stuff. Usually perfection kills CEO blogs, and then it becomes just one-way communication. In this way, the feeling of closeness to the boss strengthened. But of course it’s still a strategic communications platform” says Thomas Asger Hansen, who together with VP of Communications Kim Nøhr Skibsted launched the idea of letting the director blogging and debate on Yammer.
“I know a lot of different Danish director blogs, and most of them are dead – in the sense that there is never authentic response from the organization. When it is too perfect, it’s not treated as an invitation to dialogue. The space is closed by the reciprocal exchange,” says Thomas Asger Hansen.
With the sudden direct connection between Grundfos employees and their top executive has not only created more transparency in the organization. It has also shown that the ideas and projects get a faster start.
“If someone writes about an idea, then Mads go in and ‘ping’ a leader and say, ‘Please, can you just give me an idea of what you are thinking?’. It can accelerate progress really fast,” says Thomas Asger Hansen.
No waste of time
Is the Grundfos CEO not ending up sitting all day and answer questions from disgruntled or attention-getting employees when access to him is so open? No, says Thomas Asger Hansen. He says that there has been a debate culture on Yammer, which prevents the kind.
“Initially there were some who hijacked the debate, but such thing is self-regulating. Many of these on-line discussions operates in the same manner as in a public, physical space. If there is one that just keeps going its own agenda, then we of course also stop listening. Now there eventually resulted in a fine culture of the whole debate on Yammer. ”
Thomas Asger Hansen even think that Yammer can help to qualify the debate in the company. “The debate on Yammer also means that other people dare to talk about difficult or potentially conflicting things. And it is necessary that a company can move forward, instead of that talk just takes place in small offices around. ”
What about mail?
In a new study, which magazine F5 is behind, it turns out that few Danish companies take advantage of social collaboration tools like Yammer. 40 percent of the 600 respondents in the study worked in companies that exclusively used the mails and phone calls to internal communication and collaboration. So why has Grundfos chosen a different approach instead of mail?
“Mail is great for many things – it’s just not optimal for transparency and effective cooperation, and everyone wants fewer mails in the inbox. With Yammer can choose if you want to be active or just peeking. In addition, Yammer includes people who otherwise would not dare to be part of the debate,” says Thomas Asger Hansen and elaborates: “The problem with email is that it often is a locked door to information. ‘Mail is the place where knowledge goes to die,’ is a quote that reads, and I buy that. But there will probably always be a certain amount of e-mails the next 5-10 years, and there are also things that are best suited for the media,” he says.
Thomas Asger Hansen states that Mads Nippers use of Yammer is just one case in which the tool is valuable. There are many other ways depending on the context.
“Mads’ blog is one way to use Yammer on. But there are also a lot of other use cases. One of our executives just used it to ask broadly about inputs to strategy, and in particular there are also plenty of smaller forums in which there is teamwork. And it is probably closer cooperation across and within teams, which is the typical use case, and where the greatest value is created.”