Changing company culture by training feedback at VodafoneZiggo

Feedback: it can be a tricky aspect of our professional relations. On one hand, we like to be critical to achieve the optimal result, together. While on the other hand, having our own work criticized can cause frustration. That’s why becoming a master in giving and receiving feedback is crucial to create an open culture within your organization.

VodafoneZiggo noticed this importance as well. To help their employees give and receive feedback, we developed a tailor-made training course, supporting their change management. Together, we focused on openness, behavioral change and teamwork. Nynke Hagen, Culture & Engagement Manager at VodafoneZiggo, and Marianne van Munster, Senior Trainer at Relevance, discuss this wonderful project.

Culture program

VodafoneZiggo starts their journey of opening up their company culture at the first value of three cultural values: ‘Open Up’. This value aims to create a culture of openness and accountability, a place where employees feel free to give feedback and ask each other questions. The other two values are ‘Team Up’ and ‘Step Up’. Nynke says: “Our company culture has been a high priority ever since the joint venture between Vodafone and Ziggo in 2017. From that point, we explored what we stand for as a company in the first year, which was followed by focusing on what we know about our values in the second year.” By taking these important steps, VodafoneZiggo was ready to take off behavior development within the company by the third year.

Meeting the need for change

The company conducts an engagement survey amongst their employees numerous times a year. The results showed a strong desire among employees for improving (cultural) behavior. VodafoneZiggo wanted to respond to this need. This was certainly a good call, since the Covid-19 pandemic hit simultaneously. The result: a stronger need for clear communication and efficient teamwork than ever. “We started out by asking ourselves what kind of behavior we want to reinforce and prioritize in our company culture. That’s where the value of ‘Open Up’ came in,” Nynke explains.

Marianne proposed to visibly embed all three VodafoneZiggo values into the learning modules. She says: “We believe in making a meaningful contribution to support an organization in their strategically development and shaping partnerships instead of just providing a training.” Nynke agrees: “We collaborate in figuring out ways to inspire and improve behavior. Relevance has been a great sparring partner and source of inspiration to us.”

Feedback in teams

“The training set out to make a clear distinction on what feedback is, and more importantly, what is not! Then, we practice the ‘how,’” Marianne says. “The trainings were done from an individual perspective, but we soon learned that we needed to shift our focus towards creating a feedback culture within our teams. Now, more than 150 teams have followed the training. These teams vary from technicians and store staff, to our HR director and his team. By following the feedback training, employees create the basis for stronger teamwork and feel empowered to experiment. Exactly these skills are what the other two values, ‘Team Up’ and ‘Step Up’ focus on.

“If you're good at giving feedback doesn't matter if the other person is unable to receive it. Once you improve the way you receive feedback, how other people give you feedback is no longer important.”

Marianne van Munster

Major success

“The training was tailor-made for us, by Relevance. Each team had different content, placed into their specific context,” Nynke mentions. “The responses we received have been incredibly positive. The other day, someone told me he had reached his learning goals. He explained he went from feeling like a weak cup of coffee to a strong espresso!” Marianne elaborates. “I also saw a manager being visibly moved after our training. She was genuinely touched by seeing her team opening up.” These wonderful examples were also reflected by the date gathered from the conducted evaluations and effect scans. Upon completing the feedback training, people rated themselves two points higher on average than before following the training. Nynke adds: “I hear people are more comfortable and find it easier to give one-on-one feedback than before. Now, they are much more likely to comment on positive aspects instead of focusing on the negative. This wonderful development is entirely in line with our new mindset of continual learning. We look forward to embedding this mindset in other processes and programs too, such as leadership development and performance management.”

Unlimited learning

Now, employees at VodafoneZiggo think of feedback in terms of “supportive” and “developmental” instead of “positive” and “negative.” “This is a wonderful development, which is fully in line with our new mindset of continual learning,” explains Nynke. “To truly create a culture in which everyone feels safe to speak openly, we are also embedding this mindset in other processes and programs, such as performance management and leadership development. In addition to this feedback training, we still have hundreds of training modules and courses on the Archipel platform, a sister company of Relevance. Our employees have unlimited access to these.”

“Are you working on your company culture? Embed your values in everything you do and involve people from all over the company to create a new norm.”

Nynke Hagen

Safeguarding the future

Because as we all know: the learning process never ends. That’s why, in addition to this feedback training, VodafoneZiggo employees have unlimited access to hundreds of training modules on the Archipel platform, a Relevance sister company. Meanwhile, Nynke and Marianne continue to think of ways to expand the feedback training by organizing additional modules or refreshers. “We’re exploring how to give feedback from every possible angle,” Nynke explains. Managers are facilitated by custom developed practical tools, which help them to optimize their leadership skills, inspire their team members and help to give them feedback.”

To any organization that wants to work on its culture, Nynke would like to say: “Embed your values in everything you do. Involve people from all over the company. Choosing some standalone training module and expect for it to have an effect, doesn’t suffice. Make sure to continue the learning process after the training is over, so that new behaviors become the norm.”

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