Particularly in times of crisis, employee management is a key factor not only in maintaining productivity, but also in the cultural sense of solidarity and thus in the employee’s loyalty. In a survey by the Stepstone online job platform in 2020, 62 percent of the participants wanted their superiors to communicate with them more – even before the Covid-19 crisis. In July 2020, when Germany already introduced the first measures for the pandemic, communication in most companies is only restricted to virtual channels: home office, no personal contact in the office, communication with colleagues only takes place digitally. The Covid-19 pandemic also presented a challenge for LAPP in this respect: “On-site communication was only possible to a very limited extent due to the lockdown and extensive home office obligation,” reports Nadine Bunz, Head of Culture, Change & Communications at LAPP. That is why she worked together with her team, HR developer Isabella Weidele and an external consultant to develop the Connectors’ Club format. For this digital event, LAPP managers meet for around three hours on an online platform. “We deliberately decided not to make it a full-day event,” explains Nadja Wild, Head of Change Communications. “An entire day would make it harder for many to take part, but this way, everyone interested can take the time to participate. And it creates the incentive not just to leave it at the event, but to continue the exchange afterwards in order to explore topics in more depth.”
Managers from all hierarchical levels
At the first LAPP Connectors’ Club, LAPP managers from all over Germany gave talks on topics that moved them. Managers from all hierarchical levels were able to attend these sessions, ask questions and discuss them across all department boundaries. It was a successful concept that enabled exchange in difficult times and aroused a spirit of solidarity. After the event, the organisers received an impressive feedback: “Everything is GREAT – keep it up!” “The possibility of openness needs to be preserved, then we are ONE LAPP.” “I was impressed by the open and dedicated delegates.” That is why the event format has been extended to the DCH and EMEA areas, as well as to sector-specific Connectors’ Clubs, which have already been implemented for the supply chain and are currently in the planning phase for sales.
A new management culture from within
Matthias Lapp, LAPP CEO LA EMEA and initiator of cultural change at LAPP, supported the project right from the outset: “I knew right away that it was exactly what we wanted to develop and strengthen at LAPP – a cross-departmental and hierarchical exchange in the sense of ONE LAPP, with managers as ‘connectors’ who create a connection between people as part of the new LAPP management culture. We are therefore consistently implementing our corporate vision of reliably connecting the world.” What mattered to him: “It was particularly important to us that this was not just an event for top management, but for all LAPP managers. And the feedback showed that we were in the right place with this: many replied that despite the purely digital framework, there was an enormous spirit among the participants.”
Alongside inspiring, learning from one another is of great importance to the format: “We have particularly experienced during the pandemic that there is no point imposing a rigid concept on everyone,” says Matthias Lapp. “Individual teams and departments had innovative ideas about how to solve their challenges – it is absolutely clear that we need to offer space for them to present these concepts to other company participants.”
Nadja Wild does not see any disadvantage in the purely digital format: “On the contrary, it only allows us to communicate between the various companies and departments across all local and national boundaries. This would not be possible from an organisational perspective.” A prerequisite for the long-term success of the series is fulfilled by the fact that the entire management team in LA EMEA has committed to always hold sessions, including production managers in manufacturing and team leaders in administration. As a result, the Connectors’ Club will continue to maintain the breadth and relevance that have distinguished previous editions in the future. “The enthusiasm and impetus for the sessions come exclusively from our own managers,” said Nadja Wild. “We have so many good people in house but have used their knowledge far too little – the Connectors’ Club was the ideal opportunity to change that.”