How Cable&Wireless managed its people through a restructure

Written by
Changeboard Team

06 Aug 2010

06 Aug 2010 • by Changeboard Team

C&W Worldwide turnaround

The turnaround of C&W Worldwide and its emergence as a new company was made possible by the new management team instilling a major change of ethos into the company and its people, and the people team played a crucial role in engaging colleagues to successfully delivering the required change.

When the turnaround process began, C&W Worldwide was seen as an underperforming division of the larger Cable&Wireless Group; by the time of the demerger less than five years later, it was valued at over ??2.5bn, and its growth potential was recognised. One of the key factors that allowed the company to effect this dramatic change of fortunes was inspiring colleagues to believe that the company could break with the past and transform itself into a successful business.

Refreshing the strategy

When a company undergoes a major turnaround programme, it is vital that everybody in that company is clear on what the strategy, values and goals are. During the demerger process, these were refreshed and updated, and we have clear values to:

  • Be the customer
  • Say it like it is
  • One team
  • We deliver

Communicating the strategy

In a company turnaround situation, you are not starting with a greenfield site there is history, and you have to be conscious of what has gone before. For this reason, before communicating the new strategy, it's important to be able to demonstrate examples of management responding positively to colleague feedback. 

A major Challenge is to ensure the workforce also has a feel for longer term goals what the company will look like a year, two years, or four years down the track and that is all about ensuring that you have great communication across the business.

When announcing news we deploy fast, direct communications using multimedia presentations, but we have also developed a programme of management webinars to build leadership capability and cascade corporate strategy and messages through the company structure. In this way we are making the most of the resources of our middle management to support the direct communications, at the same time as developing their leadership skills.

In addition, we worked closely with our Employee Consultative Forum (ECF) elected representatives from across the business to ensure colleagues not only had a voice, but could take an active part in shaping our change strategy. The ECF continues to perform a central role in ensuring the relationship between colleagues and the business is mutually beneficial.

As part of our communications programme, we make use of our own technology and solutions, including Managed Video Conferencing (MVC), which allows face-to-face interaction without the need for travel, reducing carbon emissions and allowing colleagues an improved work life balance. In addition, we provide colleagues with Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC), providing one phone and number for both fixed and mobile telephone calls.

Enfranchising colleagues

C&W Worldwide has instituted a number of initiatives to ensure that our colleagues goals are aligned to those of the overall business strategy.

A key to this enfranchisement process is making everyone a shareholder in the company. At demerger, colleagues were given ??500 worth of shares each, which theyll receive in November. This means they have a direct interest in the performance of the business, and can see a personal benefit from the success of the company. In addition to this, we operate a 'two-for-one' scheme on share purchases for colleagues, encouraging the workforce to invest in the company.

Development of our people is incredibly important to us, and thats why weve launched the iMatter portal, providing a set of online tools to help colleagues identify their strengths and map out their goals, helping them develop their career path within the organisation.  This scheme operates in conjunction with an initiative to identify high-potential individuals across the whole workforce, and to encourage them to accelerate their career development through training and direction.

We are also committed to helping our colleagues daily lives while encouraging environmental awareness, and have recently implemented the iDrive scheme to provide a low emissions car lease scheme, where all the running costs of the car, barring fuel, are paid for monthly in a salary sacrifice. This provides a cost effective way for people to run a car, and encourages them to use low emissions vehicles for their journey to work. In addition to the iDrive scheme, we also promote car-share and bike-to-work schemes, to encourage low emission transport among colleagues.

Demerger and ongoing Challenge

The success of the turnaround and the commitment and passion that we see in colleagues across the company are hugely encouraging. The turnaround process has seen a major shift in corporate culture and, as we embark on our new journey as a standalone company, we face a new set of Challenges to continue to satisfy the needs of our stakeholders.

Therefore, were moving our culture to the next level, where the individuals skills and abilities are the focal point. We can develop the leadership skill of our managers further, and we constantly strive to improve communication in our business. 

Were excited by these Challenges and will continue to bring our colleagues with us on our exciting new journey as a plc.