Navigating a successful integration: A people-centric approach

Published by Colt Technology Services on June 26, 2024

By Ramona Botha, VP of Employee Experience & Enablement at Colt

The heart of success in any integration lies in effectively managing the human element. Despite 95% of executives describing cultural fit as vital to the overall success of an integration, 25% still point to cultural cohesion and alignment as the number one reason why integration efforts fail.

That’s why we’ve put people and culture at the heart of plans for integrating Lumen EMEA into Colt. We have placed a strong emphasis on this with pre and post-integration planning, ensuring that our people remain at the centre of every decision.

In this blog, I wanted to share a little more about our approach and the work we’ve done so far.

Cultural integration: The foundation of success

From the outset of announcing our intent to acquire Lumen EMEA, we recognised the importance of understanding the cultures of both organisations. Before the deal closed in November 2023, we conducted extensive research, engaged with stakeholders, and worked closely with Lumen EMEA’s HR team to achieve a cohesive employee experience. We conducted a deep cultural assessment of Colt and implemented many initiatives including manager briefings, a manager playbook, a dedicated intranet welcome area and our Culture Buddy Programme to support onboarding. The programme involved over 1,200 sign ups which showed people desired human connections and it has really helped to foster early relations and friendships.

There’s been a lot of effort throughout the organisation to bring people together. Connection Days, where Colties visit their local office twice a month to connect with purpose, and events with our employee networks have further strengthened new bonds. Our employee networks have been harmonised with change champions and ambassadors integrated to help us to deliver a consistent and impactful employee experience across all functions and countries.

Pre and post-deal preparation

Like the integration research tells us, supporting people through the change journey is absolutely key. As part of the planning, we defined employee experience principals and then ensured these were at the core of all the different work streams.

Listening and communication: Building trust

“It’s fundamentally important to us that anything that we design has been informed by our people.”

Effective communication has been our backbone. A cornerstone of our approach to this integration has been a robust listening and communication strategy. We have implemented extensive listening measures, including surveys and regular manager meetings, to gather employee feedback. We even created a ‘your countdown to Colt’ guide for our new Colties prior to the acquisition closing which walked them through their first day and answered key questions they would likely have ahead of time.

We have committed to sharing all that we can with our Colties regarding the integration through monthly manager meetings and recorded sound bite updates and we have used the responses from surveys to shape future initiatives. It’s fundamentally important to us that anything that we design has been informed by our people. We don’t have all the answers but it’s about being as open and transparent as we can be about what that journey is ahead of us.

Recognition and reward: Acknowledging each other

Recognition is vital in maintaining morale and motivation. Our initiatives, including our annual employee reward trip, have been instrumental in appreciating our teams’ hard work and fostering a positive environment. These efforts have helped to build strong, collaborative relationships across the new, combined organisation as well as raising awareness of our values. Our people are working extremely hard as we integrate, so recognition is a core part of our ‘One Team’ approach.

Why this effort matters

Putting so much effort into the people side of the integration is essential for several reasons. For our people, it means creating an environment where they feel valued, understood and connected. By prioritising cultural integration and transparent communication, we are aiming to reduce anxiety and build a cohesive, connected and supportive workplace. This focus helps ensure that Colties can thrive and perform at their best, which ultimately drives the success of the integration.

For our customers, our commitment to a smooth integration means continuity and reliability. We understand that our customers rely on us for a consistent, high-quality service. By maintaining stable operations and being transparent about changes, we aim to uphold their trust and satisfaction. In the long run, all our efforts will offer them greater opportunities with our expanded capabilities.

Our integration journey is ongoing, and while challenges are expected, our commitment to a people-centric approach has laid a strong foundation for its success.

If you want to hear more about the progress of our integration, we have sponsored industry analysts IDC to deliver three short Spotlights. The first Spotlight paper ‘Colt and Lumen EMEA Integration: Bringing People Together‘ is now available.

View our new content series with IDC

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