Viessmann Refrigeration Solutions is a leading European manufacturer of commercial refrigeration systems known for comprehensive environmental-, user-, and service-friendly solutions. Refrigeration products are manufactured at Viessmann’s plants in Finland and Germany. Viessmann bought a Finnish refrigeration manufacturer in 2013 and wanted to integrate the company as part of its own operations. Viessmann group wanted to align company culture and practices between the Finnish organization and the group as well as increase productivity. Their aim was to make the transformation according to the values of the family business without staff and cost cuts being a driving force of change.
Why not make the transformation on their own?
Joachim Schlichtig was put in charge of managing the transformation in 2017. Prior to his Porvoo assignment, he held a variety of managerial positions, both in business and in the role of consultant. He quickly identified the steps needed to execute the change. Experience has shown that operative activities require a lot of attention, and there is a risk that the change itself will stop moving forward. Joachim discussed with HR Director Maria Boije-Malm and they selected Pekko Nieminen from Ave Group as a collaborator.
Joachim muses that as a leader you are sometimes alone, especially with new matters, and you can’t always deliberate options with people from your organization and obtain feedback on your thoughts. “In an organizational situation, you are expected to say what needs to be done. A good team will then tell you how it should be done and what to take into consideration” Joachmin says. Yet sometimes a leader needs to structure his visions and for that, he needs a trusted collaborator with experience and insight. In addition, the interlocutor must have the ability to constructively disagree; dare to question and justify their views. Joachim adds: “Pekko has all these qualities. He has the skill to argue and challenge your client in a constructive way.”
A committed management team achieves results
At Viessmann, the first phase of the transformation lasted three years. It was implemented in a process-like manner with monthly, quarterly and yearly repetitive activities that were implemented and monitored. Maria says that Pekko’s presence as a facilitator was necessary, both in discussions and as a supporter and promoter of the change process which took several years. With people focusing on their day-to-day tasks, change implementation would have been smothered by operational activity. To facilitate change, you need an entity that focuses on monitoring development and who can then bring issues to the attention of the company’s management when necessary.
The transformation began by building a common vision with the factory management team. Pekko held workshops where everyone was forced to reflect on their willingness and ability to participate in making the change. Next, Pekko facilitated discussions which helped the management team build a common vision of how to achieve the objectives. “This was absolutely crucial,” Maria says. “Pekko’s involvement ensured that we had a unified view – also on the unpleasant issues. A common understanding of the transformation and goals creates predictability. Predictability and a common front make leadership reliable. All of this directly impacted the personnel’s commitment and the transformation’s success. ”
The power of feedback from own personnel
Although things were done systematically and as agreed upon in advance, the game plan was kept agile so it was possible to react quickly to changes in direction. The game plan was also reviewed through regular information sessions and feedback was collected from the entire staff. Joachim emphasizes the importance of feedback. “People in organizations do not always dare to voice their opinions. It’s human, but then genuine feedback is concealed and management can’t reflect on the impact of their decisions.” Here Pekko also acted as a messenger in the organization. Employees were not forced to give feedback, but ideas and experiences were exchanged in workshops and separate feedback events. Pekko compiled the feedback for everyone in a constructive way, but most importantly, the content itself was never filtered but was kept open and transparent. In this way, management team members received more tools for decision making. “Pekko has the ability to approach people and build trust, but most of all, to act so that trust is maintained.” Joachim sums it up.
Walk the talk and reason to celebrate
“Pekko is an entrepreneur and doesn’t work in a large consulting firm, so he is independent and able to adapt to the client’s needs. He is also very service and customer-oriented, which is reflected in the way that he considers everyone’s matters to be of importance, ”says Maria. “In addition, confidence is built because he lives up to his words: he walks the talk. “
Pekko was involved in making the transformation, which required the commitment of the entire staff and, above all, unified management on the operational side as well as the necessary tools and methods for the transformation procedures. The journey with transformation achieved the desired end result in all measures, including the result below the line. Viessmann Porvoo factory’s entire personnel celebrated a successful transformation in February 2020.