Tackling Insecurities Head-on

David Hansen is the CEO of Taconic

David Hansen is the CEO of Taconic, an American biotech company. He is Danish, and he used Dialoogle picture cards as an icebreaker and conversation tool when he met his American employees for the first time.

Taconic is an American biotech company with branches all over the world. Last year, the company introduced a new global organisation and business model. As a consequence, the new Danish CEO, David Hansen, had to lay off almost 20 percent of the 1000 employees in the US. This caused massive insecurity among the remaining employees.

“I needed to address rumours, provide answers and lay out the new facts of life in order to demystify the radical changes the company was undergoing – and last, but not least, I needed to get to know the employees and start a constructive dialogue”, David explains.

Even if it sounds like a difficult task, David solved it with a surprisingly good result. He chose to meet the employees in groups of 20, using Dialoogle picture cards as an icebreaker and conversation tool.

“Everywhere the employees were afraid to meet me. They did not know me, I had laid off many of their colleagues, and they were not at all used to meeting the boss personally. So naturally I was met with reserved faces and crossed arms”, David Hansen continues.

“The employees expected me to turn up with a traditional Power Point presentation and one-way communication, so the picture cards took them by surprise. They were new to everybody. I asked very few questions and encouraged them to talk about what was happening in the company with the support of the picture cards. I asked them which direction they felt was right one for the company to take, and how they felt about it. The employees did most of the talking – they talked to me and to each other. They were able to relax, laugh, be sarcastic and open up about their fears and doubts because the images talked for them”, says David.

At some sites, the meetings were held in small auditoriums. In these cases, David handed out randomly chosen picture cards to all the employees and asked them to pair up and choose one of their cards as a talking point.

At other sites and where it was possible, David laid out the Dialoogle cards on the floor or a table and ask the employees to choose a card each from the set. Their familiar physical environment should not be changed.

I held ten Dialoogle meetings in three days at our largest site in New York, where I met about 250 employees in groups of 6-30.

The anonymous feedback on all my meetings was very detailed, interesting and positive. These meetings became very important in terms of how we cooperate in the company. The employees remember the images in an unambiguously positive way.

David had been through a similar process in Europe, and Taconic got positive feedback both in Europe and the United States on the surprising way in which David had tackled the insecurities head on.

Now, six months later, Taconic can report about greater employee and customer satisfaction as well as higher quality in production.



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