Navigating a large-scale culture transformation in a hybrid workforce

13 December 2021 3 min. read

Following strong growth primarily through acquisitions, Australasian tech company Datacom was facing many different sub-cultures within its ranks. Together with Q5 experts, Datacom defined a new set of corporate values and behaviours and set out to implement and align the culture.

Founded in 1965, Datacom is an information technology services company specialising in software development, cloud services, IT outsourcing and data centres. With more than 7,000 employees across New Zealand, Australia and Asia, the firm is now Australasia’s largest homegrown tech company.

Datacom has grown primarily through acquisitions, leading to many sub-cultures co-existing across the organisation. This in turn meant that decision-making and efforts to drive further improvements in performance became more of a challenge (as well as integrating new bolt-ons), something which Datacom’s Board identified and set out to improve.

Navigating a large-scale culture transformation in a hybrid workforce

Cultural transformations can be complex, particularly across a large-scale, hybrid workforce. Datacom wanted to set the culture that would anchor the company’s ten-year ambition, starting by re-defining a set of values and behaviours that their employees were guided by and could connect with. The company chose Q5 to support this journey.

Q5 developed an approach to co-design a new set of values. This included specific behaviours to ensure it was clear what was expected from team members. First, this saw Q5 engage with employees across the business to understand Datacom’s specific context, their history and current culture as well as areas they thought needed to change as it would be critical to the future success of Datacom.

Interviewing 40+ leaders from the Board and senior management, Q5 also held close to two dozen virtual workshops for each Datacom location – attended by over 260 staff – and ran a survey across the organisation to gather input on the future values from another 1,700 perspectives.

Buy-in for change

Employee and leadership buy-in for cultural change are crucial to its success, and this approach meant Datacom was driving the process and felt confident in Q5 to facilitate the process as they had developed a respect for the organisation’s history with a balance of leadership and work floor perspectives.

The project team followed this up with the mobilisation of a cross-functional design team, made up of ten professionals (including several Datacom experts). They ran an intensive design process to craft the new values and behaviour around the input received, and added ‘best practices’ from other organisations into their plans.

Once draft values and behaviours had been determined extensively the project team analysed Datacom’s employees to identify the 100 most influential people in the organisation using social network analysis. This group of ‘ambassadors’ was then brought together to test the draft values, before mobilising them to help as a change agent network.

With this in place, Q5 produced an implementation plan and designed sessions through which the top 200 leaders across Datacom could explain the changes from their own personal perspective and launch the new values.

Speaking on Q5’s work, Siobhan Gallacher, Group People & Culture Director at Datacom, noted, “It was just fabulous to work with people who took the time to understand us, our situation, the nuances of some of the stakeholders, and could be accepted and listened to by the chief executive officer.”

“There was no time wasted, fabulous listening skills, fast translation of the theoretical approach into action planning and overall Q5 have delivered some great outcomes that will take us forward and then some.”

For more information on the case see the white paper ‘Successfully navigating culture change with Datacom’.