The ‘secret sauce’ for transforming a company

“For our business, if we think that we can have the same kinds of companies with the same cultures, with the same people, doing the same things engaging in the same ways and expect to compete, let alone succeed in the digital age, then that is the definition of insanity,” said Mary Berner, president and CEO, MPA -The Association of Magazine Media, USA, at the FIPP World Congress in Rome today.

Berner took the stage to give advice on how to successfully transform a magazine media organization in order to make it in the digital age. The key to success when transforming a company, she said, is an equal combination and balance of a good business strategy and culture/employee engagement.

“It is critical to have engaged employees,” said Berner. “By engaged I mean people who are attracted, inspired, and committed, and fascinated by their work.”

There are common threads when successfully transforming a company. The “secret sauce,” as Berner calls it, is delivered in four steps: define it, communicate it, live it, and shake it up. The first responsibility of a leader is to define the company’s point of arrival, what type of company it is, the vision, and what rules and behaviors are needed to reach its goals.

Secondly, it is important to communicate appropriately with employees in a clear and direct way. “Good leaders know how to develop clear business strategies and then they communicate them clearly, concisely, credibly and consistently,” said Berner. Every employee should be aware of the company’s goals and should have two-way communication with all of the managers. It doesn’t matter what your strategy is as a leader. What matters is that you commit to it and work it into your process.

“Every bit of research will show that companies with engaged employees work faster, they are more productive, they are more likely to hit their revenue targets,” said Berner.

The third step is to be accountable for “walking the talk,” whether you are an employee or a leader. As a leader, it is important to set an example for all employees and get involved with what the company is trying to achieve. It is important to let employees know that every single one of their contributions matter.

Finally, shake it up and do something that is different, surprising and bold to make a point about your company culture or to further encourage and engage the employees.

“Whats not simple at all is executing,” said Berner. “Because it requires enormous discipline, it requires enormous focus, and requires enormous commitment from the leadership.”

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