Managing global teams – spread all over the world in different time zones; new and much closer collaboration with external and internal partners; new ways of communication and collaboration enabled by new technological possibilities. The changes in our working environment have many and very different faces.
But there’s one thing they have in common: The changes in our working environment require a substantial adaption of how we approach leadership. Thus, they require new concepts on how leadership competencies are developed, get implemented and how a successful implementation is tracked. We at Merck adapted our competency model to these needs 18 months ago.
Today, I would like to shed some light on our competency model and explain why I think it is an important step to prepare ourselves for the new world of working.
Our competency model is strongly linked with our corporate strategy and incorporates feedback from all areas of the company which was collected through different surveys as well as through direct organizational feedback. Above all the competency model has been aligned with the strategic direction of all businesses. By taking this into account, we have worked to increase the usability of the model by making the behavior statements clear and practical.
As a result, the model puts a strong focus on the future of the company:
- It emphasizes our contribution to improve the lives of our customers and patients, as well as acting ethically and entrepreneurial (“Purposeful”).
- Other new elements of the competency model are strategic objectives such as the application of new technologies and the support of digitalization (“Future-oriented”).
- It allows for innovation by defining behaviors like taking calculated risks and learning from mistakes as necessary requirements (“Innovative”).
- It provides a basis for the future of a profitable business in which achievement-orientation and taking responsibility is vital (“Result-oriented”).
- Trustful cooperation across businesses and hierarchy barriers (“Collaborative”) as well as a strengthened orientation on the development of employees (“Empowering”) are explicitly listed in the competency model, too.
To shape our leadership culture and advance our business strategy, we need to live by it.
“I’m convinced the implementation of our competency model is a major step towards changing leadership behavior at Merck – and towards preparing ourselves for the future world of work.”
The new Merck brand that we introduced in 2015 shows the world as well as ourselves that we are heading in a new direction – we are evolving into a vibrant science and Technology Company and our sights are set on the future.
Our bold and memorable brand truly highlights our identity and reflects the transformation Merck has undergone over the past years as well as our strategic approach for the future. We want to stand out in our markets and show our customers and partners the energy and ingenuity that is part of the fabric of this company. To live up to our vision at Merck, we all need to be able to tell the story of our company and work and behave in a way which underlines our strategic approach and proves it right in our daily work.
Reaching this goal isn’t easy and can’t be done without knowing how to get there. With our competency model, we can foster competencies and behaviors and then be better able to achieve the organizational targets and meet the demands the future brings.
A brand and a model, however, are just that, a brand and a model. Our brand strategy and our competency model need to be brought to life in order for them to be effective. We need to get our managers and employees around the globe to embrace them and live up to the demands of the competencies.
To link the two topics, we have developed a modular, company-wide training on both the competencies and Merck’s new branding. Managers can use the workshop toolkit to facilitate a first active dialog on the new competencies and their behavioral dimensions and work out what everyone can do in order to support the brand change. Employee behavior and brand strategy go hand in hand when it comes to changing the culture of our organization and changing our external brand reputation.
Using the competency model, our managers are supported in driving their own development as well as that of your employees. They understand which behaviors are required for different roles within the organization. Several topics, such as cross-business collaboration, the importance of new technologies, or an empowering leadership style, are vital parts of the model. All in all, the competency model provides them with a comprehensive framework for performance management, people development and other people-related management tasks.
We are constantly tracking how successful we are in leading – be it via company-wide surveys or via analyzing our people data. And we are deriving measures and programs from these findings in order to improve further. So, we know that we’ve made significant progress since the introduction of the competency model – and we know that there’s still room for improvement. I’m convinced the implementation of our competency model is a major step towards changing leadership behavior at Merck – and towards preparing ourselves for the future world of work.