Johnson Matthey: Creating a cleaner future
In 2020 Johnson Matthey embarked on the biggest transformation in their 200 year history. Rapid shifts in the world – including a growth of electrification – meant they had to find a way to create a cleaner, stronger future… And they needed to make sure their people were centre stage.
The Culture Club partnered with them to design and deliver a conversation programme to bring a complex global workforce on their transformation journey, and create a forum where employee voices were heard.
Johnson Matthey is a global leader in sustainable technologies. Their largest division – Clean Air – has more than 6,000 people across the globe who support the manufacture of catalytic converters in the automotive industry.
We designed a 3-step approach to engage Clean Air’s global workforce in its transformation – reaching everyone from senior leaders to front-line production teams.
1. Communicate change clearly
Our first task was to find an inspiring, simple way to communicate Clean Air’s transformation that ticked both emotional and logical boxes.
We transformed complex strategy documents into the rally cry ‘Create a cleaner future’, supported by a clear narrative and a simple strategy-on-a-page.
We also worked hard to bring Clean Air’s leadership team up to speed, by training and empowering key leaders to communicate confidently on the new strategy.
2. Encourage and enable conversation
Employees don’t need to agree or disagree with the change, but they do need to understand it. We introduced AirTime, a conversation programme for Clean Air, to do just that. It’s both global and local: a safe place to learn, chat, engage and share.
Conversation was key in helping colleagues to understand what the transformation meant to them. Transformation can be scary and confusing, and that’s where human connection can really help.
Conversations opened up themes for business improvement: communication, standardisation and environment.
3. Establish Change Champions
What was the secret to AirTime’s success?
Getting the right people involved. We recruited a network of over 65 Change Champions – our PionAirs – who were backed, supported and encouraged every step of the way by the Clean Air leadership team.
The PionAirs helped to shape and evolve our approach and deliver AirTime across the globe. Now, they organise and co-facilitate local AirTime sessions and share vital local intel so we can include even the hardest to reach colleagues.
“AirTime feels innovative and like the business is making an effort to listen. When a company is going through transformation, people feel unsettled. I wanted to actively do something about it. By being a PionAir I was aiding colleagues and friends, rather than sitting on the sidelines.”
What’s happened since?
Conversation and listening is a normal part of life – More than 4000 colleagues have participated in conversations that have directly supported the transformation and shaped Clean Air’s culture.
Transformation feels less scary – People feel more comfortable talking about the big things that matter most to them.
Change is led by everyone, not just leaders – Each AirTime wave has given colleagues the opportunity to be an active part of creating and shaping Clean Air.
Johnson Matthey’s mission to create a cleaner, healthier world inspires me.
said they feel accountable for helping deliver Clean Air’s EPIC strategy and transformation.
PionAirs rate their understanding of their role 4.6/5 and pride 4.7/5.
AirTime is an initiative I am happy to be part of.
We’re delighted that this project scooped the Gold Award for ‘Best Communication of Change or Business Transformation‘ at the 2021 Internal Communications and Engagement Awards.
Colleagues have joined a conversation
AirTime sessions so far
Active and engaged PionAirs around the world
Two-minute Takeaway: Conversation Programmes Must-knows
Want top tips for launching a global conversation programme? Here are our must-dos:
Be real: During times of transformation, honesty matters. Build trust by encouraging your leaders to be authentic and honest.
Spend time planning: Invest time and energy up front to plan exactly what you’re going to do, and how. Do the heavy lifting to make life easier for your stakeholders – they’ll be much more willing to be part of it.
Own it locally: A central delivery will be a real challenge for global and complex audiences. Teams on the ground can provide local intel – from logistics to cultural nuances – and will help engage your teams across the world.
Invest in your champions: With the right amount of training, support and recognition, they will make your programme a success.
Keep going: Change doesn’t happen overnight. Repetition will build belief, confidence and psychological safety – and people will start to see the impact.
“The more you do something like AirTime, the more people will realise they have the power to change things locally. They start to take accountability for delivering improvements.”