Companies are getting creative with internal communications, and that's getting noticed externally.
In a recent Financial Times story about the close of Pfizer's acquisition of Wyeth, pharma reporter Andrew Jack opened with an unusual anecdote. Jack noted that that CEO Jeff Kindler, and other members of Pfizer's executive leadership team, started their “Day One” at 2:00 am EST, hosting an interactive video- and web-based town hall for employees in Asia and Australia.
The teleconference, with more than 3,500 staff, symbolised the shift of the traditionally highly centralised Manhattan-based group towards a more diverse and international operation as it seeks to adapt to growing commercial pressure.
It's not uncommon for a company to tout the importance of its international operations, especially to investors, but it's rare that you see companies go to such lengths to prove it. To be clear, no one wants to get up at 2 in the morning to run a global townhall webcast, but welcome to the new world.
For those executives who are willing to sacrifice sleep to make it happen, the payoff is tangible. The tactic not only sent a strong message to Pfizer employees in the Eastern hemisphere that they are an integral part of the company, but also demonstrated to investors that the company is committed to doing what it takes to ensure that its integration with Wyeth is a success.
With cross-border M&A on the rise, and with the increased role and importance of internal communications in M&A situations, we are seeing more companies faced with the challenge of communicating across time zones and cultures. This example demonstrates that sometimes going the extra mile can pay dividends in more ways than one.
Steve Lipin, senior partner, Brunswick Group