Ericsson, the Swedish telecom company, has sacked their CEO Hans Vestberg. I feel quite close to Ericsson as a brand and I’ve been following them from a distance for years. In 2008 a friend of mine took voluntary redundancy from Ericsson, which the company allowed everyone over 35 to do. She got something like two years pay to leave and saw it as a way to leap into a new career. At the point, Ericsson had focused too much on recruiting the same kind of people and needed to diversify their workforce.
Since then I’ve repeatedly heard that Ericsson plans to restructure and downsize their workforce. Now threats about redundancies are all over media again. Would you do your best and give all your talent to an organisation that is continually talking about potentially sacking you?
I’ve been made redundant and that period was stressful. Your mind is full of thoughts that have nothing to do with your job. If Ericsson has spent the last ten years sharing a corporate story that you may lose your job soon I can see why they are not on the top of their game.
All these digital tools like social media, smartphones, snaps, the cloud, data, analytics and the Internet of Things are confusing and difficult. To ‘get it’ you need to be able to use your whole mind, not just a part of it. One reason that Ericsson has problems may very well be that they have stressed their workforce with the constant threat that they will lose their income.
I did a quick search on Facebook for Hans Vestberg. I couldn’t find him. He may use another name, that’s possible. Maybe he has hundreds of friends? Or maybe he can’t be bothered to use social media. I found him on Twitter. Of course, as an influencer, he should be there, but it’s Facebook that has connected the world not Twitter or any other social media network.
A technical company like Ericsson needs to know how their customers use social media and how they explore the Internet of Things. Digital leaders are curious and they are interested in how others use digital tools as well.
Social media is shaking up how we share knowledge and information. When you hang out online you find out what’s going on in the real world and what problems your customers are facing.
If you are creating too much space for worry and insecurity you are preparing for a future of limited imagination. As a leader you need to create hope and give your colleagues the feeling that you are going in the right direction, even if it’s a complex journey.
From my blog the other week:
Questions all leaders need to ask themselves as the unknown may replace your business in the future:
1) Do you know much about the tools, devices, social connectivity, clouds and apps that other businesses use when they focus on digital leadership?
2) How do you create space for creativity, innovation and improvisation in your business? How are you welcoming new ideas and initiatives?
Ericsson’s mobilephone history