Stressful situations are more or less unavoidable in our working life. But if it continues and is not communicated or noticed by others, it can affect the general mood and lead to sick leave. When it has gone that far, not only the individual employee is affected, but also the employee’s colleagues, the teams and the company. After we at Autotech experienced this, we decided to invest in directing a greater focus on the employees’ situation and well-being. The purpose of it was not only to counteract stress. Security and balance also contribute to individuals growing in their roles and increasing their performance.
Starting in the spring of 2021, the management group (CEO, CFO and team leader) began a leadership training course to create consensus on leadership issues and find ways to better communication and strengthen relationships within the company. To work with that investment based on a common approach, we enlisted the help of Practise.
To strengthen relationships, improve communication and “lower thresholds” between employees and the immediate manager, 1:1 conversations were introduced. The calls were scheduled at a fixed time each week. These calls were prioritised; they were never booked off but could be moved if they clashed with other things. There was no performance whatsoever in the conversations; they could be about anything, high or low, but always with the employee in focus. The management’s goal was to get answers to the questions during every call: How are you? How is it going? Is there anything I can do for you? Otherwise, the conversations differed from person to person.
The 1:1 conversations were evaluated after just over a year. A survey went out to all employees where we reminded them why we introduced the conversations and asked a couple of questions to determine how the conversations landed. It turned out that 83% of the employees felt that the conversation achieved the goals, that relationships and communication were strengthened and that the general well-being at the workplace and in the respective assignments increased.
Even today, we hold 1:1 conversations with all employees. They can look different depending on the employee’s needs and vary in length for the same reason. But they remain on our calendars and are given the same high priority.
Every year, a work environment survey is conducted where, among other things, the psychosocial work environment is mapped. All employees estimate their answers on a scale between 1-6, and given the leadership training, we make a deduction right there, under the heading “Leadership”. Last year, the result showed 5.2. This year we boast a result of 5.7! There are mainly two questions that stand out in terms of results: “I know what my managers expect from my work” and “I receive regular feedback from my manager on how I performed my work”, where the result increased by 0.7 and 0.9, respectively. If anything, it feels like a receipt that management and employees have become closer to each other.
During the spring, we had redundancies in one of our teams—a tough time with a tight team that lost two colleagues and friends. Thanks to good relationships, clear communication and an open climate, we again came out “on the other side” as a whole team. We owe a lot to our leadership efforts there. It’s easy to lead with the wind, but when the wind turns and times get more challenging, it’s more important than ever that a secure foundation is laid. That we last even when it’s windy. We at Autotech have succeeded in that.