Good leaders are key to the success of not only our employees, but also our company. Because they provide our talent with the right framework to unleash their potential and generate new ideas, we highly value the continuing education and development of our managers. Within our company, many teams collaborate across sites and national borders, with global collaboration playing a crucial role in the professional training and growth of our leaders.
Our approach to good leadership
Our strategic competency model describes the core competencies that underpin the conduct of our employees at all levels of the hierarchy (see diagram).
In our day-to-day work, these core competencies play an important role in our success. This model provides the foundation for all development activities within our human resources work. Employees and supervisors discuss specific growth and development needs, as well as the progress they have made to date.
Our competency model is of course also applicable to our leaders. By setting an example, they play a key role in embedding the competency model across our organization. In addition, the model defines the leadership culture through which we intend to grow our business. Building on this framework, in 2018 we defined six leadership behaviors that summarize the way we expect our leaders to act.
By participating in our employee surveys, our employees can also assess the quality of the leadership within the company.
How we facilitate good leadership
We expect our leaders to be attuned to the needs of their diverse teams and therefore provide them with various tools and extensive data. At the same time, they can access transparent feedback through specially developed tools in order to track the impact of their decisions. We work with external providers to train our leaders on approaches to good leadership that are backed by science and well-established within the business world.
How we structure our human resources management
Human Resources (HR) is responsible for advising all business sectors and Group functions within our organization. We also have three Centers of Excellence in place to respond to the needs of our employees, organization and company culture: Talent, Development & Recruiting; Compensation & Benefits; and Engagement & Inclusion. In early 2020, these HR units were consolidated into Innovation HR. Across all our sites, HR employees from Market HR and Sector HR work hand-in-hand with leaders from the various units to develop attractive compensation models and benefits, along with strategies to engage our employees even more strongly. In the process, they adhere to Group-wide HR guidelines and requirements, which is verified by internal audits that are performed every two to three years. As part of the integration of Versum Materials and Intermolecular, which we acquired in 2019, we will be reviewing these HR guidelines and requirements, making adjustments as necessary.
Belén Garijo is the Executive Board member responsible for Group Human Resources. Our Chief HR Officer, in charge of the various HR activities, HR experts and HR business partners, reports directly to her. Our Business Services unit oversees the operational tasks of human resources work, such as drafting contracts and payroll accounting. Marcus Kuhnert, Executive Board member and Chief Financial Officer, is responsible for this unit.
Our commitment: Leadership behaviors
Building on our business strategy, competency model and company values, in 2018 the Executive Board defined six leadership behaviors that describe the way we expect our leaders to act. We also analyzed the best practices of other companies and benchmarked our approach to leadership against market standards.
Management and talent programs for leaders
In recent years, we have initiated three different programs to enhance the skills of our people managers:
- The Managerial Foundation Program imparts the basics of leadership, such as communication techniques, leadership styles, conflict management, motivation, and emotional intelligence.
- The Advanced Management Program covers topics such as change management, self-reflection and resilience.
- Our Global Leadership program focuses on the competencies needed to ensure successful international collaboration.
In 2019, the Managerial Foundation and Advanced Management programs were offered at several of our sites worldwide, while the Global Leadership program was held in China, Germany and the United States.
For 20 years, we have been partnering with top international universities to offer a University program for our company. Over a period of roughly one year, senior leaders take classes on management techniques and strategic business development, with 480 senior leaders having participated to date.
Another initiative we have been offering our up-and-coming leaders since the 1990s is our International Management Program, where participants work on an interdisciplinary project over a period of eight months. After completion, they present the results of their efforts to the Executive Board. In 2019, 25 of our employees took part in such a project.
In addition to these various programs, we partner with universities across the globe to enable our employees to obtain qualifications such as an Executive MBA.
For local leaders in emerging markets such as China and the Middle East, we offer our own Growth Markets Management Program (GMMP), which covers business administration topics and company-specific content.
In 2019, we also conducted a Group-wide awareness campaign to educate our leaders on our new leadership behaviors.
New program for experts
In early 2019, we rolled out our new Expert Foundation Program, which teaches participants the fundamentals of their role as experts in interdisciplinary project groups.
Leveraging potential in growth markets
In 2019, nine employees successfully completed Afrika kommt!, a one-year program offered by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) that trains young experts and leaders from sub-Saharan Africa. In supporting this initiative, we are helping to build a pool of regional partners to encourage economic cooperation between Germany and Africa. 17 former scholarship recipients now work for us in an array of specialist and leadership positions, some of them in various African countries and others in Darmstadt. We chose 17 new candidates for the eighth intake of Afrika kommt!; they started their new positions within the Group in November 2019.
Leveraging the opportunities of digitalization
The digital transformation has long since reached the world of work. New, agile approaches to work and artificial intelligence (AI) are increasingly gaining ground, a shift we are actively supporting within our company. Since 2017, for instance, we have been partnering with TU Darmstadt to research an intelligent humanoid robot . We want to learn how people react to intelligent robots and AI in the workplace and where these would be best deployed. Our aim is to prepare our leaders and employees for the introduction of AI within their working environment. The study is also intended to help make new technologies tangible, thereby paving the way for early acceptance.
Using the big data applications developed by our People Analytics HR unit, leaders obtain rapid, specific answers to HR-related questions. Besides consolidating conventional master data, this software also collects information on compensation, performance and potential, along with information on succession and human resources planning. By interlinking the data, this software can help leaders recognize trends early on. They thus have access to an extensive trove of data they can utilize within the bounds of data privacy.
In 2018, a Group-wide HR innovation campaign also gave rise to an initiative entitled “Ad@m”, which features a chatbot . Accessible to HR business partners and leaders, this software provides support for HR-related issues, among others. Going forward, the chatbot will be taking over standardized tasks so that leaders and HR business partners have more time for other matters.