The qualification of the employees is an important key to ensure the competitiveness of a company. Together with Staufen, the Schaeffler Group has set up a tailor-made learning program for team leaders in production to strengthen them in their leadership role on the shop floor.
Strong, distinctive leadership skills are essential to make a company successful in the long term. The automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler continuously invests in this key competence. The Group’s own Schaeffler Academy provides employees and leaders with a comprehensive range of qualifications. ”It is of fundamental importance for the success of Schaeffler that our employees are committed and feel connected to the company,“ says Sonja Mehrlich, Head of the Center for Leadership Excellence. “This is only possible if employees feel encouraged, challenged and valued at all times. So good leadership is the prerequisite for everything else.”
Supporting team leaders in their leadership role
”As the first leadership level, the team leader plays a key role in production,“ says leadership expert Mehrlich. ”When a machine isn’t running or sick leave is too high, the team leaders feel the pressure most. To effectively manage those situations, team leaders and employees have to function as a team, trust one another and communicate transparently.” More than ten years ago, Schaeffler began specifically qualifying the team leaders in the plants to give them the tools for the everyday leadership.
But even the best education program has its’ time at some point. “After a while, the established program for the qualification of team leaders no longer fully corresponded to our modern understanding of leadership and our leadership essentials,” says Adeline Marginean, a specialist in leadership and talent development at Schaeffler. Schaeffler reached out to Staufen for support regarding the new design of the program. “We were convinced by their expertise in the plant environment and in the area of leadership,” says Sonja Mehrlich.
Schaeffler Gruppe – We pioneer motion
As one of the world’s leading automotive and industrial suppliers, the Schaeffler Group has been driving future-oriented inventions and developments in the areas of movement and mobility for more than 75 years. In 2022, the company group generated sales of 15.8 billion euros. With around 84,000 employees, the Schaeffler Group is one of the world’s largest family companies.
Tailored learning journey: Four modules in twelve months
Together with Staufen, Schaeffler has developed a tailor-made learning journey for team leaders in production. “The aim of the program is to strengthen the first management level in the plant on the shop floor and to enable them to perform their leadership role even more effectively,” explains Markus Franz, partner and training expert at Staufen. The specific leadership essentials of the Schaeffler Group are incorporated into the program: take on responsibility, connect for success, empower your team, care for people, manage for results, drive the change. Diversity, equity and inclusion as well as methods such as conflict management and dealing with one’s own role are also part of the learning content.
The result: four modules that in future will be mandatory for all new team leaders in production. The focus is on the aspects of “leading yourself”, “leading others” and “leading teams” as well as a final practical module to consolidate what they have learned and to connect it with their own cases. “Once appointed, they have twelve months to complete the learning journey. It was important to us to develop a practice-oriented program,” says Staufen project manager and lead trainer Marco Pett. The mixture was successful: knowledge transfer and practical application are equally important. After the learning journey and between the training modules, the participants can exchange ideas and talk about how the implementation of what they have learned is working out. This encourages shared reflection and mutual support.
Initial experiences with the new program have been consistently positive. “Our team leaders in production really appreciate that something new is being set up for them and that their leadership skills are being addressed. The fact that Schaeffler grants space and time for this is an expression of the appreciation for this important role, ”emphasizes Adeline Marginean. Further steps with Staufen are already being planned. “The next step is for us to introduce a training in Germany that our experienced team leaders in production can use to deepen their leadership knowledge and further develop specific skills. But we also want to support the the leadership levels above the team leaders and the colleagues in the segment management holistically in their leadership role.”
The SCHAEFFLER ACADEMY:
FROM LEARNING NUGGET TO KEY QUALIFICATION
In the course of its long history, the Schaeffler Group has repeatedly reinvented itself. Part of the success is a workforce that sees change as an opportunity and helps shape it through constant learning. The qualification activities are consolidated at the Schaeffler Academy for 170 locations in 50 countries. The following figures show how intensively the employees there deal with further and advanced training: Last year alone, there were 90,000 participants in e-learning courses worldwide and around 7,300 participants in face-to-face training courses in Germany. In an interview, Hanna Peter-Regar, head of the Schaeffler Academy, explains what future training will look like – and not just at Schaeffler.
What is the importance of further and advanced training against the background of the rapid digital and technological development?
Hanna Peter-Regar: Qualification and further training have never played such a major role and the opportunities have never been so great. It is our job as a company and managers to prepare our employees as well as possible for the future opportunities that the change brings along.
How does the Schaeffler Academy ensure that all employees keep up the pace?
Hanna Peter-Regar: It is important to understand employees’ concerns and fears and to provide them with techniques and strategies to overcome them. Employees should know what is expected from them and how to achieve their goal. A realistic schedule and support from managers help them to integrate further training into their everyday work and to set priorities. Mentoring programs, coaching or participation in learning events can be a great way to anchor the topic of learning in the organization in the long term. In addition, we at Schaeffler make learning as accessible as possible through so-called learning nuggets. Learning nuggets are self-contained mini-learning activities that cover a topic or question in under ten minutes. This can be done via podcast, video, or online training.
How important is cooperation with external experts like Staufen?
Hanna Peter-Regar: Where it is possible and reasonable, we use internal trainer skills, also from our trainers. At the same time, we have partnerships with renowned training providers with whom we work regularly. With every new topic, we always keep an eye on the current market and look for the right provider for the requirement.
What role does artificial intelligence (AI) play in continuing education?
Hanna Peter-Regar: AI is a disruptive development. As a company, we deal with this and take the findings into account in our further training activities. For example in our “Fit4Digital” program, in which we address the change towards a networked, digital working world. Topics include the Internet of Things (IoT) and cyber security. In this way, we are establishing the use of cloud services or AI more strongly in everyday work and broadening the basis for the implementation of new technologies.
Are there also skills that cannot be digitized and automated?
Hanna Peter-Regar: Yes, for me, these are key qualifications such as agility, resilience, and the ability to moderate and work in a team. Whether at school, university, training or work: the development of such skills is becoming increasingly important. Not just for us at Schaeffler.
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