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Knowledge Bank Workplace Innovation

Best practices and other information about Workplace Innovation and Smart Working

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  • Publication date: 2010
  • Date added: 13 July 2010
  • Organisatie: Endenburg Electrotechniek b.v.
  • Homepage: http://www.endenburg.nl/
  • Telefoon: + 3110-452 3822
  • Postadres: Postbus 4197
    3006 AD Rotterdam
    The Netherlands

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Rating: Everyone at his own strength at Endenburg Electrical Engineering

Everyone at his own strength at Endenburg Electrical Engineering

2010 - It was 2006 when Endenburg Electrical Engineering started looking for ways to enhance the strength and empowerment of employees and managers. Wouldn’t it be great if people in Endenburg Electrical were the conductor of their own future and performance? Job Knoester, director at Endenburg since 2006 says: "Employees must utilize their talents and fulfill their responsibilities. Eventually they should be able to assess themselves”.

Driver
Endenburg Electrical Engineering has always been a company founded on the principle of Sociocracy. The sociocracy  has brought the company much, including high employee engagement. Over the years, however, a further development was necessary to remain competitive in the electronics market. For example, because of the 'social' employee assessment there is given few feedback and so personal growth remains limited. In addition cooperation between departments tends to internal competition rather than to synergy. A great diversity of individual agreements with employees makes the structure (including the division of responsibilities) and the pay differentials not very transparent. In the autumn of 2008 Eprom management consultants were called in.

Approach
The approach was to make optimal use of  the good sides of the sociocracy. Endenburg has many (old) social structures that are intertwined with the work. Eprom proposed to focus on results. Results are - simply put - those solutions (products / services) that delivers happiness to a person (so there is always a customer, internal or external, for whom the effects are visible).
The focus on results provides the necessary structure in the cooperation and at the same time it utilized and strengthens the social interests and enjoyment. For service technicians, for example, it is much more motivating to be responsible for customer satisfaction than for completing individual assignments.
Some mechanics by nature have this result (or customer) orientation already. Service engineer Patrick van Ginkel: "I like to fix things. Usually when I come anywhere there is disappointment, something is broken or not working. I 'm not leaving until I see happy faces again. That makes my job fun!"
In achieving optimal customer satisfaction the service engineer is looking for efficient collaboration and methods. Job Knoester: "By paying attention to the results, people make better use of their own strengths and capabilities."

Results
The main, visible effects of result-oriented working are presented in the points below.
1. Analysis and design of processes and job descriptions
The processes and responsibilities became clear by this analysis. By putting them on the agenda, discussions about issues and ingrained misunderstandings arose. The participants (a broad representation of the organization) arrive at new solutions and insights, by thinking in customer-supplier relationships. This was the first experience of the capabilities of result-oriented thinking and working.
In job descriptions responsibilities, the craftsmanship and the room for experimenting are recorded. This creates a beautiful picture of where the added value of every person is in the chain. Employees are aware of the responsibilities and initiatives that are expected.
2. Salary ratios
The salary position of the organisation can be seen in relation to the market and the collective labour agreement. With understanding of the market the own position can be chosen carefully. It gives more certainty to attract new employees and to possible negotiations. In a new salary structure and policy the agreements are recorded, so that they are transparent to everyone. A consistent application of terms of employment brings peace across the Endenburg organisation and makes it easier administratively.
3. Result-oriented assessing
Every employee at Endenburg Electrical knows what is expected of him. The employee himself also has hopes, aspirations and dreams. The employee is encouraged to give direction to his own development. Therefore he has to do proposals about what he wants to achieve. In dialogue with the manager, he ensures that his development goes along with improving the performance of the business. The supervisor shall keep his own goals and aspirations in mind. He does not take over the control, but acts as client. Employee and supervisor make an appointment about the intended improvement. This is an agreement about results and so the assessment will be no surprise for both. Step by step the employee becomes able to do his own assessment.
4. Leadership style
Giving room for initiatives requires a new attitude of executives. At Endenburg electrical the managers are trained to find a balance between controlling and stimulating. By focusing on results, it is possible to realize facilitating leadership. The agreements on results provide a business relationship, which facilitates giving (social) support without getting in a socially complex situation. 

Important learning opportunities and conditions
"I had expected that such a process of change would be so drastic, I have made a mistake however in the amount of work. Many issues become clear that had been spirited thus far," says Job Knoester. One of the main issues in such a process is that the people who have the lead stick to the selected change. "Of course there are doubts sometimes and there is resistance, certainly these phenomena should be discussed with the initiators. Then we have to come to an agreement and to present the choices made." According Job Knoester that turned out well: "People who first were critical, are precisely the ones who take the lead now. The employees involved in the process have come closer to each other and act accordingly at the workplace. We already see improvements even in our employee representative bodies. This extends to the other employees."
In the one and a half-year stretch of the change process staff from across the organisation was involved. Ingrid Koppers, Head of HR: "You can see a change in the organization, people collaborate differently, talk about results and think critically about who they make happy with their results. I also notice it myself, I use the word "result" just much more often than before. And the great thing is that now everyone knows what that means at Endenburg Electrical Engineering."
The first true rollout took place in management, indeed ‘practice what you preach’. A nice anecdote: during an informal conversation someone puts a piece of waste (cardboard) in a managers’ hands. The manager then throws it in the trash and then another manager - laughing - points him to what actually was happening on a small scale: the manager took over the responsibility and solved the problem himself! The core of results-oriented leadership is that you aim at the independency of the employees. This example shows how the penny has dropped, and how this is has become normal even in informal manners. Job Knoester: "Right now, everyone is aware of the new way of working. You see people consciously and enthusiastically join the 'customer thinking' and not 'just being satisfied and we'll see where we end up’. The first effects are visible already and I am convinced that we are on the right track. People are aware of their own role and become conductor of their own future! The track was tough but I'm very proud of where we are now. If we had not gone through this process, even after 10 years we were not such a vigorous organization."