Lean and agile: mastering difficult phases

Transformation required in industrial medium-sized businesses.

Börsen-Zeitung, 17.09.2022 .

It is true that the traditional "authoritarian" management style and a hierarchical corporate culture still have their justification under certain conditions. For example, if a company has to be led out of a crisis, there may well not be time to discuss every decision in detail. There is also less room for maneuver for all parties involved, as mistakes must be minimized in such a situation.  
In this context, it can therefore make sense for management levels to be strongly hierarchical in design. However, even though this control ensures that everything goes exactly according to plan, it also has numerous disadvantages and quickly reaches its limits, especially when complexity within a company increases, which is increasingly the case with the highly technologized companies in Baden-Württemberg.
The fact is that such a management style can have many negative effects and employees run the risk of losing their independence. If even the simplest questions have to be decided by managers, the error culture is lost, since an employee can always point out that he or she did it exactly as he or she was told. As a result, there is no option for further development. 
But the constant rejection of errors is not the only problem. If employees always seek advice from their superiors, they gradually lose their own solution-oriented mindset, which is fundamental to mastering tasks and challenges on their own. It should not be forgotten that employees who lose their independence do not feel valued. In addition, managers are also quickly overwhelmed here because they are involved in too many tasks. As a result, dissatisfaction grows on all sides - a condition that affects productivity and possibly leads to the loss of actually good employees. 
As a general manager, I know well the consequences of a directive management style. To rebuild Electrostar after surviving the crisis and lead it on a new path, I decided to make a radical change. It's important to get to grips with the fundamentals of the human psyche. It's about what makes people tick, where needs and fears lie, and about self-view and the view of others. For example, managers need to learn how to use special questioning techniques so that they don't prescribe the answer and instead help employees find the solution themselves. It is also important to understand how to give feedback constructively, but also how to accept it, since interpersonal communication takes place especially on an emotional level. Meaning, managers must also be able to admit that people perceive things differently and that they themselves are not flawless.

In the ideal case, when all employees are absolutely independent, managers then spend most of their time on strategic tasks. However, it is important to remember that not all employees are the same and that a newcomer must be treated differently than an experienced employee. This is why a so-called situational leadership style is needed, which is implemented adaptively in very different ways. However, it should not be underestimated how difficult such a major change is, since it involves fundamental processes as well as the working methods and attitudes of the employees. Whoever tries to bring about changes in these areas will have to spend a lot of time in intensive discussions, as this change does not work at the push of a button. Instead, employees must be involved in the process so that resistance can also be resolved early and carefully. This is a process that also requires internal reflection on the part of management and executives, as well as the ability to accept criticism of their own management style. 
"There can only be further development if you admit to yourself that you are not perfect. That doesn't mean you're not good enough, but that there is potential for improvement."

My advice for aspiring but also seasoned leaders is therefore to have healthy self-doubt. There can only be further development if you admit to yourself that you are not perfect. That doesn't mean you're not good enough, but that there is potential for improvement.

Increased overall productivity

When implemented successfully, working independently significantly increases speed within the organization. Not only does it eliminate the step of calling in the manager, but employees solve problems directly on the spot. Giving up control leads to faster turnaround times, shortened processes, faster product development and, ultimately, increased overall product productivity. 
Other positive effects include higher employee satisfaction with managers, which can be measured via impulse surveys, and low turnover within the workforce. In this context, managers must also not trivialize the importance of employee satisfaction. People strive for recognition, self-development, and want to feel needed and valued. Only if you give that to employees will they be motivated and able to perform at their best. 
All of this can make or break business success in times when we in Baden-Württemberg are talking about disrupted supply chains, gas shortages and shortages of skilled workers. 

By Roman Gorovoy
Managing Director at Electrostar/starmix

- a piece of German industrial history that is being continued with great success in the 21st century. The industrious Swabians have been manufacturing vacuum cleaners since 1921 and invented the hot-air hand dryer four years later. In the years of the economic miracle, starmix achieved world renown: the universal starmix kitchen machine became a bestseller that no good household could do without. Today, ELECTROSTAR GmbH, which has been part of the Algo Group since 2007, stands for innovative technologies, outstanding quality and uncompromising customer orientation. Under the starmix brand, the company develops, produces and sells a wide range of powerful vacuum cleaners for trade, commerce and industry worldwide. From the starmix sanitary business field, modern warm air and high-speed hand and hair dryers as well as an extensive hospitality product range complete the portfolio. Since the acquisition of Haaga Kehrsysteme GmbH in 2012, innovative sweepers have also been part of the product range. In 2020, ELECTROSTAR/starmix and Haaga Kehrsysteme merged. The company employs around 200 people at its sites in Ebersbach. The two brands starmix and Haaga generated a turnover of around 41 million euros in 2020.

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Electrostar GmbH
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