Encouraging and supporting individual development
In a multitiered process of global HR development, we annually review the performance, potential, development needs and future career planning of all our managerial employees around the world. During 2013, we introduced the Executive Database as a tool to facilitate the matching of candidate profiles with the results of the conferences. In this connection, we are revising our current talent management and succession planning processes. The results of these reviews form the basis for detailed feedback discussions between managerial staff and their supervisors. Moreover, the Orientation Center has become an established tool worldwide for assessing the potential of future young managers and supporting their development. This is flanked by individual assessment centers aimed at identifying the potential of mid- and top-level managers and diagnosing the suitability of external applicants for key positions. The results of this multidimensional approach are an integral part of our HR development and recruiting strategy.
We are currently implementing a new employee dialogue and feedback tool named Employee Dialog. Following its launch in 2012, we extended the project in 2013 and tested it in pilot units. Employee Dialog represents an innovative approach to performance management based on an ongoing dialogue and thus also on active management of the relationship between supervisors and employees. Compared with the rigid and more formal structures of traditional approaches, the focus is on trust and individual motivation as success factors. In the long term, this creates a culture in which leadership and employee development are seen as a joint task for supervisors and employees – which benefits individual productivity and satisfaction.
We do not impose a uniform leadership style on our managers. Instead, we expect them to find a personal balance between strategic vision (Head), empathy (Heart) and the courage to make decisions (Guts). Our management philosophy thus focuses on a holistic approach. The associated skills serve as guidance, with our managers’ individual leadership strategies taking the forefront. As part of our Advance efficiency program, we have consolidated the leadership seminars for our managers at various levels and introduced a novel form of training which focuses on practical leadership skills and motivation for teams undergoing change processes. Pilot training has shown that the concept successfully fosters dialogue between managers and employees during periods of transition.
We also provide our managerial staff with a wide range of individual development opportunities, including personal coaching and 360-degree feedback. We continued offering special modular and multidimensional programs through the LANXESS Academy. Designed specifically to prepare trainee managers for their future tasks, these programs proved to be a very successful component of our structured management training. In the period under review, 188 employees – 43 of them women – took part in these special corporate programs.
Training and development are significant aspects of personnel development at all levels. Alongside formal training sessions and seminars, which amount to 16,100 hours a year in France, for example, there are many informal training courses such as orientation days, peer-to-peer coaching and continuous knowledge-sharing events linking young and experienced employees.
The LANXESS Summer Academy, which we organize once a year near our company headquarters, encourages training, networking and personal development across the boundaries of our business units and group functions by means of presentations, seminars and a varied supporting program. The Academy is aimed at employees from various backgrounds – from business professionals to chemists and engineers. After the very positive feedback of the previous years, we again held a Summer Academy in 2013: 114 employees took part in the one-week program, which included eleven seminars on improving hard and soft skills and an intensive interdisciplinary exchange of experiences.
Under the umbrella of the LANXESS Academy, we continued offering functional training for our global sales employees in 2013. The International LANXESS Sales Academy (ILSA) is a one-year modular program designed to develop both the specialist knowledge and soft skills of our sales employees. In 2013, we reworked the existing program so that each module now addresses one overarching topic and the modules are more strongly interwoven. Module 1 covers negotiation preparation while Module 2 focuses on negotiation management. In Module 3, participants are confronted with challenging negotiation scenarios. ILSA now gives participants better opportunities for self-reflection so they can identify and manage their individual strengths and weaknesses. Continuous feedback sessions with the participants’ direct supervisors and the ILSA coaches are aimed at ensuring that the program aids both sides in optimizing sales activities, thus adding value for LANXESS. Ultimately, the ability of our sales employees to implement what they have learned depends largely on the support they receive from their supervisors. That is why, in 2013, we initiated regional training programs for the ILSA participants’ supervisors.
ILSA perfectly complements the programs already in place in the business units and countries by facilitating communication and the sharing of best practices across business units and national borders. We consider the targeted qualification of our global sales employees to be a significant success factor in the further improvement of our customer relationships. It also gives us a competitive edge in today’s global markets. To date, some 250 first-level sales employees from all over the world have taken part in the program.