In an online conference, the DB Systel top manager explained how much his company has changed in recent years and that one wants to continue on this path of transformation. It starts with the recruiting of the new employees. Here, as is the case with many other companies, it has long been found that the classic ways of looking for employees have had their day.
It is becoming more and more common for applicants to contact DB Systel and ask themselves with confidence: Do you have something for me, what options does the company offer, how can I best get involved? “Today we are dealing with a generation that has high aspirations to get involved, develop ideas and influence processes”, the DB-Systel manager points out. The talks are therefore mainly about determining “whether it fits the mindset” and what its approach is to solve problems. For this, the newcomers can work in different teams in the first few weeks to determine where they can best be used. It is important to Rüffler and his company that the applicants bring a high degree of self-organization and personal responsibility.
However, it is much more “challenging” to persuade employees who have done the same job for many years to make changes, for example to acquire completely new skills or to switch to a new team for weeks or months. Rüffler has a good example of this: in the past three years, there has been a switch from on-premise data center operation to cloud operation, which also means that working methods have changed completely and that today fewer employees are doing the job than before.
“In the new working world of DB Systel, willingness to change can only be achieved if the employer creates an environment in which he guarantees a high level of security and where the change is not” fear-driven “but” stressed “is Rüffler’s experience Since you are operating in a market in which you can hardly afford to lose employees, it is fundamentally easy for him to say: “There is a job for everyone who works for us.” Conversely, employees also had to be flexible and be ready to acquire new skills. Otherwise it will not work. There must be an honest commitment on both sides.
Establishing a new management structure for the new ways of working is at least as challenging. The leadership roles of the classic hierarchies are more or less abolished or new leadership roles are established. Teams and employees are the focus of the change and are the central roles in a network organization that adapts to customer needs. DB Systel said goodbye to the old management functions and defined new leadership roles based on agile working methods: the Product Owner and the Agile Master, both of whom “challenge and support” the team.
A team chooses its employees, has to take care of the customer, has to solve its own conflicts and ultimately also operate profitably. Rüffler admits that in the face of such a radical change, classic managers must question their previous behavior and be willing to go along with this experiment.
Rüffler’s appeal at the end leaves nothing to be desired in terms of unambiguity: Companies that are on the path of transformation should be clear that such a project is far from over after two to three years, that a strong cultural change process is taking place and that managers have to learn to endure insecurity. “If you are not ready for this, you should leave it,” he concludes. And once you’ve started, it’s worth making this change, even if you don’t know at every stage “whether it leads exactly where you want to go”.
This distinguishes a more adaptive approach from the classic organizational change. That leads, and Rüffler is convinced, but not at all about the potential development among people that can be experienced at DB Systel. And this is the only way from his point of view that business can be brought forward for the customer and reacted to the challenges of digitization as an organization.