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Tech-First Company Transformation - Building a Foundation With Leadership & Culture
Aleksandar Rodic, Chief Information Officer, Fiege
In times of decreasing margins, diverse markets, complex customer needs, emerging technologies and simultaneously times forged by social and economic crisis, it is more and more important to unite the power in an organization to eventually drive in one common direction. Everyone in the field of IT is familiar with the following image: business units throwing their requirements over the fence and the IT people locking themselves in, trying to make it happen and presenting a result at the end. Many will have observed such an approach in their own organization: classic working in silos, which is usually not particularly promising. Our vision at FIEGE is therefore: “IT is Business and Business is IT”. “We as one!” In the end, we all have a common goal and we should work together towards this goal from start to finish. But how do we get there? The fundamental prerequisite for this is trust. The best strategy will lead nowhere if your culture does not promote a trust-based collaboration. The key lies in emotionally intelligent leadership. As leaders, we ourselves must lead empathically and foster mutual understanding within and between the teams. With this clear focus, we at FIEGE have already developed and implemented some effective cultural hacks.
One cultural hack that has proven particularly valuable for us is building a Trusted Circle. We humans are social beings. We don't want to be seen purely as a human resources but as individuals, and we don't want to talk only about facts and figures - this also applies to IT staff. At all levels, we hold monthly meetings in our teams. Those meetings also serve to exchange professional information. But at the beginning of these meetings, the focus is always on “people first” principle. Here, everyone has the opportunity to report on their highlights and lowlights of the previous month. These can relate to specific projects or work conditions, but also to a private matter. In this way we develop an understanding for the respective situation of our colleagues and at the same time we have the opportunity to offer each other support.
Another integral part of this meeting is the evaluation of the satisfaction survey, which we conduct before each Monthly Meeting. This helps us to promptly identify negative developments and take adequate countermeasures. Especially the past years, which have proven to be a strong mental burden for everyone due to the pandemic, have shown that an empathetic approach to each other is essential.
Focusing on “people first” is at the core of our culture and we convey this to our colleagues from their first point of contact with FIEGE. We are not just looking for employees - we are looking for teammates. For this reason, we attach great importance to making the recruiting process pleasant for everyone involved. It's not just about performance, but whether we fit together on a human level. This is not about a facade to sharpen the employer brand in the war for talent, but about creating the basis for a long-term relationship.
To break down the silo mentality mentioned above, a link between IT and business units is essential. For this purpose, we at FIEGE have established the IT Integration & Business Consulting team, which acts as a liaison between the various IT disciplines on the one hand and the respective business unit on the other. Regular meetings are held with representatives of IT units and representatives of the respective business units, the so-called Business Relationship Management meetings (BRM). In this way, complemented by the general empathetic and trusting interaction with each other, we build bridges between IT and business.
The important thing with all the cultural hacks is to measure their effectiveness
The important thing with all the cultural hacks is to measure their effectiveness. As the saying goes “you cannot manage what you cannot measure”. Only if we regularly survey the satisfaction of our teammates as well as the satisfaction of our business units with IT performance can we concretely identify the areas in which we can and should improve further.
The fact that close collaboration between IT and business is a key lever for our performance is proven by the successful joint development of new digital business models to drive revenue growth. One example of this is FIEGE NOW. Our core business at FIEGE is contract logistics. This means we create individual logistics solutions for our customers. This could limit our target group to large and medium-sized companies, as tailor-made solutions are usually too expensive for small companies. However, with FIEGE NOW we have developed a product that enables significantly lower implementation costs and onboarding times due to a high degree of standardization. Thus, this product is also attractive for smaller companies to handle their logistics and potentially grow together with us. Through the synthesis of market knowledge and technical know how we can achieve the highest value for our customers. And this turns empathetic leadership into a business case.