Sep 15

Excellence in Employer Branding: Awarded Top Employer – Again

Stephan Polomski
Stephan Polomski is director human resources, coach and trainer

After more than four years of consequent work, it is our strategic HR vision on the long run, which made us, the XTRONIC GmbH, successful again in attracting and binding engineers in the tight German labour market of engineers and technicians: “To be among Germany´s TOP 100 employers in our segment in 2015 by excelling in employer branding”.

After the world wide recession we generated in the last 14 months an employee growth of more than 45 percent beyond fluctuation and strengthened at the same time our internal employer quality. This is the qualitative and quantitative feedback we get from candidates and employees. Condensed into one notion, we became “TOP Employer Automotive 2011/12” certified by CRF in cooperation with AT Kearney. This award is granted to companies with excellent HR structures and policies. In 2009 we first became “TOP Employer Engineers”.

Nowadays we are able to employ more than every second candidate we want to employ – and this because and although we are medium sized company with 110 employees. A company which is owner managed delivering services in the realms of consulting and development of multimedia, telematics and comfort electronics in the automotive sector. At the same time we are not in command of giant budgets for marketing and we do not possess world famous products everybody knows and likes.

So, what made it possible?

When we started in 2007, XTRONIC had quite high a fluctuation and only very basic HR structures and basically no policies.

What we did not: to hire a communication agency to design flyers and a HR web portal plus e-recruiting.

What we did: we started with our people. We started with listening to them. And so our first step was a diagnosis in the perception of our employees.

1. Run a Diagnosis by Qualitative Employee Explorations

Employer branding always is change management: change in attitudes, change in culture, change in structure, beliefs, values – change in paradigms. This is a job no one alone can do, because what you always face during the process is resistance and frustration although and even when you drive hearts by deeper meaning and a demanding vision. What you need for the job, that is strong and aware HR team. My team consisted of women only in a men´s world – and that was a gift and the successful basis of dispassion, pragmatism and emotional intelligence.

2. Execute a HR-Team-Building

Understand team building in your team as ongoing process, it means team coaching, individual coaching and it means first of all: strategic work and planning, whenever it is necessary. It means to share tears and it also means to celebrate. Two key drivers for us were persistent humor and the definite will to fight for the vision when necessary. As I said: we are operating in a men´s world.

3. Drive the Conception of a HR-Strategy and its Execution

The HR-strategy with clearly defined strategic objectives you come up with has to go along with the corporate identity, with the value system and the acute requirements of the overall business strategy and objectives. Fight for your objectives on the executive level and, as Churchill said: “Never, never, never give up.” Countercheck, if the existing systems and structures go along with the necessities of an excellent HR management. Claim for necessary changes or claim to define your organizational culture through a corporate identity and leading principles in case, these are not existing.

4. Revise or Build Up a Corporate Identity, a Vision, a Mission, Values and Leading Principles

These ingredients are the basis for the next crucial step which guarantees that your strategy will be executed by employees and managers:

5. Create an Integrated Performance Management System with Key Performance Indicators, Management by Objectives and Defined Short Term Employee Development Measures and a Long Term Career Path

This performance management has to be rooted in business strategy and organizational culture. And to make both – strategic objectives and cultural change – happen you need aware leaders who are trained to stay self-reflected in the attitude of your company´s values and leadership principles. These leaders embody empathy, congruence and respect. And if you do not have them, you have to train them. Best practice is: you do it on your own or by people who embody your and your company´s approach. This is the way you multiply your own spark of vision, belief and trust and it is the way to reach the hearts of your people.

6. Develop Your Own Kind of Leaders Who Walk the Talk, Who Are Representatives of Your Company´s Culture

During the process of your leadership development program you will experience failure, disappointment and disillusion. But you also will witness emerging talents who carry the spark of your vision further. This is the way how you generate trust among employees, this is the way how you generate pride among employees and this is the way how you generate happiness among employees. Everything, truly everything, depends on leadership. If you fail here, you fail everywhere. Excellent, trustworthy, credible – in one word: caring – leadership is the key to motivation and it is the key for a strong employer brand.

“Everything, truly everything, depends on leadership. If you fail here, you fail everywhere. Excellent, trustworthy, credible – in one word: caring – leadership is the key to motivation and it is the key for a strong employer brand.”

– And if you have such good people, if you have even great people, be modest and grateful and reward them adequately:

7. Create an Integrated Remuneration System Which Reflects Performance and Career Development

And when all of this is done, then, finally, you hire a communication agency to design graphically nice and appealing what you internally have developed by the sweat of your brow and what you now are able to offer as employee value proposition. Define your positioning, your unique selling and communication proposition, your copy strategy, your instrumental strategy, your media and channel strategy… – it is all there and easy, once you took step 1 to 7:

8. Create an Integrated External Congruent Brand Appearance in All Communication Channels You Use as Instruments To Attract New Talent

On the way to an excellent employer brand and during this tough change process always keep in mind to create short term wins which foster buy in and trust in your work among the executive management and among the middle management. This is basically the recipe how we as HR-team made it through to proudly be a TOP employer. Nonetheless, the chronology of the outlined path above may change here and there according to your internal necessities and the outcome of your diagnosis in the beginning. Stay flexible, open and accept deviations when they are inevitable.

And above all, understand and make it your inner mantra that the biggest asset you – as HR manager – take responsibility of, are people, and only people. Strictly focus on people, leadership and organization development as well as excellent internal service providing if you ever want a strong employer brand, and if you ever want to be it unique and authentic.

And this is true for medium sized companies as well as worldwide operating concerns.

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 15th, 2011 at 16:08 and is filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management, Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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  1. Congratulation Stephan,
    You are amongst the spearhead of a new culture needed and requested in the future.
    Keep going
    All the best
    Michael Nothdurft

  2. Thank you, Michael, however: even as spearhead you cannot do the job alone and reading your lines, it is good to know not to be alone!