Jelena Spasić, Head Of HR Country, Leoni Wiring Systems Southeast D.O.O.:

Teaching Employees To Believe In Their Own Capabilities

“As a labour-intensive industry, our people are definitely the ones who create a competitive advantage and make us unique”

How to motivate employees to go the extra mile and be passionate in everything they do? This is the key question every HR manager asks themselves, and at the same time there is no unique answer. “Employees are very high on the Management Board’s agenda; only engaged people can help us achieve our vision and transform from a wire supplier to a reliable business partner for intelligent energy and data solutions,” explains Jelena Spasić.

– People work to satisfy their needs or, as we usually say, ‘’to earn money’’. But the fact is that they are also ready to go the extra mile for recognition, involvement and personal growth. I admire Benjamin Franklin’s wise thoughts: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”. I would just add “Involve me and I’ll give you back double”. LEONI is using this simple “involvement principle” to motivate its employees. We don’t set targets for our employees and tell them they must achieve them; we involve them in discussion, ask for their opinion and define smart targets together; we involve them in the communication process, while all leaders are approachable and willing to get feedback. The management’s doors are always open. Only in this way can we ensure every employee knows where we stand in terms or results, how they can personally contribute and suggest necessary measures. We quickly teach them to believe in their own capabilities. Our leaders are practising Kata to engage employees in making small improvements day by day, using coaching to maximise employee development and professional growth, promote collaboration, teamwork and healthy interpersonal relations. If you set the climate in this way and create your corporate culture based on these values, results and success are guaranteed.

LEONI is a global leader in the production of wiring systems and cable technology, with over 86,000 employees in 31 countries worldwide. To what extent do you have autonomy in decision- making processes in the HR segment of your business in Serbia, where you have nearly 6,000 employees?

– As an international company, LEONI has strictly defined policies and procedures that are applicable worldwide. At the same time, being part of the highly demanding automotive industry, all processes are documented in our quality management system. The company also has one of the best systems for measuring and monitoring results, as well as for continuous improvement and the process of excellence based on Kaizen and Lean. All of this somehow leads to a conclusion that our decision-making space is limited. On the contrary, while final products and services are defined, the way they are done leaves huge room to manoeuvre, where you can act independency and creativity. It is even expected that every leader in LEONI “has a dream” and makes a difference. From locally tailored solutions and country-specific adaptations come new best practises and improved standards, which are constantly raising the bar.

We nurture such a leadership style that primarily respects human beings, their values, principles and needs

To improve the quality of education, encourage the employment of qualified workers and increase their level of employability, LEONI established cooperation with three faculties of the University of Niš: Mechanical Engineering, Electronical Engineering and Economics. What does this cooperation mean and what will be realised within it?

– These three faculties are strategically important for Leoni Serbia, and graduates from these faculties comprise most of our qualified professionals. That’s why we launched Leoni Scholarship Programme and provide 15 scholarships for the best students of the 2017/18 academic year. In addition to the scholarships, after graduating these students will be offered jobs in our company and the possibility to develop their further professional experience. Besides its scholarship programme, Leoni Serbia will conduct several other activities as part of our Employer Branding, such as student internship programmes, open-door days and Leoni factory tours for students, case study competitions, as well as lectures and workshops focused more on the knowhow and skills required for the digital era and Industry 4.0.