Why Sennheiser encourages employees to specialise in their roles

The Company is attempting a mindset transition as part of its ‘people development’ strategy

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One of the main reasons for attrition is the lack of professional development and growth. Stagnation is a situation that employees are in a hurry to get out of, especially in the middle management level.

Talking to HRKatha, Jorgen Wengel, director – global HR and operations, Sennheiser Electronic, shares that the Company is introducing programmes and initiatives which can facilitate the horizontal development of its people. The focus of these initiatives will be to make employees better at what they do and transform them into subject-matter experts in their areas of work. But it all depends on what the employees want. As per Wengel, If employees are keen to become a specialist or a manager, the company will support them. But If the employees want to just develop and becoming better, the company will also support in achieving the same.

Why do businesses need to encourage people to develop into specialists? Well, Wengel states two points in response. First, after a certain point, it becomes very difficult for an individual to grow vertically. This is because, the positions and opportunities at the top tend to shrink as we move up the corporate ladder. Second, Wengel notices that people often wish to continue in their current role as they love doing what they want to do.

Explaining this via an example of a customer service executive, Wengel says, “The person may want to do a better job of serving customers on calls, but may not want to become a customer-service manager. We are very much willing to encourage such employees in seeing their decision through,” admits Wengel.

“Often, employees may want to explore growth opportunities outside the Company. With this move, we are giving them an option to develop and grow in their current role itself”

Jorgen Wengel, director – global HR and operations, Sennheiser Electronic

Via internal surveys, Sennheiser has found out that employees, especially those working in the Japan carry a traditional mindset. They believe that growth is only possible vertically. While in India people also explore to develop themselves horizontally. However, Sennheiser is determined to change that and bring about a transformation in this mindset. The Company wishes to make people realise that growth does not necessarily mean climbing up the ladder. “We really want to show people ways to develop horizontally, as well,” shares Wengel.

This attempt at mindset makeover has taken on the form of a movement across the Company, globally, which is being continuously tracked to understand what is going right for the Company and what is not working. “Since this transformation is happening at a global level, some things that may work for one region may not do so for others. Therefore, local leaders have been allowed the flexibility to innovate, improvise and alter the given or recommended framework,” shares Wengel.

The Company does not believe in forcing anybody to learn. “People have the freedom to choose how they want to develop themselves,” clarifies Wengel. Sennheiser’s ‘people development dialogue’ is meant to do just that. It allows employees with their managers exactly how they wish to develop themselves.

The primary objective of encouraging people to develop and grow is to keep them engaged even while trying to make them better at what they do. Additionally, it helps control attrition in the Company. “Often, employees may want to explore growth opportunities outside the Company. With this move, we are giving them an option to develop and grow in their current role itself,” points out Wengel.

The impact of this strategic initiative to facilitate employees’ development has yet to be gauged, as the programme has only been launched recently.

Given the diversity in Sennheiser’s global workforce — with people from different regions across roles — inter-cultural training is yet another area of focus. This allows employees to learn about different cultures around the world and how to interact with people from different regions, races, communities and backgrounds.

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