Human resources management in a medium-sized family business

Sixteen managers from Egypt completed a diverse training course in Hamburg and northern Germany in the spring of 2015. One of the programme’s highlights was a visit to the medium-sized family business Pfannenberg, based in Hamburg. This electro-technical company manufactures products and systems for thermal management of electrical enclosures and optical and acoustic warning signals.

The visit covered both production organization and another important topic. Torsten Gnädinger, Head of Global HR, presented Pfannenberg’s strategy for human resources, which lead to a lively discussion between Gnädinger and the Egyptian managers. In a nutshell, Pfannenberg’s human resources strategy can be boiled down to the following four pillars:

1. Resourcing: This element includes employer branding and a careers website as well as efforts to discover new talents.
2. On-boarding: This is a standardized programme to help new employees get started in the company. It comprises checklists designed by the human resources department for use by managers, mentors and employees, as well as internal company brochures and events such as company presentations given by managing directors or production tours.
3. Development: Training programmes serve as the main development tool for employees, in addition to employee target agreements and employee surveys.
4. Services: These include the full documentation and administration of the human resources department.

The topics of on-boarding and human resources development were especially interesting for the Egyptian executives because they recognized potential in their own companies in these areas, and the elements can be implemented relatively quickly. During a training session the next day on the topics of human resources development and motivation it was possibly to briefly expand on some of the elements, such as employee target agreements.

A tour of the production lines provided the opportunity for questions. It was also possible to answer them in greater detail since the visitors had luckily been divided into a number of smaller groups. The Egyptian managers were very pleased with pleasant working environment, the cleanliness and order, and the level of automation achieved which they had encountered time and again in German companies.

The Egyptian managers left Pfannenberg after a good three and a half hours with many new impressions and ideas and moved on to the programme’s next highlight: a reception at the Egyptian General Consulate in Hamburg.

By Timo Tekhaus
Akademie International, Hamburg