A conscious and close leadership
Jan-Åke Eriksson is a driven leader with a straight-forward thinking. He has been a manager for 18 years and has worked at the same workplace for almost 33 years. Jan-Åke is one of the first to use HR2 Mentor and one of those who has used the tool the longest. We have interviewed him about leadership and about his usage of HR2 Mentor.
Tell us a little about yourself!
– I have worked at Länsförsäkringar, a big insurance company in Sweden, for 33 years in the spring and will soon retire. For 18 years I have been working as a manager. I have about 100 employees with five leaders available in a management team.
Jan-Åke says that most people in their 30s think it is strange that he has been in the same workplace for so long. But he says that he has changed job a several times, just within the company.
– I have changed jobs 5,6,7 times. But within Länsförsäkringar. I have been a salesman, I have been a specialist, I have been a manager in slightly different constellations. Each time you change job within the same company, you get the knowledge from the previous tasks you have had, which means that I have a very broad knowledge within Länsförsäkringar. I see it as an amazing thing to have the opportunity to work under the same brand that you like while also get the chance to develop your own skills.
You with such long experience of leadership – how does one become a good manager?
– Be close – not in the meaning that you need to be in the same geographic place where your employees are. Be close, show participation and listen. I work in three different geographic districts which means that I can rarely be geographically close to all my employees. Therefore, I see it as extremely important to respond to emails, reply to text messages and always answer calls. I also have regular meetings with my employees with the help of HR2 Mentor and they say that they feel that I am close, even though I am often at a geographical distance. Being close to your employees I think is the foundation of everything. One should also not be afraid of taking care of conflicts. To hide from difficult questions is the same as sabotaging your own brand, you will not be credible.
What do you get from the employees as a close leader?
– You get respect and a good relationship. In a hierarchy, some leaders help to flatten the hierarchy through their way of being. They may be servants to everyone, sit and drink coffee etc. That’s not me. As a person I don’t feel that I have time for that.
What challenges would you say most managers have?
– There are manuals about how we should work in different processes. Sales processes, for example. But there’s no manual for how to be a good manager. It is up to each and every one to invent that wheel themselves and I think we all need help with that.
Tell us about your experience with HR2 Mentor!
– I have used HR2 Mentor for a number of years now and I work with the entire tool. The notes feature I use for everything. After meetings and as follow-ups. That feature is incredibly good when dealing with employees who doesn’t do their job. I have used it to go back and show the employee that certain notes about a behavior for example has been made, notes the employee also has been able to take part of. If you want to move an employee from one department to another, you also have a great support. Hr2 Mentor helps to collect all information about the employee’s development in such a movement. Another positive thing is – because I am retiring now in a few weeks and there will be a replacement after me – that HR2 Mentor allows new managers to step in and see the whole history of all employees without the employees suffering that it will be a change of manager. Which I think is really great!
Can you say something about how you were as a manager before vs after using HR2 Mentor?
– The awareness of what leadership means, I think, increases in general when you have a tool like HR2 Mentor. To, as a manager, be making a template in the development plan for the next year and think about what areas that needs more focus, I think is super-important. What can companies profit from using HR2 Mentor?- I think that you get more satisfied employees that feels seen. Only to write a self-reflection on Friday and get feedback on it on Monday from your leader makes you feel seen. And as a leader, you show your employees that you have seen them. Only that small thing in itself gives a great value. That is what I think most clearly makes a difference in the everyday work life.
Give an example when HR2 Mentor has been extra useful?
– An example is when we could clearly see how our managers gave feedback. One was really good, while another didn’t give feedback but rather criticism – and with only criticism you will get no improvement. When we saw this, we gathered all of our managers and had a two hours training with good examples. To this we did a follow-up six months later. The difference was huge, so amazing. And only these small measures have made us much better at giving feedback to our employees, whom in its turn gets better at their job.
When should you not use HR2 Mentor?
– If you work with “management by fear” as a method, then HR2 Mentor don’t have that great of importance. However, if you want to work with a coaching leadership, then you will understand the importance. I’ve seen many examples of companies letting an employee become a manager – but the employee still has all the old tasks and does not have time to be a manager. What kind of leadership will that be? Probably no leadership at all. Being a leader is a profession in itself – which all too often doesn’t get the priority it deserves.
Do you think HR2 Mentor can help managers who find it difficult to find time for their leadership?
– Yes, I think so. After all, HR2 Mentor helps you so that you can be a little more present. Only the fact that the company has bought it and that it is said that one should use it does in the end make you think that “we might put some time off for this”. If you don’t have it, then you don’t have to put time off for it either. I can see a big effect in just that.
Do you recommend others to use HR2 Mentor?
– Yes, I absolutely do!