Emerging from the crisis: investment in personnel and team development

Working closely with our client ad laborem, Rhein S.Q.M. trainers have successfully completed the mentor model.

Newspaper report in ‘Mannheimer Morgen’, Sept. 2, 2009

Experience gained over time and curiosity of the young combined – ad laborem starts mentoring programme

Data surveys in the metropolitan area have shown: The percentage of young people under 25 with educational deficiencies, i.e. lack of training is set to increase in future. At the same time, the percentage of older people beyond the age of 50 with severe physical disabilities will also increase. These are the target groups, from which the integrational enterprise ad laborem will be recruiting their personnel. “For us, it was therefore a logical step to bring together these two groups in order to have them benefit from each other”, explains ad laborem Managing Director Klaus Litwinschuh. “This is how the mentoring programme ‘Young and Old – Hand in Hand towards Success’ was born, which is currently in the implementation stage in our company”.

caritas_gruppe The newly certified mentors at ad laborem GmbH with their certificates (front row): Gabriele Beisheim, Viktor Smey, Peter Lokietz and Hans-Peter Thalav. Behind them: Business Consultant Wolfgang Rhein (2nd from left), Managing Director Klaus Litwinschuh (4th from left) and social worker Julia Zepf
Ad laborem mentors are trained In cooperation with the Ludwigshafen-based business consultancy Rhein S.Q.M. The programme is funded by the European Social Fund. Each mentor is assigned two so-called ‘mentees’, whom he or she supervises and supports. “Mentoring is initiated immediately after a mentee is hired in a company. Mentors accompany the new employee during his or her first days, explaining workflows, work safety regulations, and introduce the new staff member to the right persons to contact with any issues”, explains Klaus Litwinschuh. The mentors will remain the first point of call, should any work-related questions arise. “Mentors are also in charge of carrying out sample checks of the mentee’s work, and will offer help and support, when needed”, elaborates Business Consultant Wolfgang Rhein. “The personal contact and trust developing from this close cooperation, additionally motivates young people to excel. They are given the opportunity to contribute their own ideas to daily operations and the organisation as a whole, thus developing a sense of belonging and worth”.

When asked, what the difference between a boss or foreman and a mentor actually is, Klaus Litwinschuh explained: “Mentors are the bridge between social services and team leaders. Instead of with a superior, mentees work with a role model on equal level, which engenders a completely different kind of trust relationship”. It is therefore important that a mentor explains to his or her mentees, why processes are carried out in a certain way: customer wishes and complaints are taken into consideration, while requirements and workflows are explained. “This is how new employees can gain an insight into the way the company functions and what its objectives are, while at the same time developing a sense of belonging in terms of ad laborem and their new colleagues”, adds Litwinschuh. What is being established here, is not the traditional disciplinary relationship between superior and employee, but the role model function of the mentor instead. “Particularly when dealing with physically or mentally disabled people, a competent contact person on the same hierarchical level is an enormously important factor. It motivates trust and confidence in the individual employees”, says Litwinschuh.

But mentors also benefit from their role: They experience both professional and methodical appreciation, receive feedback on their own work efforts and specifically on their performance as a role model, which leads to a broadening of their own knowledge and experience. Thus, both sides benefit from the interrelationship developed in the mentoring programme: Personal strengths are promoted, and an additional qualification gained will be a definite plus in terms of improved chances in the employment market.

Wolfgang Rhein prophesises: “There will be a severe lack of trained workers in the future. In particular in the industrial sector, most employees will be untrained. That is why in particular these workers will need a contact person, who can introduce them to the various workflows. This is where our mentoring programme takes on a pioneering role.” There are currently four mentors working at ad laborem gGmbH, who supervise a total of eight mentees. The next round of training sessions for more mentors is currently being planned. “We have achieved exactly what we had hoped: Our employees have developed a trust relationship with their mentors, and have found their way around our work processes quickly. If any issues arise or problems are encountered, these are dealt with in collaboration with the relevant mentor”, explains Litwinschuh about the current situation. “The mutual learning process and working towards a common goal has been a very good method”. (ckl)

Newspaper report in ‘Mannheimer Morgen’, Sept. 2, 2009