Category Archive Innovation

Scapegoat TÜV Rheinland failure culture

How failures can drive innovation

There are failures, which must not happen because the extent of the damage is so monstrous. Exploding steam boilers, unmaintained power plants, or industrial plants endanger human lives. High-risk technology has therefore been regularly tested by the technical monitoring associations for over 100 years. Organizations also have rules, plans, and controlling routines in place to avoid failures or minimize damage. Governments also create legislation that defines correct behavior and the limits within which companies and their stakeholders are allowed to operate. However, this does not always prevent human error. Because people make mistakes. But: mistakes are valuable when causers and their organizations learn from them. However, this requires a culture of failure and learning. This is the only way to prevent repetitions and minimize financial and reputational damage. A culture of error and learning becomes a critical success factor for the introduction of agile corporate structures.

Unlike intentional actions, which may be punishable by law, failures are unintentional deviations from rules and regulations. In most cases, they have little impact. Often it doesn’t even turn out when employees make failures out of scabbiness or stress. The indirect consequences, however, can cause long-term damage. Poor service or recurring staff mistakes can lead to damage to reputation or to customer churn and lost revenue. If such errors happen in a hospital or nursing home, people can die as a result. If a faulty or manipulated software does not affect dozens but millions of customers, this can seriously get a company into trouble. Financial and reputational damage, as well as fines resulting from court rulings, can jeopardize the very existence of groups of companies. Economic history is full of companies that have relegated from the Champions League to the regional league or disappeared in just a few years.

Complexity, uncertainty and acceleration increase with digitalization

In contrast to the pre-digital age, the introduction of computers, the Internet, and algorithms to automate processes has increased speed. Innovation cycles follow at ever shorter intervals, forcing companies to act quickly as a result of global and digitally accelerated competitive pressure. Thinking and clean analysis are replaced by hectic activity. Errors are inevitable in such situations. In a study by Ernst & Young entitled “Error culture in German companies,” the consulting firm interviewed exactly 800 employees and 218 managers from the mechanical engineering, transport and logistics, automotive manufacturer and supplier, banking, and insurance sectors. Approximately 80 percent of managers stated that they had made failures in the last two years. As a result, they disrupted operations, delayed projects, and caused reputational damage. And according to the majority assessment of the employees, failures were also covered up in their companies. Because the employees said that only 45 percent of the managers could admit their errors. 57 percent of employees also believe that flaws in companies are covered up because employees have to fear that they will suffer consequences as messengers of bad news. And only 40 percent in top management talk openly about errors and thus give a positive signal that they deal with errors constructively and productively.

Development teams are more successful with a culture of error

In the reality of German companies, however, the culture and management of errors are rather bleak. Only nine percent of employees experience productive handling of errors in their company. And in only four percent, there is an error culture that promotes open communication across hierarchical levels. This finding is frightening, especially as there is probably a greater willingness at the team level to talk about failures. This is also urgently required because more and more companies are introducing agile project groups beyond IT development, delegating responsibility, and reducing hierarchical levels. As long as agile units achieve their goals, they are celebrated. If they fail and mistakes happen, old patterns of blaming and scapegoating often take hold. There is no systematic analysis to learn from failure. Agile units, however, make mistakes because they usually operate on treacherous terrain with a high degree of complexity and drive the transformation processes in a company forward. Only a systematically established error culture that functions at all levels and fast management of errors can remedy this situation. Companies could learn this from the agile development methods known from IT, such as Scrum, Design Thinking, and DevOps. Because here, productive handling of errors in the development process is part of the system. During the development of these programming methods, cost-benefit-oriented handling of failures has been established. Errors and their rapid elimination are institutionalized as usual. Since not all requirements can be known at the beginning of a complex IT project, since completely new functions prove to be useful in the development process and since feedback with the client also results in completely unexpected challenges, regular review loops are a matter of course. Agile development methods are, therefore, relatively fault-tolerant in the beginning and organize fast feedback loops after each development stage, so-called sprints. Instead of investing in error prevention, agile methods integrate evaluation and rapid test management in incremental processes. This leads to the relaxed handling of failures in project teams. A black Peter game to prove failure to individual team members becomes superfluous. The involvement of the client in the test management increases transparency. And with this error culture, an open approach and a quick correction are created, which in turn increases the pace of development.

Integrating fault management into corporate culture

Now one cannot compare a medium-sized company or a group of companies with a project group of developers, which perhaps has 15 or 30 employees. But companies can learn from the principles of agile process design. They face three challenges: Error management needs a cultural anchoring, needs clear structures, and has to start with the executives. Cultural anchoring is part of the corporate guidelines. In this, the company should define itself as a learning organization that deals openly with failures, promote constructive criticism internally at all hierarchical levels, and strives for transparent communication in dealing with errors. Structurally, a simple system of mutual evaluation should ensure that failures can be identified and discussed in good time. All those involved must recognize the added value that structural fault management offers. Because with the experience that positive changes result from it, and everyone benefits from it, the willingness and motivation to change also increases. Perhaps the most difficult challenge is to establish an error culture in management at all management levels. For it is not enough to make commitments and make Sunday speeches at works meetings. As role models, their behavior and handling of mistakes are decisive for how an error culture can be put into practice in a company. To encourage managers to adopt an open culture of error, training, and coaching offers as well as analyses of Industrial and Organizational Psychologists (IO-Psych) have proven their worth. Here, occupational psychologists accompany managers and their teams at various levels. With their expertise, individual or group consultations, they can positively promote the process so that error management can be successfully established.

Conclusion

Through failure management, companies can not only limit their financial and reputational damage caused by unavoidable errors. In the long term, the ability of an organization to learn increases. In the minds of managers and employees, a process mindset with joint evaluation emerges as to how teams, departments, and areas can improve their work and also their cooperation with customers, cooperation partners, and suppliers. Through networking, joint reflection, and open communication, companies are becoming more agile overall and can thus better master the challenges of digitalization.

CTA_TÜVRheinlandAcademy_tr-academy.com

Digital Workplace: Employees need skills and mindset

Mobility, flexibility and networked cooperation play an essential role in today’s world of work. Companies can better meet these challenges by introducing the Digital Workplace. The Digital Workplace is a central work environment that employees can access from any location and at any time. It comprises all sets of access infrastructures, applications and device platforms required by information or knowledge workers to perform their work and collaborate. All data is in one place and is quickly and easily accessible. At the digital workplace, employees are more self-determined, freer and therefore more efficient. That is the company view. Employees may see things differently. What are the consequences? 

A central working environment that inspires collaboration and teamwork, intelligently links knowledge and know-how and provides integrated data and information in a smart way. What sounds like music to entrepreneurs and process optimizers would be formulated in a completely different way by some employees: “I have to be available at all times” – “I have less free time” – “Sooner or later I will get cut off”. To put it clearly: the skepticism towards the Digital Workplace is prevalent among the working population. In May 2019, the German opinion research portal Civey asked about the expectations of employees regarding the development of the workload due to digitization. 44.2 percent of respondents believe it would increase significantly or rather. Just as many participants said that people were not at the center of the development of digital technologies; only 20.7 percent believed this. After all, many recognized the advantages of a digital workplace. All in all, however, despite all fears, the acceptance of digitization in professional life is increasing. In an online survey conducted by market researchers at EARSandEYES in May 2019, 60 percent regarded digital change as a gain.

24/7 collaboration increases productivity

Concerns about the Digital Workplace as well as hopes of improving work processes are justified. The former are based on the recognition that the Digital Workplace intervenes massively in the work processes of every employee. A digital workplace requires quick reactions, willing sharing of knowledge and also means that in a team, for example, everyone can see whether someone is available online. Mutual control and transparency can also reduce silo thinking, domination and intrigue. In addition, the Digital Workplace makes classic departmental and hierarchical structures obsolete because applications are all on one platform, isolated solutions can be resolved, data management becomes more consistent, collaboration functions support cross-departmental project structures and promote rapid reaction to changing market and customer requirements. Old power and responsibility relationships are a thing of the past.

With mobile access to business applications, time- and location-dependent working time models are lost. This means that employees can be reached around the clock, especially in virtual teams distributed around the globe. Even if this facilitates collaboration with colleagues, customers, suppliers and partners and increases productivity, the real-time flow of communication can become a burden. Dedicated employees, in particular, run the risk of losing their work-life balance if they can be reached at all times and are under constant internal pressure.

Technology also needs a digital cultural change

In addition to the burnout risks, companies should also pick up employees who are skeptical or hostile to new technologies. To ensure that the Digital Workplace actually supports agile work leads to improved collaboration across existing silo structures and increases productivity, users must also adapt their work processes and self-management. The introduction of technology in itself is not yet digitalization, and no employee changes his or her working method by work instructions, becoming more open and accessible for collaborative sharing of knowledge. Nor can a willingness to help or commitment to new challenges in other departments be ordered. Therefore, with the introduction of digital workplaces, companies should also initiate a digital cultural change. The “rules of the game” can help to promote acceptance of the technology and the new work processes and simultaneously prevent a complete dissolution of boundaries between work and private life. A company must be present 24/7, but not its employees. E-mails at night or on weekends should be taboo in a digital culture. Downtime should not be frowned upon but encouraged. In such a culture, employees must also develop their own digital skills. It is helpful, for example, if HR departments offer systematic competency management for employees. The result is to support employees in expanding their learning abilities to expand their competencies through further training follows the content and technical requirements. This is the only way to create a new mindset with which digital processes can be lived successfully, without sending employees from one overload to the next.

Conclusion: Digitalization must put people at the center of attention

There is no alternative to accelerated digitization of all areas of work. But dealing with technology and people will probably decide how successful companies will be in global digital competition. In addition to technology, this also requires the commitment of employees.

Human-Centered Workplace: The Digital Workplace is more than the introduction of innovative technology; it must consider the needs and requirements of all employees. Ideally, the Digital Workplace places the employee at the center and examines his or her working methods and processes, while the Digital Workplace becomes the Human-Centered Workplace. Daily recurring processes and complex tasks should be automated in a way that they become really easier for the user. The HR and IT departments ideally work hand in hand in the development and implementation of the Digital Workplace.
Employee development: Changes will hardly be possible without competent employees. They need to be trained in applications, be able to recognize connections and develop awareness for the advantages of the new way of working. Important: IT employees should also be involved here.  Active competence management is based, among other things, on a systematic GAP analysis of employees and compensates for possible weaknesses in the use of tools and new structures.
Promoting employee satisfaction: Freedoms such as flexible, self-determined and locally self-determined work such as home office and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) promote the acceptance of the Digital Workplace, the commitment and satisfaction of employees can increase. However, higher productivity and better performance should not be cannibalized by increased pressure on employees.
Workplace Support: There is no need for information overload. Technology today allows us to provide employees with the information they need to do their jobs, in the right form, at the right time. Every company has to find its way.

CTA_TÜVRheinlandAcademy_tr-academy.com

BlendedLearning_TÜVRheinland Academy

Blended Learning: great opportunities for competence development

Blended Learning? Only a few people know what is meant with this term. Yet the hybrid learning concept has long been the order of the day in many places: the hybrid learning concept combines online and face-to-face educational offerings. Experience has shown that this makes it easier to build up operational competence, especially in technical areas. What you should consider when developing your own strategy.

Universities are increasingly supplementing classroom courses with web-based training, companies are using digital solutions to make it easier for new employees to get started or are using e-learning platforms to develop their own staff in a targeted manner. This enables employees to decide for themselves when and where they want to learn – whether at home or on the road. But hybrid learning offers do not only increase the flexibility of knowledge transfer. They also pave the way for lower costs within the company and greater learning success for employees. This is the result of a ten-year meta-analysis conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. No wonder that blended learning is also enjoying growing popularity in the corporate environment: in the USA alone, the proportion of company training hours within the framework of integrated learning concepts almost doubled from 35 percent to 69 percent in 2018. This is not least due to the ongoing digitalization: In the past, blended learning programs were primarily about combining presence and online offerings. Today, however, they also offer companies a wide range of interactive learning tools – and thus completely new learning worlds.

You should consider the following when developing your own blended learning concepts:

  • Get feedback: 360-degree feedback is the be-all and end-all of successful personnel development. Online tools set the right course for this. They enable employees and managers to assess each other at the click of a mouse. On this basis, blended learning offerings can then be developed to fit.
  • Interlocking hybrid learning offers: Integrated learning concepts convey knowledge through a logical combination of different forms of learning. For this to succeed, playful simulations, virtual excursions, and social cooperation must interlock seamlessly. In other words, blended learning is a process. It is not enough to make the offers available. They must also be continuously supervised and further developed.
  • Staying in touch: Interactive learning offers require a lot of self-discipline and personal responsibility on the part of the participants. This makes it all the more important for learners to have a contact person when they have questions. According to studies, interactive discussion opportunities and timely feedback are an important success factor for hybrid continuing education programs.
  • Personalize knowledge transfer: A major advantage of blended learning is that training courses can be tailored to the individual needs of each employee. Instead of consuming superfluous information using the watering can principle, everyone learns only what they really need for their job.
  • Using external content: Internal company learning content should be enriched with external online content. In this way, synergy effects can be exploited and modern learning experiences made possible. With the help of digital tools, suitable content can be identified in the twinkling of an eye.
  • Tread new paths: Frontal knowledge transfer is out. Face-to-face events are ideal for deepening knowledge acquired online through role-plays or discussions. Innovative technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Reality also enable “learning by doing” in risk-free environments.
  • Eliminate barriers to entry: 75 percent of the skills employees need for their job are acquired in their daily work. Social media tools, chatbots and online discussion forums make knowledge available in the company at the click of a mouse.
  • Check learning success: After continuing education is before continuing education: Blended learning is a continuous process. Accordingly, it is important to check the learning success of employees after completion of appropriate programs – preferably again in the form of an independent competence measurement. This allows potential shortcomings in the interactive learning offering to be identified and closed.

Those who do not have the necessary know-how in-house should rely on external know-how when developing and implementing hybrid learning concepts. Globally active competence developers have experience in the creation of tailor-made learning architectures, which contribute precisely to the goals of the company.

CTA_Competence Development_TÜVRheinland_EN

TÜV Rheinland Academy Digital Competence

How TÜV Rheinland Academy empowers digital competence

How do I move safely on the net? How do I recognize a fake profile? How do I judge online communication, how do I distinguish real news from fake news? What is a Meme? Where do I reveal too much of my private life and become a potential victim of identity theft? These are all questions of digital literacy to which children and young people should have an answer. This makes them strong and resistant to the dangers of the internet and prepares them for their professional future. So far, however, digital competence is neither a teaching subject nor part of teacher training in Germany. TÜV Rheinland Academy in Germany is changing this – for example as a partner of DigiCamps. The resonance is unprecedented and has in the meantime the format of a movement, better said in the net speech: DigiCamps goes viral. The aim is to enable the specialists and managers of tomorrow to develop safely and healthily and to start here as early as possible: with schools and teachers.

2017 was the start of “DigiCamps – Life in Balance.” Since then, a republic-wide series has emerged that provides students, teachers, and parents with orientation on the World Wide Web. To provide didactically and pedagogically valuable information about the opportunities and risks of using the internet the social enterprise BG 3000 Service GmbH, the health insurance BARMER and TÜV Rheinland Academy Germany developed smart camps, teacher camps, trainee camps, and DigiCamps. Barmer is sponsoring the initiative, TÜV Rheinland Academy is one of the leading competence developers on board as part of the digital transformation. The primary motivation is that the acquisition of digital competence has to start early. Today and even more in the future, it belongs to the essential teaching contents such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Parents and teachers must not be left alone with this task.

Optimizing the digital self and avoiding digital stress

A DigiCamp lasts three days and has a modular structure. It is aimed at students, mainly middle school students, teachers, and parents. In interactive workshops, they learn the safe and above all good use of digital media. The trainer teams consist of media educators, psychologists, nutrition and fitness experts and, above all, well-known social media influencers. Together, the participants deal with all facets of internet use. Questions about the functioning of Snapchat, Instagram, etc. are dealt with. The participants deal with the individual challenge of how to optimize their online self. They learn how to recognize addictive behavior in themselves and others and how to handle digital stress. By dealing with their usage patterns and without moral forefinger, the DigiCamps provide recommendations and orientation. Social media and mobile devices are part of life, but good use of them needs to be learned.

Hackers create “aha” effects

The DigiCamps start with impressive demonstrations that IT security specialists prepare according to age. With live hacking experiments, adults and teenagers will experience how quickly an e-mail account with weak passwords can be hacked. They are amazed when they experience the consequences of a travel ticket posted on Facebook and a thumbs up. A thumb recorded with an ordinary smartphone camera can be used to manipulate the fingerprint sensor on a mobile device. These “aha” effects about an unconsidered posting of personal information have a healing effect. Those who have participated in the DigiCamp will at least question their user behavior and ultimately change it.

Influencers clarify

Educating in the best sense of the word is also done by social media giants at the DigiCamps, who have tens of thousands of subscribers on Instagram or YouTube. For example, Irina Engelke (287,000 followers) and Laura Grosch (132,000 followers) report on their Instagram channels during the DigiCamps. Sebastian Meichsner from Bullshit TV, among others, will talk about their YouTube projects with over 1.8 million followers.

Influencers of this kind, who are still in adolescence themselves, inform their peers about the mechanisms of action of these popular platforms. In the workshops, they appeal to their practical experience to use their minds in dealing with social media. Under their guidance and accompanied by pedagogues, the participants on the second and third day create their videos, create blogs, or other digital formats. They also deal with conditions of production and reception. In this way, children and young people learn playfully and concretely how to deal responsibly with these media.

Great interest in the format also from third parties

By the end of 2019, DigiCamps should have taken place in at least 100 schools. The objective of the project is that the teaching staff will then be able to offer their own teaching formats for digital competence in their schools with the extensive teaching materials of the initiative. In the meantime, word of success has spread, and the unique role played by TÜV Rheinland Academy in the interdisciplinary project has become known. Further organizations in Germany and Switzerland are interested in the realization of DigiCamps at schools and with education providers.

CTA_TÜVRheinlandAcademy_tr-academy.com

TÜV Rheinland Akademie_XT Technologien_DigitalLearning

How XR boosts technical competence

So-called XR technologies are enjoying great popularity in education. After all, Extended Reality (XR) can be used to convey a wide variety of learning content in an extremely practice-oriented way. But how does this actually work? An overview.

Try it. It’s about studying: That’s why flight simulators have been around for almost as long as the aircraft itself. The first were built more than a hundred years ago and consisted of mobile platforms that could be used to simulate the most important flight movements. A seat, a joystick, a few ball joints: these were the beginnings of pilot training.

Immerse yourself in virtual learning worlds
Today, on the other hand, the first dry runs for young pilots feel much more realistic – not least because airlines are increasingly relying on so-called XR technologies for pilot training. XR stands for Extended Reality and combines different virtual technologies under one roof. In modern flight simulators, for example, virtual reality tools play a major role. This allows challenging situations such as storms or engine failures to be simulated realistically. The advantage: Those who have already familiarized themselves with the imponderables of airspace in a flight simulator will be much more familiar with the first real cross-country flights. To make such realistic experiences possible on the ground, you only need two things: VR glasses and a computer program that generates the desired environment. When the user puts on the VR glasses, he can immerse himself in this artificially generated environment and move freely in it virtually. In contrast to a film or video game, it is no longer an observer, but part of the scenery.

Augmented Reality (AR): adding information to the real world
While VR technologies enable immersion in virtual worlds, augmented reality (AR) enriches reality with artificial elements. In concrete terms, this means that users remain in the real world, where they can perceive not only real information, but also computer-generated information or content. In other words: VR technologies put the user in a virtual environment. AR, on the other hand, brings virtual objects into the real world.

TÜV Rheinland Akademie_XT Technologien_DigitalLearning

AR technologies are also used for training purposes. For example, trainees with special glasses can safely work on virtual welding objects, as it is already the case with the training at TÜV Rheinland Academy. With the help of TÜV Rheinland, RWE Power has also simplified training for maintenance work on bucket wheel excavators and other heavy equipment using XR technologies – and can thus relieve operators of large equipment. To this end, maintenance personnel are trained via data goggles so that they can perform their tasks safely for people and the environment and effectively – even if their last assignment was a few months ago. Different levers and switches are visualized through the glasses in the form of holograms, functions of the switching elements in the driver’s cab are explained in detail, work processes are explained step by step. The application is not faded in statically in the image field, but blends seamlessly into the real environment. In the case of RWE, this means that the training of maintenance personnel not only takes place in the “classroom”, but also on the heavy equipment itself. The application, developed by TÜV Rheinland’s Digital Learning team, detects the shovel excavator’s driver’s cab and positions the hologram of each control element exactly where it should be. This enables maintenance personnel to find all the necessary levers and switches in no time at all and to apply the practical knowledge acquired by AR in practice without any problems.

XR – an important trend in the teaching of technical skills
It is not for nothing that XR technologies are regarded as an important future trend in the education sector. They pave the way for location-independent and thus cost-effective training courses, are much more fun than conventional training courses and – most importantly – ensure that the practical transfer of theoretical learning content is successful. Accordingly, TÜV Rheinland Academy is currently consistently expanding its range of XR training solutions, for example in the area of forklift driving licenses or in the area of mobility and engineering. As the Chinese philosopher Confucius says: “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand

CTA_TÜVRheinlandAcademy_tr-academy.com

Blog_TÜV_Rheinland_Academy_learning

9 Tips on how learning to learn!

“Not for school, for life we learn.” The Roman philosopher Seneca already knew that. The logical consequence of this realization is lifelong learning. We will show you how to stay on the ball with the right learning strategy.

App developers, data scientists, Artificial Intelligence experts: Digitization is already creating numerous new job profiles. According to estimates by the World Economic Forum, 65 percent of children attending primary school today will end up in occupations that do not yet exist. On the other hand, traditional craft trades, for example, will increasingly disappear from the scene.

Anyone who wants to gain a foothold in the professional world of tomorrow has to be flexible and open to new ideas. One thing’s for sure: At a time when employees are constantly confronted with changing conditions and requirements, it is important to learn. And not only in studies and training. It’s best to do it for life. Whether education courses, e-learning, webinars, coaching, training or certifications – the offer of possibilities is vast.

Nevertheless, only every second person makes use of it. Some shy away from the effort, others fear to fail because of the learning material. No wonder, after all, it has been several years since many employees last went to school. And some people already had a hard time learning back then. This makes it all the more important to relearn or re-learn the targeted (intentional) or incidental (implicit) acquisition of new skills. With the right learning strategy, nothing can stop the learning success, even for adults. You should consider the following points:

  • Set schedule
    Unstructured and unorganized learning rarely leads to success. Instead, you should define fixed learning times for yourself. It is better to learn an hour every day than to spend the whole weekend studying. Tip: An organizer helps you to prioritize tasks and process them in a targeted manner.
  • Define milestones
    Intermediate goals ensure that the motivation to learn does not diminish over time. So set different sub-goals right from the start – and reward yourself if one of them is achieved. The advantage is that you can easily keep an eye on both the path you have already reached and the path ahead of you.
  • Determine personal learning style
    While some people expand their knowledge through the consumption of specialist books, others learn better through listening, watching or trying out. Find out whether you are a visual, auditory, motor or communicative learner. You can then put together the best learning techniques for yourself.
  • Use suitable tools
    There are a number of different methods for internalizing the teaching material: from the classic index card system, to notes, mind maps and learning posters, to practical experiments and learning groups, help to anchor numbers, data and facts permanently in the brain.
  • Learning with all senses
    The more sensory channels are involved in the learning process, the better what has been learned is internalized. Who only listens during learning, keeps 20 percent of the teaching material, who uses eye and ear, already 50 percent remain in the memory. It is best to bundle visual, auditory, motor and communicative tools. Because then the memory rate even rises up to 90 percent.
  • Creating (free) spaces for learning
    Just insert a short learning unit on the sofa during the TV commercial break? Forget it! Learning requires concentration. The prerequisites for this are a calm atmosphere, a fixed learning location and regular breaks in which the brain can process the information it has acquired.
  • Bringing in a horizon of experience
    Children usually learn faster, while adults benefit from a wealth of knowledge acquired over the years. Use this so-called “crystalline intelligence” and link the subject matter with your personal experiences and insights. This improves your learning success.
  • Keep moving
    Movement activates the motor centers of your brain that are involved in the processing and storage of information. In other words, content is easier to internalize if you move while learning. So when you’re learning, get up from time to time and take a few steps.
  • Practice, practice, practice!
    Practice makes it perfect: regular training enables what has been learned to be permanently anchored in the brain. Never rest on your laurels, but also repeat knowledge that you have already mastered.

 

CTA_TÜVRheinlandAcademy_tr-academy.com

Blog_TÜV_Rheinland_Academy_Traum

Don’t stop dreaming! 

Astronaut, professional soccer player, princess: Do you still remember what you once wanted to become? Not all childhood dreams come true. But sometimes the dream job is still only a stone’s throw away. Let yourself be inspired – by success stories around the globe.

Times are changing. Career desires hardly do: For decades, little boys have dreamed of becoming police officers or pilots, girls usually want a professional career as (veterinary) doctors or teachers. However, Sophia was different: She liked to tinker with technology, even at an early age. Pin toys, Lego robots, computers – she wasn’t satisfied until she knew exactly how something worked. Later, she dreamed of running her own IT company. A dream she realized: Together with two friends, Sophia founded her own Start Up. ” To keep my business growing, I have to keep up with the latest technology,” she says. The instructors at TÜV Rheinland Academy are there to help her. They themselves have practical experience and are dedicated to you with innovations and digitization.

> In this video you can get to know the whole story of Sophia.

Happiness makes you productive

TÜV Rheinland Academy is specialized in training and further education in technical professions and offers companies, graduates and professionals a wide range of opportunities to develop their personal potential. Mohammed from India has also benefited from it. Initially, he wanted to be a racing driver. Today, he works as a mechatronics engineer for an international automotive group. Not least because with the Vocational Training of TÜV Rheinland Academy he experienced exactly the dual vocational training based on the German model, which is the basis for getting an opportunity for a job interview with global players. He made it, although he came from a modest background and lacked the money for education. “The education was financially supported and was outstanding. That’s why I can live my dream today,” he says. Good for his employer! After all, studies show that happy employees are about 20 percent more productive than their dissatisfied colleagues.

> In this video you can get to know the whole story of Mohammed.

There could be more people like Sophia or Mohammed worldwide. According to the Gallup Engagement Index in the USA, just one in three employees (33 percent) still feels emotionally committed to his job. And that is already the world’s top value. In the European Union, only one in ten employees (11 percent) is happy with his or her job, while one in four (25 percent) has already mentally resigned.

Why is that? On the one hand, many companies concentrate exclusively on their day-to-day business and thereby lose sight of employee development. On the other hand, even employees do not pursue their career goals consistently enough. John’s example shows that things can be different: Already as a child, he was very ambitious. Today, he works in his dream job and moves heavy construction frames as a crane operator. It wasn’t always easy to get there. “I started at the bottom, but I always kept an eye on my goal,” John remembers. Then his employer financed his training as a crane operator, and he passed the examination at PersCert TÜV. For him, personnel certification is not just a degree, but a kickoff for a successful international career that offers him many opportunities.

> In this video you can get to know the whole story of John.

Tailor-made e-learning offers for individual careers

So it’s not always the direct route that leads to the dream job, but that’s exactly what you should expect and inform yourself accordingly. Especially the increasing digitalization and automation offers exciting, sometimes undreamed of development possibilities. Today, for example, it is no longer necessary to study computer science to protect companies from hackers, viruses and other threats. Jane can prove this: she decided not to study and instead took tailor-made e-learning courses at TÜV Rheinland Academy. Today, she works as an IT expert and continues to focus on digital training. “Together with TÜV Rheinland Academy, for example, we have developed a customized course on cybersecurity for our company,” she says. “It is working out really well!”

> In this video you can get to know the whole story of Jane.

Paul also opted for a training course at TÜV Rheinland Academy as part of his continuing education program and was very enthusiastic about the practice-oriented courses. Without hesitation, he applied to be a trainer. With success. Today, he shares his expertise with young professionals and executives around the world. “I used to be a great electrical engineer at home. Today, I’m creating new ideas worldwide,” he proudly states. “It’s nice that I can share my dream with so many people and pass on my knowledge myself – so that others may also realize their dream.”

> In this video you can get to know the whole story of Paul.

We hope you haven’t given up dreaming either! Find out more about how the services offered by TÜV Rheinland Academy have supported Sophia, Mohammed, John, Jane and Paul on their career paths, or find out for yourself what opportunities are available to you worldwide through training and further education at TÜV Rheinland Academy. Find out more on www.tuv.com/academy.

Prevention_TÜV-Rheinland_tr-academycom.jpg

How does the culture of prevention succeed?

Today, VUCA shapes the modern working world: it is subject to volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, that is what we today call digital transformation and the associated disruption. In times of VUCA, what does that mean for the health of workers and the competitiveness of the company?  This central question goes to Prof. Dr. med. Joachim E. Fischer in an interview with tr-academy.com. The Director of the Mannheim Institute for Public Health at the Medical Faculty Mannheim of the University of Heidelberg sees in the “FreuSinn” – joy at work – a central factor for a healthy and motivating Leadership 4.0. In his opinion, the thesis that prevention is better than cure – is more relevant than ever.

In your opinion, how can one reconcile protecting employee health and the competitiveness of a company?

Traditionally, the culture of prevention has been meant: We protected employee health with technical measures designed to reduce exposure to risk. We have achieved an exemplary high standard in this regard. Today, digitalization has taken over the workplace and has increased the amount of knowledge work employees do. The demand for flexible, individualized solutions is increasing, especially in industrial settings. This is changing the kinds of health protection we need to provide. Averting physical risks is taking a back seat and it’s becoming more important to strengthen employees’ ability to cope with challenges. Adding to the complexity is an increasing unpredictability and uncertainty, often even contradictions, which are not exactly diminished by current political upheavals, whether it’s Brexit or American tariffs.

But people need sufficient security in order to tap their potential. The culture of prevention in the sense of using conventional health campaigns such as veggie day in the staff cafeteria, health awareness days, or healthy back training is far too short-sighted. By taking the opportunity to find out what will help employees develop their potential and thus increase the company’s competitiveness is often good for their overall mental health. The aim here is to find the best possible intersections: this is at the heart of the new “culture of prevention.”

You see having a sense of joy (“FreuSinn”) as a central factor of the culture of prevention in the sense of a healthy and motivating Leadership 4.0. What exactly do you mean by this?

Originally, it was out of pure scientific curiosity that we asked more than 20,000 people whether they look forward to going to work in the morning when they wake up and whether their work helps them see their lives as meaningful. We were quite surprised when those employees who could fully agree with both statements were healthier, even down to biological markers, and described themselves as more effective. We decided to name this phenomenon “FreuSinn.” Obviously it is joy, not fun, and experiencing the job as meaningful is vital to these people. It is close to what others have described as “flow.” And we know from neurobiological research that the frontal lobe of the brain is particularly active when these conditions are active. It is in the frontal lobe where we think, decide, invent, judge, plan. In other words, exactly those things today’s knowledge-based economy and society need.

If a company’s ability to create value increasingly depends on employees’ using the frontal lobes of their brains and not shutting that aspect of their humanity down when they cross the entrance gates, then it is up to managers at all levels of the hierarchy to create the conditions for more joy and meaningfulness at work. This does not necessarily make the management task any easier, because there are no simple formulas to follow. Sometimes it might involve simplifying disruptive processes. It might be allowing certain people to work from home or it might involve firing people that are disrupting the team with their poisonous attitudes. An important task in this regard is to cushion the ubiquitous uncertainty credibly, whether it is uncertainty caused by fixed-term contracts (like we have in research) or the uncertainty caused by turbulent markets. And because many people react more irritably under stress and with increasing exhaustion, taking care of the workplace atmosphere day in, day out becomes all the more important.

We recently evaluated data from a representative study conducted by the German Labor Ministry, which included both an internationally used scale for mental well-being and a scale for measuring enthusiasm, commitment, and passion for work. The results showed that 40% of employees are both committed and engaged in their work and also mentally healthy. So a job that keeps you healthy has long been a real possibility. Empirical data from several studies even agree that people who voluntarily work longer and feel useful have longer lives. Managers must therefore ask themselves how they can increase the sense of joy and meaningfulness at work both today and in the future tomorrow from their own strength without extensive training. Whether it’s city cleaning, nursing care for the elderly, working the assembly line, or in an architecture firm. We know companies in every industry that can do this. They have low absenteeism rates, and they generate great added value with their work. Almost nothing has a more lasting effect than genuine sincere recognition for good performance. And not in the form of a bonus payment at the end of the year, but with a grateful handshake immediately.

We have collected our own data to compare the effects of convention health campaigns with that of creating a sense of joy and meaningfulness at work. While 10% healthier behaviors only contribute 1% to employee health and just over half a percent to productivity, 10% more joy and a sense of meaning bring about 5% more productivity. It’s no wonder why SAP’s Business Health Culture Index, where half the questions measure the quality of leadership and support, has become a significant internal key performance indicator for SAP. PWC calculated on SAP’s behalf that a 1% improvement in the Business Health Culture Index translates into €65-75 million more profit. This is no secret; it has been published online in SAP’s annual report. Anyone who thinks conventional health campaigns will be enough will, in the long run, not be able to exploit the full potential of holistic health management.

What opportunities do you see in bargaining agreements that can’t be solved by the healthcare system?

The healthcare system is excellent when it comes to treating acute illnesses with clear medical causes and treatment options. However, the healthcare system is not at all equipped to maintain employees’ ability to work and create value. If, for example, employees are so mentally restricted that, although they still function day-to-day and aren’t in need to psychiatric hospitalization, they will no longer be able to work in a way that creates value. We have to define a new culture of prevention. Our healthcare system only offers waiting times and no solutions. So there is a gap between conventional, technical health protection measures and the healthcare system which is yearning for healthcare that includes psycho social aspects. This applies to a wide range of potential offerings aimed at the individual, such as family assistance in problem situations such as caring for relatives, early intervention in cases of pain or psychological complaints, and meaningful attempts at making working hours or locations more flexible.

But this affects especially how we design work, that is, the conditions under which people work. Whereas the focus was once on emissions, noise, dangers, and lighting, it’s the psycho social impact and mental noise that we now need to get under control. What gets forgotten in all these risk assessments is that the mind also benefits from resources that will help it to overcome challenges. So it’s not just a question of reducing burdens and averting dangers. Unlike the technical prevention of risks, the most important thing for the mind is that which strengthens it. You can’t avert the cancer risk from asbestos through your mood. But you can solve a big task together as a team and what remain are the sense of achievement and the certainty and confidence of being able to solve the next problem together again, too.

When I was a child, Esso gas stations used to advertise with the “tiger in the tank.” The “tiger in the tank” for value creation is increasing the experience of joy and meaningfulness at work. The cover story of the current issue of Harvard Business Review is: “When work has meaning: how to turn purpose into performance.”

Professor Fischer, thank you for speaking with us.

Internal Communication_TUV_Rheinland

Optimize Internal Communication

In a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous), everything is volatile, uncertain, complex and full of ambivalence. Many managers allegedly lack time to communicate adequately with their employees. But internal communication is becoming increasingly critical to success, especially in large companies with locations worldwide. How can everyone pull together if most people don’t know to what end and for what purpose? Here are a few tips on how to improve internal communication in your organization.

Tip 1: Use sales tools for employees for intensifying internal communication

Webinars are not only excellent tools for sales to tomorrow’s customers. They are also ideal for regular Q&A with the employees. In contrast to static internal newsletters, regular internal questions & answers are interactive and perfect to ensure that everyone has the same level of knowledge and to detect possible misunderstandings or undesirable developments at an early stage and to counteract them. Make sure that the webinars are part of your internal communication and advertised in time via internal channels such as the employee newsletter, Yammer or Slack. Make it clear in advance how employees can participate in this webinar. Consider in advance what questions might come and ask your team to prepare the answers. Be prepared for unpleasant or unexpected aspects to be addressed. Develop a sovereign strategy for this.

Tip 2: Managing resources intelligently

Don’t work harder, work smarter. Management software and platforms can help you manage resources and projects in real time and significantly improve internal communication. They can better delegate responsibilities, make sure your team stays on schedule and can support you when bottlenecks occur. They bridge the communication between management, employees, customers, and suppliers. Examples for this are platforms such as Bitrix24 or Monday (Dapulse) – with group and video chats, document management, cloud service, integrated calendar, email, CRM, HR tools and much more. Set achievable goals and divide them into manageable sections. Attach files and set due dates. Let the software automatically remind you and the team of overdue tasks – if they still exist at all. Automatically learn when milestones are reached and keep up to date with team success in real time.

Tip 3: Switch to real-time communication

SMS and e-mail are old school. How much faster could your employees communicate, make decisions, and even make decisions if they were allowed to use a direct messaging app – just as they do in their private lives? Yammer is a collaboration tool that enables teams to share messages, files, documents or updates quickly and without having to take detours. Slack with both private and public channels is now also at the top of the popularity scale of corporate apps. The app supports Direct Messaging, Drag & Drop for file sharing, document feedback, and comments, and centralizes all notifications. The app also has a search function that allows you to search the content for keywords. By the way – project management tools like Monday allow the integration of direct messengers such as Slack.

Tip 4: Dare to take an anonymous employee survey

Have the courage to use anonymous feedback software such as Custom Insights or Survey Monkey to learn what your employees feel you can do to improve your leadership performance and your internal communication too. Under certain circumstances, the results may be devastating initially. Think of it as an opportunity. Only if you know where the problem areas are you can work to change something for the better. Experience shows: You will be repaid for this courage with employee satisfaction and performance. Yet this can only be the case if you change something and don’t just put the results back in the drawer.

Tip 5: Communicate clearly and appreciatively

Internal communication involve respecting the time of others. This applies to meetings as well as to one-on-one conversations. Do not go on and on, but argue clearly and to the point. Let others have their say and catch them should they go beyond the scope and time budget of others in the meeting. And if a conversation needs a decision at the conclusion, then you decide. Stay respectful and appreciative in your language. Empathy today is often regarded as part of social competence as if it were not innate to us. “I can imagine that this makes you proud” or “This certainly upset you” are good examples of how an executive shows empathy. Clear language, clear head.

Artificial intelligence and androids_TUV_Rheinland

Cooperation between Man and Artificial Intelligence

How can people and artificial intelligence work together in the future?

Artificial intelligence and digitalization produce new headlines every day. The tenor of the report fluctuates between admiration and admonition. How can people and machines work together in the future? Or won’t they work together because machines do the work?

For large parts of the population, the image of artificial intelligence is dominated by boulevard publications and the film industry. If machines learn to defeat the human grandmasters in chess or Go, media satisfaction spreads. Artificial intelligence represents the pinnacle of human inventiveness. In the films The Matrix and Terminator, on the other hand, machines have long since taken control of enslaved humanity. The mood oscillates between fear and admiration. The Handelsblatt, for example, chose the lowest common denominator in a commentary in which AI was described as a curse and a blessing.[1]

AI has come to stay

Highly specialized systems based on machine learning, pattern recognition or robotics are conquering ever larger fields of application. AI systems are used in the insurance industry to uncover cases of fraud or to process claims, they optimize routes and merchandise planning in retail and personalize the way consumers are approached in marketing or create individual dynamic prices. Even in highly specialized areas, AI systems are set to take over people’s tasks. Self-learning systems prepare forecasts and evaluate key figures in controlling.

And the experiences of the first companies to rely on AI are impressively positive. Last year, insurer Zurich caused a sensation when the company reported that it had processed claims in the claims handling area using AI within seconds for which a person needed more than 50 minutes. There is no doubt that artificial intelligence will shape the world of work shortly.

AI creates more sales and new jobs

That sounds like a job-killing technology that brings the destruction of livelihoods. The study “Reworking the Revolution” by Accenture comes to a different conclusion. There is no doubt that AI systems will take over people’s tasks. For example, chatbots will communicate with customers directly over the phone without people noticing that they are talking to a computer. But at the end of the day, the authors of the study assume that companies that rely on AI could increase their sales by up to 38 percent by 2022 and even create more net jobs.

But the tasks of the employees will change. Surprised, Accenture found that few companies have recognized that changing the world of work requires different skills from their employees.

The new world of work requires new skills and competencies

AI systems are IT systems. Competences with complex technical systems and the computer will undoubtedly retain their already great importance. But IT knowledge alone will not be enough in the working world of the future to keep employees firmly in the saddle. The assumption of more complex tasks by the machines enables new forms of cooperation. In industry, employees will probably no longer be responsible for a particular machine or manufacturing step. If machines transfer workpieces to each other and the production of another piece can be started with just a few mouse clicks, the employees have a new role to play. You need to keep an eye on processes, perhaps even communicate directly with suppliers or customers. But they must also be equipped with the necessary skills to do so.

Digitization and the introduction of AI in companies can only succeed if employees are involved from the outset and do not become affected. However, inclusion makes it necessary for employees to recognize the benefits of the technologies. It is not possible without knowledge about one’s own company, current developments in the industry as a whole and an understanding of what the actual business model of the employer is.

Create an atmosphere that encourages learning and the fun of training

While in the past one or the other employers may have only considered the demand for “lifelong learning” as just a phrase and invested accordingly cautiously in further training, demand is becoming more urgent than ever. Because AI systems change at a rapid pace. This is why companies need to create an atmosphere that encourages learning and the fun of training.

As far as can already be seen today, AI systems promote interdisciplinary work and corresponding forms of organization. The employee of the future must, therefore, be able to adapt to changing situations and other people. Such social competencies will be just as necessary as incentives for more creativity. In many cases, AI systems will aggregate data, but the necessary conclusions and the verification of valid hypotheses will continue to be the responsibility of human intelligence.

This is why companies will benefit most from AI, which best combines the benefits of electronic systems with the capabilities of people. And this can only be achieved with solid further training and active management of competencies in a company.

Learn more:

[1] https://www.handelsblatt.com/meinung/kommentare/kommentar-kuenstliche-intelligenz-ist-gleichzeitig-fluch-und-segen/21006486.html?ticket=ST-372739-bwhjlDya4cJUNj71Btba-ap3