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Ingo Kallenbach

Energy suppliers need a vision - Interview with Ingo Kallenbach

What's the point?

The energy industry is in the midst of a radical change. Not least culturally: it must position itself more internationally, develop new business concepts and acquire a new reputation, just to attract the skilled workers urgently needed for the tasks ahead. Statics out, dynamics in - that's the motto. Traditional maxims such as constancy, safety and thoughtfulness must be complemented by noticeably higher speed and mobility. This means significant changes - also for HR.

But change at all levels seems to dominate companies and their HR managers instead of the other way around. Jobs are being cut hastily and investments are being made in immature strategies. "In the past, energy suppliers acted sluggishly on the market and did not have to shine with innovations," says Ingo Kallenbach, Managing Director of Reflect, a consulting firm based in Rohrbach, Rhineland-Palatinate, which specializes in digital and agile transformation. Now they not only needed a vision of the future that was "attractive enough to attract people and inspire them to extraordinary achievements. It is also important to have a strategy that "plays an important role in digitization," says Kallenbach.


Kallenbach_PersonalwirtschaftFig. 1: The name of a German HR Magazine, in which this article was published

What's the problem?

Baby boomers are blocking digital change. After all, in addition to the industry-specific pressure, there is the general pressure to change. What Kallenbach describes hardly works without an "innovation-friendly, open and customer-centric culture," he emphasizes. In fact, companies would find it difficult to transfer knowledge quickly, and a pronounced silo mentality often prevails, says the consultant with a view not only to, but especially to, the energy industry.

Kallenbach: "In addition to digital transformation, a transformation of leadership is also necessary. Managers have to exemplify digitalization, but this is hardly possible even in many innovative companies. The reason: baby boomers and the gene X are sitting at the power switches. Because they have not been sufficiently digitally socialized, Kallenbach says they can only partially advance the transformation.

What is important?

HR must stimulate dialogue. What applies to the energy market can be said about all sectors geared to preserving the environment: in order to develop the "digital mindset" that is absolutely essential, managers must set a good example and create framework conditions "in which everything that can be digitized is actually digitized," says Kallenbach. At the same time, there must be changes at the structural organizational level. To this end, the consultant recommends "multiple operating systems" which, depending on the requirements, offer themselves as an optimal organizational form. "This can be classically hierarchical, cellular or holocratic.

According to Kallenbach, process excellence is decisive in all of this. An often "action-driven agilisation" does not lead to the hoped-for effects, especially since agile, cross-functional teams on the operative level do not contribute to the desired acceleration. Causes are non-transparent dependencies between the teams and - above all - management levels that do not work in a correspondingly agile way.

In order to help the transformation on its way, Kallenbach urges HR managers to network decision makers who show a strong commitment. In addition, HR should moderate the dialogue between managers and employees. The primary goal of transformative personnel development is to ensure that digital awareness develops and that the necessary changes are brought about through appropriately guided behavior.

One has to assume: Most energy companies have a long way to go.



From: Personalwirtschaft Issue 05 / 2019

Ingo Kallenbach, Managing Director, Reflect | Strategic personnel development