Welcome to my world!
What does my boss do all day long? And my employees? Ilker Aksoy and Gerd Kullik decided to find out for themselves.
It is bitterly cold at the ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe plant in Duisburg-Schwelgern, Germany. Traction vehicle driver Ilker Aksoy and Gerd Kullik, his team coordinator in the Logistics Functional Department, stood together in the cab of an 88-meter train. Just like every other day, the train is transporting 780 metric tons of liquid pig iron to the steel works in Beeckerwerth for processing. However, it is quite unusual to see Aksoy and Kullik operating the train together.
Gerd Kullik is accompanying the engineer on his shift. “I had to get up at 3:30 a.m. in the morning so I could make it to the start of Mr. Aksoy’s shift at 6 a.m. It’s not something I’m really used to doing,” chuckles Kullik. A couple months ago, Ilker Aksoy spent the entire day with his supervisor. He went to all of his meetings, conferences, and appointments from 8 a.m. to almost 4 p.m. “It was a jam-packed day, and very long – you need real stamina and concentration to do that all the time,” says the engineer from Duisburg.
The idea was borne in a work- shop focused on the Group’s mis- sion statement. Employees learn about the daily life of a manager (of course, participation is optional). In return, the boss accompanies his employees on-site. The point of the initiative? To create transparency, to show mutual understanding, and to break down inhibitions.
“I signed up for the initiative on the spur of the moment,” recalls Ilker Aksoy. He was interested
in seeing what his boss actually did. “Overall, I learned a great deal from spending the day with Mr. Kullik. What really impressed me was his demanding schedule. Attending meetings, checking out incidents, answering phone calls, going on inspections, replying to emails all day long, communicating with employees and the boss. Barely a moment passed without a decision being made or prepared; proverbial groundwork was being laid down. For example, a new concept for the Safety Days in the rail operations department was finalized and a decision was made for testing waterproof cold-weather gloves. Aksoy found out exactly how Kullik took responsibility for 600 employees: “I also learned that his door is always open. That is good to know.” Gerd Kullik relates how his day with Mr. Aksoy on the locomotive also taught him a lot. “I can honestly say that was the first time in my life that I experienced what it is like to work on your own, outside in the wind and rain for hours on end. I gained a new perspective on the work done by the traction engine drivers. It is actually very complex – and not without risk.”
The supervisor talks about his employees with utmost respect. “These men and women have a huge responsibility – not just ensuring that the valuable goods they are transporting make it from point A to point B safely, on time, and fully accounted for, but also for their own health and that of many others. I found out just how physically exhausting a shift like that can be, and that good protective clothing is absolutely essential. We hope that we can eventually address the requirements in our rail operations with our offensive for personal protective clothing. My respect for the performance of our employees has only increased.”