Conscious and close leadership


Conscious and close leadership

Jan-Åke Eriksson is a driven leader with a straight-forward mindset. He has been a manager for 18 years and worked at the same workplace for almost 33 years. In a few weeks, he'll be retiring. Jan-Åke is one of the first to start using HR2 Mentor and one of the longest-serving tools. We have interviewed him about leadership and HR2 Mentor.

Tell me briefly about yourself!
"I have worked at Länsförsäkringar for 33 years until the spring and am about to retire. For 18 years I've been in charge. Right now I am responsible for the insurance operations of our companies that are Västmanland and Örebro Counties. I have about 100 employees with five leaders available in a management team.

Jan-Åke says that most people in their 30s find it strange that they have been in the same workplace for so long. For him, that's not true, he's changed jobs several times while stuck in the company.

"I've changed jobs 5.6.7 times. But within County Insurance. I have been a salesman, I have been a specialist, I have been a manager in slightly different constellations. Every time you change, you have the knowledge from the previous tasks you have had, which means that I have broad knowledge within Länsförsäkringar. I see it as absolutely fantastic to work under the same brand that you like and also get the chance to develop in it.

You with so much experience in leadership – how are you a good manager?
"You are close – that is not to say that you need to be in place where the employees are. If you are not close, show participation and listen – then it will not be good. I work in Örebro, Västerås and Stockholm, which means that I can rarely be geographically close to all my employees. Therefore, I am extremely careful to reply to emails, reply to text messages and to always call back. I also have regular meetings with my employees based on HR2 Mentor and they say that they feel that I am close, even though I am often remote. I think being close to your co-workers is the foundation of everything. You shouldn't be afraid to get to grips with things either. Ducking hard questions is screwing up your own brand, you don't get credible. In addition, it will be difficult for me as a manager to make demands on my employees that they should be straight with their employees if I am not myself.

What do you get from your employees as a close manager?
"You get respect and a good relationship. In a hierarchy, some contribute to flattening the hierarchy through its way of being. Maybe they're all with everyone, sitting and having coffee, etc. That's not who I am. I'm pretty "red" as a person.

What are your challenges as a manager?
"There are manuals on how to work in different processes. Sales processes, for example. There's no manual for being a manager. It is up to everyone to invent that wheel ourselves and I think we all need help with that.

Tell us about your experience with HR2 Mentor!
"I have been using HR2 Mentor for a number of years now and work with the entire tool. I use the notes feature for everything. After meetings and as follow-ups. Then that function is incredibly good when I have had employees who have not worked. Then I can go back and show the employee that a note has been made, which he has also received. If you want to move an employee from one department to another, you also have great support. Hr2 Mentor helps to collect all the material in such a transfer. Another positive thing is – since I am retiring now in a few weeks and there will be a replacement after me – that HR2 Mentor allows new managers to just step in and bring the entire history of all employees with them without employees suffering from a change of manager. That's really great!

Can you say anything about how you were as a manager before versus after the use of HR2 Mentor?
"I think awareness of what leadership means increases in general when you have a tool like this. Just as a manager make a template in the development plan for next year and think about what areas need focus I think is super important.

What can companies gain from using HR2 Mentor?
"I think you get more satisfied employees who feel seen. Just this to reflect on Friday and get feedback on it and you as a leader show that you have seen your employees. The employee, in turn, gets to throw up if there is something that is not good. Only the little thing itself, there's a big point in it. And then you create time for your co-workers so they get these minutes for reflection. That is what I think makes absolutely the most difference in everyday life.

There's no manual for being a manager. It is up to everyone to invent that wheel ourselves and I think we all need help with that.

Give an example when HR2 Mentor has been extra good?
"One example is when we could clearly see how our managers gave feedback. One was really good but another did not give feedback but rather criticism – and with that you get no improvement. Then we gathered everyone together and then we had two hours of training with good examples. On this we did a follow-up six months later. The difference was huge, so amazing. And only the small measure has made us much better at giving feedback to our employees, who in this way get better in their job.

When not to use HR2 Mentor?
"If you have a "management by fear" way of working, HR2 Mentor is not so important. If, on the other hand, you want to work with coaching leadership, then you understand the importance. If you look at certain companies, you let 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 nothing. Being a leader is a profession in itself – which all too often has to be ironed out.

Do you think Mentor can help managers who have trouble finding time for leadership?
Yes, I think so. It helps so that you can be a little more present. Just that HR2 Mentor is in the company and that it has been said that you should use it, someone should ultimately think that "maybe we should set aside some time for this". If it didn't exist, you wouldn't have to set aside time for it either. There's definitely a point to it.

Do you recommend others to use HR2 Mentor?
- Yes, I do, absolutely!