EEMUA – Making management better

Image of Stefan Kukula - CEO at EEMUA
Stefan Kukula
An image of some of the EEMUA team.
EEMUA is an international membership body for owners and operators of fixed industrial assets. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring members’ physical assets and user requirements are in the best possible shape to make significant contributions to their companies. This means keeping members abreast of the latest industry news and working closely with regulatory, standards and other business or industry bodies to ensure the users’ voice is well represented in the corridors of power.

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My manager is clearly trying our techniques from the recent training. It's really nice to see that it was something that seems to have been useful and taken seriously, not just a tick box exercise.

How do you communicate with staff about Wotter? 

In one of our staff meetings, I did a run going through a few bits and pieces, showing people what I see through the dashboard, and explaining what I’m trying to use it for. 

For instance, we saw a bit of a dip in our scores around having respected/competent managers – and around employees feeling supported by their managers. We had some feedback through the notes showing that some employees were feeling jealous because one manager had a different view about what to do in certain cases than their manager did.

Rather than “organising training for the people who are complaining”, which is the typical thinking around situations like that, I organised a course for managers. 

After the other 3 managers and I came back, we told our team: “We’ve gone away and done this thing to align everyone so that all managers have a common way of treating people.”

You’ve had some feedback at EEMUA around transparency but you turned things around. Could you talk us through that? 

A lot of it comes back to the perception issue. 

There we were thinking we’re being remarkably transparent – I mean every month we brief the staff on our P&L. 

But, I did get an employee note saying “the company keeps things hidden from us”. And I’m thinking: we show you our entire profit and loss account, what exactly are we hiding? But actually, it was a case of people not being specifically told about something, which they were perceiving as things being hidden. 

What we ended up doing is being a bit more open, saying: “This is what we’re telling you. Is there anything else you would like to know about?” Mainly, we’d talk about things we didn’t have plans around and asking? “Would you like us to have plans around this thing?” or “What do you think we should be doing about XYZ?” 

Like I said, back in November, one of Wotter’s prompts around getting enough support from your team’s manager got some feedback saying: “I would go to team members before seeking out support from my team manager as I often feel I’m being a nuisance.” This showed us there was a certain perception of management that was not helping. 

This was the drive behind getting all the managers together and us all going on a course. It wasn’t necessarily just the course and what we learned on it that made a difference, it was getting together as a group and saying: “Here’s how I would behave in this situation” and comparing notes. Then, just as importantly, going back to staff and feeding back about the training exercise and stressing that there’ll be a more unified approach to certain circumstances.

Do you ever get feedback about work-related stress? 

Wotter does on occasion throw up a few bits of evidence suggesting people are finding aspects of work a bit challenging. 

Like many businesses, our work is quite cyclical. We’ll have quieter periods where we make sure people have “background tasks” that will improve the business. But then, there are periods when things will suddenly come in and our employees can feel swamped. So you’ve got to make sure there’s capability to pull people in.

There’s a stream of feedback we get in response to the Wotter question ‘I feel comfortable asking colleagues for help’ – and that’s been quite useful. 

Another interesting topic has been around how much care there is for employees’ mental and physical wellbeing, and we got a response saying: “There’s a lot of care about these things, which is really good, but sometimes I feel there’s less interest in how we experience our work.”

So that tells me it’s how the job itself is planned out that needs responding to – we deal a lot with the HSE, and they have a lot of big things on their website at the moment about how you design work to not stress people out which could be useful.