Torge C. Brandenburg joined the German technology company Sennheiser as Director, Global HR in December 2016. After working for almost one and a half years, he visited India last week to bond with his HR community and to consolidate his contacts. Brandenburg feels that technology is keeping them intact but a face to face interaction gives an added advantage.
He said, “We are in the headquarters, we don’t know everything, we are asked to capture all the knowledge and opinions and views from all our colleagues around the world to do the best work in HR.”
In an interaction with People Matters, he shared India’s talent landscape, use of technology in talent management, Sennheiser’s hiring criteria and implementing new tools in all the offices across the globe.
“The German technology company has completed eleven years in India and believes that HR process all over the world is the same; it starts with HR marketing, selection, onboarding, long phase of talent management and then exit management.”
In this entire phase, Sennheiser always watches out for right people for right positions. The company is not only looking for the best skill and technical degree but looking for people who have the right approach, the right mindset and who can fit into the company’s culture.
“We look for people with the right mindset and culture fit rather than just the skill or education”, said Brandenburg. The German company prefers to train the employees if someone needs to enhance his or her skills.
As an organization, Sennheiser is changing their structure into a matrix organizational structure, where there will be no traditional hierarchy. Given the scenario, the company has different divisions which are managed by different leaders. The company believes that the idea of implementing matrix function will turn out to be good and it’ll create a close connect across teams and everything will be synchronized.
Focus Areas 2018
Building a strong connection among the employees is one of the key focus areas for Sennheiser in 2018. The company has bought a new system from Oracle called HCM ‘Human Capital Management’.
This system will replace all the various systems that are being used in Sennheiser till now. This one system will bring efficiency, transparency, artificial intelligence, decrease effort in the transactional world and transform the HR into doing value-added work. He pointed out that this tool helps the company in their selection process and finds the right person for the right position.
The second key focus area for the company is to manage talent and to decide what to do with the high and low performers. He said he has come up with HR Diagnosis where the organization finds the mindset of the person and provides goal. They call it performance and development dialogue. During this session, one can give feedback to the manager and vice versa to each other in a constructive manner and all this is documented in the form.
When asked about one thing that the company is doing differently from others, he replied that the company believes in retaining talent and nurturing them and Sennheiser is working hard to balance hundred percent retention rates.
The global HR head believes that the requirement in future is going to change and the organization needs to discover multi-talent among the employees. “We ask them what kind of talent they have, what they want to do and what they will be able to do.”
The company discovers their talents in different fields by knowing the interests and hobbies of the employees and seeing who fits where and how that person can align with the organization. All these plans are in pilot mode in different countries including India.
The overall earphone and headphone business is growing around 10 percent per year and India is the fastest growing market for Sennheiser as the business is growing more than 30-35 % year on year. The company is planning to increase the manpower by 20-30 percent year on year in India.
“Brandenburg wants other companies to learn one HR practice from Sennheiser, which is to make their employees believe that everybody is a leader of their own work.”
When asked if this automation will have any impact on hiring? He replied, “We want to decrease the effort for employees by applying technology such as AI and bots. These AIs and Bots are not cutting down the head counts, but actually, it frees up the resources. We don’t fear of automation, but we want it.”
Brandenburg wants other companies to learn one HR practice from Sennheiser, which is to make their employees believe that everybody is a leader in their own work.