Skills vs. Values

Ensto Today spoke with Katrin Joala, Ensto’s HCM Director, about Ensto’s philosophy in hiring and developing a corporate culture.

“When we hire and develop our people, we are influencing and creating a culture,” says Katrin Joala, Ensto’s HCM Director. Choosing the right people, and pairing them with the right job, enriches an overall organization.

Since people are the carriers of a culture, Joala says hiring for values is important. “When hiring for starting positions, there is a wider choice of personnel, and emphasis can be placed on values, since skills can often be taught. But when hiring for a demanding position, it can be difficult to find both the right skills and values in the same person.”

Ensto Lead superior training program is one good example of a systemic approach to developing employees. “All our superiors have participated in it,” says Joala. She cautions, though, that too much emphasis should not be placed on theoretical training. “Learning by doing is critical. We try to provide our employees with the opportunity to try different things and learn things in different units.”

To cultivate and reward talent, Joala says Ensto always makes an effort to promote from within. “When our VP of Operations retired last spring, all vacant roles cascading from this were filled by promoting from within.”

“And when there is the possibility, we rotate our people, also internationally, in order to grow them. We do not send expats to check up on our daughter companies abroad, rather we do it to add value and grow the person.”

This philosophy has borne fruit in low employee turnover and long-term employee relationships. “We’ve celebrated 40-year, even 50-year work anniversaries,” says Joala. “We have examples where several generations of a family are all working here, not only the owners, but employees on the factory floor, as well.” She notes that this is also true of other countries where Ensto operates, not just Finland where the company is headquartered.

But to borrow a term from Boris Groysberg, does Ensto have stars? “Every company has superior performers, and we try to find development paths for them. But we would not label them stars.” Joala says that if an employee has the passion to develop him- or herself, then Ensto will support that. “But I believe development is the responsibility of the person, not the company. Our job is to offer the possibilities, but the desire and will must come from the person.”

As Ensto grows to become even more international, as it offers developmental opportunities across many geographic areas and cultures, will the company culture change, as well? “If you compare Ensto to bigger companies, our way of working is to keep bureaucracy to a minimum. When we acquire a company, we usually do not integrate them entirely,” says Joala.

“Being local and close to the customer is a strength and competitive advantage of Ensto. Therefore our corporate culture has to support local expertise and flexibility.”


Author: Scott Diel