By Ann-Katrin Hardenberg

Already developed for the future today? – Sustainability in employee development

Already developed for the future today? – Sustainability in employee development

Personnel development – some entrepreneurs don’t like to hear this word. In most cases, it is closely linked to expensive seminars, training courses and further education. And these expensive measures haven’t brought the success that the company expected, often.

“No wonder”, the expert thinks, and we show what personnel development means and why personnel development is more important than ever for the success and growth of companies.

What many people are not aware of is, that personnel development begins with the first day of an employee with the company. And personnel development ends when the employee leaves the company.

From the first day, means that a regular comparison of the competencies and qualifications of an employee must be made. One compares, what an employee can do with what he should be able to do in order to cope with the assigned tasks. The basis for this comparison is the job description for the position that the employee occupies. The second basis is the employee’s objectives, which are directly linked to the company’s strategy and thus to his area of work.

If, for example, a medium-sized company has anchored a change in its product portfolio towards more digital products in its corporate strategy, this means that the company needs personnel with the appropriate qualifications. What sounds like platitude is in fact a serious challenge for many companies. By when do these competences have to be built up in the company? What objectives has the company set itself for the development of competencies? Can these competencies be developed internally? Do you need additional external human resources that bring these competencies with you, in whole or in part? And which time sequences have to be taken into account?

In times of rapid change to which companies are increasingly exposed, the continuous development of employees and the structured and sustainable planning of this personnel development plays an even greater role than ever before. Ever faster changing requirements mean continuous further development of the competences and qualifications of the employees.

What does personnel development mean in the result? Personnel development means lifelong learning – lifelong learning both for the organization and for each individual employee. Lifelong learning means remaining competitive – both as an organization and as an employee.

Personnel development measures are not to be equated with external seminars. The elements of personnel development are manifold, from reading a trade journal, attending events, participating in webinars to discussing with colleagues from other areas of the company. Personnel development measures are intended to promote technical skills and soft skills. In addition, much of the learning and professional development of employees now takes place in the workplace – informal learning is now much more part of human resources development. Here, knowledge is primarily sought and directly applied according to situation and need. This takes place through the exchange with colleagues, trying out new things, the use of the internet or challenging tasks. In addition, social networking in forums with colleagues and experts is playing an increasingly important role in informal learning.

An essential success factor is that the right measures for the development of the respective competence or qualification are defined together with the employee, these are implemented in a structured and consistent manner and the success is measured afterwards. This is where the entrepreneurial responsibility of personnel development comes in. The 70:20:10 model, in which personnel development measures should be put together in this way, certainly helps to put together the right measures:

  • 70 % difficult tasks and professional challenges (on the job measures)
  • 20 % by their professional environment and mainly by their superiors (near the job measures)
  • 10 % through traditional training, such as seminars, reading books and articles or teaching learning content in other learning formats (off-the-job measures).

At the same time, it is the task of personnel development to ensure that the newly acquired knowledge is successfully transferred and implemented in all areas of the company by providing specialist input.

Personnel development will be successful and sustainable, if it has a direct link to the corporate strategy. Company-wide, structured and standardized planning is an effective instrument for this purpose. Planning should be consistently carried out and tracked using an established process. The human resources department is required, on the one hand, to define the framework and the processes and, on the other hand, to accompany and support the employees on their way. The results must be measured regularly in order to make progress transparent.

Managers are challenged to take personnel development seriously. The processes specified by the organization must be carried out with the regular comparison of the targeted/actual status of competencies and qualifications in the team.

All this will bring the desired success for medium-sized companies, if personnel development is seen by the management and top management as part of corporate development and this importance is anchored in all areas of the company as a strategic element. Personnel development means securing the future of the company and its ability to innovate.



By Ann-Katrin Hardenberg

Education – the basics of everything

Education – the basics of everything

Since 2013, I have been working in Haiti in the field of further education and the development of personnel and organizations – in 2016, I started my own local business in Port-au-Prince. Two days ago, widespread violence broke out – with road barricades, looting and shooting throughout the country.

It is only a certain part of the population that is so destructive and violent, acting with great brutality. It’s real anger, it’s frustration causing this violence. Frustration about not seeing any opportunities for oneself in this country, not feeling any change. This is what makes me angry.

And furious with the rioters. They are venting their anger on the private companies that have stayed in the country for years, investing and creating the few jobs that Haiti now has to offer. But I’m also angry with the government, which is not doing enough in the field of education. It is necessary to introduce free education for all people up to the age of 16. It is necessary that teachers be trained so that they can offer students all-embracing education which includes critical thinking, development of self-confidence and hands-on approaches (helping the student become a “mover and shaker”) Education allows children to develop, to go their own way and reach their aims.

For many years now, our Haitian company has been helping young people and adults to grow, to learn and update their skills so that they can share their knowledge and contribute to economic growth, rather than migrating to other countries or destroying the existing economy. The last few days have shown us that we must continue with our work. We have only just begun.


@Ann-Katrin Hardenberg (THE MAK’ED TEAM)

By Ann-Katrin Hardenberg

Dissolve the Personnel Department – Introduce Organizational Development!

Dissolve the Personnel Department – Introduce Organizational Development!

In recent months, we have been following a company where we have been impressed by how engaged the company’s CEO is, how he blogged and posted on internal social media every day. Every day you could see where he was going, what topics concerned him, and what was going through his head. In addition, he posted articles from various media channels about the topics of leadership, management, corporate culture, change management, and work – most of these set in the context of his own company. We were enthusiastic!

What gave us the most pause, however were three things – whereby the third point in particular caused us to reflect and discuss:

  1. There were no real reactions from the thousands of employees worldwide.
  2. Many employees told us that they did not read what he wrote.
  3. Why are such articles and posts written by the CEO and not by the Personnel Department? Or why, at least, is HR not visible behind the posts?

We kept returning to this last point. What kind of role does HR play at most companies and what kind of role should HR play? HR must redesign itself from scratch. Administration of personnel data is one part, personnel development is another, of course – both are very important, but still not enough. Especially given current changes with digitalization, changed ways of working, agile project management methods, and mobility, HR must regard itself as an organizational developer, as well as a consultant, mentor, and coach for work and leadership methods. HR must take on the role of a designer. This designing should make active changes in structures, communication, and ways of working. Such changes might include:

  • Transformation of the organization to flat hierarchies,
  • Deployment of community managers at the company to network with one another,
  • Complementing of workspaces with lounges, outdoor benches, and creative spaces,
  • Communication via internal social media about leadership, new work methods, change management, and trends,
  • Additional training and coaching about topics such as design thinking, agile project management, leadership of mobile teams.

It’s good to note that these are just our ideas and they could be delved into in more depth. What we want to make clear here is that we have reached a point where organizations and the ways in which they work have changed so drastically that HR must play its role as expert in the HUMAN area at the organization and incorporate itself proactively. These are such expansive topics that HR must now become involved proactively in the company’s organizational development and take on responsibility for this. A personnel management department must now transform itself into an organizational management department. Today’s personnel professionals should no longer fear employees and try to make everything right for everybody. No, they should appear with confidence and take changes in hand. And here the focus is not just on theories and concepts – no, here doers are called for!

Posts and blogs by the CEO like the ones mentioned above should in the future be made by the personnel management department, possibly together with the CEO.



By Ann-Katrin Hardenberg

Digital Transformation in Human Resources

Digital Transformation in Human Resources

A digital transformation doesn’t contain the use of digital technologies in the first step but the development of a strategy, which contains infrastructure, organization models and the quality of the management. In the meantime, the digital transformation should have arrived everywhere. Also in the HR (Human Resources) department, at least in the use of language and the expectations to this. One is covered with lecture invitations, seminar offers, newsletter and blog entries about the topic digitalization, primarily also in the area “learning & development”.

The HR managers surely heard about this topic and eventually they were also already invited to a presentation about this topic. But how far did they actually already engage with the topic? There is a new study about the topic digitalization, which was carried out by Bitkom and Kienbaum and says that the digitalization isn’t behind in the HR branch further than in other departments.

My experiences are differently. Unlike the study, unfortunately, within the last months, I could observe that digitalization and HR management are lived apparently very far away of each other. A HR management tool was only recently implemented in many enterprises but hardly included software for staff development, social media for employer branding and the recruiting of new staff, or even a strategy for employee further education based on a blended learning concept (combination of classroom training, mentoring, e-learning, videos as well as other digital studying media). But why?

On the one hand, in many cases this certainly is connected to the general company strategy, in which the digital transformation is not yet or just partly included. Primarily medium-sized enterprises often have difficulties in the area. On the other hand, it is however related to the HR managers themselves and the structure in the HR department of companies.

When looking at the background of HR managers one will state that most of them have made the classical education or studies in HR and additionally there are some psychologists. But there is almost nobody entering HR departments from a different educational background. The question one needs to ask now is why? Persons who have a sense for people were in demand in this area for years. People with empathy, coaching or psychology background were and are asked to provide their knowledge or experiences within this area. And this is completely right! But within all this years, it was forgotten that technical understanding and know-how is equally needed in this field of work. The todays HR departments not only need persons with a feeling for people but also persons with knowledge in marketing, IT or educational management.

Until today many HR departments are looking for new staff in a classic way. But is their communication actually focused on their target groups and appeals the communication channel to the right person so that they desire to work for this company? Here I would like to refer to the keyword “employer branding”. A job advertisement today is much more than it was 20 years ago and for that for example knowledge of marketing is needed in the HR department. Social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Xing or LinkedIn must be target groups focused integrated – and this with a strategy. But then, why are so few HR managers active within social media, a medium to come directly into contact with people? Is this a fear of digital media or is it simply the feeling that they don’t know exactly what they shall or must do with it? And how can one take this fear away from them?

At the moment there are lots of topics concerning digital transformation coming up to HR managers and if they don’t hurry up to learn and alter their work, they are taken off soon. And this does not only include the introduction of digital media in work processes of the HR department but also the transformation of the company culture to today’s working world which has changed strongly by digitalization. This can contain, for example:

  • the introduction of new working time and place of work models, as, through the digitalization, employees need more liberty in the organization of their work;
  • playing a part in the development of new organizational structures towards flatter hierarchies;
  • the support at the change of management styles to an outcome-oriented style of management with more confidence towards the employee, less control and more right in helping to shape;
  • the management of “virtual” teams which must be led from distance as they work at different places around the world;
  • the introduction of digital tools for managing the well-directed and efficient development of employees;
  • the development and use of digital media for studying for employees in form of a knowledge database;
  • the introduction of an internal social media tool for the employees i.e. to exchange fast and uncomplicated specific questions concerning work content related topics.

The digital transformation makes work more exciting! It is an opportunity for every HR manager to get out of the corner of the employee administration and to become shapers of the enterprise and actual developers of the employees. I can just recommend to everyone in the HR branch: lose the shyness about digitalization and get active fast!

Author: Ann-Katrin Hardenberg

Already developed for the future today? – Sustainability in employee development
Education – the basics of everything
Dissolve the Personnel Department – Introduce Organizational Development!
Digital Transformation in Human Resources