TTP: During the outbreak of the pandemic, caring for your people was a top priority, according to your 7P diagnosis (7P Diagnostic Tool, read the article ‘How healthy will your company emerge from the COVID-19 crisis?’).
RL: “For our production workers, the main thing was to create a working environment in which they felt comfortable and safe knowing full well that each employee experiences the coronavirus situation very personally, both privately and in the workplace. Good communication is essential.
For white-collar workers, teleworking became the new normal. It seems obvious, but it isn’t. In addition to the dynamics at the departmental level, cross-functional collaboration is fundamental in Astra Sweets’ strategy. Thorough project management is an essential element of our no-nonsense approach, in which you challenge the employees themselves to actively participate in the interpretation and development of the strategy. This project-based work cannot be organised as powerfully without face-to-face contact. On the other hand, it also provides support during teleworking.”
TTP: So the bottom line is no ‘product leadership’ without ‘people leadership’?
RL: “People make the difference between a strong company and a mediocre company. Obviously, we believe we make better products than our competitors, but not only because of our advanced technology. The know-how of our people and the collaboration between them are fundamental. Even more so in a ‘product leadership’ strategy than with a ‘cost leadership’ approach. That’s why we are now strongly committed to cross-functional collaboration and bringing together employees from different disciplines to stimulate cross-fertilisation.”