Developing creative ideas – it doesn’t happen at the flick of a switch. Some need a quiet environment, others need to share with like-minded people, and still others thrive on heated discussions with those of a different opinion. Whatever the case, creativity needs freedom. To create this freedom and meet the demands of the digitalized working world, we at Deutsche Telekom are changing frameworks; using agile methods; and trying out new forms of collaboration.
Learning with and
from each other
Many of our employees are experts in their fields. The employee initiative “Learning from Experts” (LEX), which was launched in 2018, gives employees the opportunity to share their knowledge, via “LEX sessions.” It is open to all employees who are interested in participating. As a rule, LEX sessions last no more than an hour, and they take place online (for the most part). The content they present is available worldwide for all colleagues. The idea for LEX sessions was developed by a small group of employees, at the end of 2017. Now LEX is the fastest-growing community in the Group. To date, our participating experts have recorded around 5 400 talks on topics of their own choosing. Board of Management members, such as Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges, have also gotten involved and added expert talks of their own. Thanks to LEX, our experts can transport their good ideas beyond the boundaries of their departments. That ensures a constant breath of fresh air and creates an inspiring environment for developing the digital products and solutions that will shape the everyday lives of so many people tomorrow.
Birgit Bohle, since January 2019 Chief Human Resources Officer and Labor Director at Deutsche Telekom
“We want to get faster, better, and less complex. For our employees. That’s why teams need more autonomy. With autonomy, our employees can actively shape the working environment. We give them the space they need for that. We use agile methods wherever they are appropriate. They are focused, practical, and tailored to the respective requirements.”
Our stanceThe digital workplace is becoming more complex and diverse, and it calls for a great deal of flexibility. To design it, we don’t need any new, rigid rules or additional bureaucracy. But we do need to be clear about where we stand. Our employees need to know where we stand with regard to the digital transformation of the workplace – and they need to see how we are supporting them as their day-to-day work experience changes. That’s why, together with the Group Works Council, we adopted the “Manifesto of Agile Work” in 2019 as a guideline for shaping the digital workplace.
Agile is faster
Agility – most of us have heard the term before. But what does it mean and what does agile work look like in practice? At the heart of agility is a special mindset. The ten agile principles describe what this looks like:
By using flat hierarchies, and giving team members individual responsibility for defined tasks, we can make our work efficient, fulfilling, and inclusive for all participants.
Long meetings at which much is said, but nothing is decided,should be a thing of the past. With agile work, focused and action-oriented meetings with clear goals are on the agenda.
Collaboration with the customer
Rather than presenting customers with a fait accompli, we involve them in the work processes early on and can respond quickly if the result doesn’t meet their requirements.
“That’s how we’ve always done it” is no reason to stick with conservative approaches. Agile working means questioning established ideas and creating added value through new solutions.
Feedback and continuous improvement
We can only improve if we interact with each other openly and respectfully, and give each other honest feedback.
Yes, we have learned that A is followed by B, and then by C, but that doesn’t mean that linear process is always the best way. By using flexible development processes, we have the ability to respond quickly to changes.
The development of a new product is resource-intensive. If the end product is not convincing, it costs not only money but also time. That’s why we develop prototypesand put them through intensive testing. In these experiments we quickly learn what we can improve.
The goal is to create a product that our customers like. That’s why we develop product features from the user’s perspective and avoid getting bogged down in irrelevant details.
To make the right decisions, we continuously gather feedback and incorporate it into finding a solution. Although we can’t lose sight of the financial and scheduling aspects, they must never take center stage.
There are a variety of methods to make the intermediate stages of our work transparent, and we make use of the entire range, from Kanban boards to prototypes. With the help of these visualizations, we can make our progress tangible and gain valuable feedback.to prototypes . With the help of these visualizations, we can make our progress tangible and gain valuable feedback.
Having to be at work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., an assigned workplace and bosses who always have to keep an eye on their team – that’s the workplace we know. But in many areas, this is no longer in keeping with the times. At Deutsche Telekom we are adopting a holistic approach to changes in the working world under the heading #New Work. This starts in the working environment. At more and more locations in Germany, we are continuously working on making the new world of work visible by redesigning our office spaces. This included setting up new collaborative and creative spaces where employees from different departments can get together to work on projects. Remote working has also long been part of day-to-day work in many areas of our company. Furthermore, we have been offering our employees flexible working hours, part-time and tandem work, and sabbaticals for many years. But the #New Work approach is also about continuing to develop our corporate culture and our understanding of leadership.
Better leadership in the digital world
When a team’s members work at different locations, team leaders often have to stay in touch with them remotely. And that includes using remote communications channels for the key tasks of a) inspiring confidence and trust and b) providing needed support. Our “levelUP!” and “levelUP! NextGen” digital training programs support managers and employees in dealing with such challenges of a distributed working environment. These programs comprise modules that can be flexibly combined. In learning groups, participants set off on a “digital learning journey” and are supported by a guide and virtual team meet-ups. Employees may also complete additional, optional modules, in keeping with their own needs for their own individual professional development.
All aboard, please!
Deutsche Telekom offers a range of ways to enter its workforce, including student internships, cooperative study programs and direct entry. Right from the beginning, we give our apprentices and junior staff the tools they need to prepare themselves for new challenges throughout their professional lives. A web application provided by our Europe-wide „Futureproof“, for example, offers career guidance and orientation. With it, users explore their own personal interests in an entertaining way, and receive personalized career ideas along the way, as well as many inspiring job descriptions and practical examples. Deutsche Telekom has an open hiring policy, and it offers entry options for disadvantaged young people, single parents, and people with disabilities.
When our junior staff come aboard, we offer them numerous opportunities for further development. From part-time study programs to that first management position, just about anything is possible! Digitalization plays an important role in our employees’ training and further development. In keeping with this fact, we use all digital channels as media for communicating with and attracting new talents. The many awards we have received tell us that we are on the right track in this area. They tell us that Telekom Deutschland is Germany's best training company, and one of Germany's most-attractive employers. More information about entry and career opportunities at Deutsche Telekom is available on our career site. T-Mobile US also offers attractive entry and career opportunities. Informationen zu Karrieremöglichkeiten bei anderen Landesgesellschaften des Telekom Konzerns finde Sie auf der jeweiligen Website.
Who says old dogs (or middle-aged dogs...) can’t learn new tricks? New skills may be demanded of us tomorrow that we cannot even imagine today. To keep pace, we must be willing to keep learning – no matter whether we are employees, managers, or board members. As an employer, we have always supported our employees with comprehensive training opportunities for their professional skills and personal development. Lifelong learning is part of the program in our company. For example, since 2008, our employees have been able to study for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree at selected partner universities alongside their work. Around 2 000 employees have already benefited from this opportunity.
Lifelong learning – it sounds hard, but it doesn’t have to be, because digitalization is turning not only the working world upside down, but also learning itself. Through our “youlearn” initiative, we are pursuing a new learning culture – day-to-day, self-managed learning that is also fun. By adopting this approach, we want to get to a position where our employees can take ownership of their own training.
Inclusive and equitable quality education
With our comprehensive Training and Development Program, we are supporting efforts toward the 4th Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations' 2030 agenda.
The 80:20 formula
Have you ever had the feeling that you’re unable to use all your skills at work? Or are you also interested in topics that aren’t actually part of your duties? This is precisely what the “80:20 model” at Deutsche Telekom is designed for. It gives employees the opportunity to spend some of their working hours on exciting projects outside of their usual area of responsibility and to work with teams from other departments for this purpose. This allows us to take advantage of hidden talents at our company and break down rigid departmental boundaries.