Users of the Glassdoor career platform have voted Harald Krüger the most popular manager in Germany. With a 99 percent approval rating, the Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW Group moved up eight places from last year to take the top position in the ranking and win the Glassdoor Award for Employee Satisfaction.
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Glassdoor bases its ranking on evaluations by current and former employees, who post their feedback on their employer and management anonymously. This method is designed to generate the most objective evaluations possible and give potential job applicants a clearer picture of the company of interest.
On winning the award, Harald Krüger spoke to Glassdoor about leadership, careers and his advice to those starting out in the career world:
Mr. Krüger, what qualities do you think a good manager should have?
Krüger: Good leadership is not just a skill; it’s about working hard every day. A good leader is a bit like a football coach: they have to identify the talent of each individual, steer the team towards a common goal, motivate everyone to deliver their best and, very importantly, deliver effective results. So, as a manager, on the one hand I have to give my team the space they need; but on the other, I have to be prepared to pitch in myself and take personal responsibility. In these volatile times that’s more important than ever.
What about the people you’re looking to recruit today? What qualities do they need to bring to the job?
Krüger: What matters most, to my mind, is having the skill and passion for what we do and for the contribution each individual can make. The huge technological transformation that’s happening in the automotive industry shows just how fast-moving our sector is. So specialist skills people developed years ago might not be so relevant anymore. In this environment people with a good education have to be prepared to keep on learning new things and to stay flexible – throughout their working lives.
When you interview candidates for a job, what are your favourite questions? What aspects do you most like to explore in detail?
Krüger: I don’t do many job interviews but deliberately avoid asking standard questions. As well as specialist aspects, I definitely want to know about their personality and experience. We want people who like to take on and overcome a challenge, who identify with our culture and values.
A job interview with a company director can be intimidating. Do you try to put the interviewee at ease so they can relax and handle the situation better?
Krüger: An interview is not an interrogation; first and foremost, it’s an opportunity for the two sides to get to know each other. Some questions will be critical, of course, and I also check whether the individual is suitable in terms of expertise and personality. Ideally, a job interview is a two-way dialogue. After all, the aim is to find out whether the company and the candidate are a good fit and to pave the way for the right decision. It’s normal for people to be slightly tense and nervous in a job interview, because adjusting to new contacts and situations is a natural part of working life. Often, the quality of the interview is determined in the first few minutes, so a positive start is always advisable.
Nowadays retaining top talents is extremely important. How do you manage your teams so they can hold on to good people?
Krüger: Appropriate, target-based remuneration and allowing everybody to share in the success of our company are definitely two very important factors for employees. But when it comes to long-term retention and motivation, I think the working environment and having responsible, inspiring tasks are even more important. Can I, as an employee, shape developments, grow and implement my ideas and take responsibility, for example? Do my supervisor and team appreciate me? An environment like this is not something you can set up on demand; it has to be lived at all levels.
What’s the best trick to make yourself even more productive?
Krüger: Taking a moment to switch off from time to time, and find a good balance so you can regenerate. That could be with your family, your friends, through sport – or simply giving yourself a bit of peace and quiet. These things make you more productive at work and give you the space you need to be creative.
What would your advice be to someone who is looking for the right job?
Krüger: Don’t listen to other people so much; listen to yourself. And listen hard. What are my strengths? Maybe they match a job I haven’t even considered. What drives me? What am I passionate about? If there’s a role that appeals to you on the emotional level, then why not give it a try? Look further afield and maybe even try something completely different. But there’s also one very practical piece of advice I would give people: don’t start thinking about it at the last minute, when you’ve just graduated from school or university. Think about different jobs beforehand and try a few out, for instance through placements. That way you’ll definitely make a better career decision.