Thinking outside the box
Mario Beck, 43, has been the head of human resources since August 2020. Just a few weeks after he started, almost all Union Investment employees were permanently working from home because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This presented Mario Beck with a real challenge in his new role.
Anyone who talks to Mario Beck soon sees what an open-minded person he is. “I like to get together with my friends to exchange ideas and experiences and to cook,” he says, when asked about his hobbies. “When we get together, we like to try out new recipes.” Of course, getting together for dinner a nice way to spend an evening, but during a pandemic, the number of people you can share a meal with dwindles.
The number of colleagues Beck could interact with face-to-face also dwindled shortly after his promotion in August 2020. “Union Investment has responded to the pandemic in a very responsible way. Most of my employees began working from home on a permanent basis because of the pandemic about ten weeks after I started my new job.” Beck himself also worked mainly on a mobile basis.
Empathy as a success factor
He was concerned about the sudden physical distancing from his colleagues for two reasons. “I place a lot of value on exchanging ideas with other employees,” says Beck. “I value the way we work and interact together at Union Investment. We have a very open corporate culture shaped by mutual trust and cooperation on level ground.” That makes it very easy to engage in conversation with colleagues from outside your own field, enabling you to think outside the box about your own work.
At the same time, Beck also faced a major challenge that had arisen within his own area of responsibility: “As I see it, the core task of a good manager is to understand their colleagues from their team and to engage with them on a personal level. Everyone thinks a bit differently and has their own specific needs and motives. Some need the greatest possible degree of freedom in order to be motivated and achieve the best possible results, whereas others need clear guidelines to follow.” That is why it is important to always have a sympathetic ear and to be approachable for both professional and personal matters. “You need empathy. You have to know what makes a person tick. This is especially true when I support my managers as a sparring partner and coach, a role I’m also very happy to assume in my new position.”
As I see it, the core task of a good manager is to understand their colleagues from their team and to engage with them on a personal level.
Shaping the workday at home
In shaping his workday at home, Beck placed particular importance on maintaining the highest possible level of interaction and networking in this unique situation. At the same time, it was important to maintain personal relationships over impersonal channels in an appropriate manner. “An appointment now has to be made even for short interactions when you go for a coffee. Within the first few weeks, I learned to organise myself in such a way that necessary business discussions didn’t come across poorly and I even regularly arrange to meet colleagues for a quick virtual coffee.”
New challenges open up new prospects
Nevertheless, Beck also associates his return to normal business operations with expectations for his own further development. “My goal is to fulfil my new role as head of department to the best of my abilities. In terms of content, this is challenging, as we in human resources are responsible for a multitude of different and complex subject areas which are spread across three business locations.” But Beck values these challenges. “Boredom is the worst possible thing for me. I really value a varied day at work with lots of personal encounters and new tasks to complete. For me, starting a new job also means being able to see things from a fresh perspective. In this way, you can continuously develop and grow together with your tasks.”
Mario Beck is 43 years old and married. He has been working for Union Investment since 2007. As the head of his department, he is responsible for human resources functions across all company locations, including payroll and administrative service processes as well as company pension plans and health management.