4 values for 140 teamplayers

SWAN Werteworkshop

Project house for SAP logistics revises company values

Augsburg, July 11, 2024 – After 12 years of existence, SWAN GmbH has put its central corporate guiding principles to the test. In joint workshops, employees across all positions and locations developed their four central SWAN values, which will guide their actions: Trust & Transparency, Flexibility, Respect & Appreciation, and Team Spirit. These four principles not only characterize SWAN as a company, but also reflect the ideals of the 140 employees. To give life to these values, the actions of the employees and the management will be measured against them.

Since its founding in 2011, SWAN has evolved significantly and quickly outgrown its start-up shoes. Through the integration of SWAN into the SSI Schäfer Group in 2021, the number of SWAN employees has almost doubled. The project house for SAP intralogistics now looks back on a team of around 140 people. Such rapid growth also influences the corporate culture. “It is extremely important to us that all employees fully identify with SWAN and live the same values. However, these still come from our founding period with a much smaller team. Our growth has brought new characters and ideas, which certainly also influence our SWAN spirit. Therefore, it was time for us to question our values and develop them further from within the team,” emphasizes Alexander Bernhard, founder and managing director of SWAN.

No hierarchies, every voice counts

In the process of finding values, it was particularly important to SWAN that all employees have a voice. Whether intern or team lead – all were equally involved. Together with Andreas Külpp, an external coach who had already worked with SWAN on other personnel development topics, the HR department of the project house created a detailed roadmap. In twelve group discussions, each individual could express what is personally important to them and what should characterize cooperation at SWAN. “We deliberately separated colleagues from the same departments or locations and created new groups for the workshops. This allowed the participants to exchange ideas freely and without bias,” explains Luisa Kleider, HR Specialist at SWAN.

From theory to concrete elaboration

In preparation for the twelve value workshops, all employees received a theoretical introduction and a short questionnaire, based on which they could make initial thoughts about the current and target state. “First, we talked in group workshops with all employees about the ‘old’ values. And to what extent these are relevant for everyday work at SWAN,” describes Luisa Kleider. “Then we started to think about what is important to us in everyday life.”

In addition to personal ideals and value concepts of the employees, the moderated workshops also discussed which values SWAN needs for a successful future. The concrete aim was to evaluate which form of corporate culture is most suitable for the employees and SWAN. How much hierarchy (distance vs. proximity) is necessary for successful cooperation? How much flexibility and how much stability do innovative projects need? The thoughts of the employees were written down as keywords and then grouped. From these keywords, the suggestions for the SWAN values emerged.

“In the evaluation, it was very interesting to see how similarly the SWAN employees tick,” adds Yvonne Oehme, member of the management at SWAN. “Even though the groups consisted of people who otherwise have few points of contact in their everyday work or work at different locations, the groups were very unanimous about which basic values SWAN should have – albeit with deviations in weighting.”

The results from the various workshops were discussed in the management, compared with the company vision and then presented to the employees for voting. Only then were the new corporate values written down, supplemented with clear action expectations and set in content. For SWAN, it is clear: Trust & Transparency, Flexibility, Respect & Appreciation, and Team Spirit form the central anchors of their corporate culture.

Making living values tangible in everyday work

The new values are the focus of communication and cooperation. Gradually, all internal and external documents are being adapted based on values. This ranges from documents for job interviews, to the website, to visualized value tiles at all locations. “Even with applicants, the values are in focus, because many come to SWAN precisely because of our corporate culture,” explains Luisa Kleider.

In a subsequent, second round, in-depth workshops also took place in the individual teams, in which the new values were translated into everyday work. The employees received concrete action recommendations to make the values tangible and to actively incorporate them into their daily work. These projects are regularly put to the test in the group and adjusted. This way, all employees have a binding roadmap for working together.

1 year SWAN values: The common basis for successful cooperation

Over the past year, the employees have implemented the SWAN values in their workflows and lived them towards their colleagues, partners, and customers. SWAN also gives its employees as an employer Trust & Transparency, Respect & Appreciation, Flexibility, and promotes Team Spirit. The corporate values are now anchored in the employment contract and their implementation is evaluated in regular employee discussions. Alexander Bernhard adds that the values are fixed points in a rapidly changing world: “We regularly compare the target and actual state of our corporate culture, because it should also fit us and our colleagues at SWAN in the future. At SWAN, every employee is valuable, so it was clear that our corporate values also had to be created together with all employees. Only together do we make SWAN what it is: a great place to work.”