Fourteen young professionals from the whole Salzgitter Group joined the Salzgitter International Training Program in April 2019. They come from all over the world: China, Brazil, the United States, India, Romania, the Netherlands and Germany. The Program, abbreviated as SITP, consists of 3 different modules of 4 or 5 days each. Working on soft skills (e.g. teambuilding) is one common target the group will follow up during their encounters. They will get to know new working techniques (e.g. setting priorities and planning effectively) and learn to increase intercultural awareness and self reflection. And maybe far more than that. But see for yourself what the team experienced:
The big day had finally come… Since our arrival on Sunday, the day before the development center, the main topic in our group was the upcoming DC. Many of us felt the tension growing, but the joy about our reunion after 3 months was much greater than any of the nerves we may have felt.
In the days to follow, the tension and nerves turned into fun. All our doubts faded away, especially when the MEScape game (a group escape game) started. After two days of challenging tasks, exercises and role-playing scenarios the DC had come to an end. On the third day we participated in a very personal and valuable feedback session from the observation team. Here we learned about our personal strengths and the areas we can improve upon. The feedback was provided individually in a very helpful, kind and confidential environment – we all survived ;-).
“The curiosity was quickly overwhelmed by pure joy. It is amazing how much fun you can have when you are just showing who you are and getting honest feedback on how to improve personally.”
“It was challenging and fun at the same time. Within our group we created an environment where everybody felt comfortable sharing their feelings and emotions. Therefore, we have a great chance to develop ourselves more effectively.”
“DC is one of the best places to get to know yourself better. Don’t be afraid of DC!”
“The DC was a challenging and rewarding experience that offered a rare opportunity to hear feedback about ourselves. Although this was an individual exercise, the community that we had formed in Module 1 was evident and an important contribution to help each of us through the tasks and challenges presented.”
Plant tour: “The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire” (Richard M. Nixon)
With great excitement, we were brought by bus to the spark, heat and sensations of the gigantic Salzgitter Flachstahl facility. We saw the glowing, liquid, golden pig iron flowing under our feet and witnessed the “Steel man” at work as he stood fearless in front of hot lava to perform his tasks. Such a courageous Job! Sometimes you have to see it in order to believe it!
It was incredible to see that very little is wasted throughout these processes, e.g. gases are used to produce electricity and slag is used for concrete production. We moved from the blast furnace to the converter section past huge cranes that were transporting enormous ladles containing volcanic lava, it was quite impressive! The steam, the noise, the smell, the heat we felt and absorbed will never be forgotten! Learning about the rolling process was lively as we observed massive red-hot slab under enormous pressure moving between rollers to form the flat steel strip. The long strips of steel were rolled up several times to form a coil. The automation of the processes was exciting to see; our eyes were particularly caught by a “robot” marking each coil with its laser hand.
The experience at the steel mill and processes starting from raw ore into steel products of our daily lives, gave all of us a deeper view of steel industry and its importance, and made us aware of all the hard work and expertise behind such complex products. This trip was a powerful way of developing a greater understanding of Salzgitter’s massive capabilities and its performance potential.
SITP Module 2
SITP module 2 started with a discussion on our efforts and improvements regarding our development goals between modules 1 and 2.
One of the main topics we focused on in module 2 was conflict management. The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) was introduced as we concentrated on the five approaches of conflict responses: competing, accommodating, avoiding, collaborating and compromising. Inspirational insight was gained through a discussion of pros and cons of each of these 5 approaches. We shared real conflict cases from our workplace and participated in a simulated bidding process conflict situation.
Conflict Management Book states that conflicts arise between individuals due to various styles of communication, cultural backgrounds and differing ideas, beliefs and goals. Unmanaged or poorly managed conflicts generate a breakdown in trust and lost productivity.
A key take away of our conflict management course was learned from the Conflict Escalation Module. It’s better to deal with conflicts before they escalate beyond repair. Killer phrases contribute into provoking conflicts and we were surprised to find out that some of the killer phrases were frequently used in our daily life. One of the methods we learned and practiced solving this was peer consulting.
It was very interesting for us to learn that some of our behaviors and social relationships are very much influenced by a concept called Transactional Analysis. We engaged in small group conversations in an attempt to zero in on how this relates to our daily lives.
Cooking Event: “The team that eats together, stays together!”
Time to spice up the atmosphere: After a busy few days we were all looking forward to the cooking event as an opportunity for some relaxing therapy, cozy moments and absolute fun with each other. 12 Individuals from 6 different nations were quickly divided into 3 groups. We were blindfolded and had to guess the food! This set up such a festive mood. Next all groups received their recipes and one common goal – delicious results.
Sparkling eyes, smiling faces, relaxed minds and positive vibes were all around this event. This exercise helped us evaluate trust and solidarity within our team, as none of the groups were making a complete dish but only a part of it. Some of us also discovered “the hidden chef” inside ourselves. We had many ingredients for our dishes, but the most important for our evening turned out to be happiness. “My kind of evening” all of us affirmed at the conclusion of the event, while the result of the team cooking was truly delicious, the teamwork and laughter really made this evening special for the entire group. Totally satisfied with our results, the cooking event created a memory that we will cherish forever, it truly brought our team relationship to another level.