Great ideas come from employees who feel trusted and empowered10/23/18
Having been with the Volvo Group since 2006, Camilla Vitelli is one year into her role as VP Features, Verification &Validation (FVV) with Group Trucks Technology. She believes the success of her organization – and its ability constantly to improve – depends on her employees feeling empowered and trusted to effect change.
“The people who really make a difference to our organization, and who come up with the best ideas, are the ones who dare to take the initiative. And to do that, you need to feel trusted and empowered,” says Camilla.
Heading up a global organization of more than 600 people, spread across Gothenburg, Greensboro, Curitiba and Lyon, is a challenging task. Being willing to delegate and empower people to take ownership is crucial, as is the ability to communicate a consistent shared vision across all the sites and teams.
Camilla explains that the key focus of FVV is to ensure the Volvo Group develops the best possible features to meet customers’ needs, and to implement the most effective testing, validation and verification processes to secure the quality and performance of those features. FVV is also responsible for product certification and product compliance.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our testing processes – to make them more efficient, effective, and more relevant to the real-life situations experienced by our customers,” says Camilla.
Camilla does not believe the best continuous improvement ideas come from a top-down approach. Instead, she says, those best equipped to propose and implement positive change are the people using the processes on a day-to-day basis.
“As their leader, it’s up to me to trust them and give them the freedom to take the initiative, come up with ideas and try them out,” she adds.
The people who really make a difference to our organization, and who come up with the best ideas, are the ones who dare to take the initiative. And to do that, you need to feel trusted and empowered.
A few weeks ago, Camilla received an email from an employee in the transport effectiveness team. He and his colleague wanted to start evaluating the need to test new connective technologies.
“Of course I supported his idea as we’re still learning how to verify and validate the solutions in new technologies.
“We agreed to follow up after two months. By then, we should be able to see if it’s working, what tweaks might be needed or how we can improve it,” she continues, adding that ideas do not always have to be thoroughly tested in advance.
“Sometimes you’ll get there faster through trial and error,” she admits.
Camilla believes her employees are better equipped to affect when they cooperate cross functionally with their colleagues.
“When you work as part of the greater organization and not just within your immediate team, you can truly take ownership and be accountable,” she says.
However, people seldom take the initiative simply because they are told to. Better results are typically achieved when employees feel empowered and trusted.
“What we as leaders can do is support our teams with resources and make it clear that, if things go wrong, we will look for solutions and not assign blame. I have every confidence in the capacity of my people to drive improvements, and they know they have my support and the support of the organization to do so,” Camilla concludes.