Top Manager Motivates Staff with Chocolate, not Reprimands

Published in "Neue Presse" 8/1997 Published in

His turnover increased ninefold in 2 years

Hanover. He's one of the shooting stars of Hanover's economy, but he doesn't care. "That's just words, empty praise. It doesn't help anyone, just like whining doesn't. We have to do something," says Dirk Schneemann, the founder of Lackiertechnik Hanover. Now, he's also had a prominent guest: Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who accepted his invitation to Vahrenwald.

The professional painter started his company two years ago. He currently has 140 employees ("200 by the end of the year"), and his turnover keeps rising. "It was 1.6 million in 1995, this year it's 15 million, and we plan for it to be 25 million in 1998," promises the 33-year old.

The secret to his success? "I avail myself of my staff's intelligence fully." Everyone cares about improving the process and works as effectively as possible, because 22% of the company profit is distributed to the staff. Among them are 14 disabled and 12 formerly long-term unemployed persons. More socially disadvantaged persons will be hired. This was an aspect Gerhard Schroeder focused on during his visit on occasion of open-doors day, "You've managed to utilize these people's full potential very well, and that's admirable."

You've managed to utilize these people's full potential very well, and that's admirable.
Gerhard Schroeder

Schneemann requires flexibility for this reason. The staff needs to work longer hours if they get an expedited order. "Companies in Poland or the Czech Republic can't do that." The boss has a thing for the unconventional. For example, he doesn't fine or reprimand staff for forgetting their helmets or leaving cigarette butts on the floor ("that's nonsense"). The punishment is sweet: they have to buy 10 boxes of chocolate, which everyone shares.

Carinda Bourgeois - Salomon

My name is Carinda and I am responsible for business development, investor & public relations. 

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