Marcela Barreiro
Director of Human Resources
Daimler México
View from the Top

Keys to Becoming a Best Place to Work in Manufacturing

By Alejandro Enríquez | Wed, 10/14/2020 - 09:00

Q: What has helped Daimler to be the No. 1 Best Place to Work among manufacturers?

A: We are very proud about this accomplishment. It is neither a one-day job nor a single-person responsibility. It is the result of a team effort that is particularly focused on coping with the pandemic’s effects. No one could have imagined this scenario and a really important element is how we reacted. This award goes to our manufacturing plants, validating all the efforts made to keep our manufacturing lines active while protecting our employees. We adapted all of our lines, invested in training, equipment and sanitization and we changed our mindset toward collective health protection. All of these measures assured not only the physical but also the mental well-being of our members.

Q: What is a human resources manager’s role amid a pandemic?

A: The new normal has led to new interaction schemes. We have a really stimulating mix between home office and physical locations. The real challenge for us as leaders is to set the right approach for different realities. From motivation to expected results, all managers must be close to their teams. Being flexible allows us to be surprised by outstanding results. Combining different strategies also implies close communication among different branches and teams and all of these strategies are based on remaining close to each other.

At Daimler, we have always been a solid team with distinctive values. During this time, trust and respect have been at the core of our good performance. Leaders trust their teams and team members are aware of their responsibilities and this is because of the respect they have for Daimler. Our strategies are always based on trust, respect and clear goals. This is not exclusive to home office schemes, though. Valuable teams can deliver either physically or from a distance. A third value is to listen to different members of the organization. When people see that you embrace an idea they offered, their motivation increases. This is how we keep the world moving.

It is also important to be aware of those collaborators who live by themselves. The pandemic can be a really difficult experience when someone lives alone. Mental health plays a fundamental role in anyone’s life. Thus, as an organization we were there to say, “we do care.” Without a doubt, our sense of belonging was strengthened.

Q: What role did NOM-035 play during and after the pandemic?

A: This norm emerged due to a need that was clearly identified. At Daimler, and many other organizations, different programs regarding mental health were already in place. Now that the norm is enforced, it will strengthen strategies that organizations have already implemented. Mental and physical health remain fundamental to a person’s well-being, which has clear effects on the results in their professional life. Our motto is “Vivo Daimler” (I live Daimler), for which we have different strategies, such as I live well-being and I live diversity. Our wellness program has even received an award from the Wellness Council Mexico.

Virtual training and online conferences have been useful in providing guidance on emotional well-being. Some of our mental health initiatives amid the pandemic addressed aspects that are relevant to different groups among our team. Parentine was about parenting during the quarantine. We had one conference on love and living with a significant other and another about diversity. Regarding the latter, companies might think that diversity has somehow been paused but in fact, the opposite is true. No matter the context, diversity is crucial. We provide the ABCs of inclusion from the get-go. On a positive note, the pandemic was a gift to think carefully about what we are doing as people and as an organization.

Q: What skills are organizations prioritizing among potential new hires?

A: This topic is a personal passion. We are changing and we are doing it quickly. The pandemic accelerated many trends, including the skills new talent needs to master. Innovation and creativity are two of the most relevant skills for us. We have a vocation for innovation in a variety of segments, from product lines to customer service. Innovation and creativity will continue to be essential to embrace a world best suited to agile and empowered companies and team members. It is not about completely changing what exists today but getting there through training and fresh perspectives. Without a doubt, recruiting processes are going to change as well. The difference now is in being able to identify the right approach to the organization’s new talent acquisition processes.

Q: What challenges do new generations pose for organizations?

A: More than challenges, they bring new opportunities. At Daimler and many other organizations, there are four coexisting generations: baby boomers, Gen X, millennials and centennials. This is a blessing. Having different perspectives, experiences and skills can really help an organization. This is an opportunity to listen and comprehend opinions that are totally opposite to yours. It is not a matter of right or wrong. Each generation has evolved and brings something new to the table. My first challenge was with millennials and soon I realized the usefulness of their ideas. This will happen with the generations to come.

As part of our diversity initiative, we have a generational sub-theme. We have a reverse-mentoring program that is the opposite of a traditional mentoring program in which older generations lecture younger team members. Reverse mentoring implies that the younger generations provide new ideas to older team members. This could mean a centennial providing mentoring to a C-level position for instance. This is a motivation booster and keeps collaborators humble about what they can learn from someone else. Personally, this is also one of my favorite experiences.

Daimler Trucks is one of the two heavy-vehicle divisions of Daimler Group in Mexico. The company builds Freightliner trucks at its Saltillo and Santiago Tianguistenco assembly plants and has a dealership network of 87 sales points

Photo by:   Daimler
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst