An Extensive Training Program Supported Both New and Experienced Supervisors

Elenia invests strongly in the development of its supervisory work: “Strong leadership skills have a significant impact on both employee experience and business success.”

Joanna Sinclair, 29.10.2021

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Elenia is Finland's second largest distribution system operator and the country's biggest service provider in the energy sector. The company, which is headquartered in Tampere, operates in more than 100 municipalities in Kanta-Häme, Päijät-Häme, Pirkanmaa, Central Finland and Southern and Northern Ostrobothnia.

Elenia has collaborated with Aalto EE for a long time. Elenia’s personnel’s competence has been developed through various training programs over the years, and future coaching needs have also been considered together.

In 2019–2020, Elenia carried out an extensive supervisor coaching program in cooperation with Aalto EE. The program developed the supervisors’ skills, supplemented their day-to-day management toolkit, and harmonized management practices at Elenia. In addition, the supervisors’ role in implementing Elenia's strategy was clarified during the coaching.

“We want to ensure that our teams think not only of today, but also of tomorrow's needs – so that our customers continue to receive quality service and future solutions. Cooperation with Aalto EE has supported us in this goal,” describes Tiia Asikainen, HRD Manager at Elenia.

A heightened understanding of different leadership styles

In 2019, Elenia updated its strategy, reviewed its team structures, and increased the number of supervisors in the company. This development motivated Elenia to create a program that simultaneously enhanced supervisor skills and implemented the strategy.

“All of our supervisors attended this extensive coaching, all in all about 40 people. Some had only just moved to managerial roles. Consequently, the scope of managerial experience was wide: ranging from just a few weeks to numerous years. We set quite a challenge for Aalto EE. It required a great deal of skill to create a training package that served everyone,” Asikainen explains.

We want to ensure that our teams think not only of today, but also of tomorrow's needs – so that our customers continue to receive quality service and future solutions."

“Aalto EE succeeded in this challenge. We got great feedback from the participants. They were very pleased with the investment we made in developing their competence and management skills – and our choice of training partners,” Asikainen adds.

The program consisted of four modules, which were designed together with Aalto EE to meet Elenia's needs. The coaching focused on, for example, the supervisors’ roles at Elenia, the supervisors’ continuous development, managing results and performance, and the role that supervisors have as communicators and influencers.

“In addition to these main themes, the training emphasized many other topical issues, including change management skills and resilience,” Asikainen adds.

The large number of participants was divided into two groups of about 20 people for the duration of the training to strengthen the interaction and participant experience. Elenia made sure that both groups comprised of both experienced leaders and new supervisors. The coaching days were mainly held as in-class events in the Tampere region.

Both the instructors and the way that the program was managed as a whole received positive feedback from Elenia’s personnel. The instructors received special praise for their inclusive teaching methods which activated dialogue.

“The program met our needs. New supervisors obtained great insights for leading their teams – and the latest research and leadership trends gave food for thought for seasoned leaders as well. The participants were especially happy about how the training increased their understanding of different leadership styles and their applicability to different management situations,” Asikainen emphasizes.

An extensive toolkit for strategy implementation – and a workbook to keep things fresh in mind

Participants also gained in-depth understanding of the supervisors’ role in implementing strategy. They were provided with a toolkit that included, for example, methods for perceiving and interpreting the content of the strategy, as well as tools for communicating and handling the strategy with their own teams.

The lessons learned during in-class training were enriched by online content, reading material, preliminary and intermediate assignments, and active dialogue between supervisors and Group management.

“Our top management is very committed to developing our personnel’s competence. We had a representative from Elenia's management team present in every onsite day, supporting our supervisors’ learning,” says Asikainen, who also participated in all the in-class sessions.

New supervisors obtained great insights for leading their teams – and the latest research and leadership trends gave food for thought for seasoned leaders as well."

At the end of the training, the participants received a workbook which Aalto EE had compiled during the program. The workbook summarized the main themes and most important tools taught in the program. It also included insights gathered from Elenia’s supervisors during the coaching, for example tips on how to communicate the strategy to colleagues.

“The workbook serves as an excellent way to refresh your memory after the coaching – and we can also use it in the future when we are onboarding new supervisors,” Asikainen plans.

Cooperating with the best experts in the field is important to Elenia

Elenia's main task is to responsibly take care of the electricity network’s 24/7 functionality. In addition, Elenia handles customer service and billing for several energy companies, measures its customers' electricity consumption, builds the electricity grid and electricity connections, upgrades the aging electricity grid to be weatherproof, and develops smart grid solutions. All this requires a high level of expertise.

“The majority of Elenia's supervisors have a master's degree, and they all have strong command of the substance of our work. Scientific knowledge is highly valued at Elenia, and it is important to us to cooperate with the best experts in the field. Thus, Aalto EE was a natural choice as our partner for such a significant project,” Asikainen emphasizes.

“Cooperation with Aalto EE was easy and straightforward. Our wishes were heard regarding the content of the training, and the entire coaching was delivered as a turnkey project. We were very pleased with the instructors and the overall management of the program. Strong leadership skills have a significant impact on both employee experience and business success, and I feel that we got exactly what we were looking for from Aalto EE.”

For Elenia, a highly competent staff is a matter of honor. The company plans on investing a great deal in competence development in the future as well.

“We received solid strategic expertise from Aalto EE for our supervisor coaching. After the successful coaching program, we have continued internal training around the same themes. Next, we are going to focus on Elenia's experts, for whom we are planning a similar extensive training package,” says Asikainen.

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