First published on B-elle.com
Madeleine Bunders is operations director at Pantar, a job development company and organization that is traditionally giving effect to the sheltered job market of Amsterdam.
“Approximately 3,500 people are currently working here. However, the law on social employment (Wsw) no longer exists. This legislation has been replaced by the Participation Act since 1 January 2015. This means that the group that has traditionally been here is slowly decreasing. Pantar must actually reinvent itself through this changing legislation. We have the ambition to be the party in this region, which ensures that people with a distance to the labor market are activated and get a suitable workplace. I took this challenge with both hands! “, says Madeleine.
The goal does not always justify the means
I have studied business economics and have always worked in commercial service companies. From 1998 to the end of 2010 I had to deal with strong financially driven targets and bonus systems. I worked for organizations that worked efficiently and result-oriented. However, this work environment also had disadvantages. My experience is that in these companies the goal often justifies the means, including the people. That was against my feelings. For that reason I started looking for an organization where there was a better balance between ‘people’ and ‘the goal’.
Looking for added value
The people are really central here. It has not traditionally been used to think in terms of results. This can be financial results, but also results in the area of successfully completed guidance programs. Because subsidies have been partially shut down, there is a need, as in other companies, to look at what our added value is and for whom. We need to come up with revenue models that make us more self-sufficient. Our added value lies in the secondment of groups of people with a distance to the labor market. We work with large clients who want to take their social responsibility and want to help people with a distance to the job market. However, they do not know how to handle that. Pantar does. We are able, with our knowledge of this specific group, to set up a qualitatively well supervised process for both the employee and the employer.
Let them feel what’s right
In my vision, you build an organization up from the workplace and not top-down. At the same time, the top must really show what is desired and undesirable behaviour. If we consider cooperation on the work floor to be important, we will also have to work well together in the management: “walk the talk”. . I encourage the management framework at Pantar to make objectives small so that they become manageable for those who have to work with these goals. In my view, you only get change and improvement if everyone is convinced of usefulness and necessity and then goes to work with conviction. If you understand the why of objectives, you also feel free to make decisions that contribute to those objectives. I talk to the team leaders and explain to them what their work has yielded in money. Many of the people I speak to are surprised that they have achieved that result for the organization. Because of that awareness they become proud and they start working with this pride together with their people.
It never happens as you think it will
Things at Pantar always run just a little different as you had thought. We work with people here where you can not always expect that they work according to the ‘normal’ rules. For example, if you have to deal with an employee who is running away from work, the normal response may be that you recall someone and clearly tell them that walking away is absolutely not allowed. The Pantar team leaders wait and first see what the reason is and how a solution to the problem can be found in a good way. Our team leaders are used to working in an environment where you do not always follow the rule of ‘a deal is a deal’. You have to be able to keep your calm and overview here, and you need to have the flexibility and confidence that it will eventually work out.
As a management you do not know anything!
In general, I think that as management you should have a lot more confidence in the people on your work floor. They are the ones who do the work! As a management team you do not know anything. I think management should look carefully at what actually happens to the people who do the work. You can celebrate a party in a boardroom because you have realized a decrease of 10% of the costs while the people in the workplace are working with their hands because they do not know how to do their work. In many companies people tend to think about people as robots. The people are there to get results and nothing else. Within this organization you can not look at people because people can not behave like robots here. Their situation is simply too complex for that. As a management you have the task to really facilitate the people in the organization in and with their daily work.
“You should never change who you are so others for you; you should find those who are you for who you are “
What I like about growing older is that you know better who you are and whether you are in the right place. In the beginning of your career you take things and often think: “That’s how it will be!”. At a certain moment you come to the insight that by going along in a certain routine you have gotten far from what you want and what you consider important. I also had that moment. It took me a while to find out what I wanted and what really suits me. The work I do now offers me a context where I feel very comfortable and I get energy from which I can move mountains!
Life is one big adventure
If you ask me where I will be in 10 years, then I really have no idea. I know that I will always find the right place. At Pantar I feel good now and maybe in 10 years it will still be like that. For me life is a great adventure in which I let myself be taken away. Through past experience I know how to stay on my path, but where that path goes I can not tell you. That is not to say that I am going anywhere. I feel very well whether something fits or not. Because I have learned to listen to my feelings, I know that I will make the right follow-up choices. I feel that as a big profit!