Mentoring

Learning from co-workers:

Mentoring – a two-way process based on respect

Employee values

At DZ BANK, the employees acting as mentors for trainees strive to give them the best possible start to their career. And under a reverse mentoring scheme, managers benefit from the skills of their younger, more tech-savvy co-workers.

"The appreciation principle” is the very telling name of the seminar that Laura Hintzen recently attended at the bank as a junior staff manager. A topic that is not just close to her heart personally, but that is the focal point in her field. “We want to illustrate to our junior employees just how much we need them and that, as newcomers, they are just as capable of making an important contribution. They shouldn’t simply serve their time and be entertained every once in a while,” explains the Aachen native. “It’s the only way they’ll be able to work out where their interests and priorities lie.”

Laura Hintzen works in platform management for the Depot B business, that is, for private customers who either access the bank’s IT systems themselves or via their securities investment adviser at their cooperative bank. To ensure that this runs smoothly, she works closely with the advisers and sales units in the Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken, the colleagues in IT and the Fiducia & GAD IT computing centre.
Together with three colleagues in the division, she plans the integration of the junior employees in projects and groups and has them move through several departments. For example, they get to know the certificates business, make a stop in business line management and accompany sales colleagues on their cooperative bank visits. A welcome side effect of these efforts is the cultivation of relationships with the primary banks, especially as junior employees from the various regional Banks also do work shadowing in Hintzen’s group. In turn, they take their insights into the Depot B business with them to their home banks.

 

“I never would have thought that I’d have much to do with IT infrastructure,” says Hintzen. As a student of Business Law in Cologne she was more interested in a classic consulting career. But since she didn’t want to be constantly on the move professionally, she started working in securities compliance at Targobank following her studies in 2013. In 2015, she made the move to the former WGZ BANK as Product Manager for derivatives – three weeks before the merger was announced. “I was new and looking forward to exciting projects. That’s why I kept looking ahead and was open to making the switch to Frankfurt,” she says. Right off the bat, she took on the task of supervising junior employees in the specialist division of her group. Within this role, she sits down with the new employees to discuss how their time as interns, trainees or in the work shadowing programme will be spent, agrees on objectives and assesses their performance. Hintzen puts great emphasis on the junior employees being independent and open-minded. “Some simply sit down and wait for orders to come in, but that’s not what we expect here: They should set their own pace, but they should also decide when to ask questions and actively seek out new tasks – curiosity is very important to us,” she explains.


The individual support and advice is as varied as the junior employees themselves: “We have dual students in their fifth semester as well as 17-year-old school graduates who are here to gather their first practical experience before beginning university. We try to appeal across the board and attract motivated, inspiring people to the bank.” And we have done so with some success: Junior employees in the Capital Markets Retail Clients division are regularly offered the opportunity to stay on or keep in touch until they have completed their studies. “The start of your professional life is an exciting time, and our junior employees learn incredibly quickly, as do we from them. Knowledge flows in both directions, which is why we rely so heavily on our young colleagues,” says Hintzen – very much in keeping with the appreciation principle. 

“I never would have thought that I’d have much to do with IT infrastructure,” says Hintzen. As a student of Business Law in Cologne she was more interested in a classic consulting career. But since she didn’t want to be constantly on the move professionally, she started working in securities compliance at Targobank following her studies in 2013. In 2015, she made the move to the former WGZ BANK as Product Manager for derivatives – three weeks before the merger was announced. “I was new and looking forward to exciting projects. That’s why I kept looking ahead and was open to making the switch to Frankfurt,” she says. Right off the bat, she took on the task of supervising junior employees in the specialist division of her group. Within this role, she sits down with the new employees to discuss how their time as interns, trainees or in the work shadowing programme will be spent, agrees on objectives and assesses their performance. Hintzen puts great emphasis on the junior employees being independent and open-minded. “Some simply sit down and wait for orders to come in, but that’s not what we expect here: They should set their own pace, but they should also decide when to ask questions and actively seek out new tasks – curiosity is very important to us,” she explains.
The individual support and advice is as varied as the junior employees themselves: “We have dual students in their fifth semester as well as 17-year-old school graduates who are here to gather their first practical experience before beginning university. We try to appeal across the board and attract motivated, inspiring people to the bank.” And we have done so with some success: Junior employees in the Capital Markets Retail Clients division are regularly offered the opportunity to stay on or keep in touch until they have completed their studies. “The start of your professional life is an exciting time, and our junior employees learn incredibly quickly, as do we from them. Knowledge flows in both directions, which is why we rely so heavily on our young colleagues,” says Hintzen – very much in keeping with the appreciation principle.

Role reversal

Explaining the world to your manager – or at least the digital version: as part of reverse mentoring, junior employees use their advantage as digital natives to help managers tackle social media and new technology. The idea is catching on. A total of 13 tandems signed up to take part in the pilot phase, including Peter Stutz, Head of the Group Supervisory Regulation Department, and Moritz Dinter, student at a cooperative university combining higher education with practical experience.

"That’s ingenious!” was Peter Stutz’s first reaction when he received the invitation to participate in the bank’s new reverse mentoring programme pairing managers and junior staff in tandems. What makes these tandems special, however, is the fact that young colleagues assume the role of mentor in reverse mentoring, which stands in contrast to traditional mentoring programmes. They help managers expand their digital skills. The concept found a fan in Moritz Dinter. The 21-year-old student at Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University signed up right away. “The chance to collaborate so closely with an experienced manager appealed to me. What’s more, I love the fact that I can put my knowledge to good use, even though I’m still in the early days of my career,” Dinter says.


“That’s a match,” decided the Human Resources Development & Marketing department and brought the two together. Stutz heads the Group Supervisory Regulation Department in the Group Finance division. The department is responsible for implementing the regulatory requirements set by various national and international regulatory authorities at the bank. Stutz’s employees are spread out across Germany, which was one important reason why the 55-year-old wanted to sign up for reverse mentoring. “I wanted to know what options there are to connect with one another across different locations and to make even better use of the new technological possibilities,” he says. The tandem tackled Skype for Business, among other things. Now traditional teleconferences are hardly held in Stutz’s department anymore. “It’s all done by video now with 360-degree cameras, if possible. We have since begun to make extensive use of the range of technological options that the bank offers, and we practice screen sharing and work on documents together.”


Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and Xing, as well as more recent platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, were also on the agenda. “Together, we took a closer look at the different networks. People get to know one another in different ways through these platforms,” Dinter says. Stutz was particularly impressed by the short message service Twitter. “Amid the flood of information washing over us each day, I want to be able to keep my bearings at all times, no matter where I am. On Twitter, I have my personal stream with current topics that are relevant to me and my work.” Stutz does not plan to use all networks moving forward. “I am interested in finding the right mix of media and technology. They should deliver relevant information in a brief, bite-sized format.” After all, great shifts are occurring in the regulatory landscape right now, and the restructuring of the finance departments also challenged the Saarland native. “It opened up my eyes again to just how important it is to be and stay up to date.”