HKM – I am happy about feedback every day

Leadership and Organizational Development


I am happy about feedback every day

Continuous communication and leadership excellence were the focus for the Hüttenwerke Krupp Mannesmann (HKM) during the introduction of Shop Floor Management. And the introduction was a success, according to Managing Director Herbert Eichelkraut: “The decision was the right one. The employees are very satisfied with the changes.”

Hüttenwerke Krupp Mannesmann GmbH (HKM) was established in 1990 as a joint venture between the partners thyssenkrupp Steel AG (50%), Salzgitter Mannesmann GmbH (30%) and Vallourec Deutschland (20%). The company produces semi-finished products for its partners, who manufacture their products – such as pipes, profile steel and construction steel – from these. Classic heavy industry, whose share of the gross national product is sinking and whose overall market is shrinking. That’s why the plant has throttled its production from 5.6 to 4.2 million tons per year.

HKM is working against this development with a change process that should keep the company on the market successfully for the long term. Among other things, this process includes the introduction of Shop Floor Management (SFM) with a focus on the development of leaders. Overall, HKM wanted to clearly distinguish responsibilities, make the contribution of individual employees more visible, and thus increase their identification with the company.

Enhancement of leadership culture

In the process, Staufen’s advising concentrated, among other things, on changing the leadership culture; empowering leaders and providing internal change guidance through coaching, training, and advising; and expanding the company’s own organization with internal teams to support Shop Floor Management. The project was implemented along a cascade in three pilot areas: coking plant, casting operation, and central maintenance.
“During the project preparations we had to consider some specific characteristics of the steel industry”, says Staufen project manager Imke Schröder. “The coking plant and continuous casting work in continuous operation around the clock.” Here, the facilities have to run constantly, and employees cannot leave to participate in meetings. In addition, in the coking plant six cascades run in parallel, so that with a “classic” implementation, the number of meetings would be too large. Imke Schröder: “Individual solutions were formulated to solve these problems.”
Another peculiarity: HKM’s focus was on the enhancement of communication and leadership culture. “I have had bad experiences with purely process-oriented approaches,” says Dr. Herbert Eichelkraut, Managing Director at HKM. “We have to incorporate the employees into the communication.”

Leadership excellence is the prerequisite for long-term process excellence.

Success with feedback and communication

For the executives, this includes in particular an examination of their own behavior. They achieve this by obtaining feedback from employees and colleagues and establishing feedback rounds in their teams. Muzaffer Pekgülek, Shift Manager of Coking Production, has discovered many advantages here: “Now we have common, transparent goals. I have also learned that people need a “why.” We talk every day about the current problems, so that our colleagues are more sensitive to these.” Previously, everyone simply sat in a room and let themselves be “sprinkled.” Today, we have clear responsibilities and rules,” adds Benedikt Kopietz, Team Leader of Coking Production. “Thanks to SFM, we all have a uniform focus. Passing information along and collecting it is easier now.”
Actions are planned jointly, so that each person sees what he is contributing to achieving the goals. Detlef Mostert, Master in Service, especially mentions the “Go&See” methodology: “We see things the same way when we go to the place where things are happening. That’s something different than speaking to the board or in the office.”
At HKM, the communication cascade extends to the shift manager level. Therefore, they are perceived more widely as leaders. They have clear roles in regular communication and feel responsible. “Communication in a continuous operation is challenging. However, Shop Floor Management has helped us,” says Jan Krull, Process Manager Continous Casting Plant of his experiences. “We have become more cohesive and reach almost the entire team now.”

Employees are independent and aware of their responsibilities

Now employees are encouraged to formulate independent solutions and assume responsibility. “We have a daily, structured, disciplined early meetings, where we discuss problems purposefully and perform deviation management,” says Dennis Grimm, General Manager Coking Plant.
Jan Krull also highlights this development: “Employees are inspired to incorporate themselves more. This makes the meetings shorter and we get right to the point faster.” Dennis Grimm emphasizes: “This has made for a positive change in the mood.” Shop Floor Management passed the “hardness test“ with the Covid-19 crisis in the spring. “SFM and management with team boards was very helpful in this phase,” explains Dr. Herbert Eichelkraut. “It’s the best method for processing information along the cascade. And it’s more accepted by employees, for now communication flows not just top-down, but also bottom-up.”

DETLEF MOSTERT, Master in Service, HKM

DETLEF MOSTERT, Master in Service, HKM

MUZAFFER PEKGÜLEK (to the left), Shift Manager of Coking Production, HKM, and BENEDIKT KOPIETZ (to the right), Team Leader of Coking Production, HKM

MUZAFFER PEKGÜLEK (to the left), Shift Manager of Coking Production, HKM, and
BENEDIKT KOPIETZ (to the right), Team Leader of Coking Production, HKM

JAN KRULL, Process Manager Continuous Casting Plant, HKM

JAN KRULL, Process Manager Continuous Casting Plant, HKM

We now have common, transparent goals. I have also learned that people need a ‘why’.

muzaffer pekgülek, shift manager of coking produktion, hkm

We have daily, structured and disciplined early meetings, discuss problems in a targeted manner and operate deviation management.

Dennis grimm, general manager coking plant, hkm

We’ve become more committed and are now reaching the team almost completely.

Jan Krull, process manager continuous casting plant, hkm

Please feel free to contact me if you want to get any further information about this topic


Cross-functional experience in production, sales and marketing in different roles: Manager, Continuous Improvement Manager and Project Manager

Coaching and training of executives, professionals and CIP Experts

Implementation of Shop Floor Management

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