Developing leadership at the Rajamäki plant

The Altia plant in Rajamäki has implemented Altia’s leadership principles –Show Direction, Support Success and Ensure Implementation – in day-to-day operations. According to Plant Manager Janne Peltoniemi, the most important thing for a line manager is to be genuine and to ensure that the personnel are committed to shared goals.

The leadership principles are the cornerstones of our line management and leadership
Janne Peltoniemi, Plant Manager at the Rajamäki plant

The Altia plant in Rajamäki, Nurmijärvi in Finland is the workplace of some 250 employees, most of whom work on the factory’s various production lines and in the logistics center. The current organization at the Rajamäki plant has only been in place for about a year, and the plant’s operating methods have been revised to a significant extent in recent times.

Altia’s new leadership principles have served as a guideline in this process of renewal.

“The leadership principles are the cornerstones of our line management and leadership. We have set challenging and clear targets, the achievement of which is regularly monitored. This also means that we want to strengthen our employer image and take more pride in our work,” says Janne Peltoniemi, Plant Manager at the Rajamäki plant.

We want to create a more open and interactive work community

The new leadership principles have been translated to “the plant’s own language” and they are also included in development discussions with personnel. Peltoniemi points out that the leadership principles must be reflected in all employees.

The aim of all development efforts at the Rajamäki plant is to engage people from different areas of the organization.

“We want to create a more open and interactive work community. We also want to give everyone the chance to participate in the development of our management, and development in general,” Peltoniemi explains.

The Rajamäki plant has also seen strong cooperation in the implementation of new operating methods. The development of line management, for example, has been geared towards eliminating psychological barriers between different levels of the organization.

“We have also introduced a patronage initiative, which involves members of the management team acting as patrons for specific bottling lines. This means that they have regular weekly meetings with the employees working on the bottling line assigned to them. It also gives them the opportunity to receive first-hand feedback from the employees,” Peltoniemi says.

A good line manager is genuinely concerned about employees

Communication at the Rajamäki plant has also been improved by using the Yammer platform. The factory has the most active Yammer group in the entire Altia organization. Peltoniemi says good communication is key to having a transparent and open organization.

“A good line manager is genuinely concerned about employees. No matter how many decisions we make at the management level, success always comes down to the commitment of the personnel. In my world, the key is to focus on individual employees,” Peltoniemi concludes.

“The management culture here at the Rajamäki plant is somewhat burdened by history, but the situation has improved significantly over the years. In the logistics organization I work in, good line management depends on highly competent leadership. I appreciate the current approach to management, which involves a strong focus on people skills.

As an employee, I feel that I have the opportunity to generate discussion and influence my work. I would like to see even more openness and justified decision-making, as transparency makes it easier to understand and accept changes. With regard to internal communication, I would like to see summaries of information. At present, important messages sometimes end up being fragmented across multiple channels.”

- Markus Hälikkä, Production Controller, Logistics

“I have worked at the Rajamäki plant for ten years. I am pleased with the current management culture here. Changes are not made without listening to the employees’ opinions. New decisions are always discussed with those at the factory floor level. Corrective adjustments are also made where necessary.

I am one of four team leaders in the supplies department team, which consists of about twenty employees. Right now I am feeling a little uncertainty with regard to the division of responsibilities, as the organizational changes implemented a year ago left our team with less direct managerial supervision. This creates a certain sense of detachment, and team leaders now have to look into matters that should be handled by a line manager. We have talked about this at length with the management in recent times; for example, with regard to occupational safety. I am confident that this issue will be discussed at the management level and sorted out soon.”

- Piritta Mononen, team leader

“In my opinion, the supervision of work at the Rajamäki plant needs to be easy-going, firm and realistic. I work on the production line for bag-in-box wines. I deal with my line managers almost every day, and sometimes I also work with the managers responsible for bottling and maintenance. My experience is that our supervisors and managers are very open to ideas and suggestions. I can talk to them in an honest and straightforward manner, so I am very pleased with things overall.

I will take up the position of team leader myself in January 2016. One improvement I would like to see is some type of orientation training for new employees with regard to the operating methods and framework of supervisory and managerial work at the Rajamäki plant.”

- Tuukka Haimakainen, team leader