Quintus Technologies – Performance development in a global environment

Västerås-based Quintus is a high-tech manufacturing company with customers and operations all over the world. Growth and development of the company must happen in a way that works well in various contexts and cultures. In addition to Västerås, Quintus has its own operations in both the U.S. and in China, which are two important markets. In many other markets, a presence is upheld through agents and dealers.

Quintus Technologies is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-pressure machine presses. Customers include both aircraft manufacturers and car manufacturers. Several of them are big and well-known brands such as Boeing and Rolls-Royce, but there are also small, family-owned companies. The company originated in former ASEA, and is today owned by the large Japanese steel group Kobe.

- We have been working with Agerus since 2013, and we use their method to develop our operations and strengthen the organisation's performance capacity, says Pamela Ernlund, a global HR partner at Quintus and located in Västerås

Rapid technological change and geographical spread are part of our reality and we must be able to handle it in the best way, says Pamela Ernlund.

– We are in a market that is constantly changing through customer needs and new shifts in technology. This means that we as a company must constantly adapt our organization, roles and competencies in the business. All this is complex and has to work across different cultures, but with the help of Agerus we manage to create a common way to capture and deal with these issues.

– An added bonus with Agerus is that their digital platform freed us from all the paperwork and document management that we had previously experienced with many of these HR issues, Pamela adds.

Working actively with the result

Quintus measures the prerequisites for performance once a year. In addition, managers can make local measurements. One of the success factors for the Agerus method in Quintus is how the result is utilised:

– All managers work actively with their groups about what the survey tells us. The tool also has an activity manager which ensures that the improvements agreed upon by the groups are properly documented and followed-up on. All in all, our employees feel that the Agerus method makes a difference and that creates a commitment to our way of working with these issues.

At Quintus, all components of the Agerus method are implemented. This, among other things, means setting clear objectives, as well as investigating and ensuring that the right prerequisites are in place to perform well and feel healthy.

– For three years now, we have been using the method to clarify the assignment for all employees in our organization, and we have also implemented it as a basis for our performance reviews. In this way, we have fully embraced the idea of clear assignments and the right prerequisites, says Pamela Ernlund. How to do this then depends on the local circumstances; this flexibility creates a real advantage.

The idea of a flexible system that can be adapted to local circumstances is confirmed in discussions with Quintus executives in both the U.S. and in China.

Setting independent objectives and growing in the U.S.

At Quintus’ U.S. office, the focus is on sales and service. Keenan Drenning is the head of a group of more than 20 people who work with everything from spare parts to aftermarket and service.

– The Agerus method has given me and my team a clear focus, both in terms of objectives and the behavior needed to get there, Keenan says. My teams typically have three to four responsibilities per person and an overall objective, such as a sales target. I want to provide my team with clear objectives and make them understand my expectations.

How, then, does the Agerus method work in an American environment?

– I spend a lot of time setting objectives and securing the right prerequisites. Team members are also encouraged to set growth goals for themselves whether that is building skills for their current role or for upward movement in the organization. In this context, the dialogue between me and the members of my team is important. My role as a leader is to help others reach their objectives.

Keenan’s efforts are appreciated by his team.

My team also takes it seriously and appreciates the information and guidance contained in the system. The way we work with the support of Agerus helps people set goals and grow.

China: An environment where everyone wants to perform

At Quintus’s Shanghai office, there are twelve employees; half the force consists of sales representatives, and the other group works with aftermarket, service and spare parts. Everyone in the business, except two, are local employees.

– I want to lead in an environment where everyone can and wants to perform well and be happy when they go to work. Validating other people and making them feel needed are crucial components, says Klas Rehnberg, who is head of operations in China.

Clarity and follow-up are important to Klas Rehnberg.

– I work a lot with management by objectives and continuous follow-up, and have previously used other systems for it. The difference with Agerus is that the employees themselves are actively engaged in the process and propose objectives that we then jointly agree on. In this dialogue, it is important that employees understand what is expected and feel that the mandate is set.

Leadership that listens

In China, people are generally very focused on results. Money is important, and if one feels that one’s work effort pays off, it translates into an incredible sense of drive. Agerus is good in this context with its clear connection between assignment and performance, says Klas Rehnberg.

– At the same time, I think people like what the method stands for as it results in a respectful and listening leadership that is less authoritarian. Being seen and noticed for what one does tends to have a stronger impact than the numbers on a paycheck.