23 Jan 2015, 0:00 CET

Coaching and Culture at the Castle

This time we met at Ulfsunda castle, not far away from the head office in Solna. The castle is almost 300 years old and we are now certain that it is haunted. There was a nice excited buzz during the morning coffee when everyone talked about what had happened since the last time we saw each other. We have started to form some strong bonds within the trainee group so it is always nice to see them again, and not to mention the veterans that we had not seen for several weeks!

Day 1

The first lecture in this training module was held by Per Andersson from the Swedish Management Group. The topics of the day were leadership, communication and coaching teams. The day started with an interesting session about situational leadership and a lot of exercises associated to this theme, including one where we trained to coach each other in problems linked to our work. It may seem to be an easy thing to do, but almost every one of us discovered that coaching is harder than you think. To let someone else reach a solution, without interfering with your own suggestions how to solve the problem, was very difficult, and asking questions that cannot be answered with “yes” or “no” is trickier than you think. We also learned how important it is, as a leader, to be able to adapt your leadership style to different situations and people.

All the training sessions are teaching us about methods, strategies and theories, but most of all it teaches us about ourselves, regardless of how cheesy and cliché that sounds. So far, whenever we have talked about leadership it often boils down to awareness, both about others and yourself.

The training sessions are giving us a lot, but one of the most important parts of these days is the time outside of the training; the coffee breaks, the dinners and the breakfasts. That is when we have time to really get to know each other and learn, not surprisingly depending on whom you ask there are many different stories to tell about BillerudKorsnäs.

Day 2

After a good night’s sleep and a massive breakfast the second day training begun. The theme of the day was “working across cultures” and the first part on this interesting subject was held by John Alexander from Australia. We had lot of discussions regarding cultural differences and he served us several dilemmas that forced us to challenge our own mindsets. One of the conclusions was that we are all tainted by our cultures and that the cultures can often be traced in languages as well, for example the words “lagom”, “förankra” and “fika” is almost not found in any other language but says a lot about the Swedish culture.

After lunch we continued with a small competition where each group’s task was to present a description of BillerudKorsnäs with symbols where each symbol represented the company in the past, present and the future. Once again, we saw the value of mixing new trainees that has only been at BillerudKornäs for a couple of months, with veterans that has been in both old Billerud and Korsnäs for years. The winning team won, except from the honor, the opportunity to present their idea for BillerudKorsnäs Senior Vice President Communication and Sustainability, Henrik Essén. Henrik has a lot of experience from working in different cultures and during our last session we got the chance to listen to his point of view regarding differences between countries around the world.

In the end of day two it was time to say good bye to the veterans again. It always feels a bit strange when you have had two really intense days and shared some very personal experiences to suddenly say good bye and “Merry Christmas”, knowing that we will not be seeing them until January.

The trainees stayed an extra night and got ready for the visit at the head office. And what better way to recharge than some healthy physical activities like round table ping pong?

//Johan and Maija