BPM meets Tandemploy: Since last week the 4.700 members of Bundesverband der Personalmanager (BPM) (Association of HR Managers) can use the Tandemploy Matching-Software to network, find mentoring partners or experts and connect for lunch dates. In our interview, BPM’s Vice President Frank Kohl-Boas and Tandemploy-CEO Jana Tepe share some insights of the collaboration and describe how networking can be an accelerator of change in companies and organizations.
Dear Frank, in the future BPM and Tandemploy will work even closer together. With the Tandemploy SaaS, the association makes it possible for its members to network. Why do you think this collaboration is a good match?
Frank: As an association, we are aware of the increasing relevance of digital tools. And as a large network for HR professionals, we are always looking for new forms of networking. So, naturally we came across Tandemploy. With its technical platform and experience, Tandemploy provides our members with a good user experience, thus inviting them to actively use the services. From the very beginning, Anna, Jana, and their team had a great passion for modern HR. With their continuous solution-oriented commitment, we have great partners on our side with whom we enjoy working together immensely.
Your members are HR managers from companies of various sizes and industries. Were there mixed reactions to the introduction of such an innovative networking solution? Did you have the feeling that everyone was ready for it or were there reservations?
Frank: In the large board of directors of BPM, specifically in the executive committee and among the heads of the specialist and regional groups, there are HR managers from all industries and structures – from family businesses to multinational corporations. In my opinion, all of them were very enthusiastic about the various possibilities for networking made possible by the tool, because it offers real added value for everyone involved. In particular, the matching of mentoring tandems, which was the initial reason for our considerations, was met with a very positive response. Especially colleagues who, due to the size, industry, financial resources, or geographical location of their own organizations, have not had the opportunity to learn from each other, are very pleased with this. Those who understand that this is an opportunity in our digital, connected world, have a unique chance for personal and professional development and can support their own organization on its way into the future.
Dear Jana, normally companies use your software to promote knowledge transfer. Now, with BPM, the leading group for HR professionals, an association has joined as a customer. How did this collaboration come about?
Jana: We have been cooperating with BPM for a long time and repeatedly conduct innovation tours or workshops together. When they were looking for a solution to better connect their members with each other and to facilitate an exchange of knowledge among them, it just made sense to discuss the possibility of using our software. For us, this is actually the first time that our tool has been used in a cross-company network, but it makes total sense because even a large association like BPM is basically one organization – with a wide variety of talents, expertise, and, above all, many people who seek and value the exchange with others. We are very much looking forward to representing this network digitally and hopefully, with the help of our software, bringing it even closer together!
“To now also offer mentoring and an expert search while creating an opportunity for regular exchange is the logical expansion and perpetuation of our work.” (Frank Kohl-Boas, Vice President BPM)
In times of crisis, the work of an association can develop in two very different directions: On the one hand, companies may lose sight of it because they are too busy with themselves and their crisis management. On the other hand, an association can provide valuable orientation and support, especially in difficult times. Frank, what has your experience been these past few weeks? And how were you able to provide support?
Frank: We are an association whose members are individuals and therefore we focus primarily on their interests and needs. Since HR people are in high demand during the crisis, and will certainly remain so in dealing with the consequences of the current situation, we have experienced a great need for orientation and exchange of experiences. There was a need for information on a whole range of topics – from the introduction of hygiene rules in the companies to virtual leadership and agreements on mobile work – and we met this need. Our online workshops and information were and continue to be very well and gratefully received. To now also offer mentoring and an expert search while also creating an opportunity for regular exchange is the logical expansion and perpetuation of our work.
Jana, you yourself are basically also a personnel manager and together with your co-founder, Anna, you lead a team of 30 people. At the same time, you are in close contact with HR managers from completely different areas and from established companies with a long history. What can you learn from others and what can they learn from you, an innovative startup, when it comes to personnel management?
Jana: Yes, our customers include SMEs and large corporations from a wide range of industries. The impulses we receive are correspondingly diverse. It is important for us to get to know a company first and then figure out together how and where our digital solution can best be used. As a tech start-up, we have taken certain things for granted from the very beginning, for example, working together virtually and on a basis of trust. With us, everyone can work in the model that best suits his or her life plan. This way of thinking is also reflected in our product. At the same time, I always find it exciting to see how organizations with thousands of employees organize their collaboration and processes. Often times the challenge for them is to not lose sight of the individual person and to pinpoint and develop each and every talent. That’s where we come in – and based on our experience, both sides stand to gain from it.
“If they are used responsibly, digital spaces are great experimental playgrounds where anyone can try out new things, thus democratizing organizations.” (Jana Tepe, CEO Tandemploy)
The past weeks have been very challenging for many HR managers: reduced work hours, hiring freezes, remote work, etc. At the same time, it has become obvious that especially in times of crisis, organizations need the collective strength of their employees – existing ones, but also new ones or external experts. How can technology help organizations to activate the necessary skillsets for crisis management?
Jana: Technology alone is never the solution. In the beginning, you need the right attitude and the will for real change. If that is given, then technology can offer a wonderful jump-start or even be an accelerator in the transformation process. Digital tools give you the opportunity to try out new ways of doing things with a relatively low-risk threshold. If they are used responsibly, digital spaces are great experimental playgrounds where anyone can try out new things, thus democratizing organizations. And last but not least, companies save time and money by enabling their employees to develop and contribute on their own through technology. I think three things are necessary to emerge from difficult times stronger than before: the courage to change, the consistent involvement of employees in change processes, and being able to measure the effect. Because in the end, even New Work must meet the bottom line.
Frank, how do you, as an association, organize yourself in the “New Normal”? And how does the Tandemploy SaaS contribute to this change process?
Frank: That’s a good question to which I don’t yet have an answer. Especially since I hope that the current situation is not the “New Normal” quite yet. As the executive committee, we have weekly video meetings, supplemented by conferences lasting several hours, in which we discuss topics in-depth or work on current projects. With the introduction of the Tandemploy tool, we are primarily digitalizing ourselves as an association and keeping pace with the developments that our members manage in their companies. This way – we think – we remain relevant for our members.
And in very practical terms: How can the associations’ members network with the help of the software? What functions and possibilities does it offer?
Frank: In the BPM Network, members can connect for easy, everyday knowledge exchange and mutual support. In a first step, tools are offered for matching mentoring partners, exchanging expert knowledge, and for lunch dates.
At the moment, the main focus is on the home office, partly because large corporations such as Siemens or Allianz are making progress there. One could get the impression that the discussion about new, digital work is limited to the company laptop and zoom meetings. Jana, as a young HRTech company, what impulses do you want to set in collaboration with BPM? Which topics are important to you?
Jana: It is exactly this interaction between cultural change and technological change that is important to us and forms the basis for our software. Our motto is “People matter” and everything we do is based on it. If organizations are really interested in what their employees can and want to do, then the home office is just one option among many. Working with BPM is a wonderful opportunity for its members to experience networking in a completely new and different way, to learn from and with other people who are in a similar field but come from completely different industries and very different organizations. These are great prerequisites for expanding your own horizon as part of a mentoring duo or simply on a lunch date. They can then pass these impulses on to their respective organizations.
“Technology can make many things possible if it is broadly accepted and its use is encouraged and required, because in the end, its implementation can only be successful if there is a consistent change in behavior.” (Frank Kohl-Boas, Vice President BPM)
“BPM meets Tandemploy”, or you could say “Community meets Technology”. Is that the recipe for success for the future of work? How do companies successfully bring together (wo)man and machine, but also humanity and measurability?
Jana: These are most definitely two essential factors for an organization to be well prepared for future challenges. Companies with good networks, in which employees are used to working together flexibly and at eye level, are more resilient and agile. This has become very clear in recent months. A technology that promotes this kind of collaboration is ultimately the best example of how AI and machines are not the antitheses of human work, but – on the contrary – can help to connect people in the work context in a completely different way. When this happens and employees can develop according to their abilities and guided by the company’s goals, this ultimately has a positive effect on the overall result.
Frank, learning from and with one another is a crucial point that you mention. What would your profile say about you? What would you like to learn and how can you support others?
Frank: I have already created my profile and listed the areas in which I can support others as a mentor, so just go ahead and register and take a look. I am currently learning about the introduction of an HR IT system through the exchange of information and experiences with my colleagues.
Finally, we would like to ask you to complete the following sentences:
Networking is …
Frank: … a necessity in a world with increasingly exponential developments, in which we have to learn from and with each other, and only a disadvantage for those who do not build, use and maintain a network.
Jana: … a must for strong organizations.
Technology can …
Jana: … elevate human collaboration to a new level.
Frank: … make many things possible if it is broadly accepted and its use is encouraged and required, because in the end, its implementation can only be successful if there is a consistent change in behavior.
In the future, organizations will …
Frank: … have a competitive advantage if they see their entire workforce as a talent pool and therefore offer opportunities for internal and external networking. In this way, it will be possible to develop learning communities that can react faster, better and of their own accord to unforeseen situations.
Jana: … have to be extremely agile.
People in organizations need …
Jana: … freedom and a common goal to work towards.
Frank: … reference points and opportunities to meet in order to develop a sense of affiliation, loyalty, and trust – virtual and analog. To create both of these is a great challenge for all of us, especially in the current situation.
Many thanks for the nice interview!
The interview was conducted by our freelance author and New Work editor Katja.