People

Going through tough times makes teams stronger

By Eline Lhoest
September 11, 2020

Our plants have faced unprecedented challenges this year — but there is no doubt that these challenges have brought out the best in everyone. Our Plant Managers reflect on a year defined by crisis.

COVID-19 led to the creation of working environments that were safer than ever thanks to the teamwork that inspired our 'As Safe As Home' initiative.

And in the first eight months of this year many plants reported record numbers of days without Lost Time Accidents — a tribute to our extra attention to health and our pre-pandemic culture of always putting safety first.

Inevitably, COVID-19 caused production, distribution and sales challenges for many of our teams. But agile decision-making, outstanding teamwork and constant communication ensured that effective solutions could always be found.

Perhaps the most significant learning of the crisis is best summed up by Jan Brázda, our Krupka plant manager: “Bad times and pain make teams stronger and prove character. This is a great opportunity to learn how good your people are. What a gift, going through difficult times.”

And it is true. The pandemic may have impacted all our plants differently, but there has always been one constant — whatever the circumstances we have consistently demonstrated how much we care for our colleagues and our communities.

Of course, we continue to work through difficult times, but we recognise that everything — even successfully managing a crisis — can be continuously improved.

Here we speak to our plant managers about the lessons they have learned from the past eight months, their plans for the future and how sustainability, continuous improvement and teamwork continues to inform everything they do.

This is what they said:

Darren Holt, Knauf Insulation UK, St Helens
Darren HOLT

ST HELENS, UK

‘How to overcome crisis challenges? Be accessible to the team, be visible and empathise with personal circumstances. Communicate continually, share information and recognise that people will follow your journey at different speeds.’

Read his story here

Uwe Kaufmann, Knauf Insulation Germany, Sankt Edigien
Uwe KAUFMANN

SANKT EGIDIEN, GERMANY

‘Complex actions were implemented effectively and quickly and this is a tribute to our team and their rapid understanding of a fast-changing situation.’

Read his story here

Olivier Douxchamps
Olivier DOUXCHAMPS

VISÉ, BELGIUM

‘In six years we decreased the number of LTAs by 10 even as we increased production by nearly 100%. I want to continue to develop Visé as a site with the highest possible safety standards.’

Read his story here

Jan BRAZDA, Knauf Insulation Czech Republic, Krupka
Jan BRAZDA

KRUPKA, CZECH REPUBLIC

‘We learn so much by sharing the best from each other!’

Read his story here

Erkan Ucok
Erkan ÜÇOK

ESKIŞEHIR, TURKEY

‘Providing a safe environment at the early stages of the pandemic and communicating constantly were vital to ensuring team motivation.’

 

Matevz Fazarinc, Knauf Insulation Slovenia, Skofja Loka
MATEVŽ FAZARINC

ŠKOFJA LOKA, SLOVENIA

‘Biggest learning? We all have our fears, but when we are open enough to share them, we can help each other overcome them.’

Read his story here

 

Leonid Ababilov, Knauf Insulation Russia, Stupino
Leonid ABABILOV

STUPINO, RUSSIA

‘Learnings? Adopt an impossible is possible philosophy and understand that a team of like-minded people can move mountains.’

Read his story here

Robert Smalekker, Knauf Insulation Hungary
Robert SMALEKKER

ZALAEGERSZEG, HUNGARY

‘We have learnt that if we focus a little more on our daily job and our colleagues, we can handle difficult situations well.’

Read his story here

Oleg Gorun
Oleg GORUN

TYUMEN, RUSSIA 

‘I have no words to express how proud am I of what the plant team did to keep customers loyal, organise a safe environment for our employees and keep high key performance indicators.’

Read his story here

Mohamed Elkmalichi, Knauf Insulation France, Illange
Mohamed ELKHAMLICHI

ILLANGE, FRANCE

‘Learnings? Tackle different topics step-by-step with reliable solutions. As we had many things to improve, the difficulty was to prioritise and manage the urgency of different departments.’

Read his story here

Stjepan Mrsic, Knauf Insulation
Stjepan MRŠIĆ

NOVI MAROF, CROATIA

‘My proudest achievement? I am proud of my people. We might not always share the same view but we have the commitment and partnership to define and implement the best solutions for the plant.’

Read his story here

 

Mark Jolliffe, Knauf Insulation UK, Queensferry
Mark JOLLIFFE

 QUEENSFERRY, UK

‘Lessons from the crisis? Communication is always important but in times of almost constant change it’s vital.’

Read his story here

Marian Tkac, Knauf Insulation Slovenia, Nova Bana
MARIÁN TKÁČ

NOVÁ BAŇA, SLOVAKIA

‘The biggest reward to me? I like to see the development of people, how they build their careers and lives.’

Read his story here

Daniel Koh Knauf Insulation Malaysia, Johor Bahur
Daniel KOH

JOHOR BAHRU, MALAYSIA

‘During a crisis, act fast. In certain situations, attempting to obtain a collective team decision may be counterproductive.’

Read his story here