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Lessons from Sirva on prioritising employee development and inclusion while delivering high-quality services

Written by
Femme Palette
Published on
November 2, 2023

Prioritising employee development and fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace is something that modern employers of today are striving for. But how can this be achieved in a demanding environment where it’s absolutely essential to deliver the highest quality of services to clients? Sirva is an example of a company which has managed to find a balance between both. We spoke to Daryna Kosse (Global L&D Manager) and Erika Skulavikova (Client Finance Manager) about Sirva’s recipe for excellence both as a business and an employer.

This interview was published as part of a paid partnership with Sirva.

Please begin by telling us a little about yourselves and what you do at Sirva. Erika and Dasha

Dasha: My name is Dasha, and I am the Global Learning and Development Manager for the moving services division at Sirva for EMEA and APAC regions. In my role, I have the honor of leading a dedicated and diverse team of trainers and instructional designers. Our primary focus is on onboarding initiatives, internal training, global updates, customer-facing deliverables, and educational video content. 

My team works diligently to enhance the experience of both our employees and our clients, pursuing the highest standards in every aspect of our work. I believe that investing in our people and empowering them with the right tools and training is one of the foundations of our success, enabling us to deliver high-level moving services while maintaining a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Erika: My name is Erika, and I am the Client Finance Manager at SIRVA, currently leading steam of 4 teams. In my role, I am responsible for managing the daily activities of the Client Finance team members. Our focus is the integrity of the financial transactions and the financial data and reporting for our clients. Another critical aspect of my role is training and people development, which I enjoy as a leader the most.

From your perspective, how can a company find a balance between high expectations in order to deliver quality services, while also fostering employee development, allowing everyone to have input and express their ideas? 

It is a nuanced endeavor. The short answer lies in a dual approach:

Firstly, it starts with investing in comprehensive training and mentoring programs. In this way,  we can ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the expectations for delivering top-tier services. This foundation sets the stage for excellence.

Secondly, a crucial aspect of maintaining this balance involves promoting an open-door policy within the organization. This entails creating an environment where every team member feels comfortable voicing their ideas and concerns. 

Also, proactively considering their input with a sincere desire to comprehend and integrate valuable perspectives not only cultivates an inclusive culture but also frequently paves the way for improved approaches and processes.

Additionally, being present and accessible to team members is vital. Establishing a sense of trust and support enables individuals to approach our leaders whenever needed, ensuring they have the necessary guidance and encouragement for their professional growth. Striking this equilibrium between structured development and an open, collaborative culture ultimately drives both the quality of services and the holistic growth of our employees.

Your own career path within Sirva + tools that brought you there 

Dasha: My journey within Sirva has been a dynamic and rewarding experience, evolving from an International Move Coordinator to my current role as a Global Learning and Development Manager. 

This shift allowed me to combine my passion for training and development with my knowledge of the moving services industry. It was during this time that I honed my skills in creating effective training programs and understanding the unique needs of our employees and clients.

Being a part of Sirva's internal initiatives also played a pivotal role in my career progression. The mentorship program, in particular, was instrumental in broadening my horizons and enhancing my communication and leadership skills. 

Moreover, the guidance and support from my leaders throughout this journey have been invaluable. Their belief in my capabilities empowered me to take on greater responsibilities and challenges.

Furthermore, our internal community which is focused on employee engagement, provided me with a platform to collaborate, network, and contribute to the overall well-being of our workforce. 

Together, these experiences and the tools have been instrumental in shaping my career path and enabling me to thrive in my current role. I am grateful for the opportunities and support that have allowed me to grow both professionally and personally within my organization.

Erika: My career with Sirva started six years ago as a Client Finance Analyst, where I gained knowledge about the company's financial processes, but also an understanding of the operational part of the business and client-facing activities.

After two years, I took on a new challenge as a Client Finance trainer and project coordinator. The promotion allowed me to pass my skills on to our new employees and helped expand my knowledge by leading and participating in different projects. The interaction with our new hires in the role made me realize that I enjoy working with people, and people management and development is something I would like to focus on going forward.

After nearly two years with the support and guidelines from my leader on my professional development plan, I started a new assignment as Client Finance team leader. In this role, I have further developed my leadership skills by leading a team of eight client finance analysts and gained new experience with client relationship activities.

My passion for leadership has grown in the role even more. The fact that Sirva offers a structured mentoring program in which I could take part empowered me to continue improving and exploring different leadership methods and styles.

It has been over a year now since I was promoted to Client Finance Manager, where I am currently leading four teams of thirty-one team members.

I am grateful for being part of a company with career opportunities, supporting leaders, programs, and tools that help our employees reach their career goals.

Why is a personal/professional development plan important?

Erika: In Sirva, we trust the PDP supports the idea that learning is a lifetime activity. The PDP helps to identify the employee goals and then can structurally guide them to gain the hard and soft skills needed to achieve those.

What strategies or tools does Sirva use to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion? 

Dasha: Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at our core. In our Prague office, our 200+ employees represent 50+ nationalities, embodying a vibrant and inclusive workplace.

To strengthen our commitment, we formed the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance (IDEA) committee, leading initiatives for inclusivity.

Aligned with our company values (SMART, HELPFUL, HUMAN, RESPONSIBLE), we prioritize empathy, respect, and active involvement in promoting diversity and inclusion.

Personally, being a member of Sirva's DEIB committee has opened a door to advocate initiatives that foster a more inclusive workplace, aligning with my personal values and commitment to creating a positive organizational culture.

By embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion, we strive to create an environment where everyone feels valued, empowered, and inspired to contribute their best, ultimately enhancing our organizational culture.

What advice would you give to other companies that would like to build a more inclusive workplace culture? 

Our advice revolves around several key principles:

  • Prioritize High-Standard Training and Development: Invest in comprehensive and high-standard training and development programs that equip employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles. It's not a secret that empowered and well-trained employees contribute positively to the workplace and its culture.

  • Embrace an Open-Door Policy: Encourage open communication and accessibility across the organization. An open-door policy fosters trust, ensures that employees feel heard, and provides a platform for voicing concerns and sharing ideas.

  • Foster a Diverse Environment: Actively seek and celebrate diversity in all its forms—whether it's in terms of ethnicity, gender, age, backgrounds, or perspectives. A diverse workforce brings a richness of ideas, experiences, and perspectives that drives success.

  • Exemplify the Leader You Would Want to Have: Be a role model and set an example of the behaviors and values that define a good leader. Encourage empathy, fairness, transparency, and respect. Show genuine care for your team's well-being and growth.

  • Stay Open to New Ideas: Foster a culture that values positive change. Encourage employees to share their ideas and perspectives, and be open to considering new approaches. This creates an environment where everyone feels valued and included.

  • Appreciation and Support: Express gratitude, offer guidance, keep communication open, and provide continuous support to demonstrate dedication to your team's growth and success. Be in the corner of your Team. 

We truly believe that implementing these practices cultivates an inclusive workplace, attracting and retaining diverse talent, as well as fueling organizational success.

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