Wolf Group Leader's Tale

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thank you to all those who participated in the completion of this current work. Anu, Christian, David, Eddi, Eero, Eikki, Helen, Ivo, Jaan, Jaanus, Janari, Jane, Janno, Jano, Jüri, Kadrin, Kaspar, Kazimieras, Kaur, Kuldar, Marit, Meeli, Monika, Peeter, Piret, Stig, Tarmo, Tiit, Toomas, Urmas, Vasja, Viesturs.

Illustrations: Urmas Nemvalts Text: Eero Epner ISBN 978-9949-445-97-4

WHY? This book is intended for the managers of Wolf Group and outlines the management culture of the company. What is our mission? What is our vision? What are our most important values and how are they applied on a daily basis? The work is based on the principles formulated by Wolf Group, but also on several dozen interviews with the group's employees. The aim of the work is to establish a common understanding in the company of the tasks of a manager, the values, and principles of activity.


CONTENTS History. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Wolf pack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Mission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Vision. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 First value – Cooperation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Second value – There is always a solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Third value – Hunting is our DNA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fourth value – The sky is the limit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fifth value – It must be fun. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sixth value – We take good care. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Seventh value –The true wolf leaves a trace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

17 19 21 23 25 27 29

Me – the manager. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 A mirror is the first tool. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cause no intrigue. After the fight, the fists are no longer flying . . . . . I decide, dare to take responsibility and be responsible. . . . . . . . . We value our time and that of others. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . We allow to err and trust the team. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I am not irreplaceable. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Why is balance important?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A manager is not a weather vane. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Listening is a greater art than talking. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Portrait of a manager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


32 34 36 39 42 45 47 49 51 54

Tasks of a manager. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Setting goals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Creating a team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

Daily activities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Include. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inspire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trust. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Evaluate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Allow erring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

66 67 68 69 70

Celebrating and resting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Celebrate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Rest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Wolf Group stories and reminders. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 They know it all – or in the end, answers to all questions. . . 86


HISTORY The story of Wolf Group began a few decades ago when Jaan Puusaag organised the first party at his school. He negotiated with the teachers, arranged security and found a band. During the party he did the rounds, ensuring that everything was going as planned. He also treated the performers – a well-known local punk group – to cutlets at a restaurant. As Puusaag belonged to the Estonian national rowing team, he was able to pay for the food with athletes' coupons! Jaan Puusaag was never the most successful student at school, but he had other strengths. Today he notes, “The strongest of the class will never become entrepreneurs. Those who endeavour to do something will become entrepreneurs.” A newspaper quoted Jaan Puusaag, when he was just 17 years old, under a telling cartoon. In the first frame, a man is standing next to the mythical horse Pegasus, stating: “Today I feed, provide drinks, wash-clean, comb, but tomorrow we will start work.” He says the same thing in the second frame. And exactly the same thing on the third and fourth frame – yet nothing happens. The man standing next to Pegasus just talks and talks. A quote from Jaan is added beneath the caricature: “Well, why are you chewing on his half-empty pen?” In contrast, Jaan Puusaag wanted to take concrete action. When Puusaag started his career with salaried jobs, he failed many times. He was fired repeatedly because Puusaag simply did not fit in. He thought differently. He somehow always wanted to do things his own way. Then came the moment when he met Jaanus Paeväli. Nobody had fired Jaanus Paeväli. He was still working as an employee at that moment, in one of the world's first foam factories, but also wrestled in his spare time. Paeväli had already become the Estonian junior champion in freestyle wrestling – he probed weaknesses, grabbed opportunities, anticipated the moves of others, always sensing the state of mind of his opponent. This is perhaps from where Jaanus inherited his skill to read people. When he left his job in Pärnu, together with Puusaag, they initially sold the construction foams of other men. They gained access to


a container from somewhere in Denmark and mediated it to God knows where. Everything was done so haphazardly at the time. The office was small and perhaps there was just about space for five or six people, but that was Krimelte. Sometimes trips were made to Denmark and there are many who remember the way Paeväli looked at the speakers during negotiations, with one claiming: “He had a special ability to understand who to trust and who not to – regardless of what they were saying.” By the time millions of cans of foreign foam had been sold, the decision was made to start producing their own. A business plan was thus compiled and submitted to the bank. The bank was, however, initially hesitant. The loan committee met five times before saying yes. “It was a confusing time," recalls the bank employee who conducted the negotiations, “business plans could simply be written by anyone.” Decisive became the watchword of Jaanus and Jaan. “One could simply feel it,” the employee believes. “The faith of the entrepreneurs in what they were doing was so great.” This all led to the emergence of the current Wolf Group. Now an international corporation with over 400 employees, Wolf Group produces construction foams and sells them to dozens of countries throughout the world. The diverse company encompasses Estonians and Brazilians, Spaniards and Russians, Danes and English. Working for and managing such a corporation is no easy process. Within the current manual, we outline the most important management principles of Wolf Group along with highlighting what drives our team to its goals on a daily basis.



Wolf Group’s name comes from the understanding that the organisational culture of our company is like that of a wolf pack. But why a wolf pack?

EVERYONE IS VALUABLE There is no particular significance in a wolf pack as to where each member is located. Everyone has their own role and that role is important, regardless of whether the position is at the head of the pack or somewhere at the rear, maintaining watch or raising pups.

INDEPENDENCE Nobody is spoiled in a wolf pack. Everyone must demand a lot and strive toward it, themselves. Nobody tells you each of your steps ahead. Think for yourself. Do it yourself.


ERRORS ARE PART OF THE PROCESS Pups in the wolf pack are not punished for their errors but instead taught how to learn from their mistakes and move on. Punishment of errors would lead to their concealment and nothing new would be learned.

A JOINT GOAL The members of a wolf pack do not act for the sake of their own wellbeing, but rather in the name of the pack’s general goals. The members of a wolf pack know that, on their own, they would not achieve anything.

COOPERATION A wolf pack cooperates in order to achieve its aims. The members of the pack do not need to be alike. They can each have their differences, but they must all be capable of cooperating as a group.

FLEXIBILITY The wolf pack has a strong sense of smell – a readiness to seize opportunities. It must react quickly and dynamically to all changing circumstances; the weather, the changed trajectory of movement of animals. The wolf pack knows that not the biggest, but the most adaptable will survive. The exchange of information within the wolf pack is rapid, from the leader of the wolf pack to the members of the pack and vice versa.

THE NEED FOR ACHIEVEMENT The wolf pack is not together to lounge around in the sun – every pack member wants to achieve something. Cover ground. Feel itself to be important.

FUN Yet it is understood within the wolf pack that playfulness and joy are also desirable, as work is not everything – the pack members themselves must feel good, make the right decisions and be capable of hunting.


MISSION WHAT IS WOLF GROUP´S MISSION? Put briefly: We save energy. Construction foams and silicones are extremely efficient at preventing all kinds of energy loss. Different studies have, for example, demonstrated that 1 kg of properly applied construction foam can save around 1000 kg of CO2 over the lifetime of a building. This emission amount is equivalent to nearly two flights from Tallinn to Barcelona. Every sealant, every silicone, every liquid hybrid membrane or low isocyanate construction foam assists in people wasting less energy. Cold bridges fall apart, warm air no longer flows out of buildings, thus not only are the heating costs reduced, but also the ecological footprint. Wolf Group significantly assists in reducing energy waste throughout the world and its activities have a noticeable impact on the future of the planet.

WHY IS A MISSION NEEDED? “I did not believe for decades that a mission is actually required,” considers Jaanus Paeväli, “for me it was voodoo.” A mission seemed like a leather-bound encyclopaedia in the living room: a sophisticated thing of beauty that everyone has, but nobody ever looks inside it. These days, he no longer thinks so. A mission is required, on the one hand, to value our actions. It is important to understand that our activities have consequences and that we can influence something, both with our products as well as our everyday activities. This motivates and inspires employees, as everyone wants to feel that they are doing something important and to believe in it. A clear mission on the other hand and adherence to it makes decisions more


transparent and easier to understand. Once the principles are in place, it is consequently much easier to make the key decisions. Our mission is to save energy and so, in the development of the vision, consideration should be given to conserving energy, establishing products, as well as in our daily activities.

WHO SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE MISSION? All employees. The mission is not only intended for the management but must reach all Wolf Group personnel. It is also important to remember that describing and fulfilling the mission with inspiring content cannot be limited to some Friday-evening meetings, but must be constantly and consistently kept in mind and recalled. The mission of conserving energy in the world is thus the guiding principle of Wolf Group, as well as a practical daily tool.


VISION WHAT IS THE VISION OF WOLF GROUP? The vision of Wolf Group is threefold. Firstly, we are experts in our field. Secondly, our people must feel good about themselves. Thirdly, we are innovative and flexible.

WHY IS A VISION REQUIRED? A vision is the same for a company as the purchase of gym membership would be to a couch potato: it is intended to change the future for the better. The vision states who we want to be in a few years. How we desire to be talked and thought about. A vision gives a direction, idea and dream for the activities of a company: where, why and when to reach our goals.

WE ARE EXPERTS IN OUR FIELD The market for construction foams and silicones is large and growing, but expertise is still concentrated in the hands of a few. There is a constant need to develop new solutions in connection with environmental requirements becoming stricter, but these are based on previous long-term research. It is for this reason that expertise in the given field is in the hands of a select few. The vision of Wolf Group is to be the primary specialist in our field, but also in the eyes of clients, the public and indeed everyone else. They must know that Wolf Group has the best knowledge available.


OUR PEOPLE FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES We must be good employers so that the people here feel valued and motivated. This extends from working conditions to the feeling of people that they are included, trusted and their accomplishments are important. Let’s be honest, there are many sexier things in the world than the production of construction foam. Working for us means effort, precision, smartness and creativity, yet at the same time the result is merely a world-saving foam, not glamour and the admiration of our friends and relatives. Wolf Group can offer its employees both challenges and possibilities for self-development. We are capable, as good employers with a sound management culture, of attracting the best employees to us, thereby growing the company even further.

WE ARE INNOVATIVE AND FLEXIBLE The world of construction foams is not static but in constant change. The vision of Wolf Group is to grow through flexibility and to gain a competitive advantage thanks to innovation. This means that all processes and lines of command must be dynamic, fast and minimally bureaucratic. We are constantly striving towards new solutions while also growing, preserving the flexibility and capability to quickly react to all changes of circumstance. The products and materials we use are in constant development – they are safe, as well as user- and environment-friendly. We are experts in our field only if we are constantly innovating and our people feel a sense of achievement.


VALUES WHY? A few years ago all departments were requested to select, from the seven values of Wolf Group, the one that best characterises them. On the wall of one department, for example, there is a picture where three wolves have climbed upon each other's backs to reach an apple hanging from a branch – this symbolises cooperation. The wall of another department has a picture of a wolf attempting to cross an abyss, relying merely on a skimpy branch. The text accompanying it states ‘There is always a solution’. An employee from the department believes, “This has indeed guided our daily work. We are always trying to find solutions.” Why are values needed? Values for us are unlike election promises for politicians: simply fillers of space in a summer house and good for showing to a friend, before using it to light a fire in the fireplace. Values in Wolf Group have a daily and meaningful place. Stated more simply, values are the veins that transport oxygen in our company and make our heart beat.

SEVEN VALUES Wolf Group has selected seven values. These summarise what communication must be like between employees and what type of management culture is required.



WHAT? Wolves are predators. They have a great need for achievement, and their egos are larger than Elton John’s (almost). Still, they act in a pack. They have allocated roles among themselves and understand that, while everyone is different, they are still equal members of a single pack that must cooperate in order to move towards the common goal.

HOW? Cooperation in Wolf Group is not like military service, where everyone must be the same within their defined place in the order of things. Cooperation in Wolf Group means that the differences of all people and departments are maintained, yet they must nonetheless cooperate in the name of a


joint goal. We are talking about inclusion, informing others of any concerns, and accepting differences, first and foremost in the understanding that we are all acting for the sake of a joint goal.

WHY? An employee of Wolf Group observes, “If there is no longer joint activity in the interest of the entire company, then actually oneself is also being dismantled.” If we do not cooperate, as well as merely taking care of our narrow section and defending our small territory, then our results, as well as those of the entire company, will suffer. Through egoistical and selfish thinking we will end up like a popstar making their sixth attempted comeback: we only sing the old hits, and our career development has come to a standstill. It must also be understood that our differences are not an obstacle to cooperation, but rather the basis for it. A long-term employee of Wolf Group, for example, states that, “In every company like ours, there is always a conflict between sales and production.” Production wants to produce more products of the same type. Yet Sales considers that we should be more flexible for the clients and produce more custom solutions. The Financial Department enters the room when the production of any solution is introduced to ask why the margin is so small. Production says that of course the margin is small, as we are too flexible. A member of the management board of Wolf Group considers that “precisely this is the engine of development.” A discussion between different parties. Debate over different understandings. The need to make or find compromises between them. All this is dialogue or cooperation. And only cooperation carries the company and, through that, all of us forward.



WHAT? There emerge in every company difficulties and unexpected situations. Problems compound each other like holes in the socks of children. It is never in your power to fully avoid crises or problems. Do not set the impossible as your goal – meteorites fall, independently of you. It is however possible to control how problems are reacted to. A core value of Wolf Group is to always find a solution for problems or new challenges.


HOW? A manager of Wolf Group has established a rule for his department meetings, where initially it is not permitted to criticise a single new thought. “There are often situations in which an idea is proposed that immediately seems very bad,” the manager says, “but as we take the time to discuss it, then very often, in the end, something very good is born.” A simple but ingenious take is to direct your thoughts toward affirming, searching, digging for gold. The finding of solutions thus starts by thinking differently. Reprogram yourself, direct your entire focus to finding solutions – and the actions will follow.

WHY? The above value is the most commonly mentioned one by the employees of Wolf Group. This means that the finding of solutions defines Wolf Group to many people. Here, in the case of problems, those at fault are not searched for and condemned, instead solutions are sought. The finding of solutions, however always brings with it the seeing of new possibilities, creativity and flexibility. Wolf Group is not like a hunched, broken old man, who sighs heavily that, even when the apple trees bloom, there will anyway be frost that destroys everything. Rather, Wolf Group is like a young father with shining eyes, who sees in even the dirtiest of nappies the fertiliser of the future. There are always solutions for everything. Solutions moreover give rise to new opportunities and opportunities drive the development of the company.



WHAT? As an employee of Wolf Group notes: “He who does not hunt, does not catch an animal.” The given value in their department is even attached to the office door. People are not only focused narrowly on their daily job but on achieving something wider. How can we do something that has not yet previously been done? How to move on, achieve the new, do the impossible? How not only to obtain a monthly salary, but also the bluebird (or new market, new product, new solution…)?


HOW? Often such people become managers, who like to take risks and constantly search for new hunting grounds. This might not however be suitable for everyone in your collective. Many people like to live their lives like the members of a knitting circle: clicking away calmly while knitting similar woollen socks. To produce true hunters you need to create a feeling of confidence among people, so that they will dare to step out of their comfort zone, but even more important is to encourage and inspire them, show them greater goals, so that they themselves would also like to think outside of the existing frameworks. For instance, an accountant once wanted to come to work for Wolf Group in order to quietly record invoices for the rest of her life. During the job interview an owner suddenly asked, how would she react if the company asked her to do something illegal? That means testing the person with unexpectedness, throwing them out of a secure environment. That accountant now says, “I like the changes within Wolf Group. It is always exciting and varied.”

WHY? Hunting means that it is continually required to think and act outside of the everyday routine. The wolf pack does not only take reassurance in familiar territory when on a hunt, but goes on to find new hunting grounds. Somewhere that they have never been before. Why should a company not do the same? The ancient Chinese military theorist Sun Tzu stated: “If an expedition is made abroad, then, delving deep, banding together occurs, dispersion is caused by remaining on the surface.” This means that if the wolf pack were only to be found lazing in their local glade, every member would soon lose interest, start looking elsewhere, and the pack would break up. But if the hunt is taken to somewhere unknown and unexplored it unites the collective, forges them into one cohesive unit, and morale and appetite are increased. Hunting is thus inescapable for the development of the company.



WHAT? When in 2008 the Penosil trademark was brought to the Lithuanian market, it found as much of a market as there are men in Estonia who are willing to talk openly about their feelings – precisely zero. Nobody knew Penosil and the market was considered saturated. Just 13 years later the market share of Penosil in Lithuania is around 45%. Almost every other construction foam sold in Kaunas or Panevezys is Penosil. “We have really asked ourselves where is our sky,” believes an employee of Wolf Group Lithuania. “Only the sky is the limit"; this means thinking big, dreaming, but of course also – and foremost – acting.


HOW? One is surprisingly often caught in the daily grind, resting on the dreams of the previous quarter. One is then like that ship in the Suez Canal, hopelessly mired in one place. Yet it is the manager who must constantly keep in mind the size of the dreams. “It is not the business of the manager to stick his nose into the details,” notes one of the managers of Wolf Group,” but rather to envisage the broader picture.“ You can of course narrowly contemplate whether the washer goes onto the bolt before or after the nut, but why bother? Wolf Group has always encouraged everyone to think bigger than where one finds oneself at that moment. The aim has never been to continue and maintain, but to develop and dream.

WHY? Thinking big motivates the workforce, generates positive energy and assists in achieving better results. It also creates pride in one’s company and the feeling that you are an important part of something greater than yourself. In the words of a large number of Wolf Group employees, they do not simply want to work every day, but rather feel that their activities have some wider purpose. A broader dimension is, however, only given to a company when no boundaries are set for oneself.



WHAT? A few years ago when one of the managers of Wolf Group was standing behind the door preparing for his health check-up, a man exited with a sullen expression. He shut the door and shuffled off miserably. Our man then stepped into the office, greeted the doctor, and sat down. The doctor then told him that, “You know, the person that just left from here said that he has been working for 20 years without joy.” The manager cannot imagine how it is possible to go to work in such a way that there is no feeling of joy engendered. It would almost be the same as drinking warm beer: it can certainly be done, but why should you do it? Joy is created, for example, when an employee sees some goal and there is movement toward it, but once it is reached, they see a new one and move


purposefully forward again. This is somewhat akin to a mountain climber: conquering a new summit is difficult, but still, the joy that flows into you when you finally reach the top is what gives you the strength and power to head toward the next peak.

HOW? “There is fun with us all the time,” many managers expressed during the interviews. Fun means joy about your work and a stress-free work environment. “Joint events are and must even be totally cool,” one employee notes. Another employee, however, thinks that the fun is found when he talks to his clients about more than just work. Fun means a good sense of humour, as well as relaxed communication, powerful energy, along with the skill to enjoy the accomplishments. It does not make much of a difference overall where the happiness of someone comes from. Some might simply laugh when they see someone walking backwards in the parking lot. You must and can, as a manager, take care that the happiness of people does not evaporate – that they feel themselves to be free, well and safe, bearing in mind not only the aims but also the work environment and relationships with colleagues.

WHY? “Do you come to work in a good mood?” If you as a manager obtain answers to this question do not consider them unimportant. “Through playfulness, it is possible to maintain the backbone of the company," believes Jaanus. Work, in sum, is work everywhere, but you must also know how to enjoy it. When the fun disappears, the results may still be okay for a while, but gradually what will happen is like the clown elected to Parliament – positivity will gradually disappear. Then creativity disappears, then flexibility, then the desire to do anything at all. Fun is not a pleasant pastime, but an obligatory condition for successful work.



WHAT? The mission of Wolf Group is worldwide energy saving and a reduction of the ecological footprint. This obviously brings with it the corresponding value to preserve nature. “Rapid growth is not the most important aspect to me,” claims one of our managers, “it must also be possible to live on the planet 30 years later.”


HOW? Caring about nature – like all other values – must be reflected in our daily work. At Wolf Group, it is not sufficient to dress ourselves up in a cloak of green; instead, all activities need to be continually reviewed with the aim of better preserving the natural world. Sorting packaging. Placing a battery collection box next to the door. An environmentally aware driving style when visiting a client. And, of course, the conservation of nature across all products and production processes. It must not be forgotten that we care about nature – since the day Wolf Group was founded, all of our products have assisted in conserving energy!

WHY? Caring about nature is not merely a nice thought, to be boasted about to acquaintances at some summer evening cocktail party while rampantly wasting energy through outdoor heaters – it is directly related to the core activities of Wolf Group. Our chemists, for example, must develop and invent increasingly more environmentally conserving foams, as requirements and restrictions on chemicals have become progressively more stringent. It means that new ways of working must constantly be found, not only with our own products but also with the raw materials of production, as well as with production processes, people's awareness, efficiency and selection of techniques, all to preserve nature as much as possible. This is not only an internal value of Wolf Group but also a growing expectation of clients and markets. The more thoroughly we can make conservation a key part of our work, the more will remain competitive.



WHAT? Marks of all kinds may be left. Muddy tracks on the linoleum. Ketchup stains on the dining room table. A handprint on the sand of a beach or your name in cement on a boulevard in Hollywood (if you happen to be famous). In Wolf Group leaving your mark means that your activity has an impact on two levels. Firstly, all employees want to feel that their contribution is important and that their thoughts, choices, decisions and actions have consequences. Secondly, Wolf Group must constantly think


that its products do not just go somewhere, into a black hole or, even if they do, then there in that black hole, they change something important. They for, example, fill some joints and thus prevent a Star Wars.

HOW? Wolf Group’s results cannot only be measured in money or other easily quantifiable figures. The production worker also wants to feel at the end of the day that he or she did not stand on the line just for the pay, but that there was something more to it. People want to know that what they do is important – it affects something, leaves its mark. It must also be understood – bearing in mind more broadly that it is goal of the company that our activities are not only limited to products – everything we do and how we do it leaves a wider mark upon the world. If, for example, you are the market leader, then the competitors thoroughly observe what you are doing and will start to copy you. That means that your vision and values will not only reach your clients, but also the clients of competitors. And thus, in principle, everyone.

WHY? It has been clearly visible in recent years that, with a stable salary, good working environment and other such benefits ensured, people are increasingly motivated by the knowledge and understanding that their activities have a wider social impact. This concerns their personal contribution, as well as the knowledge that Wolf Group has a broader societal footprint than just doing business. Working without leaving your mark is like surfing Facebook: days can pass by, but why? For whom? For the sake of what? Sensing the impact of oneself and the company provides greater motivation than anything else: an individual is proud that something depends on him or her.


ME – THE MANAGER So far, we have talked about the mission, vision and values of Wolf Group that must be carried out by the company as a whole, its managers as well as sub-managers and the entire team, on a daily basis. Now we shall focus on you. We will now consider what a member of Wolf Group must be like.



WHAT? “We do not have a lot of blabbering people.” Wolf Group is not like the Parliament: you are not paid a salary here for circulating hot air. Classic motivational speeches are not given by us. People are not distracted by posters, kisses, and personal parking spaces. One of our people notes that, “In this company, there is no theoretical management. Here as a manager, you must be very much involved in the process.” This means that, in Wolf Group, a good manager is one whose teammates align according to his or her actions. This is also aptly summed up by a Spanish proverb: It is one thing to talk about bulls, yet another to be in the bullfighting ring.


HOW? Leading by example is imperative in the daily work routine, as well as more broadly. For example, if the client has a problem with a product and the team members do not have time to deal with it due to the high pace of work, then you go and solve that problem yourself. This also applies more broadly. One of the managers of the company notes, “Missions, visions and values reach people not through talking, but through the actions of the manager.” Anything can be talked about in the end, but a person only makes decisions according to what they see from their managers. If you are gloomy, like a squirrel who no longer remembers where its pine cones are hidden, consider that your aim for the year is to renew the white lines around your car in the parking lot or think that solutions need not be sought, as we all will at some point die anyway, then there is no reason to think that your colleagues are happy campers who dream big. Talk less, do more.

WHO IS A LEADER? One of the department managers says, “A leader is someone who is selected thanks to his or her actions. Their title may be whatever, but the team senses that person is, thanks to his or her actions, a truly factual and not just a formal leader.” Very little value is given in Wolf Group to external indicators: job titles, favours from long ago, the mention of someone's name in the skiing marathon’s final results or that someone's uncle works in the Ministry – such things have absolutely no importance whatsoever here. The exterior turns no one into a leader. A true leader is only shaped by his or her internal actions.

WHY? “It is expected in Wolf Group from a manager that they have faith, otherwise they are not easy to trust,” claims one of the sales managers, “but faith is not pragmatic.” I must see that in all those who encourage others to have faith, that they themselves too have enthusiasm and spark.” If a manager is not through their actions (rather than words!), a great example to others, then there will not only be doubts about the manager but also the aims and duties proposed by them, and consequently in the entire company. If a manager does not lead by example, then they will not be trusted, and, if the manager is not trusted, then it’s better to put this manual down immediately and go and paint white lines around your parking space.



WHAT? A few years ago, something went wrong on the line. All right, it happens. Everything always goes a little bit wrong, except perhaps the forehand swing of Rafael Nadal. But an unbelievable tale was told: the manager said that he did not know anything, a team member did it, the old fool…


This is intrigue, blame, talking behind someone’s back – in a boyband that may be an everyday reality, but there can be no such thing in Wolf Group.

HOW? Simply do not do it.

A QUESTION OF HONESTY “We expect from our team members that we are completely honest with each other,” expressed many during the course of the interviews. A Lithuanian proverb that roughly approximates as ‘Do not keep a stone under the pillow’ was mentioned. It presumably means something along the lines of, if, despite honesty, a conflict has occurred, then that conflict must be resolved and left there. There is no sense in holding a grudge or, after the conflict has been resolved, in walking around the building gloomily and shaking your fists. As managers often have big egos this can happen. Someone said something bad. Your ego was wounded and now you continue to walk around for years, showing your wound to everyone, like an elk with a bullet hole in the butt. Do not go. Do not show.

WHY? The given principle may seem very simple and perhaps you do not understand why it should even be highlighted. You are a good person and the last time you spoke badly to someone was when your toy car was taken from you. In companies, however, crises often emerge and, in times of crisis, even the Samaritans can abandon their existing principles and behave differently to what would be expected. Blaming someone, plotting intrigue and even passing responsibility onto someone else occur surprisingly easily. This not only hinders the solution of a crisis but also creates irreparable wounds in the future. Therefore, prepare yourself for the negative times even when things are going smoothly, in order to be constructive in a crisis.



WHAT? “A manager is characterised by having to make decisions by oneself,” says Jaan, “and then they also cannot blame anyone else if something fails.” A core characteristic of a manager must be the courage to decide matters and take responsibility. “People must be allowed to do, discuss, debate, and offer


ideas,” Jaan adds, “but in the end, a decision still has to be made.”

HOW? The managers of Wolf Group are very independent. “I do not wait for the next task,” notes one manager, “but I think ahead and set myself tasks.” This means that managers here value the freedom to think for themselves, decide for themselves, act for themselves. However, “freedom comes together with responsibility,” as says one of the sales managers with lengthy experience. “If as a manager you want to be free, then you must also take responsibility.” “The previous team leader held a lot of brainstorming sessions, was truly creative,” a manager that has moved on is remembered by others, “but, in the end, it was decided that he selected the right idea.” Others also find that the culture of open discussion of Wolf Group is extremely important, but that does not mean that the manager must seek consensus. Yes, listen, consider everything, gather ideas, but in the end, a decision still has to be made and moved upon.

SAMPLE CASE “I was already a little tired of my work, to be honest,” expresses a manager who has been with the company for a long time. “I was then however given greater freedom and, with the freedom, also more responsibility. That got me going again.” This means that the given manager was not motivated by a Free Tuesday and a ticket to the local flute concert, but instead through the possibility to take responsibility. It is vital to know how to take responsibility oneself – and it must also be known how to give others the possibility of taking responsibility.

WHAT IS COURAGE? It is often the case with managers that responsibility is abandoned, because of fatigue, fear or some other reason. All kinds of tricks are found for concealing this. For example, minute details are dealt with


exhaustively and one feels secure about oneself when, after two weeks of discussion, there is success in solving the burning question of whether a drip or filter coffee maker should be bought. “They do not do the most important things,” says Jaan, “when deciding upon a big thing would release much more energy and resources.” They have fear – of failure. This however means that taking responsibility is postponed, decisions are not made and everything collapses, although the facade is nice, just like Justin Bieber's smile.

WHY? As the managers of Wolf Group have been given a lot of rights and responsibilities, this brings with it the greatest advantage over our competitors: to be both fast and flexible. “It is not the big ones that eat the small, but the fast ones that eat the slow,” claims Jaanus. It has happened dozens of times, according to many managers, that an idea crosses someone’s mind – and, by the next week, the new market has already been jumped into to introduce our products. A calculated risk is taken and there is the courage to take responsibility for it. It is impossible if, before making each decision, managers call the owners, call home for permission from their mother-in-law and, in the end, look what their horoscope promises. A Wolf Group manager makes the decision alone, as he or she is ultimately responsible.



WHAT? Work is done quickly in Wolf Group, as time is not wasted on fripperies. Goals and results are kept in mind, not superficial courtesies or strict chains of command. Yet at the same time the manager must always find time for their teammates – here, he or she must not be rushed. It is important to value everyone's time, and effort must be exerted towards the given end!


HOW? The clarity and transparency of functions, roles and processes are important, as this accelerates everything. It is also important to remember the vision, mission and values of the company – if the principles are fixed in place, it is much easier and faster to make every small but necessary decision.

SAMPLE CASE Nearly 30 interviews were conducted for this manual and they all started punctually. Although the meetings had been agreed upon weeks in advance and no one’s life had come to a stop in the meantime – new tasks and activities constantly piled up – no one was late at all. Value your time and that of others, as well as, through doing so, maintain focus. Do not scrabble in all directions like a moth to a lantern.

HOW CAN WE MAKE QUICK DECISIONS? One of the owners once called a manager and said that in ten days he needed to visit the USA to investigate the retail market there. A slower person might only have got as far as checking flight schedules in just a week and a half, but the manager flew to the USA and, as a result, the retail concept of Penosil packaging was completed. A few years later, the same manager got a call again and the CEO said that he must start next week to provide support to the management of a subsidiary. The manager went – and currently this subsidiary is driver of sales for the group. These decisions were made quickly, but not hastily. How is it possible at the same time to act, having sufficiently thought things through, while also achieving tight deadlines? For this, trust in the people around you is required – trust in their experience and instinct. It is not possible to achieve speed and flexibility if even the smallest nuance is discussed ten times over, permission is requested for signatures, and wax seals and three drops of blood from the owners are waited upon. People must be


trusted and one needs to be prepared for a small risk, otherwise, speed is not possible. Rally driver Ott Tänak also does not consider before turning into a blind curve whether it is worth it. He already knows, thanks to experience and instinct – yes, it is worth it. Tänak thus became the world champion. Those others became... those others.

WHY? As mentioned, the market advantage of Wolf Group is not size and scale, but speed and flexibility. This has always been so and will continue to be. It is therefore required to keep all processes as fast and reaction times as short as possible, which, in turn, means giving greater responsibility to employees. As a result of this, the motivation of the employees grows, as does the competitiveness of the company. Valuing speed also means innovation. “We need to update. If we desire to be experts known throughout the world in the field of foams and sealants, then we also need to be innovators," believes our CEO. Innovation, however, always also means saving power, resources, and energy, as well as time.



WHAT? “If you are someone that awaits orders, then you do not fit into Wolf Group,” states one of the managers. “The managers here give you a lot of freedoms and opportunities.” This principle has been valid since the beginning and is part of our DNA. There are no hierarchies. Everyone is equal. The team is trusted and not only are its members allowed to work, but also to initiate, propose, act and as sometimes happens, also to err.


HOW? Trust your team and remember that trust is only genuine if mistakes are also allowed. Mistakes are inevitable and often omnipresent. Wolf Group is, however, different from others, as here mistakes are not punished, but through them the potential to do better in the future can be found.

SAMPLE CASE When Wolf Group purchased the majority holding in the Spanish company Olivé in 2014, a strict hierarchical order ruled. People merely did only what the managers said to do. The information did not circulate freely. Nobody was trusted. Even the sun was afraid to shine into the office prior to the bosses giving consent. “Creativity” in the opinion of the managers was a poison chalice and workers were not a united team, but “subordinates.” That toxic culture changed with the appearance of Wolf Group. “Now everything is horizontal,” notes one of the Spanish managers approvingly. “Information moves faster and I do not feel that I am being monitored all the time. I set my targets myself. I am trusted. Everything is so much better.”

WHAT IS A CONFIDENT MANAGER LIKE? Insecure managers usually do not trust their own team. Overall, there are two types of insecure manager. One type is overly fond of their job title. They go crazy if a pen with someone’s name on it is found in the wrong drawer and at family reunions they talk loudly about how their parking space is already the sixteenth from the entrance. The other type of insecure manager worries from morning to evening. They draw thick brown curtains in front of the windows and are morbidly afraid of the owners, the media and the quarterly economic results. Their stress levels are high and their digestion is out of sync. They do not trust anyone, especially their own team members. Both types of manager are characterised being obsessively detail-oriented, managing on a micro-level. They enjoy dealing with small things, as this gives them a feeling of security and importance.


“Trusting the team as a manager means that to a certain extent you work hands-off!,” says one of the managers, “you do not go to poke around the minute details.” Your task as a manager is to point to the general direction, but not to dictate on an individual level. Look at the big picture, not the small one. Set the staff free to do what they’re good at, don’t tie them down. Break hierarchies, do not build them. You must, however, feel yourself to be sufficiently confident to share responsibility, trust others and move towards the aims of the company, not towards saving your skin.

WHY? “People burn out when they have obligations, but not rights.” This means that if you trust the team and give them rights, people are much more motivated. They work harder, they form better ideas, they take more responsibility, they are generally happier. If it happens that they blunder, they do not feel fear, nor hide their mistakes (which would mean that the errors will become cumulative). They are instead ready to find solutions so that mistakes will not happen again. They, as managers, will understand that, precisely from these mistakes, an innovative solution may be born. Trusting one’s team is one of the clearly differentiating characteristics of Wolf Group that ensures speed, flexibility, motivation, innovation, yet also fun.



WHAT? “We believed from the beginning that the team members must be able to cope on their own,” says Jaanus. “There is no reason to hire someone who does not think for themselves, but simply awaits the manager’s orders for everything.” Managers in Wolf Group are not managers purely because without them the team would fall apart. A team in Wolf Group is a symbiotic organism, not a panicked crowd blindly running after the manager which, without instruction, switches over to eating crisps and surfing the net. Every member understands that he or she is not irreplaceable, as the question is about unity, not being out for oneself. A true manager understands that.


HOW? “I have leaders within the team in addition to myself,” says the manager of one department. He is thus not irreplaceable. If he was not present for some reason, then the manager would be someone else. “If a team is formed for solving a concrete task,” another manager adds, “then someone else might be the leader there, it does not necessarily have to be me.”

SAMPLE CASE When in the spring of 2020 the coronavirus reached Estonia, disinfectants were nowhere to be found. One day some of the employees went to the CEO and said to him that Wolf Group should produce disinfectants. It was their idea and they had already decided to do it. The ball had already started rolling, licenses were already obtained, someone was already designing labels and someone else was setting up the production lines. It was barely a few weeks later when the first batch of disinfectants in the history of Wolf Group was released. The managers stood at the warehouse door and watched the backlights of the departing truck. They had had no real role in the process, but supported it nonetheless. (This case by the way also highlights the value rooted in our company: we want to leave our mark, influence the world in a better direction.)

HOW TO OVERCOME OUR FEARS? People with a large ego and a high need for achievement often become managers and, for such individuals, humility is not natural. A smart manager must understand that a good leader is one who can fully ensure that the team functions effectively. However, a team works well only if the manager understands that they are at the service of the team, not the other way round. It is like in football: the team always wins, but the coach loses (unless it is Italian national team, as there everybody always wins). Ask yourself a simple question: “Imagine you are with your team on a desert island. You do not have any credentials, an official car, a big office or a large oak desk. Would you still then be a leader?”



WHAT? “People are not your slaves and can leave at any moment,” states one of the managers, adding thoughtfully: “But you cannot raise their salary either every day.” Another manager considers that “the intensity of work was important,” but simultaneously “one needs to defend one’s employees.” Meaning that it is also required to find a balance, one between different opinions, wishes and wills. A more important balance even than the balance sheet itself.

HOW? It is important to understand that you, as a manager, must listen to the most different opinions. If you trust your team, then everyone has some-


thing significant to say. It is at the same time important to bear in mind that this does not mean that the will of everyone is realised. Your duty as a manager is to make choices. Do not try to promise everyone everything, but find a common ground, where everyone forgoes something, but also gains something.

SAMPLE CASE We have repeatedly stressed the need to think and dream big; be fast and flexible, to achieve aims that in the first instance seem unthinkable. At the same time, it is frequently the case that the brainstorming at the meeting which impressed everyone is not realised. The leader has understood that the application of the idea would mean placing too large a burden on some employees and that could bring with it the failure of the entire process. Balance means that one aim or means cannot be placed on a pedestal, standing above all others.

HOW DID CHARLES BLONDIN MAINTAIN BALANCE? Charles Blondin was a world-famous tightrope walker, whose biggest stunt is considered to have been crossing the Niagara Gorge. The secret to his success was not physical prowess or foolhardiness, but his extreme focus on the result. If you look at the pictures from this daring endeavour, then it can be seen that in order to achieve and maintain balance, he never looked down or to one side, but only straight ahead, right to the end of the rope. In knowing the aim and keeping his eyes on it, he was able to move unshakably, without ever losing balance.

WHY? Finding a balance entails taking into consideration differences of opinion and, in so doing, offers possibilities for innovation and renewal. The forcing through of only certain standpoints or ‘single-sided’ solutions might indeed be quicker but does not take into account the longer-term perspective, where it is required to consider a large number of points of view.



WHAT? “Wolf Group stands out for remaining steadfast in its decisions. Shortterm market impacts do not make us insecure.” Although a manager in Wolf Group must respect others, treat everyone equally, seek balance and offer through their actions a sterling example, at the same time this does not mean uncertainty. Ultimately, a manager must be certain of a decision and remain true to it.


HOW? Collect as much information as possible before making decisions and take into consideration different variables. Your decision is thus not only supported by a gut feeling or a single pillar but a strong and broad foundation. This also makes the decision more firm and there is no need to change it once certainty is achieved. The collection of information and consideration of variables must at the same time take place relatively quickly and you must often decide that it is simply not possible to take into consideration all variables. In such a case, consider those that have a long-term impact.

WHY IS DOUBT USEFUL? “I doubt everything,” says Jaan. “Everything must seem logical, only then I will make a decision.” This means that you can and must make decisions quickly, but not in haste. Take some additional time for yourself if necessary, go through all the points again and have doubts about your first choice. Doubt assists you in better finding the weak spots of every decision. You cannot rely on your team here: it is very difficult for them to express their misgivings about the decisions of the manager. If needed, you must doubt yourself, as then you analyse everything once more. Remember though that doubt is simply a tool, not a condition. Doubting is only then good if, as a result of it, a clear and determined decision is still ultimately made.

WHY? One of the managers interviewed is convinced that, “If there are agreements and decisions on how something is done, then you can move forward with fewer emotions.” “The time for discussions is reduced, while satisfaction and cooperation increase.” This means that you should listen to opinions, seek and find a balance, taking into consideration the thousands of nuances of life, but do not become mired in them. Decide once you think all the information is available and remain true to it.



WHAT? “People are not simply motivated by money but also if they are listened to,” says Jaan. “It creates in them the feeling that they are respected and their thoughts are important.” A manager has the choice: to be like a radio DJ or like a priest. Either fill the broadcast with their own voice and play, between the patter, the old hits that everyone remembers, or listen to what others have on their minds. Select when you need to be the radio DJ and when a priest is required.


HOW? Consider at what moment do you only give feedback yourself and when you need to accept it. Think things through: at what points do you present only your own thoughts and when should you first listen to those of others. This feeling often emerges in the manager, as it is his or her task to decide, lead, hold the steering wheel, that he or she must continually talk with the collective, lead its members with words, constantly express oneself. Hold yourself back. Talk less and listen more. It is thereby important to listen truly carefully, as things are generally immediately understandable when listening instead of thinking up your own quotes when someone else is talking.

SAMPLE CASE One of the managers has introduced three rules for meetings. Firstly: everyone must be able to speak. In such a fashion, the predictable dynamics are avoided, where at meetings there are the eternal speakers and the forever silent. Secondly: you have to come to a meeting prepared – then everyone also actually has a reason to speak. And thirdly: the manager him- or herself is the last to speak at the meeting. That makes the team speak more and more freely, as nobody aligns themselves according to the thoughts of the manager. The manager there also receives better and more diverse ideas, from which he or she can make a stronger selection.

HOW IS MANAGING LIKE MARRIAGE GUIDANCE? Management can be compared to marriage guidance: the manager is the opener and listener. “You do not necessarily have to solve everything that your colleague tells you,” believes one of the managers, “you do not have to go to the person's home and make pasta for him or her for comfort food. Simply be completely present and listen.” This is not always easy to do as a manager. In addition to the habit of a manager to always open


their mouth first, it is also characteristic of managers to find a solution. Although one of the core values of Wolf Group is of course believing in solutions, sometimes listening is itself the solution.

WHY? “I give my manager feedback myself,” says a long-term employee. “I have the right and courage to speak, as I know that I am listened to.” If as a manager you listen, it creates trust, a flow of ideas and energy, greater equality and faster dynamics. There is the courage to be critical, through which it is possible to realise changes and improve the company.




TASKS OF A MANAGER So far, we have talked about the mission, vision and values of Wolf Group, as well the principles to which a manager must correspond and clarified the management principles that a manager must follow. We now however turn to the tasks of a manager. What must a manager in Wolf Group do?



“I have only made one business plan in my life,” recalls Jaan. “There was no requirement for management for the first ten years,” added one of the longer-term employees of the company, “only to find time for production and sell.” It is therefore that, historically, in the DNA of the management of Wolf Group, there has been a very important place for instinct. It is even possible that you too sense it. Yet today and even more so in the future, much clearer goals must be set that should be based on pragmatic arguments. “There was previously so much praise that we rushed to wherever,” says one sales manager, “but now we need air traffic control and knowledge of where the route is going.”

CREATE SIMPLICITY AND CLARITY If the goals have been set, everyone must understand them in the same way too. Clear areas of responsibility must be allocated. Be concrete and do not become mired in unimportant details, but maintain clear and


transparent goals. Clarity and simplicity are created if goals are pragmatic and thereby unambiguously understood by all. There are several colleagues for example who have worked in big global companies, where the targets were often political: fixed numbers were chased after. That however means that the wording of goals was no longer transparent. First and foremost always remain pragmatic when setting goals.

FOCUS ON THE RESULT Your goal must not be orientated to personal gain or apparent performance, like a child sitting on Santa’s knee, but the overall results of the company. This does not only have to mean economic results but, for instance, fostering and nurturing a productive work climate. It is important that the set goals are not a placeholder or processes for the sake of the process itself, but, in setting them, there is a desire to achieve specific results.

BE AMBITIOUS Many people say that what keeps them in Wolf Group are the big dreams. As the company started small and modest, our principal desire so far has been to grow bigger. Currently, the ambition of the company is to reduce the ecological footprint in the world, be the go-to specialist in its field and a valued employer. All managers additionally have their own work-related ambitions – introduce a new product, find a new market, get the lines to work faster. It is important to distinguish between a “task” and an “ambition”: a task is like an anchor that holds a vessel neatly in place, but ambition is like the wind in the sails that propels us forward. Those who can act as the dynamo driving the engine of progress are highly regarded at Wolf Group.

VALUE CREATIVITY In the contemporary world, increasingly greater creativity is required to achieve ambitions – unexpected solutions and clever hacks. This however means that a manager must take, as well as give, greater freedom than


usual. “If you want to conduct some project, then you have a free hand here,” says one of the managers. “There is no bureaucratic chain that would kill creativity.” “If you move towards an aim,” adds another manager, “then do not demolish and criticise, but be creative, build.” Execute brainstorming sessions. Encourage the finding of creative solutions. Listen. Analyse. Be flexible. Value the process on the way towards the ambition, as, in addition to the initial goal, you may get ideas for others – or find a completely new challenge.

ALWAYS SEE THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE NUMBERS Perhaps you have noticed that, here in this manual, the word “subordinate” has only been used once. This word is not in the vernacular of Wolf Group. Here, we think in terms of the collective, the team, our colleagues. Or, as one manager says, “my gang.” No one is addressed formally – not even the managers and owners. “I am not an employee,” says one team member, “but a companion.” Although many of the targets of the company are indeed numerical, it is only possible to reach them thanks to our people. Value your colleagues. Respect them. Listen. Speak. Sense. If you have hundreds of emails to answer, but a member of your team calls, forget the emails and pick up the phone. Your colleague is more important than your emails. There are managers who value their team as a family, and know everything about them. They know the names of the children of their colleagues, their birthdays and their educational progress. “This is natural, as we assist each other to grow, including as people,” notes one manager. Other managers in contrast keep a respectable distance. “It is not my aim to be friends with colleagues,” says another. “I do not avoid it, but it is not a distinct desire.” It is simply a question of style: both approaches keep the team members’ worries, interests and ambitions in focus.


FOCUS ON THE GOALS, DO NOT GET STUCK ON THE MEANS “The achievement of a result, for a large company, is like a football match – during a limited period of time, the maximum must be achieved, at whatever cost,” explains a football-crazy employee. “But for Wolf Group, a single match is only a part of a longer plan.” The target is important but equally important is the path to the goal. As the organisation is very broad, then on the way to achieve the aims intermediate posts must be set. “And it is okay if the intermediate posts are not always achieved.” The development of the company is a journey and you travel it together with your colleagues, as well as realising your dream. It is important that we do not get bogged down on this path. We see no sense in starting to consider the target as a thing in itself, nor should we fall in love too much with the process itself. In the end, only the result counts. Let us focus on achieving it.

BE DEMANDING “We do not have to hold someone’s hand every day,” says a manager. “Coping with stress is the personal matter of each person.” If the working environment is tense, the solution is not to shorten the workday and reduce the goals, but rather to cope with the tension. “We do not deal with appearance and there is no need to chase some apparent results,” states Jaan. “Only the content counts.” If I ask the foreign representatives of the company what is the principal selling point of the products of Wolf Group – price, appearance, location in the building stores – then everyone says quality. “I also want myself to work with a product that I truly believe in,” believes one employee. Product quality, sales results, innovation and everything else is only born in a demanding atmosphere. Do not let yourself be misled by contemporary personnel policies that state that a swing should be brought into the office, and every Tuesday there should be a nice sushi night for employees. A swing and sushi are fine, but in Wolf Group, work and the results come first.



As a manager, you know very well that you are only as good as the team around you. When you are creating your team, then consider all possibilities. Good people have not only been found through Wolf Group itself; new colleagues have been recruited from parties and through acquaintances, calls have been made and contacts taken. Do not go overboard with the list of desirable characteristics when creating a team – your team members do not all have to be the same, but they must work well together.

FIND SIMILAR VALUES “I have argued with those managers who say that employees should be very similar and fit together like a button in a buttonhole,” says Jaan. “This is not needed. You are not selecting a person for yourself with whom to go on a voyage around the world and who should be almost exactly like you, just with a slightly different face. First and foremost


you are still selecting a good person.” It is not getting along well that counts, but results. You are not forming a family or a friendship group, but a team. People in your team thus do not have to be similar: the values act like mounting foam between them. Loyalty, devotion, precision. Attitude, openness, the desire to develop and learn. Competency is indeed important, but if professional development can be created, human desires cannot be – they must already be existing. The most important of these in Wolf Group is considered to be interest. “A team member must have desire, as those who do not bother to make an effort do not remain long with us,” observes one of the managers.

VALUE COLLEAGUES NASA employees were once interviewed. At the very end, it was the turn of a janitor, who every day meticulously swept the dust in the hallway and polished the mirror in the lobby. “What do you do at NASA?” he was asked. “What is your role here?” The janitor is said to have thought for a little while before saying: “I assist in mankind reaching the moon.” “Great story,” says Jaanus, when he retells it. As this is roughly the way things are too at Wolf Group. All work and positions are important, as everyone acts in the name of a joint goal. No one’s value is established by their position or how loud one’s voice is, but rather by how important they are for the company – and for the company everyone is important. Thereby the sentiment repeatedly expressed in the course of interviews is valid: “Here everyone respects all others.”

TREAT EVERYONE EQUALLY “Always sympathies – and also antipathies – inevitably emerge," is simply being honest. There is no reason to deny that. We are all human and if, say, a manager likes growing gladioli in his or her spare time, then they will an easier time entering into a conversation during the coffee break with an employee who cultivates peonies. But that must


not lead to a subjective relationship at work. “I may even know in my head that someone for example is the crown jewel of the company, but neither in activities nor in words should I prefer him or her,” states one of the managers. “We must agree upon principles and focus on them, then sympathies and antipathies do not play such a big role,” claims another manager.

HIRE THOSE SMARTER THAN YOURSELF When a sales manager told Jaanus that he wanted to go to Brazil, as the market could be suitable for Wolf Group and a big trade fair was about to take place there, Jaanus thought to himself: “Why f***ing Brazil?” Outside it was May, the cherry trees were in bloom, trucks exited the plant gate heading off to Russia, Germany and Italy. These are commonplace countries, graspable, Jaanus had been to them all himself. But Brazil? Don't you perhaps want to visit the Bermuda Triangle? Jaanus clicked his imaginary pen. He looked across the table at that sales manager. Jaanus knew that that sales manager had already brought the company to several countries. Trucks were driving to places where they had never been before. Hmm. “Okay,” said Jaanus then, “here is a budget for you. Go there. Try it this one time.” By the moment when the sales manager had left the office, Jaanus had already written off the amount spent on the flight tickets. Four months later, when the first containers full of construction foam were headed from the plant gate to the port to sail across the ocean to Brazil, Jaanus understood very well that his team member had been more forward-looking, analytical and smarter than himself. By the end of the second year, the size of the Brazilian portfolio had already grown to a million. “They are all smarter than me,” says Jaanus now, “chemists, department managers, salespeople – I have enormous respect for them, as they now know much better than I how to solve problems.” This means that the manager does not have to be the one who knows the right answers to all questions. “The manager is not the smartest,” notes Jaan, “but he or she is the creator of connections, introducer and binder.” The manager does not have to be the one who says at the start of the journey how and in what fashion it will be taken. They must be the one


who puts the entire team to work in the name of a joint goal and then listens to all of the members regarding how to select the best route.

DO NOT CONSIDER YOURSELF IRREPLACEABLE One employee became a manager once he knew the thread of each nut and the strength factor of each bolt. His fingers smelled of grease and he was capable of reciting off the top of his head all the existing spare parts on the production line – but he is no longer aware of the details. “I must now trust those who know that level,” he finds. Roles are distributed in a team, everyone has their own function, people form a working whole – and that means that if, for example, the manager falls and breaks his leg while picking flowers, so he cannot come to work, then everything still functions. Psychologically speaking, this is definitely not always the easiest path to tread. It is very difficult to say to oneself that a team that if works without you, it is not your failure, but your achievement. Every person and especially every leader wants to sense that he or she is important. Managers in Wolf Group however are valued when, at the foreground, is the capability of the team to execute work without someone in the middle of it all, frantically waving his or her hands all the time.

DISTRIBUTE ROLES In the initial period of Wolf Group, an employee of the development department, in addition to his principal duties, also executed quality control, and then development. He conceived new formulas, tested products, sometimes even produced new mixtures. Sales work however was often instead performed by the owners. These times are over: roles must be distributed clearly and understandably. “If the distribution of roles is clear,” says one manager, “then it is also possible to be flexible, react quickly and reorient ourselves if required.” It is often thought that the creation of a team ends when the right people have been found. No. Now the formation of the team is just beginning; what will their roles in the team be? There is a proverb in Saare County


that with sufficient force even a chicken goes to the beehive, but the right role must be recognised through patience and intuition rather than coercion. “Managers generally know what they want and what role they want to take, but employees of other tasks might not even know themselves what they want to do.” This means that you cannot always (or even as a rule), ask your team member what role they want, but you must find it for them. Analyse. Investigate. Talk to him or her. Observe, for if the “if the right person is in the wrong job, this situation will continue and continue,” says one manager, “but if the right role is found for the right person, everything will be much easier in the future.”




INCLUDE Wolf Group is a pack, and the activities of each member affect the entire pack. Therefore everyone must be informed and included on longer journeys, as well as shorter expeditions. It may seem easier and quicker to act on your own, but you cannot forget inclusivity. Move around. Communicate constantly with your members, as well as with other departments. Share details, what to you is merely a small snippet of information may change the entire following quarter for someone else. Even though you must make the final decision, include as many as possible in discussions. Repeat things if required – and that need always exists. This especially concerns the mission, vision and values of Wolf Group. Do not think that once something has been said once, then it is as good as done. Remind yourself that, as a Spanish proverb says, three men that help each other do the same job as six men do individually.

QUOTE “I have noticed that if some things are convenient to do quickly on one’s own, then departments do them and do not start including others, yet this also affects others. At the expense of convenience, the final result suffers.”

REMINDER The employees of the company must not only reach the daily targets, but also where the company as a whole wants to progress to.

TIP Favour meetings, not email exchanges, for dialogue and brainstorming. It is faster, more efficient and more creative. Use memos for recording decisions, as then they are stored and it is always possible to return to them. Find innovative ways to remind employees daily of the mission, vision and values. Consider using walls as a useful surface for providing information – you can hang messages there, which always remain in the sight of everyone. 66

INSPIRE “I do not want to be a manager, but a consultative and involved leader,” claims one of the managers. Your role as a manager is not to command, but to inspire, support and develop. There is not much need to intervene as a good manager. Do you as a manager always have to be in the middle of all the events or not? The aim is to initiate, bring enthusiasm and create an atmosphere in which people know that their ideas will always be listened to.

QUOTE “If a person feels that he/she is being listened to that his/her words have weight, he/she feels important and that is extremely important.”

REMINDER Try to describe the processes and goals with passion – that way colleagues will be also inspired by them. People want to believe in what they are doing. This is, however, only possible when the manager also believes in it and is delighted by what they are doing.

TIP Be in constant contact with your team members. Find possibilities for communicating with them in different situations and moments. Maintain positive and good energy in communication – including in situations of crisis and error.


TRUST It is extremely important in Wolf Group to trust one’s team members. This means delegating and trusting others in finding solutions. We treat our people honestly and equally, as well as explain to them the background of decisions. We see in our team members allies, not subordinates. We rejoice in having found, as companions, people smarter than ourselves, as well as understand that as a manager, we are only as good as our team.

QUOTE “We assume that each field gets things done by themselves. But if when working in a team, you want to manage things, then simply do, test and try, as you are trusted.”

REMINDER Trust must be expressed. Feedback must be given to the ideas of the team members, including to their questions and concerns. Monitor them discretely and rarely, but trust them loudly and frequently. First and foremost express your trust through your actions. However, at the same time it must be remembered that nothing destroys trust more than actions that make actual distrust evident.

TIP Listen more than you say. Listening is a sign of trust. After a discussion, agree on a further action plan and definite milestones, at which results are analysed together. Leave employees the possibility to come to you at any time, but do deviate too far from the agreed action plan.


EVALUATE Trust means little scrutiny, but frequent feedback. Observe the processes and results, as well as reflect upon them. Understand that the past can be discussed, but the aim of the discussion can only be to shape the future – do not get stuck in the past. Try to prevent the collective from getting the feeling that there are correct answers (i.e. yours) and incorrect ones. Evaluation means analysis, creative thinking, in the course of which successes and failures are clarified, based on which conclusions are drawn for the future.

QUOTE “If we have previously agreed upon honesty, it is also possible to talk about unpleasant things.”

REMINDER In analysing processes, you are also analysing your own work. Ask for feedback from your collective and managers, as well as be prepared to admit your mistakes. Evaluation is always bidirectional – you also require and must receive feedback. Create a corresponding environment for it. The most important aspect is to be honest yourself and do so that your conversation partner is also honest.

TIP Give time. When a pup in a wolf pack messes up, the parents do not start punishing him or her but instead teach. “The pup otherwise learns how not to get caught,” explains Jaanus, “but does not learn how to do it correctly.” Understand that it takes time, as doing things correctly cannot be done to order, but must grow out from inside the person him- or herself, after joint analysis. It is very easy to say what someone has to do but only that it is to be done, thereby removing the feeling in one that one is a participant. Everyone needs time.


ALLOW ERRING Mistakes are allowed in Wolf Group. It is important to understand that mistakes happen anyway. They must however always be spotted – and thereafter learned from. This means that an error can actually be a priceless raw material, and, through utilising it appropriately in the future you make the correct decisions and choices and perhaps even open gateways to previously untravelled paths.

QUOTE “The aim cannot be punishing ourselves for mistakes, but avoiding mistakes in the future.”

REMINDER A person who made a mistake does not necessarily have to be comforted and patted on the head. An employee is not a child. In the case of a mistake, analyse and think along – this best assists the employee as well as you and the company.

TIP An employee who has made a mistake feels as embarrassed as a person who by accident has emerged naked from the changing room to the pool – you have nothing with which to protect yourself and everyone is staring at you. What best to do? Let the person preserve their dignity. Sarcasm and disapproval are certainly not good tools here. Try to understand what would be required to correct the mistake: assistance, time, or something else. Thereafter assign a new deadline, as well as make the employee know that the question is not about their personal failings but rather that the entire company depends on their contribution.




CELEBRATE Praise, recognition and drawing attention to successes are equally important parts of the work process as the setting of goals or creating a team. Celebrations should not only entail festive days, but also everyday work successes. Notice them, draw attention to them. Also, keep in mind balance: rampant praise all the time becomes as annoying as country music at a grandfather's birthday party. Be precise, apt and meaningful. Remember that recognition does not always have to mean a bouquet of flowers, selected candy boxes and a gift certificate for a yoga class, but giving a challenging and inspiring work task can also be a form of praise.

QUOTE “One-on-one conversations, as well as large meetings, must always contain praise. That requires effort and it does not come naturally to me, but it simply has to be done. If disapproval must always be kept among ourselves, then praise, if possible, should be done in front of others.”

REMINDER Surprisingly, for a lot of managers praise does not come easy. “I am not used to praising people,” says a manager, “as good work is normal.” Yes, it is. But people require being noticed and recognised. Remember that you too are a person – you also need recognition. It is often not only very difficult for managers to praise, but also to receive praise. Maybe you must do it yourself sometime. Take a moment, enjoy the achievement and say to yourself, even in your head, some congratulatory words. If “hip, hip hurray” is too much, then squeeze out of yourself at least the word “good.”

TIP If you get a good idea from a colleague, then remember it and announce it in the presence of all. The colleague might not remember it anymore, but as the idea was realised and it really brought about change, then substantial praise is required and therefore it is very important. 72

REST Every fool knows how to work, but unfortunately only a few know how to rest properly. People must not be encouraged to work better, but also to rest more skilfully. We cannot assume that people work on weekends; avoid this if possible yourself too. People's rest time is sacred; pay attention that people take resting just as seriously as working.

QUOTE “Work is only one part of life and I want to enjoy work the same way as anything else. If you do work, then do it one hundred percent and, when you rest, also one hundred percent. I have not been ill now for six years, as my life is a whole.”

REMINDER It is clear that important emails will also come in the middle of July or electricity on the production line can be lost just when you have sat down in your new swimming trunks to enjoy a cocktail. If you cannot completely cut yourself off from work, then establish specific rules for yourself. Do not for example respond to all emails during your days off, but only those that are imperative. Establish for yourself a specific time of day when you do not deal with work matters – and adhere to it. Or the opposite, decide that you will indeed deal with work matters every day, but never for longer than half an hour. And never be on leave for less than two weeks in a row. It is otherwise not a holiday, but just a brief slacking off.

TIP Establish for yourself the rule that you do not disturb team members after the workday is over. If the situation requires calling five minutes after the end of the workday, do not even take that for granted, but ask for permission first. This excludes the possibility that the entire team, you included, runs itself ragged and pointlessly diminishes drive from you too.




WOLF GROUP STORIES AND REMINDERS A REMINDER ABOUT CULTURAL DIFFERENCES Cultural differences must not be forgotten in the case of Wolf Group. Because of increased internationalism, numerous people have been added to the pack, and working with them requires keeping in mind cultural particularities. Negative feedback, for example, is a very delicate process in some countries, in others, you are simply abruptly fired overnight. There are some places with more openness, while others are more closed. There are cultures where familiar behaviour is a problem and countries where a formal tone sounds strange. By knowing and respecting cultural backgrounds, we have the skill to use them better in our work.

STORY ABOUT HOW JAANUS WAS CREATIVE “Hello!” “Yes, please.” “Do you have Penoflex?" “Who is asking?" “I am a worried builder.” “Understood. No, unfortunately, we do not have Penoflex.” “Oh… oh oh, that is very bad then that you do not have Penoflex. How do I now...? All right, I will see if perhaps someone else has it. Goodbye.” Jaanus Paeväli hung up and immediately started dialling a new number. It was the middle of the 1990s, construction stores were already full of foams, and nobody wanted to opt for the completely unknown Penoflex. There was nothing left for Jaanus to do but to call all of the chains in


order and present himself as a mysterious builder, who for some strange reason hungered desperately for Penoflex. The chains however started thinking: you see all kinds of people are calling here and asking for Penoflex. How embarrassing that we do not have it... The ‘creative’ approach worked. Soon the shelves of stores were stocked full of Penoflex bottles. The rest is history.

WHAT IS MANAGEMENT? “I like being a manager,” grins one of the managers of Wolf Group. “It is not like building a woodpile, where you see the result immediately. Yes, it also makes you anxious, but if you have achieved a great result with your team, then that is a very good feeling.”

DO NUMBERS COUNT? The results of every company are generally measured in numbers – turnover and profit, the rest just doesn’t seem to matter. Numerical results are also very important in Wolf Group. There are also however those for whom the aims of the company cannot be expressed so narrowly, in terms of numbers. “Who we are and where we want to go – that is instead what is important,” says one of the managers. “The numbers just come along themselves.”

ABOUT THE REACTION TIME You can make all kinds of plans, but you cannot control everything all the time. The results of Wolf Group have been affected, for example, by the war in the Ukraine and the sudden snowfalls. In such situations, reaction speed becomes decisive. Reacting quickly is only possible when there are no hierarchies, lines of command are short, and the right to make decisions has been entrusted to many.


TARGET PRESSURE In large corporations target pressure often emerges: the pressure to achieve a certain and set aim at any cost. Some political or numerical goal is no longer an objective towards which to move – with a joint effort – but a question of life and death. This initially paralyses the managers and soon others too. There is no longer the courage to risk, be creative. The fun leaves the building like a delicate egg taken from a chicken. Everyone is shaking, numbers are compiled in the night hours; no one thinks about the process or the means any longer, but only about the target. Aims must be ambitious, as well as grand, and only the result counts, but the pressure to achieve the target is crippling.

THE STORY OF WHY THE WOLF WAS SELECTED AS THE SYMBOL OF WOLF GROUP When we started to think about who or what could be the symbol of Wolf Group, the wolf was not one of the original ideas. The initial thought was instead a bear – big, strong, calm and unshakable. But then it was understood that a bear demolishes rather than builds. It does not have a pack but acts alone – a self-centred individualist. And what was foremost in our thoughts: for a quarter of the financial year, a bear just hibernates, places its head under its paws and does nothing. Almost like a Member of Parliament. That is why a wolf was chosen: a pack animal and dynamic hunter.

ABOUT WORK TIME No one in Wolf Group is interested in how long anyone sits behind their desk or where the desk is located, from when until when someone eats lunch or if someone left earlier on Tuesday to pick up their child from the kindergarten. That is all external stuff. Only the content counts: that the work is done. How, when and where anyone does it is not important.


BEHAVE LIKE AN OWNER A simple exercise in thinking: imagine when making decisions that you are not a manager, but the owner of the company. Then you don’t settle for the easiest option, but consider how it is better for the entire company.

A STORY ABOUT WHY THE WORKAHOLIC WAS NOT HIRED There was once again a job interview at Wolf Group – a new export assistant was sought. The conversation meandered upon predictable lines until at one moment an unexpected question arose: What book do you have on your night table? The candidate shrugged his shoulders. “Reading is a waste of time,” he said, “I want to focus on the objectives of the company.” He was not hired. A person here still has to be a person, not just an employee.

THE ADVICE OF THE CEO Discuss your thoughts with the Human Resources Manager. She has a much greater role in the organisation than is usually assumed in companies. You get an idea, regardless of what it is – go and talk to her. Understand how people may react. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your employees? What at all is going on with people?

WHY HAS WOLF GROUP ALWAYS COME OUT OF CRISES STRONGER? During a crisis, informing and inclusion become most important: what is occurring, what are the plans and so on. It is precisely thanks to inclusion that a unified team emerges, from which to move forward after the crisis.


A STORY ABOUT HOW CREATIVITY ASSISTED IN GAINING A MARKET SHARE One summer the people of Wolf Group were on a trip, sitting around the extinguished flames in the lavvu tent and thoughts were offered about how to face the competition. A can of construction foam that had been squeezed empty was spun around and it was discussed what here could be to the advantage of Wolf Group? “Listen,” said someone pointedly, “there is a straw attached to this but with it the user overuses. A pistol grip would be more accurate, but that again is too expensive.” Pause. “What if we developed a simpler and more economical applicator?” There was excitement at the prospect. Of course! They drove back to the city and started to invent, figure, think, until one day the idea was realised and from the plant rolled out the first container, with new cans of foam equipped with a special type of applicator. The applicator was EasyGun, which has now become well known to all of us. The moral of this story is that the idea had inspired the whole company and resulted in something that assisted in surpassing our competitors and making the company work even better.

A BRIEF STORY ABOUT HOW ONE NEEDS TO BE PATIENT AND BELIEVE IN THE IDEA A sales manager once flew to Turkey. All right you might think, what could be difficult there? We have indeed been to Turkey before. The trip for the sales manager also started normally. The hotel was good, the bed soft, falling asleep was easy. And then all at once – the phone rings. The sales manager answers, and, at the other end of the line are the local partners, who they say he should now come to the negotiations. He nods wearily and puts the phone down, puts on his slippers and then notices the clock. It is 1:00 in the morning. He nevertheless goes to meet the delegation. It is pitch-black outside. In the room in front of him sit several elderly gentlemen. They also seem to be dosing off. Much of the time they are just sitting there with their eyes closed, but, as soon as they open their eyes, they ask such striking questions that it is difficult to maintain composure. The negotiations come to


an end, but there is nothing certain yet – the sales manager returns to the hotel. And then, in the morning at 7:00, the phone rings again. A new meeting, new stories, but no food or drink is provided. In the end, when the sales manager returned to Tallinn, 2000 euros had been spent, but the results were zero. He travelled once more to Turkey. And then once again. And then again. The bosses shook their heads, listened with smirking faces to the stories of the old Turkish men and the complexity of the negotiations, but trusted his judgement and sent the sales manager back again to Turkey. And then one day, the first order came. And then yet another one.

ANOTHER STORY ABOUT HOW ONE NEEDS TO BE PATIENT AND BELIEVE IN THE IDEA Once the sales manager that had been to Turkey flew to Italy. Again, you might think, what could be difficult there? We have indeed been to Italy before. He met with the family of the local entrepreneur, talked and talked, but nothing transpired. A year later the same story repeated itself and then yet again once more. Until, finally, the day before Christmas, the sales manager got a call telling him to come to Italy in two days’ time. And he went. He was told then that you have now become an acquaintance of Italy, so send us two truckloads of construction foam.

A STORY ABOUT HOW, FROM A MISTAKE, A RESULT IS BORN When, more than 20 years ago, a development chemist came to work for Wolf Group, he had to start thinking about how to invent new construction foam recipes. How best to do that? He did not have the faintest idea. Every producer has their own knowledge and these understandings are not disseminated externally. You cannot find anything by Googling and there is no one – a grandfather of construction foams so to speak – from whom to ask the tricks of the trade. He had nothing left but to invent everything himself. Experiment. Modify components and retest. And then again. And then again. When I ask that chemist how many unsuccessful


attempts were before the right foam was obtained, he grins and says thousands. He considers the last ten years to be the period of study. But without all these mistakes, not a single high-quality product would have been born.

A STORY ABOUT HOW AN ERROR SHOULD BE RESPONDED TO WITH ANALYSIS Some years ago productivity in production decreased. Less ready-made products were produced than before. Nobody was capable of citing the reasons for this. “There were a lot of strong emotions,” states one of the managers of that department ruefully. What to do? How to react? He decided to analyse. Production-data-measuring devices were placed on the line. These mapped the shutdowns, recorded the technical and human errors. He noticed one simple rule: the lines were not started right at the beginning of the shift and they were also switched off before the shift ended. The solution seemed simple – switch the lines on at the right moment and off at the right moment. He, however, was not believed. The air was thick with emotion, people were gesticulating wildly with their hands, they did not believe it could be so simple. The manager however trusted his analysis. It took a whole year to convince people until they finally nodded in agreement. Okay. Let us try. And when the first results came in and the analysis of the manager proved to be correct, the breakthrough was made – and everyone won.

THE IMPORTANCE OF HONESTY All of the managers at Wolf Group stress that honesty and frankness are the most important parts of their communication. Some have even extended this to clients. If, for example, there are difficult times, prices of raw materials are also driving up the prices of products, you can lose clients or the connection with them might instead be strengthened. The relationship of a sales manager with clients has improved, as he has explained to them honestly what is becoming more expensive, and why.


ABOUT CONVERSATIONS The best format for providing feedback – but also for receiving it – is a one-on-one conversation. Some managers hold these weekly, others every month, some once per quarter and yet others once a year. There is no need to talk with managers every day, but specialists may need discussions more frequently, providing meaning to their role and comprehension of it. The design and content of the meeting is supported through different techniques. One manager for example holds these conversations once per quarter and each meeting lasts one and a half hours. They initially lasted only half an hour, but it was quickly understood that, in such a time, nothing could be accomplished. First, the colleague speaks to the manager and thereafter the manager to the colleague. He takes into consideration that introverts need more attention, that men do not talk about their personal matters, and that women do not even always expect solutions, but just simply to be listened to. Another manager provides and takes feedback once a month. In his words, this is not a bureaucratic evaluation meeting, but a conversation in a more relaxed environment and he finds that communication is much better thanks to this. He also holds evaluation meetings that take place once a year, while work meetings are held once a week. It is important to differentiate these meeting types, not to confuse them. A third manager, for a certain period, took people out to a restaurant or somewhere else outside the office, but he noticed that even if this initially worked (people felt more at ease), then later it started to interfere. Trust had been obtained and it was no longer required to enjoy a delicious steak with the meeting. A fourth manager holds evaluation meetings every week. They last for three-quarters of an hour and that time is never rescheduled or cancelled. At the beginning of the meeting, personal topics are touched upon, only later are job duties reviewed. It can thus be concluded that there no textbook format and structure for the giving of feedback. It is important to remember that it takes place and takes place regularly. The atmosphere must be relaxed and trusting.


People must have the possibility to talk about everything and honestly. You in turn also must be honest and direct.

TRAINING FOR ONGOING GROWTH Keep in mind that within the company new managers are also grown. People must have the possibility to forge a career within the company thanks to their good work. One of the managers, for example, noticed among the warehouse employees, two highly intelligent people. He evaluated the situation and one currently works as a specialist, while the other manages IT processes. Another manager started as an apprentice, rose to become an operator, then shift manager and is currently a master. “It is possible to make a career here,” he says, “but you must exert yourself to do so.”

CHANGE OF MOTIVATION Motivational packages must be flexible and relevant. If, for example, the Sales Department receives a bonus on sales, something else must be thought of in tougher times. People also change. Still, five years ago, no one wanted more time for themselves and their family, everyone wanted money, but now people are somewhat ready to lose some income if only there would only be more time to play chess with their daughter or play disc golf with their son. “You must constantly sense what people want,” says Jaanus.

BURNING OUT Noticing burnout is extremely important in the role of manager – and of course, you must also notice your own burnout. This does not only mean noticing the exhaustion of ideas, but also the feeling that you just do not have the strength anymore. Your hands are trembling, you cannot sleep at night or, when you do, your dreams are full of the minutes of meetings. Many managers admit that they have been as burned out as


defunct lightbulbs, but it always helped when they could talk about it to their own managers. A member of Wolf Group for example started blaming himself for mistakes, but as the nature of his work is constantly experimenting and testing, then these so-called ‘mistakes’ that were not mistakes at all, continually accumulated and, with it, also the self-blame. The matter had approached critical mass when his managers noticed the problem, dealt with it and assisted them. Currently that person is still employed by Wolf Group and is a highly valued employee. The problem is thus not in reaching burnout, but not noticing it and not dealing with it. Because there are always solutions. A manager for example once noticed that one of his colleagues seemed to be doing a job that did not suit him. The colleague admitted at the evaluation meeting that he felt as if he was standing at the edge of an abyss, with a searing fire approaching from behind. The solution was not to leave, but a change in the work organisation – the colleague no longer has to deal with things that are unpleasant for him. “Sometimes I show some things that initially appear repulsive again from a new angle and therefore make them more pleasant.” Another person admitted that he reached the danger zone because the job was just so interesting. He sat in the office and just kept going for eight hours, ten hours, fourteen hours. He came in the morning at 7:00 and left late at night, every day, every week, every month. He, fortunately, also understood that one cannot continue like this, talked it through with his manager and has established for himself a less punishing framework. There are those who have agreed with their spouse that they assist each other in keeping an eye on each other, so that neither works too much. There are those who, as managers, absorb in them the flow of negative information and do not allow it to pass to others, but then all of that negativity tends to fester. They find relief in a conversation with their manager, leaving in a relaxed and airy mood. Yes, at Wolf Group working hard is valued. You are not paid for chatting. But only a person who knows how to rest knows how to work really well – remember that when speaking to your colleagues. And also remember that in the evening, when you switch off the light in your office and drive home. Work is extremely important, but it is not everything.


WHAT MOTIVATES PEOPLE? There are those who are motivated by salary, but, even more, are motivated by income stability. You know that in changing times, your company is sufficiently large and secure, so if you do good work, you will not lose your place or salary. Especially in times of crisis, it is worth reminding people of this – seeing the world collapse around them, they feel security and desire to work when they know that their world of silicone unquestionably continues. There are those who are motivated, above all, by self-development. Not to get stuck in a rut, but to continuously learn more, move forward, offer and accept new ideas – this motivates. They feel that they are part of something buoyant and developing, dynamic and growing. Many are motivated by colleagues. “I am most motivated by the team working together in the name of a joint aim,” one noted. Everyone wants to see that their actions have positive consequences and these affect something. A person wants to feel that they, their work, and their company are not just present in the world, but that they are important. A sense of freedom and trust is a great way to create motivation. This means the feeling that although you are acting together, with other team members, for the sake of joint goals, you are still independent. An employee felt four years ago that there was no longer any joy, he did not want to continue, but now everything has changed, as reorganisations were done and he feels that “I am allowed to do.” He perceives himself as a colleague, one whose ideas and solutions are permitted and expected. Yet most frequently people responded to the question of what motivates them that they want to do something meaningful. This means that the desire of people to work is something that directs them the most. “I like to prove to myself that everything is possible,” said a manager, “and at the same time I want to enjoy it.”




This book has been compiled on the basis of several dozen interviews, guided by the principles of Wolf Group, and explores the management culture of the company. What is the mission, vision and value of the company, as well as how can we apply them? The aim of the book is to create a unified understanding within the company, about the duties of a leader, applicable values and the basis of activity. Wolf Group is an international corporation producing construction chemistry, selling its products to dozens of countries throughout the world and employing over 400 people. It is not an easy task to run or work for such a corporation. This book explains the most important management principles of Wolf Group that guide the team towards its daily and long-term aims.

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