9 Guiding Principles for all Employees
To enhance our global support in a more effective and sustainable manner, Johanniter International Assistance has undertaken a comprehensive review of its internal leadership principles. The “Leadership Concept”, which was internally endorsed at the end of 2022, contains binding guidelines that outline how all staff members would like to interact with each other based on specific principles. This concept is an important part of the measures to implement the Strategy 2027.
The term “leadership” does not mean that only managers implement the new principles. Rather, it extends an invitation to all employees, regardless of their positions, to contribute to a novel culture centered around mutual care within their respective spheres of work. This entails assuming daily responsibility for upholding these principles. Managers take on the task of cultivating a work environment where employees can genuinely embody these principles.
Throughout the developmental phase, initiated in the summer of 2021, colleagues from all levels in thirteen Johanniter country offices worldwide, as well as the national office, were actively engaged in the process. Until January 2022, individual interviews and group discussions were conducted to find out how leadership had been perceived and shaped in Johanniter International Assistance until then, and what the employees' opinions were on the matter. A comprehensive evaluation of the entirety of International Assistance was conducted to assess its alignment with principles encompassing gender sensitivity, integration, cultural awareness, as well as the enhancement of well-being and protection. During the second phase, small working groups, in collaboration with the project team, formulated draft guidelines for the new principles based on these findings.
Action Plan for Everyday Life
To ensure the seamless integration of every Johanniter International Assistance worker into this process, the drafts underwent discussions and further refinement across the organization in the summer of 2022, both in meetings on the ground and at headquarters. "In total, over half of our staff participated in the development," explains project manager Patrick Mathé, illustrating the transformation process. The result is a document that describes the new guidelines in an easy-to-understand and practical way. This includes an action plan with examples from the everyday life of the staff, so that the new concept does not remain just theory and can be easily implemented by everyone.
9 Principles for Effective Cooperation
Central to the final concept, which was introduced to all employees through an interactive workshop in January 2023, are the 9 guiding principles. Each principle is composed of a succinct title and a concise explanation of its practical implications—rooted in real-life scenarios as closely as possible. Since then, the staff have proven that they want to work on all the principles. Because the innovation was received with interest by them from the very beginning. "Feedback regarding the new culture has consistently been substantial. Moreover, the kickoff event achieved a participation rate well above the average," Mathé affirms.
Embracing the Change
For instance, the nine-member team led by country coordinator Borany Huon in Cambodia encounters the new guidelines displayed each day upon entering the office. Already, they've had the opportunity to put at least two of these principles into practice. "We recently moved into a new office. The change was not easy for the colleagues at first," says Huon. "However, as they realized the improved amenities—including a lounge, a yoga room, and a dedicated space for childcare—they've come to relish their time here. This has further solidified our team's cohesion."
Boniface Lakony, stationed at the Johanniter office in South Sudan, also highlights the organization’s commitment to the well-being of every team member. "My wife and I had twins who were premature and therefore needed medical treatment. Balancing family needs and work commitments was demanding," he says. "However, I was fortunate to be permitted to work from home and provided with a salary advance to cover the medical expenses. This support was invaluable." He will also be more conscious of supporting the other members of his team in the future.
Until the new leadership culture is really known and lived by all staff members, there is still an exciting road ahead for the HR department and all International Assistance staff. " We eagerly anticipate the ongoing progression, in alignment with the principle of 'embracing change'," says Patrick Mathé.