The PCB Norsemen: Leading by Going the Extra Mile

Didrik_Bech.jpgWhen I first started contemplating this column—sharing my experience of how to attract new colleagues, welcome them, train them, and include them in the company's culture and style/methodology of leadership—it hit me hard. This year has been far from normal, and it has taught me a lot about myself, the colleagues I am honored to represent, and our company during unprecedented times. Here, I’ll share how “doing a little extra” often can change a lot.


Have You Identified the Correct Core and Soul of the Company?
Previously, one might have thought of the entity “the company” as the core and soul of the organization; however, these last few months have reminded me that this is not the case. It's the team of colleagues which is “the company,” and only together will individual contributions result in a larger output than separate efforts. One can have big thoughts, ideas, perspectives, and visions, but bringing these to life requires the devoted attention of many colleagues and a wide array of experiences. Simply put, the team that cooperates best will win, and the only competitor a company really has is itself.

Why am I writing this when the topic is staffing? Without the correct staffing, your company will not flourish. To succeed, one requires a team of colleagues with a high degree of responsibility, pride, and dedication toward the company. The fanciest leadership strategies will lead to failure and dissociated colleagues.

How to Welcome Newbies and Engage Employees During a Pandemic
Since January 2020, we have welcomed four new colleagues to Elmatica; some started just before the pandemic erupted, and others began during the first and second waves. How could we ensure that they felt welcome and included when there were distancing guidelines?

Transparency and clear goals and expectations are a good first start. Allowing and actively supporting your colleagues to welcome, include, and train your new colleagues is a good second step. What may be most important is giving the new colleague the freedom and encouragement to fail, learn, and ask any question of anybody. Remember, training during the circumstances we have experienced this year has no precedence.

Keeping and developing the company culture during a pandemic and including new members at the same time has demanded extra internal focus. Imagine starting a new position just weeks before the world shut down. The emotion of being abandoned is not hard to imagine. With openness and transparency, we have tried to avoid this through training online, setting no limit for reaching out to colleagues asking for help, and ensuring extra room for failure.

C_Bech_Dec20_Fig4-for collage.jpgWe developed online social events for employees, provided breakfast delivery, and I even dressed like a monkey on Halloween, handing out cupcakes to every colleague at their doorsteps. When times are challenging, lead by going that extra mile, and do not ask from others what you are not willing to do yourself.

During my career, I have had the pleasure of hiring many great colleagues. Here are the key learning points. First, the hiring process is something one should take very seriously; the cost of failure is severe for both the company and the candidate. As with most things in life, it takes two to tango, and the same goes when hiring.

Second, it's not just about finding the right candidate for you; it's equally important for the candidate to find their match with the company. This is something I strongly emphasize during an interview process. It needs to be a good fit, which is a two-way street. This is when values, goals, and company culture enter the arena.

The Most Important Thing Any CEO Can Bring to the Table
Recently, we planned for a motivational speech by a psychologist to talk about similarities, differences, and strengths among colleagues. After talking with them, we concluded that the most important thing any CEO can bring to a company is culture. This is why it is vital to incorporate new colleagues with the company’s culture as quickly and diligently as possible, as it represents the heart and soul of the organization.

When I took over the helm after Elmatica’s former CEO Arild Bakke, one thing he asked was, “What are your thoughts about company culture? Our people and I have worked together for a long time, and it is vital that you maintain and further strengthen our family culture.” Luckily, the aspect of family culture represents the type of culture I was already connected with. Education is a foundation, and experience is important, but what the company culture represents is key. Ask, “What culture do you represent?”

Staffing Challenges
Staffing, or the process of finding the right candidate for the right position, involves ensuring that the individual has the necessary skills or the ability to be trained to acquire those skills and qualifications. We are indisputably addressing one of the key elements to allow your company to develop on a business and, more importantly, a cultural level. Which processes and safeguards have you implemented to protect your future development?

The process of staffing encompasses a wide array of different challenges one can be confronted with. A few of these challenges might be a lack of experience, time pressure to hire or fill a position, an unclear position, overpromising, or a conflicting culture. If these challenges are not addressed during the staffing process, the probability of a sub-optimal recruitment process will significantly increase.

Another common challenge is treating the process of hiring as a left-hand job or delegating it to someone without the proper experience or understanding of the requirements of the position. There may also be time pressure if the company lost an existing colleague or hires after a demand is evident. Unfortunately, this is quite normal, as one does not wish to add costs before they have the financial predispositions for the position.

In general, staffing should be according to fulfilling the company-approved strategy and future direction. This aspect is often forgotten due to a lack of an overall strategy.

Do Not Jump Into the ‘Friend Mistake’ When Staffing
Challenges during the staffing process may include the “friend mistake,” where one is subject to employ individuals who have many traits in common with the interviewer. This can result in a company composed of individuals with homogenous traits and reduce diversity in the company.

This challenge can be remedied by having clear instructions regarding what one is actually seeking with regard to both personal and professional traits. One should not emphasize personality tests too much during staffing; however, they can provide the interviewer with valuable information regarding how to build the right team with different personality traits.

When the optimal candidate has been identified, one should ensure that the candidate truly understands the requirements of the position. The employer must also provide the candidate with the training and information they communicated to the candidate in the interview. Unfortunately, there are many examples where the employer does not fulfill promises, and the now-employee overexaggerated their experience.

Training Is Not Only Valid for New Colleagues
Regardless of the reason why training is required, the act of educating human capital is essential for any company to remain competitive. As a leader, one is responsible for understanding the competence matrix for current and future demands of the company and the training required by existing and new colleagues to fulfill those demands. This theoretical approach might sound simple, but it is quite challenging and requires constant monitoring of the entire business flow of the company on an internal and external level.

Once the competence matrix has been established, it is a case of addressing the correct resources and implementing the training. As long as it is analyzed and linked to the company as described previously, the implementation should be the lesser challenge.

Leadership Strategies: Buzzwords or Business?
The company should have a continuous focus on aligning the competence matrix with the strategic development of the company and consequently securing the process from staffing to training. There are numerous leadership strategies in the corporate world. Most contain fancy buzzwords and sound impressive, but in the end, it's all about being a good human being, showing respect, focusing on including people, leading by example, and creating a good atmosphere with clear mandates, goals, and objectives. That is what we aim for and what we want all our new and existing colleagues to feel.

Elmatica_collage_hero (1).jpg

This column originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of PCB007 Magazine.

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2020

The PCB Norsemen: Leading by Going the Extra Mile

12-22-2020

This year has been far from normal. Here, Didrik Bech shares how "doing a little extra" often can change a lot, as well as his experience of how to attract new colleagues, welcome them, train them, and include them in the company's culture and style/methodology of leadership.

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The PCB Norsemen: So Much More Than Just Through Vias

11-17-2020

As most people know, component holes are still highly necessary for components that require them, and clean lead-through-holes (vias) have increased in necessity over the last 30 years. John Steinar Johnsen explains how the challenges with smaller diameter vias, perhaps depth-controlled, have increased and are, in some cases, challenging for those who produce PCBs and have to assemble and handle solder components.

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The PCB Norsemen: A Path to Successful PCB Fabrication

09-28-2020

In the PCB fabrication process, there can be multiple actors involved. How can you ensure that all these actors are cooperating to maximize the positive effects and minimize the negative effects of the pillars of PCB fabrication? It might sound like an insurmountable task, but Didrik Bech shares a path that can increase your chances of success.

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The PCB Norsemen: Leadership Styles for Success

08-18-2020

Leadership is the foundation of a successful business. Elmatica CEO Didrik Bech looks deeper into the various styles of leadership and shares his experiences and opinions.

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PCB Norsemen: The Importance of Quality Management

06-19-2020

Most companies have a quality management system, but the important factor is not if you have one; it's about how that system is implemented in your company's values, strategies, and goals. Didrik Bech explains how you can use your QMS as a competitive advantage and shares five top reasons for having one.

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The PCB Norsemen: It’s All About Being Prepared

05-15-2020

COVID-19, known globally by now, and buzzwords like social distancing, isolation, home office, antibac, and lockdowns, are humming in every ear. Raymond Goh explores how this will impact the electronics industry and how to respond. Humans tend to stick to habits. Will the same happen to PCB production?

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The PCB Norsemen: Can Better Guidelines on Cosmetic Failures ‘Save’ Functioning PCBs?

05-05-2020

Every year, fully functional PCBs are scrapped due to cosmetic “failures” that are not approved. Is this right, or do we need to make an even more precise set of rules on how to handle this? Jan Pedersen shares his thoughts on the issue.

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The PCB Norsemen: What Are the True Benefits of Going Digital?

04-06-2020

2019 might have been the year when the trend word digitalization really kicked off and transitioned from being a buzzword to aligning with keywords and concepts as AI and IoT. Didrick Bech explores the future of digitization, which is already here.

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The PCB Norsemen: Automotive Standard Elevates the Excellence of Electronics

01-19-2020

IPC-6012DA (currently in WAM1) was the first automotive standard for printed boards; it also needs to expand to cover all types of rigid printed boards. To meet the PCB needs in the automotive industry of today and tomorrow, we have started to collect information and identify the types of printed boards not covered by the existing standard. One finding in the research is printed boards used for LED headlights and taillights, which have two requirements not covered; these are described as metal-core printed boards and high-power printed boards.

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The PCB Norsemen: New Trends in the PCB Industry at productronica 2019

01-02-2020

Working with PCB technology and standardization as I do, it is always interesting to see the new trends and where the PCB industry is moving. Changes tend to happen at a slow pace; still, I visited productronica this year for dedicated meetings and expected to learn about new processes and production equipment. What hit me was the different manufacturing focus between Asia and Europe. 5G applications and smartphones—both making an impact in the news as a high focus in Asia, where most of the production is placed—were hardly mentioned at productronica 2019. However, I picked up on other new trends in the PCB industry.

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2019

The Laminate Market: What Will the Future Bring?

11-04-2019

PCBs have been manufactured more or less the same way since we entered the industry in 1972, but the circumstances surrounding the boards have changed. The PCB Norsemen have addressed the copper situation several times in our columns as well as the component crisis affecting the PCB industry. Now, we’re experiencing external factors—such as Brexit and the trade restrictions between China and the U.S.—that are affecting the industry and causing delays due to raw material demand and prioritization by huge market players.

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The PCB Norsemen: Avoid Failures in PCB Production With Compliance Control

08-08-2019

Failures and reliability in the printed circuit industry are usually considered in the context of quality claims and non-conformity. This is a logical approach; however, there is a new context where these aspects are under close scrutiny, namely compliance—especially in the defense industry. Failing to understand import and export compliance for every country you deliver to and from will, at some point, result in challenges in your supply chain with potentially severe ramifications.

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The PCB Norsemen: From Wooden Huts to Homemade Go-karts—It All Starts With Design!

07-08-2019

Whether building the coolest go-kart or the most sophisticated electronic hardware, the story is the same: It starts with design. And for designers and manufacturers, early involvement and commitment between all the involved parties in a product development process diminish the risk for mistakes and misunderstandings.

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What Is Reliability Without Traceability?

06-27-2019

High reliability and compliance are hot topics at conferences all over the world. If you are a supplier to industries like defense, automotive, medical, and aerospace/space, high-reliability and regulatory compliance are strict demands for electronic device manufacturers. This column discusses how high-reliability demands enforce the need for traceability, and at what level the traceability should be.

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The PCB Norsemen: Merging the Best of Both Worlds—Young Superheroes and Knowledgeable Wizards!

05-29-2019

Companies that dare be true to themselves, trust their employees, and provide direction, freedom, and responsibility to their most important asset—namely, their employees—are more likely to succeed. However, we can all rattle behind these positive words and agree with these statements. The real question is, “How do you actually create and sustain an environment that motivates and attracts people—especially millennials—in the wave of Industry 4.0?"

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The PCB Norsemen: My Flexible Story—Flex Circuit Development Through the Decades

04-30-2019

Senior Technical Advisor Jan Pedersen is celebrating 26 years at Elmatica. In this column, he shares his thoughts from his long experience in this exciting industry, and talks about those things that have changed a lot in the past few decades, and the others that haven't.

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A PCB Broker’s Guide Through the Galaxy of Automation

04-05-2019

A smart factory is defined by its ability to harness manufacturing data flowing throughout the enterprise and then convert that data into intelligent information that can be used to create improvements in productivity, efficiency, savings, yields, automation, enabled traceability, compliance, and reduced risk of errors and rework. All of these items are crucial factors when manufacturing printed circuits.

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The PCB Norsemen: Technology’s Future Comes Together—A Great Slogan for Us All!

02-13-2019

“Technology’s Future Comes Together” was the theme of this year's IPC APEX EXPO, which is quite suitable during these changing times. I guess we all need to come together, especially the automotive industry.

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The PCB Norsemen: PCB Standards for Medical Device Applications—A Hard Nut to Crack!

02-04-2019

With digitalization, AI, and IoT, the traceability and transparency to how a PCB is produced will be even more important. We must rule out the PCBs that follow the standards to the ones that do not. The day will come when you or someone you know might need a medical device, and you want to make sure it does its job correctly.

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2018

Digital Specs for Automated Manufacturing: Find the Missing Link!

11-29-2018

Automation and connected smart factories are the new manufacturing trend. Industry 4.0 and the Internet of things (IoT) continue to enter PCB manufacturing. However, if we continue down the same path with specifications and requirements written on electronic papers and unintelligent production files, human interpretation is still crucial to avoid mistakes. CircuitData could solve this problem because having one language for automated smart factories is the future!

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PCB Norsemen: The Solution to the UL Challenge—Industrial Awareness

08-28-2018

Writes Jan Pedersen: The solder-limit subject has been a "hot potato" for a quite some time, with many discussions around the new requirement from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that UL’s Emma Hudson brought to attention in early 2018.

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The PCB Norsemen: Lean Challenges—Standard vs. Non-Standard Products

08-06-2018

Writes Didrick Bech: People tend to treat standard and non-standard products in the same way; however, they represent two parallel product segments and consequently different challenges for your Lean manufacturing process, especially in relation to production and logistical operations. When you fail to differentiate the processing of standard and non-standard products, not only is the Lean manufacturing process disrupted, but you also introduce a variety of production, financial and logistical challenges.

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The Velocity of Technology— What Does It Really Mean?

07-02-2018

PCB Norseman, Jan Pedersen: Driving a car is probably one of the areas where the user comes in direct touch with the technology development. And we understand the speed when we see how fast we get new versions of smartphones and other gadgets. But in what direction are we going?

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2017

Industry 4.0, AI and CircuitData

11-14-2017

PCB Norseman, Andreas Lydersen: As automation works its way onto the shop floors, it still struggles to replace humans in the supporting roles, such as designers, purchasers, brokers, and back-office staff. Where automation on the shop floor replaces humans in doing repetitive manual tasks, the supporting roles (at least some of them) require intelligence to understand and utilise information.

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