DHL MD Michael Druce puts emphasis on people and training

- Leadership - Jul 17, 2012

Last month I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to DHL’s man in Africa, Michael Druce about the importance of people and training when you are running a global company. DHL has earned a reputation for being the leading express delivery company in the world but without its people and a solid vision Michael Druce believes this would have been almost impossible to achieve. The express delivery industry, by Druce’s own admission, has been diluted by domestic operations, so 18 months ago DHL decided that it needed to re-establish itself as an international specialist. “We needed to get that DHL can-do spirit and culture back, so we launched something with CIS (Certified International Specialists) looking at making sure our people are focused on the core business,” he told me. “It’s as much about influencing what people associate with DHL, which is international, cross-border, time sensitive package delivery,” he continued.

In recent years, competitors such as FedEx and UPS have ramped up their domestic operations and DHL is keen to differentiate itself from the associated service. “We want to make sure that people still recognise us as the international specialist so we deliver a unique training programme to all of our 100,000 employees worldwide. It’s exactly the same for every single employee and is delivered by DHL people. It covers everything about us; history, where we came from, what makes us different, what makes us special, what makes us unique in terms of our global footprint; where we are strong; our strengths in Africa and South America and our strengths in Asia. The course is delivered in modules by international specialist across the entire company in customer services, sales, operations and finance.”

Consistency is king

At DHL, consistency when it comes to operations, training, expectations and service is central to the success of the business. “Each of our employees has a training passport and every time they complete a module they receive a stamp which accredits them on an international level. What this gives us is consistency; whether a customer uses our services in Hong Kong or in South Africa, in Malaysia or in the UK, you will get the same message. Everyone has been through the same training, they have the same awareness and they have the DHL can-do spirit,” enthused Druce. 

When it comes to training, setting policy and guiding services Michael Druce firmly believes that ‘in-house’ is the way forward. Global managers at the company are trained as facilitators themselves and information is filtered through the ranks to ensure “DHL authentication.” Druce tells me that managing the company today is different to how it was managed 20 or 30 years ago, “It’s more about respect and results rather than result alone. As such training is a key part of our strategy when it comes to making DHL stand head and shoulders above everyone else because if we have that connection with our people and people have the connection with our customers we will deliver better results and earn more respect within the industry.”

We live in a global world

Druce himself is originally from New Zealand; he has spent a lot of time in the UK during his 27 year stint at DHL and he is currently heading up the organisation in South Africa. “One of the historical successes at DHL is that we have a lot of cross fertilisation – the whole intention being to promote consistency,” explained Druce.

“Whyshould a customer going to a service point in South Africa get a different experience to a customer walking into a service point in the UK? They expect the same,” he stated. “We live in a global world; take McDonald’s for instance, if you buy McDonald’s in Johannesburg, it’s the same as McDonald’s in London. We want customers to have the same experience and we do that through things like CIS, training and investment in our people to one standard across the globe, we also do that by making sure our leaders have a global experience; they move around so there is sharing of ideas, of best demonstrated practices and best approaches. There are things that you learn along the way and it’s that learning and sharing experience that having a network gives us – we don’t stand alone.”

The four pillars of success

“The four pillars of our business in terms of our focus and 2015 strategy are motivated people, great service quality, world customers and a profitable network,” cited Druce. “Every single member of our team understands those four pillars and everything we do - everything we communicate is around those four pillars and we spend a lot of time sharing information and feedback with our staff. We get back to the fundamentals of our business; we don’t get involved in fads; we don’t get involved in lot of ‘mumbo-jumbo’ that nobody understands and the message is the same everywhere. We have got 227 countries all giving that same message; that is pretty powerful,” he concluded.

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