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Building a Culture of Shared Success: Psychological Safety and Diversity at Boliden

At Boliden, a company with a global footprint, fostering a sense of security and belonging for employees across various locations is crucial. Annele Heikkilä, HR Business Partner in Kokkola, Finland, believes the key lies in prioritizing psychological safety and leveraging the existing competence and diversity within the workforce.

Annele's background positions her perfectly for this role. Years of experience working with people and understanding their dynamics within organizations have honed her coaching and development skills. Now, at Boliden Kokkola, her focus on psychological safety and fostering a culture that respects individual differences is proving invaluable. 
"Our employees are incredibly dedicated and passionate about sharing their knowledge," Annele explains. "However, we often underestimate what we know. By prioritizing psychological safety, we create an environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves, asking questions, and contributing their expertise." 

Annele cites the mentorship program launched in Kokkola as a successful example. "The willingness of senior employees nearing retirement to share their knowledge was truly heartwarming. This program underscores the value of recognizing and capitalizing on the existing knowledge base within the organization. It's also a fantastic way to boost employee engagement. Not only is knowledge transferred, but enthusiasm is contagious as well." 

passion for learning organizations

Annele's genuine interest in people and their role within organizations is evident throughout our conversation. A registered psychiatric nurse with a master's degree in health science, Annele has always been drawn to education. This passion led her to a role at the Finnish National Agency for Education, where she developed curricula for vocational education and spearheaded development projects. 
"Throughout my career, I've been passionate about coaching, mentoring, igniting curiosity in others, and fostering a culture of learning. Although I previously worked with organizations focused on learning and development, the opportunity at Boliden to combine strategic industry work with coaching and supporting individuals truly resonated with me. I knew this was my calling."

Psychological safety as the foundation

Annele, who describes herself as a "strategy enthusiast," emphasizes a fundamental principle in both strategy and coaching: creating an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas and contributions. 
"Our employees are incredibly curious and passionate – they’re deeply invested in their work. It's highly specialized, and they constantly strive for improvement. This dedication is evident at all levels within Boliden; it's our core strength." 

This is where psychological safety comes into play. Annele coaches and supports managers in recognizing and utilizing the unique competencies of each employee. This approach may initially feel unfamiliar to some industry managers. 
"I encourage them to demonstrate care and highlight the value each employee brings. Sometimes, managers are surprised to hear. 'No one has ever told me I could be this kind of leader' is the kind of reaction we often hear from them." 

Building a unified culture that respects differences

Part of this strategy involves coaching managers on providing effective feedback during employee development discussions. Additionally, managers must be receptive to constructive criticism and recognize their own strengths. Here, Annele's intuition shines through as she tailors her coaching approach to each individual manager's specific needs. 
"It's crucial to acknowledge that different people learn in different ways. A diverse workforce with a wealth of experiences is essential. We value everyone's contributions and perspectives. Our shared corporate culture thrives on lively discussions about leadership and employee roles. We work towards becoming a truly unified company, where we share best practices across all locations and facilities." 


Embrace curiosityopportunities abound!

So, what advice does Annele have for those considering a career at Boliden? 
"Be curious! While you may be recruited for a specific role, your interests might lead you down a different path within the company. Boliden offers a vast array of opportunities: that's what makes it so exciting. You'll be contributing to a crucial industry, and you'll have the chance to develop both professionally and personally within a sustainable company."


Boliden Head Office

Boliden Group
Klarabergsviadukten 90
P.O. Box 44, SE-101 20 Stockholm
Tel: + 46 8 610 15 00
Fax: + 46 8 654 80 90