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Interim Personalleiter

Project example :

"Interim HR Manager in the aviation sector"

Interim HR Manager in the aviation sector

The client, who was looking for an interim hr manager for the company, was a well-known handling agent at Berlin’s airports. The company handles passengers for a large number of airlines, providing services such as passenger check-in and baggage handling. Due to the strong competitive nature of the aviation industry, a comprehensive restructuring was planned.

Project »Interim HR Manager«

In the middle of the restructuring process, the company needed short-term support in the form of an Interim HR Manager Manager. A takeover of the Personnel Management in its entirety was what the collaboration was targeting. The main focus of my tasks as the Interim HR Manager in this project was as follows:

  • Head of HR for two companies at Berlin’s airports

  • Hedging the sum of what constituted Personnel Management from risk 

  • Leading a team of three personnel officers

  • De-escalation of conflicts with the Works Council

  • Implementation of a shutdown

  • Implementation of a transfer of business pursuant to Section §613 a of the German Civil Code (BGB)


The status quo at the outset

Competition in the aviation sector has intensified significantly in recent years. The ticket prices that airlines fetch are significantly lower today than what they were previously and they pass this cost pressure on to the suppliers. This meant major changes were necessary at the client company. When I started the project as Interim Personnel Manager, I came across a Personnel Department that was very professional. The client had already digitalised many business processes and was working with SAP HCM. The employees in the Personnel Department had been with the company for many years and got on with the day-to-day tasks of the business of their own accord and entirely unassisted.

» As an Interim Personnel Manager, my many years of experience with Works Councils stood me in good stead for the tasks this project entailed. «

Lars Schott, HR Manager
Interim Personalleiter

Course of the project

What had to be guaranteed throughout the restructuring process was that all the tasks of the Personnel Department were duly fulfilled and that the team, consisting of three personnel officers, was managed. The need furthermore came up to provide support for the implementation of the tasks that the upcoming restructuring measures entailed. Aside from knowledge of Labour Law, it was stipulated that the Interim Personnel Manager had to have extensive experience in working with Works Councils. It was already possible to predict that due to the upcoming restructuring, various employees might conceivably make career changes. With this the case, as a main priority I saw to it that the company was being ensured access to any existing body of knowledge available on personnel matters.

The challenges of an interim HR manager

Thanks to the very stringent restructuring measures that were in the pipeline, a very committed Works Council had formed within the company. Constituting it were the people there, who from many years of experience were well versed in the workings of Works Councils and hence were also very well trained. During the course of the project there were indications that the employer might shut down a part of the company. The Works Council was therefore very hostile towards all company measures that required co-determination.  As Interim HR Manager I was forced to allow the court decision to overrule the Works Council’s consent for all actions proposed. This did a lot of harm to the relationship between the employer and the Works Council.

Shutdown of operations

In the course of the project, the client then decided to shut down a part of the company operations involving about 200 of the employees of the company. As interim Personnel Manager, tasks assigned to me were:

  • Accompanying the reconciliation of interests and social plan negotiations

  • Filing the mass dismissal notification with Germany’s Jobcenter

  • Negotiating a large number of severance agreements

  • Handling lawsuits for unfair or respectively wrongful dismissal 

  • Acting as the interface for an international law firm

Transfer of business

In the course of the project, it further transpired that the client could sell another part of the company business by way of a transfer of operations. As Interim Personnel Manager, I chaperoned the implementation of the transfer of operations according to Section § 613 a BGB (German Civil Code), as well as the carve-out from the group. The buyer who purchased the company continued to engage me as Interim Personnel Manager. After the transfer of the business, the focus was on setting up Personnel Management and supporting the Works Council in the transition mandate according to Section § 21a BetrVG. Introducing various software solutions to the company’s Personnel Department also formed part of the tasks my services entailed.

A proven track record

By always relying on a fact-orientated approach in negotiations with Works Councils as Interim Personnel Manager, I was able to deescalate various conflicts in the company successfully. As an external consultant I especially had the distinct advantage of no personal history of conflicts in the company and could therefore evaluate from a matter-of-fact unbiased perspective, all issues that would come up. Instrumental to this project’s success story, when it came to swift and smooth change, were the successful mitigation of conflicts by an expert in the form of an Interim Personnel Manager and the managing of the personnel department with the necessary tact.

Further information:

» My services: HR Restructuring & Change Management

» My services: Labor Relations

» My services: HR Management

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