The transformation of HCOB: Communication is the name of the game

Mai 2021 – From regional state bank to privatized specialist bank, the road taken by the Hamburg Commercial Bank is a bold one, unprecedented in Germany. HR head Judith Steinhoff explains the role played by current and future employees in the May issue of the renowned German HR trade magazine ‟Personalführung”.

Image Judith Steinhoff

‟There weren’t many in the market who believed in us. However, with its employees who are and have been very loyal and who have mastered this sometimes difficult path, this bank has turned a corner.” In an interview given to the May issue of ‟Personalführung”, the leading HR trade journal published by the German Association for Human Resource Management, Judith Steinhoff makes no bones about this. This radical openness and transparency even made Steinhoff, Global Head of HR at Hamburg Commercial Bank, the cover star.

The interview is not only a testament to her dedicated work as well as that of the entire HR team at HCOB over the past few years: it also documents the radical shift that the financial institution is still undergoing to this day. It is a shift that not only entailed a specialization of banking activities: it also – and above all – required all employees to change their mindset and behavior.

Sneaker in pink going upstairs

The goal is to create a new performance culture

‟We haven’t completed the cultural shift yet, if this is even actually possible. In the third year of our transformation, we want to maintain our strong KPIs and continue to work on our profitability. In keeping with the claim of ‘Pleasure to win’, we intend to establish a performance culture where pleasure is taken in competition and which benefits of our customers. This includes everyone seeing the big picture and taking ownership,” says Steinhoff in the multi-page interview.

In order to reduce costs, the HCOB has massively cut down on material expenses in recent years. This meant, unavoidably, parting ways with long-time employees – no easy task, especially for Steinhoff, who has worked in various roles at HCOB and its predecessor institute for two decades. ‟In a non-manufacturing industry such as ours, where very specialized expertise is sometimes required, this is a very special challenge. Downsizing not only affects those who leave, but also the remaining workforce. It is therefore important to offer perspectives and to be attractive as an employer. I think we’ve found a good balance in this respect. Filling future positions and finding the right timing is critical to the success of our human resources work,” says Steinhoff.

She adds that this also included finding the optimal time to roll out the new employer branding campaign: ‟Hamburg Commercial Bank. Braver.” The time came at the beginning of 2021 – and, as can be seen today, it has been a complete success.

The goal is to create a new performance culture

‟We haven’t completed the cultural shift yet, if this is even actually possible. In the third year of our transformation, we want to maintain our strong KPIs and continue to work on our profitability. In keeping with the claim of ‘Pleasure to win’, we intend to establish a performance culture where pleasure is taken in competition and which benefits of our customers. This includes everyone seeing the big picture and taking ownership,” says Steinhoff in the multi-page interview.

In order to reduce costs, the HCOB has massively cut down on material expenses in recent years. This meant, unavoidably, parting ways with long-time employees – no easy task, especially for Steinhoff, who has worked in various roles at HCOB and its predecessor institute for two decades. ‟In a non-manufacturing industry such as ours, where very specialized expertise is sometimes required, this is a very special challenge. Downsizing not only affects those who leave, but also the remaining workforce. It is therefore important to offer perspectives and to be attractive as an employer. I think we’ve found a good balance in this respect. Filling future positions and finding the right timing is critical to the success of our human resources work,” says Steinhoff.

She adds that this also included finding the optimal time to roll out the new employer branding campaign: ‟Hamburg Commercial Bank. Braver.” The time came at the beginning of 2021 – and, as can be seen today, it has been a complete success.

Image Trainee

The goal is to create a new performance culture

‟We haven’t completed the cultural shift yet, if this is even actually possible. In the third year of our transformation, we want to maintain our strong KPIs and continue to work on our profitability. In keeping with the claim of ‘Pleasure to win’, we intend to establish a performance culture where pleasure is taken in competition and which benefits of our customers. This includes everyone seeing the big picture and taking ownership,” says Steinhoff in the multi-page interview.

In order to reduce costs, the HCOB has massively cut down on material expenses in recent years. This meant, unavoidably, parting ways with long-time employees – no easy task, especially for Steinhoff, who has worked in various roles at HCOB and its predecessor institute for two decades. ‟In a non-manufacturing industry such as ours, where very specialized expertise is sometimes required, this is a very special challenge. Downsizing not only affects those who leave, but also the remaining workforce. It is therefore important to offer perspectives and to be attractive as an employer. I think we’ve found a good balance in this respect. Filling future positions and finding the right timing is critical to the success of our human resources work,” says Steinhoff.

She adds that this also included finding the optimal time to roll out the new employer branding campaign: ‟Hamburg Commercial Bank. Braver.” The time came at the beginning of 2021 – and, as can be seen today, it has been a complete success.

Judith Steinhoff

Head of Human Resources

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