Does your team already have a Tim? Up until last year, this would have been seen as a silly question within the VodafoneZiggo organisation, but not anymore. The company has 16 support centres throughout the country, warehouses where technicians pick up materials, and eight of these now have a Tim: someone who doesn't quite fit into a traditional job description, but who can work just fine with a little extra supervision. These Tims manage the warehouse and assist technicians by making sure the right materials are available, taking a lot of work off their hands in the process.
From quiet chap to go-to guy
Tim Jansen is compartment manager, and ensures that materials stock at the support centre is in order. He is one of the eight Tims. In fact, he is the Tim who started it all. "My team leader Ronald saw the potential immediately," Tim explains. 'He gave me more and more responsibility, and because he thought I was doing so well, he decided to start a project to get more people like me working at support centres"
Because Tim has autism, it is more difficult for him to make contact with others, but Ronald helped him out with that. "When I first came to VodafoneZiggo, I was going through a hard time in my private life and I found it very difficult to talk to others. Ronald has really changed me. It is partly thanks to him that I came out of that dip and that I'm no longer afraid to talk to people. Now, I'm even a kind of go-to guy for my colleagues. I like answering questions, getting people up to speed and helping my colleagues, which is something I could never have never imagined happening."
Tim can do more
When Ronald became Tim's team leader in 2017, he saw his potential. Yet it wasn't easy to get through to him, Ronald noticed. "We had to get used to each other, which took time. I talk a lot and go quickly from one thing to another. For someone with autism like Tim, that is reason enough to give up. Nevertheless, we slowly but surely started to understand each other better. Tim holds up a mirror to me, as it were. If I go too fast, I immediately notice it in him, so I adjust my behaviour.”
So, Ronald learned from Tim, but also the other way around. "Tim discovered how to deal with others. This was also necessary, but it was striking how quickly he developed. I chose Tim as the figurehead of the campaign because to me he is the best example of what someone in his position can achieve. My fellow team leaders sometimes have reservations about getting a 'Tim' in their team and I fully understand that, but you have to take the time to get to know and understand someone, too. In the end, the effort means that you help someone who is really keen to work, to improve our services and to learn a lot themselves."
In the past, technicians did the work that Tim is doing now, which used to take them several days a week. As a result, they were unable to devote that time to jobs that technicians normally do. Ronald: "We need to maximise the potential of each employee so that the customer gets the most out of it, which wasn't the case in the old situation. Technicians should be out visiting customers, not keeping the warehouse in order. Tim can do that just as well, maybe even better than the technicians did."
Tim is cut out for the work he does. In fact, he is so good at it that he can and is allowed to do more and more. With Ronald's help, he became a certified technician, something that not every Tim can and is allowed to do. This means he can work on VodafoneZiggo's network and, if necessary, carry out work at customers' homes. Although he’s not too keen on that last bit. "It is nice that I am allowed to do it, but it would take a lot of energy as I could easily get stressed out from it. Instead, I prefer keeping the warehouse in order; I can put my autism to good use there. I put everything neatly in place and can focus on my tasks.”
A new Ronald
The aim is to have a Tim at each support centre, something we are working hard on at the moment. "We are also in the process of regulating. If a colleague leaves, we immediately look for a replacement. But we prefer to hold on to everyone who's here now, of course, so we try to keep everyone happy as much as possible." Incidentally, Ronald himself won't be doing his job for much longer, as he has found himself a new job. "I'll be moving on from Tim with a satisfied feeling. He has proved what he can do and we have achieved some great things together. Fortunately, my successor is ready for action." Tim is sorry to see Ronald leave, but also happy with his new team leader. "Fortunately, I already know him well. Things will be different without Ronald, but hopefully his successor and I can learn a lot from each other, too."