Just Capito has been Williams’ Formula 1 manager since the start of last year, and the German remembers the very delicate start to working together. Not because the team situation has been difficult, but because Covid-19 still makes things complicated.
“I started in February of last year” Capito said on the high-performance podcast. “It was COVID times so I couldn’t even come to Grove. So I had to start from my home in Germany.”
“I think if you come to a company with 800 employees and you can’t come in person, you can only do it through Microsoft Teams or by phone, that’s a completely different situation.”
“As I knew this was going to happen, I prepared myself and wondered how I should do it. First, we had a general meeting where everyone could listen. Then I scheduled the meetings. Half-hour meetings with each director and I sent them questions in advance.”
There were five questions: ‘What would you like to change or what should you change? “,” What should not be changed? “,” What do you want to change? “,” What advice do you give me? and “What would you advise me not to do?” Those were the five questions every manager asks. »
“Some people said to me ‘Okay, I’ll send you the file, I wrote it. And I said “No, no, I want to discuss, I don’t want to just read the answers, so don’t send anything,” and that was really exciting. »
Keep the name decided by the team
Capito remembers having had many proposals for items that should be changed, but above all he had a frequent response to what shouldn’t be changed, in this case a name that the team had for several decades.
“When I gathered the answers to the question of what to change, I came up with four or five things that were always asked. What shouldn’t be changed is Williams’ name, legacy. It should be important, not to be forgotten, as well as the family character of the company. »
“I think 80% of people answered these three points. So I felt what was really important. When you see three or four things that 80% of people think need to change, it’s pretty clear that these are the things that need to change. »
“So you have to set priorities. I can easily prioritize, what should be clear is that it will not change. So I sat down with the team and said “Listen, it’s very clear that the name is going to stay, we’re going to keep it the same, and the legacy is important to us.” »
“The way you operate and the family’s feeling that we, as a family business, will stay. So it gave the whole team confidence that there is consistency and continuity and that they can continue to feel the way they feel. »
Kapito “walks” into the factory and opens its doors
The ex-Volkswagen rally manager quickly established a very open communication with his staff. A person who did not want to be an office worker quickly made sure to be close to the people who work for him.
“We had public meetings after every race. Every Monday or Tuesday after the race we organize a team meeting where everyone can log in. This way we get information about what happened during the race and also discuss what to do for the next race. »
“It’s not just the race team, we have 800 people overall. The vast majority of them reside in the factory and work in the factory. They have to get a sense of what’s going on at the races, because that’s where everyone works. »
“So it’s about communication, it takes a lot of communication, from human resources as well, to figure out what’s going on. I also need to walk around. The design office was really empty at that time because everyone was working from home. »
“The workshop was crowded because you couldn’t produce the parts from home, so I thought it was very important to be visible and have an open door policy. »
Before arriving, I said, ‘I don’t want to sit in an office.’ I want it to be like a living space. I always like to have an open door policy so we removed the doors. So there is no hindrance to come and see me. »