The National Land Survey of Finland

coaching leadership NLS

Leading the way with coaching leadership and self-direction

The National Land Survey of Finland has an important social role of producing land-related information, research and services. More than 200 years old, the public authority has renewed its strategy and has a strong vision of being a pioneer in its sector. The subsections of the strategy are laid out under the themes of a shared roadmap. To promote the desired way of working, the organisation has identified values that also provide a framework for the goals of leadership and managerial work.

The National Land Survey is also renewing its organisational culture. Boasting a history of very long careers, the organisation has transitioned from local management and traditional ways of working to a national, spread-out structure.

For the development of the National Land Survey, it is important for the leadership and managerial work to support the set goals and the value-based culture.

In order to focus the development on the correct factors, the National Land Survey required an extensive analysis of the managerial work. The objective was to identify the strengths and development needs of managerial work in relation to the set goals. Finding the cultural identity was also considered important; in other words, pinning down the factors in the organisational culture that create the exceptionally high level of engagement experienced in the organisation for several years as proven by, for example, employee surveys.

“We wanted to have an objective perspective on whether the managerial work is actually implemented in accordance with our strategic goals. That is why it was important for us to select an external partner for the development process. We have a research unit of our own, but in the development of leadership and employee competence, we placed our trust in the expertise of Corporate Spirit,” says Senior HR Specialist Ulla Lanu. “We were extremely pleased with our partner’s customer-oriented way of working and the captivating approach of the research team; we couldn’t have asked for more,” praises HR Specialist Saila Buure.

Significance of discussion culture emphasised in self-directed organisation

The analysis showed that the engagement in the organisation is strong. “Our supervisors are motivated in their work and deeply trust their workers. We have offices in 37 localities and our supervisors have subordinates all around Finland. Unlike we may have predicted, the results showed that the physical distance of the supervisor does not impact the satisfaction or dissatisfaction towards managerial work,” says Lanu. “Instead, active interaction and the opportunity for dialogue play a significant role in spread-out leadership. People want feedback on their work,” says Buure.

“Our goal is to specify, clarify and emphasise
that self-direction consists of work and shared responsibility.”

According to the results of the analysis, the National Land Survey still has work to do in specifying the meaning of self-direction. “People are different and understand self-direction in different ways. Our goal is to specify, clarify and emphasise that self-direction consists of work and shared responsibility, not the person’s own interests. We still need to focus on encouraging individuals to self-direct their actions towards common goals. Right now, our agenda features coaching leadership which teaches supervisors to guide people towards self-direction in an individual manner,” says Lanu.

Development comes naturally to the National Land Survey

Constant development lies deep in the culture of the National Land Survey. “We constantly aim to adjust our operations to the needs and challenges of society. It is important to us to spearhead development. We want to encourage our personnel to innovate and develop new ideas with our customers,” say Lanu and Buure.

The employees are enabled to develop their everyday activities with self-direction.

Area-specific workplace groups formed by the personnel are allowed to plan occupational well-being and recreational activities in a self-directed manner within a set budget. “We want to give the employees the responsibility and power to decide for themselves. This is a question of culture – we feel that each employee should take responsibility for their working community. It is important to mutually discuss the choices at workplaces and let everyone have a say,” says Lanu.

Success supported through open communications

At the National Land Survey, the management supports the success of the personnel. “We promote an internal discussion culture. We want to support the development of the personnel and guide them to, for instance, personally seek training events,” says Lanu. For a spread-out organisation, a constant channel for dialogue is vitally important. “According to the analysis, the employees feel that the supervisors have communicated the contents of the strategy to them in a sufficiently clear manner so that everyone knows where we are headed,” says Buure.

At the National Land Survey, managerial work is genuinely  valued, as indicated by the desire to study and assess its implementation.

The National Land Survey supports supervisors in a number of ways. “We want to increase the value of managerial work in our organisation. We are constantly developing support functions for supervisors and providing help when needed,” says Lanu. “We organise orientation for new supervisors to ensure that the managerial work is refined as planned,” says Buure.

In constantly changing working life, leadership must also change. According to Lanu and Buure, it is important to keep an eye on the bigger picture. The analysis gave the National Land Survey a clear image of the state of managerial work and a direction for future development. “In a spread-out, virtual organisation, there are both benefits and challenges. That is why it is important to regularly study and measure how leadership is carried out in everyday life,” says Lanu.

coaching leadership NLS

The over 200-year old National Land Survey of Finland performs various kinds of cadastral surveys such as parcelling and reallocations of pieces of land, produces map data and promotes the joint use of such data. The National Land Survey of Finland has offices in 37 localities across Finland, from Mariehamn to Ivalo. The number of employees totals approximately 1760.