When Trabzon Port, located in Türkiye on the Black Sea, began operating as the gateway to the world’s major seas 16 years ago, it struggled to pay its employees. Today, it is Europe’s Best Small Workplace and boasted 100% participation in the Trust Index™ employee survey.
Employees ranked several statements in the survey at 100%, and Trabzon Port consistently ranks among Türkiye’s Top Corporate Taxpayers, too. The secret? Strong values, trust and training. General Manager Halit Muzaffer Ermiş and Human Resources Hiring Manager Bilal Aydoğdu explain.
“A leader’s behavior and attitude create trust and reliability among employees,” Halit begins. “Great leaders are determined to keep employees motivated and take the necessary steps to reach their goals. They are also responsible and reliable in their approach. Through consistency in words and actions and adherence to the values of righteousness, integrity, justice and respect, leaders can take the needed steps to achieve success.”
Bilal says that Halit and his team are leaders in the purest sense of the word. “There’s an old naval saying, ‘No wind is good for a captain who does not know which way to go.’ Our leaders know which way to go, so they can manage any strong winds our company encounters. They embrace and implement our core values and demonstrate those core values to employees.”
Sharing the honor
But Halit says that ‘leader’ is more than just a job title. It’s an attitude. “It doesn’t matter what role you play or what your job title is. Everyone can be a leader in their work. When you do a good job, it increases your prestige in the eyes of others. When you keep up with trends and enrich your work with innovations, you are truly a leader in your work.”
Bilal says that employees are encouraged to do a good job in a number of significant ways. “We truly value our colleagues’ thoughts and opinions, and provide multiple ways for them to give it. For example, in unit-specific and team meetings, through surveys and feedback forms, instant messaging tools, internal communication platforms and more. This increases their loyalty and enables them to balance responsibility and freedom in their work. They can work in peace, and when they know their opinions are shared by others, it increases everyone’s feeling of belonging and contributing.”
Lead through training
Halit says the greatest piece of advice he ever received was to be a role model and a teacher to his employees. “Your teams will remember you for a lifetime if you contribute to their lives by training them. They will be your biggest supporters and the future of the organization.”
And, according to Bilal, Trabzon Port is providing plenty of opportunities to build that future. “Our Albayrak Academy provides a wide variety of training, and we encourage Master’s and Doctorate education through both financial and spiritual support. We have a special program for young graduates, too, and provide grants to both Turkish students and others around the world. We also organize joint programs with leading universities in Türkiye so that our professional directors can convey eye-opening information to the students.”
Set the example
Being Europe’s Best Small Workplace is also a great responsibility, according to Halit. “We are aware of our national and moral values for the unity of our country and to sustain our beliefs, traditions, and culture. It’s our responsibility to set an example for others to follow. Those values include halal earning from our activities, solidarity of fellowship, valuing people and labor, and justice and equity for all people. We aim to be an example to others in our work and approach.”
And Bilal says the list of examples goes on and on. From event sponsorship to gifts for employees and their families, and from social programs to sustainability. “Trabzon Port makes our colleagues feel special on special days, and arranges prize drawings for their families. We have donated thousands of books to libraries, donated saplings on behalf of our colleagues, we support paper recycling and zero waste projects, and organize events for our colleagues’ children. Our company continues to operate with the mindset that our differences unite us. Our employees from different nations, languages, sects and ethnic backgrounds help us remain productive and help our company culture be embraced.”
Drive the change
Want your organization to be a true role model like Trabzon Port? Encourage leadership at every level. Understand that training your people will build loyalty and drive innovation. And be a role model for your company and your community. But above all, lead by example and hold your company – and cultural – values close.