People by PostNord

Ersin is 100%

There are many tricks for motivating people, but nothing motivates Ersin Özkan as much as a screen full of numbers. This has been proven with one hundred percent certainty.

Text: DAN NILSSON photo: CHRISTIAN GUSTAVSSON

The rush hour traffic in the Södermalm district of Stockholm was hectic. There were cars everywhere. Pedestrians just stepped right out into the street. Red lights and one-way streets that felt like a maze.

Ersin Özkan wondered what he had gotten himself into as he steered the large PostNord truck while keeping one eye on the GPS. He was 19 years old and actually trained for a job in the construction industry.

But when his workday came to an end, he wanted to do it all over again. And when he did it again, he wanted to take on more routes. And once he had learned all the streets in Södermalm, he wanted to learn other areas. Larger areas.

“After a while, it felt really simple,” Ersin remembers.

Seven years later, he sits in a quiet office in Segeltorp, far from the hectic traffic of Stockholm’s streets. Today, it is mostly numbers and statistics on the computer that cross his path. And he loves it just as much as the routes in Södermalm. Especially since the statistics show that the quality of home deliveries has gone from 85 to almost 100 percent at the Segeltorp terminal during his time as production manager.

“I really enjoy being at the office,” says Ersin with a smile.

His smile is just as big when he heads out onto the production floor to talk to one of his 75 employees. Out there, everyone listens to Ersin because they know that he knows everything about their job. He knows what challenges they face – every day, every hour. Like in Södermalm.

“We always strive to ensure that the drivers are safe at work. When things work well, you can accomplish even more. I’ve pushed several drivers to become supervisors, and it worked out well for them.”

The desire to strive for more and grow is in Ersin’s blood. When he thinks back, he remembers a conversation that all parents have with their children at some point – the standard “what do you want to be when you grow up?” talk. “Choose whatever you want, except the restaurant business” his father said.

Ersin had seen with his own eyes how hard his father had worked during his 20 years in restaurants. All the late nights and long weekends. The noisy environment. The stress.

His uncles also ran restaurants, so it would not have been a complete surprise if Ersin and his twin brother Eniz had chosen the same path. But both Ersin and Eniz listened to their father, and they both eventually came to have their first workday at PostNord in Segeltorp at the same time.

And Ersin is happy about that decision today. Especially since he is not that good at cooking – and he will tell you that himself. 

“I prefer to eat my wife’s cooking,” he says and nods while thinking of the aromas of food that fill his apartment in Enskededalen.

He still has many memories from the restaurant floor. But there is something greater that he has taken from the older generations – the desire to work hard, grow, and make something of his life. This driving force was something that brought Ersin’s grandmother and grandfather from Turkey all the way to Sweden to work in the 1970s. The same driving force brought Ersin’s mother and father to Falun, where they opened their own restaurant. It was also there that the twin sons were born 27 years ago, before the family later moved to Jordbro outside of Stockholm, where Ersin and Eniz grew up.

There is something in Turkey that he doesn’t have at home in Sweden, in addition to the obvious – relatives in the city of Konya, where his family has its roots and where Ersin’s wife is from.

There is something close to Ersin’s heart there.

“Fenerbahce,” he says.

Excuse me?

“F-e-n-e-r-b-a-h-c-e,” Ersin spells out as clearly as he can while leaning over the desk.

It can’t be any clearer than that. Ersin never misses a match with his favorite team Fenerbahce, which is in the upper half of the Turkish football league. And he follows match statistics as if it were yesterday’s delivery precision in Västberga Allé. In everything that can be measured, there is also something to strive for.

And the goal? To move up the list, of course. Because if you have reached one hundred percent, you want to do it again.

“I like numbers. There are a lot of percentages in this job. Yesterday’s quality comes in during the morning, and I follow up on any missing parcels, notices and much more. I have a morning meeting with the first gang, check things out and have discussions.”

Because quality is always important – whether it’s the numbers on the screen in the terminal or buying a toy for his son. In 2018, Segeltorp was ranked low as one of the terminals in Sweden that attracted the most customer complaints. But thanks to a number of measures – including a successful pilot test of a project which aims to motivate employees through stronger leadership control – the numbers have been turned around.

“It’s a matter of valuing all drivers equally. Since there are so many people who want to grow, I’m happy to tell you how I did it. That’s the trick. Everyone takes responsibility. It’s not just about loading and driving,” says Ersin, who follows his drivers digitally when they are out on the roads and during deliveries. He texts them and checks whether they need help finding their way around an area, for example.

How does he think the employees perceive him? As a person who encourages and supports? Or as a picky and maybe even annoying production manager with control issues?

“The most important thing is that they listen to me. I have consciously chosen to not be their friend, because then there could be times when they aren’t sure whether I am speaking to them as a leader or as a friend. They see me as a leader. I can tell.”

Lennart Rönnqvist, Production Manager at the Segeltorp terminal, hired Ersin and his twin brother Eniz eight years ago.

“Both of these guys have grown a lot. It wasn’t easy to drive in Södermalm, but it was a good education. I would say that Ersin is a good communicator. He also has an ability to predict what will emerge in the future, and looks for future solutions.”

In the afternoon, when the trucks flow into the terminal like a blue wave, Ersin is there to meet the drivers and ask how their day went. The desire to correct the previously poor numbers lives on, and praise is important. But it is also important to take all customer feedback seriously.

“If we have received customer feedback, I talk to each person. Ideally I do it one-on-one because no one else needs to know. It is sometimes a matter of a misunderstanding between driver and customer. We then reach an agreement on how we can make it work,” says Ersin, who in many cases calls the customer to sort out the problem.

“So far, I have not come across an impossible case. It is always possible to reach an agreement with the customer,” he says.

Ersin also admits that there are challenges in PostNord’s operations. For example, e-commerce has increased enormously in a short amount of time.

“By over 50 percent each month,” he adds and then checks his computer screen to summarize the latest figures.

There is always a figure to pick out, and Ersin knows them all. People and numbers – that’s what his job is all about. Ersin loves both aspects. But even though he loves them, there are still things he wants to do in life. More things to learn.

When asked if he has any role models, he does not have to think about it very long. He could pick some celebrity, someone with a big public profile. Maybe a player or coach in Fenerbahce?

“My role models are my managers  – Salih Korkmaz and Philip Wik. My goal is to be like them,” he says, adding that his managers have been with him throughout his time at PostNord.

Because that’s exactly how it works. You learn from those who know something. Then Ersin goes on to teach what he knows and become a role model for someone else. Just like when he sat in that truck in Södermalm and decided to learn all the routes, all the streets. From there, you can only go in one direction – toward one hundred percent.

Ersin Özkan
Position at PostNord: Production Manager at the Segeltorp terminal
in Sweden.
Closest colleagues: Lennart Rönnqvist, Eniz Özkan (twin brother), Johnny Larsson, Rolf Kjellberg, Patrik Wikström, Ilker Bircan and Yakup Cakmak.

Views on Ersin 1
“It’s really nice to work with your twin brother. He’s someone you can talk to about anything. We’re both married and we live in different areas, so the job lets us meet up more. We’ve had many similar jobs and even the same workplaces. My brother is a really hard worker. The two of us are really similar in our free time as well. He is kind, and funny too. There is always a lot of laughter when you’re with him. He’s my twin brother, after all.”
Eniz Özkan, supervisor at the Segeltorp terminal in Stockholm

Views on Ersin 2
“In my eyes, he is clearly a future manager. I was at his brother’s wedding, with about 500 guests, and Ersin immediately took on an organizing role that suits him so well. He was a good recruit!”
Lennart Rönnqvist, production manager at the Segeltorp terminal