Wies van 't Slot of 365Werk 'Striving for improvement is in our DNA'

Wies van 't Slot of 365Werk 'Striving for improvement is in our DNA'

Shooting up like an arrow, that was Wies van 't Slot's goal when she started working after graduating in business administration. She made a career at Randstad and Young-Capital until she decided six years ago to do better herself. Her temporary employment agency
365Werk grew in five years to a turnover of 20 million and then suffered a major blow from the corona crisis. The company bounced back thanks to a solid foundation built by a forewoman who always strives to improve.

We meet in Groningen when the terraces are open again and the demand for hospitality staff is rising rapidly. Before the corona crisis, 365Werk derived over 65 percent of its turnover from the hospitality and events sector. Now the online staffing agency is also serving new clients in sectors such as healthcare and logistics. 'We can make a big leap now that the hospitality industry is open again,' says Wies, who looks confidently to the future. 'It was an intense time, but we have been rewarded for the solid foundation we have built in this company. We really braved the challenge we faced together. Not only myself, but the entire team was overwhelmed daily by the great impact of the lockdowns on our company. They too took responsibility and kept the ship going.'

As an entrepreneur, Wies learned valuable lessons during the crisis. 'For five years we were doing well. We grew by double digits every year and we worked very hard to achieve that, but it really comes down to setbacks. That's when you get to know yourself and your team. You can bet I had sleepless nights. I'm not naturally sensitive to stress, but in this exceptional situation it was a challenge to remain calm and pragmatic. Accepting the stress and taking good care of myself kept me going. Early morning walks with the dogs and starting fresh again. In my leadership role, on the one hand I was more directive than usual - because even in a self-organizing holacracy you have to take the lead in a crisis - and on the other hand I learned not to want to control everything.'

'This major setback also made me realize how well our company is put together. That we have resilience. That resilience is also in myself and I developed it early in my personal life, including through my parents' divorce and long rehabilitation after an accident. As a result, I know that difficult times also pass. Moreover, my childhood was a fertile basis for entrepreneurship. In the entrepreneurial family I come from, we were given a lot of room to try things out, but we were also expected to work hard without excuses. That's how you learn to pursue dreams as well as persevere. That came in handy when I started this company, because the first few years I didn't like it. I literally had to start again from the beginning and that was quite disappointing. Only when 365Werk started to grow, could I do the things that really give me energy.

Collaborate in everything

Wies is an entrepreneur who enjoys being at the helm of the ship while collaborating with her team on all aspects. 'I am a generalist and get involved in every facet of the business. From customer contact to sales, marketing, IT and finance, I have ideas about everything. That was why I got stuck at Randstad and later YoungCapital: I may have had great managerial positions, but I was expected to focus solely on my own piece. The best thing about this own company is that my way of working is now coming into its own. Entrepreneurship always beckoned me, but the fact that it would fit me so well took me by surprise. Since I started building 365Werk, I feel a lot stronger, happier and more energetic and I am full of confidence.'

"That's because I am in my place," Wies realizes, "and that is exactly what I also strive for in my team. You shouldn't mold people to strict job profiles, but let them find out where their strengths lie and where they want to grow. Because striving for improvement is extremely woven into the DNA of this company. Always developing. Personally, I prefer to do that in practice, by doing. I learn from all situations that arise and dare to reflect on myself. If there is friction and something touches me, I consult myself. And I listen to people I respect. At the beginning of my career I was so keen on my ambitions to shoot up like an arrow that I was told I could become more 'rounded'. That's still in the back of my mind.

Keep listening well

'I am still ambitious, because of my drive to improve I always want to move forward. However, I have become calmer in recent years. I am better able to stand back and look at the whole picture. With the current size of the company, more is needed than hard work, namely: quietness and space in my head for picking up signals that we have to deal with. I am very eager to learn, like to be inspired by inspiring entrepreneurs, talk to clients, read a lot and am always full of ideas, but the most important thing is that I keep an eye and ear for the basics of this company. Always keep asking questions and listening carefully to the people doing the actual work. It's all about teamwork, which is why leadership and coaching in particular is a continuous development process for me. I am well aware: if we grow as a team, then the company grows with it.'