Szabolcs Németh

Area Director Battonya SOS Children's Villages in Hungary 

The will to succeed: Team building

It was 2004. I took over the leadership of the SOS Children’s Village. It was a fortunate start since I had the luck to set up a whole new team. Our primary duty is to coordinate, help and support the SOS mothers. Like in every new team and every new start, the enthusiasm at the beginning was very high and performance very high too. Then, things began to get more difficult to operate. The result was that difficulties in operation lead to lots of conflict between colleagues. I was lucky however that some sparkles of the initial enthusiasm were still flickering and it was out of this energy that I got the will and the determination to improve the situation. I told my colleagues of the need to re-charge our enthusiasm for our work and launch a new start, and they were open for the changes.

The first step I took was to ask for the assistance of an external expert, who suggested that we should move together out of the office, spend a few days away from the village, and make a variety of activities, exercises relieve tension, bring people closer together.

The impulse was high and without hesitating, I developed a program; I had only to wait for the opportunity. It came when I secured the support of a foundation. It all became a reality. I took the office staff for a long weekend (Friday to Sunday), away from the children's village to a place where we knew only each other. We all put up in an apartment. We had joint excursions in nature, shared meals and dance evenings. And the days passed. Gradually we started coming closer to each other, knowing one another better. Each new day and each new coming together generated more situational practices. From the morning circles through series of conflict management practices over sharing, we lived together through several types of situations. We learned indeed more about the other.

Something has changed, we all observed. It was the last day, everyone realized how open we have become to each other, how completely reduced the number of conflicts has become and how close and effectively we were all collaborating with one another. We took up this energy and on getting back to work in the village, the results of the team building programme were visible and experienced. It all reflected on the SOS mothers, the children and on the whole village.

Most important to me is the ability to see the opportunity to make changes and make use of it to do something for the team thereby raising the efficiency of work done with and for the children. Undertaking the whole exercise and building up a strong and healthy team at work reveals a very important aspect of the collaborating relationship between every co-worker and his/her work life. It showed the team how important it is to the management to see them happy at their workplaces.

Szabolcs Németh
is presently the Area Director in Battonya/Hungary. He joined SOS Children's Villages in 1996. 

After his studies, he started as a teacher in the local elementary school. Shortly thereafter, he began with SOS Children's Villages first as a pedagogical co-worker at SOS Children's VillagesBattonya. Later on he became the  Village Director and since September 2012, he is also the Area Director.

The values he aims at in his work he explains as follows: “In the first SOS Children’s Village behind the Iron Curtain, I always consider my most important goal to make children understand their position, to give them available aims and help them to achieve these”.

Szabolcs is a member of a social organisation called “Fantasy Sports and Culture Association”. There they organise programmes for children and people living in Battonya and its environs. They are primarily sport activities but yearly they organise cultural life-motivating activities for the whole community. It is the “Day of the City” programme with child folk dance performances to famous bands. It is always a big opportunity for children to show their talent in arts. 

Szabolcs’ favourite leisure activity is sports – he likes jogging, mountain climbing and skiing. He also really enjoys making special foods.

Family: He is so proud that his father was a founding member of SOS Children’s Villages Hungary. Szabolcs has a brother and a sister who is 20 years younger than he is. His mother worked as a teacher too. She is retired. Szabolcs has two children: a 14-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter.