Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Far from equality

I am all for gender equality, I certainly believe that women can do as good a job as men (with a few exceptions where brute strength is needed).  I also believe that we are not the same – but nor are we that different. In fact I believe that regardless of gender we are all somewhat different. One of the best managers I have ever had was a woman, by far the worst manager I have had was a woman, I have had great male managers and terrible ones. The same for people in my team I have managed great and less great people of both gender in my time – and to be frank I don’t think their greatness or lack thereof has anything to do with gender.
It annoys me when I read that women need to “lean in”. Why do we have to do that? And do many men not need to do the same?
 I know very few female senior managers (and a lot of male), so I follow some “women in business” twitter accounts and have joined some groups of female leaders on linkedIn. And this is where I get disappointed, a group for professional women on Linked In the discussions are sexist (but we make it that way). There are discussions on RBF (Resting Bitch Face) as it is worse for women to have a resting face that looks serious than for men? (Really!!), what to wear? (Men and women alike – wear something appropriate and comfortable), what does women entrepreneur need to know? (I guess pretty much the same as male entrepreneurs).

I am sad that although women have fought so long for equality, we still so far from both job and pay equality. But sometimes we are our own worst enemy. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lufthansa Got My Number



Twice during the last 3 weeks have I gotten a SMS from Lufthansa. Both times it was bad news, both times was I happy to receive it!

First SMS was after teen son and I traveled from Krakow to Brussels on the last plane and barely made our connection. Think something like this: Plane lands (on time) plane taxi a good 15 min (think we might actually have “driven” to another airport). Everybody disembark and wedge into waiting busses (we were lucky and chose the one that left first) Bus drives 7-8 min to terminal, everybody spills out and then we belt it across Frankfurt airport – seriously I think it is a good 1.5 km you have to run, snaking in and out between suitcases and the travelers who have more reasonable transfer times, down lifts and up lifts… and when we reached the gate they had already taken away the Brussels sign – but saw us and we made it as the absolutely last ones. Arriving in Brussels, Lufthansa have sent a SMS notifying us that unfortunately our luggage had not been as agile as us – and thus missed the Brussels flight (which judged by the reaction of ground staff in Brussels must happen a lot).  Anyway we knew straight away the luggage was not there – so instead of having to wait at the carousel until all luggage had arrived – we could continue to ground staff immediately, get everything sorted for delivery next morning. And more importantly be home before the dinner,  AlphaMale loving made, burnt.

Second SMS was this afternoon that my connecting flight from Munich to Brussels was cancelled – of course this is not a great SMS – but because I already knew 6 hours before (and 1 hour before I had to leave the office) I could call the service center and  re-book onto the late flight. When I arrived in Munich I overheard a fellow passenger try to do the same – but by then the late flight was full. So I felt pretty smug having done that already.

This by the way only works because these are all the SMS’s Lufthansa are sending me (except for a “gate change” once in a while – but still very happy to receive). If they tried to flog me services, special offers  and other stuff I would make sure my number  came off their list (even if it meant changing my number).
Only provide customers with the information they need, they will appreciate it even if it is bad news.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Just Ask The Question!!!

Not long after we moved into our house a new bakery opened around the corner. I LOVE bread so the prospect of the bakery so close by was for me the equivalent of Christmas for a 5 year old.
Imagine my surprise when such a lovely shop – filled with such goodies is owned and serviced by a really unfriendly woman. She always looks like I am disturbing her when I want to buy bread never “hello” or “goodbye”. So I rather walk a bit longer to another bakery where they are friendly – and I only go to the one around the corner when the other is closed. I have never told her why I am not her biggest customer, but neither has she asked me.
That is the problem – if you do not ask your customers whether they are happy – how can you really know? When I ask that question I often hear “The customer keeps coming back” or “they never complain” but that is fraud I am sure the bakery around the corner will say “she keep coming back” and I do – but only 20% of the time. And they could say “she never complaint” and they are right I don’t. But I never tell people about the bakery either it is my “back –up solution”.  On the other hand if the service in the little bakery (which by the way is beautifully decorated) was top notch – I would bore everyone I know about this little gem.
If your customer is truly happy with your product and the service they receive they are your best advertisement. But before you know – you have to ask!!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Yahoo stops teleworking are they right?

Last night, I had dinner with some of the smartest people I know and one of the subjects that came up was the fact that Marissa Mayer has decided to ban on teleworking at Yahoo. And we were of all kind of opinions ranging from “I you want to get paid – come to work” to “it is just a matter of setting smart goals”.
I have to say I agree with Marissa Mayer, if you want to reinvent Yahoo you will need everybody moving in the same direction to ensure the message is understood but also for making those important relationship across the organization, that is so important to strengthen the company, but also to unlock those cross functional ideas – that only happens when we are physical together.
Whilst Tele working is great for tasks that do not require much interaction, people need to be together not only to come up with new ideas – but to build a strong corporate brand internally.    
I seems that for some yahoo employees the quality of work have deteriorated when working from home, maybe because of lack of goals or lack of supervision.
The key message here is that Yahoo does not say that there will never be teleworking again – “but right now, this is what is right for Yahoo” – I believe it is the right decision, and it takes some guts to do it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I prefer Austrian Airlines - yet Lufthansa get my business




The last 8 months I have travelled for work at least every second week – in my eyes that it quite a lot. I travel between two sites (Brussels and Krakow) and there is no direct flight. I can choose to go via 4 different airports. To get over to Krakow the earliest in the morning and back the latest – thus optimizing my days there I usual go via Vienna.
I love Austrian Airlines, they give excellent service. If we are a bit delayed usually the captain will say “We have checked your connecting flights, and you should be able to make them”  - I think 85 % of us coming from Krakow on the late flight have a connecting flight and we all want to get home.
But Austrian codeshare with Polish LOT who are always late  at take off– and they never say anything at the gate – the crew is not helpful – and the whole experience is unpleasant (and even though I have a two hour layover in Vienna - I have missed the connecting flight, and more often than not I have to run to catch the next plane). So on the same route I have either a great experience, that makes me happy, or one that makes me want to give up airtravel altogether.
In an ideal world I want to keep doing the very early and very late flights, fly with Austrian Airlines and avoid LOT – unfortunately that is not possible so I am starting to travel via Munich with Lufthansa.
So Austrian Airlines are losing my business, because I want to avoid LOT – of course the real winner is Lufthansa who  do not need to do anything to gain the businessIt just goes to show that if you have a partner – you need to make sure their standards are not dragging you down.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Showing Initiative to providing better service

We (Alpha-Male and I) are some of the last of the species to have a “land-line” at home, we use Belgacom the local previously state-owned telephony provider; in an earlier blog post I have written about the disappointing Customer Service we have gotten in the past  (http://blondiesvision.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/setting-expectations-i-live-in-belgium.html). However recently we got fantastic service and I want to share that as well.

We needed to move a mobile phone from one account to another, so as we were shopping anyway we dropped into the local Belgacom store. Here we were served by Fred (not his real name but I do not want him to be in trouble) who seemed genuinely pleased to help us, but when some bureaucratic issue came up he really went above and beyond.
It turned out that to move this account we needed a copy of a piece of paper left at home, so Fred – who does not have a work email (Surprised that is even possible!) gave us his private Gmail address for us to scan the paper at home and forward to him, this way he could get all the papers and complete the transaction for us, without the need for us to come back. Of course this would have been much easier if this particular transaction was available on-line, but since it is not, we were very pleased that Fred showed initiative to be able provide great service.  And we were both delighted that we got this done with so easily.
However I think Belgacom has really missed a vital interaction format with their customers, if you cannot go to clerk in their store and then keep an online communication with the same clerk in order to finalize the transaction.