How to accompany employees through evolving workspaces? Get a glimpse into the Lenovo office in Bratislava with Zuzana Mojsova through our interview in which she shares advice on people management based on her experience as Senior Customer Operations Manager at Lenovo.
You started at Lenovo in an entry level position 13 years ago right after finishing your studies. How have you taken responsibility for your own career?
Taking responsibility, for me, means showing capability, being ready to accept change and challenges, having a network of supporters and sponsors, prioritizing in order to achieve my goals, and never forgetting my values and who I am.
I am a detail-oriented perfectionist, I thus devote myself 100 percent to projects if not 110 percent. Implementing this approach helped me build a brand of a person who you can go to, who gets things done, and who is not afraid to accept a challenge. With this responsible reputation new roles and responsibilities came to me naturally!
Lenovo recently moved its location in Bratislava, Slovakia to more modern premises without personalized desks. What impact does it have on employees and how do they foster effectivity?
The working space concept at Lenovo Bratislava is based on neighbourhoods. Bigger teams have a dedicated work area and if more than 80% of a team is present, then the remaining members can find a desk elsewhere in the building. We have also cooperation areas, “hot desks”, meeting rooms, smaller focus rooms, phone booths, as well as thematic rooms with more alternative seating such as a zen or space room. The different spaces foster productivity based on the type of activity. For example, managers and site leaders do not have offices anymore but sit among employees. Being closer to their teams decreases resolution time for business or people related tasks.
This change was not simple because we took the personal space from everybody, but thanks to good preparation and communication, both the employee engagement and performance enablement indicators increased positively year over year.
Being closer to their teams decreases
resolution time for business or people related tasks.
In 2017, you were promoted to Senior Customer Operations Manager, looking after the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Customer Order Resolution team while maintaining the role of Chief of Staff. Could you share some tips on people management that you have learnt from the two positions?
People management is not easy. You need to play different roles from being a good listener or providing a shoulder to cry on, to making decisions in tough situations. However, it can also be satisfying when you manage to move your team to the next level, or when you help a team member overcome a difficult personal situation.
Here are my seven key learnings as a people manager: first, do not assume. Talk to your team to get facts before driving a conclusion. Second, always find time to listen to employees, no matter how busy you are. For example, book a time slot in the calendar and let staff know that they can always come talk during this time slot. Third, use an individual approach. While one person might need your support concerning decision-making, the other would see it as you are not trusting the person or not giving the person space. Fourth, be clear on what is expected from the team and communicate it to them. Fifth, back up your team. There will always be situations when people need to feel your support. Sixth, build a strong network of supporters and sponsors – not only for yourself, but also for your team. Last but not least, be honest and authentic. This can help you build trust.
First, do not assume. Talk to your team to get facts before driving a conclusion. Second, always find time to listen to employees, no matter how busy you are.
Moreover, part of your mission has been to digitalize the customer PC order loads within Lenovo system with the help of robotic process automation (RPA). As the digital transition is a topic of interest among our Members and Talents, could you tell me more about your work in this process?
We use a home-grown software tool that places orders into the Lenovo system as if a person was doing it. Approximately 80 percent of our orders are placed electronically while the remaining 20 percent are uploaded to the system manually. The software, advantageously, works 24 hours, 7 days a week and can load more orders a day than a human being.
We are also adopting an optical character recognition software and a home-grown RPA tool that should not only increase correct data reading and the amount of electronic ordering but decrease the amount of coding. If six pages of code are needed for one customer today, only six lines will be needed tomorrow.
Your team is on average 10 years younger than you, which is where you were 13 years ago. Could you explain your experience working in an environment in which there is a generational gap between the senior managers and the young workforce?
Most of my team is 25 or younger. Some of them are already part of generation Z, who do not remember the September 11 attacks, nor the world without internet or mobile phones. We do not use the same language, nor do I list my life on social networks as much as they do.
Having a young team gives me the opportunity to learn something new daily and be more flexible in the way I think, a key competence in the digital world. They are also much faster when it comes to daily operational work with technology, but they may lack soft skills like presenting or effective argumentation.
Having a young team gives me the opportunity
to learn something new daily and be more flexible in the way
I think, a key competence in the digital world.
You are a current participant in the 5th Edition of the WIL Europe Talent Pool Program (WTP). What is your vision of the future of female leadership in Slovakia?
I am quite optimistic. A leader, whether male or female, inspires people and leads them to achieve their goals. Women are equally capable of handling a leadership role if they make that decision and follow their goals.
In addition, Slovakia has changed greatly over the past thirty years. Societal pressure on women to fulfil their role as a mother at the expense of their career has been decreasing. Meanwhile, there has been an increasing trend of fathers staying at home to take care of their children so that the women can work. This will continue as both countries and companies get involved with improving gender diversity, especially concerning women in executive positions. I am sure that the recently elected president of the Slovak Republic, Zuzana Čaputová, will also lead by example.
We will conclude with a question from the Proust questionnaire: What is your chief characteristic and how has it helped you in your career?
Everything has its right time. I am patient, organised, and persistent. I like to have things under control, and I need to feel comfortable when taking the next step. That means I need to gather all the necessary data plus support from the people I work with as I gradually make it towards the goal. This helped me to not only win the trust of my colleagues, but also uncover the beauty of people management. As I started to feel more comfortable, I started to believe that I had something to give to back!
Read more about Zuzana here!