with Lukasz Tkaczyk | Community Relation Officer at Edinburgh University
There are various discussions about today’s university role in the context of students’ preparation for the workforce: failing in preparing people for businesses, it competes with the self-learning market online, or it is just a bureaucratic institution. Despite all these system-orientated issues, universities are first about intelligent, creative, authentic, and innovative people, who have a chance to gather their minds together in order to create something out of their gained skills and knowledge.
Today with Lukasz we want to explore exactly that and how students as well as university staff are learning about the business culture just by being at university and getting ready for their next step in life.
CUSTOMER SERVICE IS ALWAYS A TWO-WAY RELATIONSHIP
When I asked Lukasz, why he uses the metaphor of a “strict parent” to reflect the role of a university, he said that just because it is like this with students and then directed my focus towards the meaning of customer service in a business environment.
Customer service in a different context is changing its meaning, right? In business, we have a saying “a customer is always right”. However, in the context of university (where the customer is a student) – Lukasz says that “as a customer – sometimes you just don’t know what is right for you” (smiling).
Students’ life mostly chaotic: parties, police, lack of discipline, lots of first times… They need first to develop a sense of personal boundaries and this is where the university community service becomes rather handy.
“When dealing with the staff, which has a lot of experience – if you trust them, it is better to ask them for advice, because they know what it might be better for you. For example, when you don’t have any experience or any expectations and you will go to an unknown restaurant – you don’t have a clue about your choice, so you better ask a waiter to give you suggestions, because he/she knows the land, he/she knows the kitchen as well as knows the staff. But… building trust, which reflects genuine care for a person is a must here as well. We cannot talk about customer service without overviewing the building a trust process itself.
Building trust with community support is especially important. For example, you need to have trust in a hairdresser’s service otherwise you will not go to her/him. Ideally, if in any job you know what you are doing, you are trying your best and you are approaching trust with not only students but also with the management.
I have tried different departments at the university and I have noticed that I can’t work in any department if the management doesn’t trust that I am doing the right job. If there is no trust and there is a micro-management – I simply don’t want to be in that place. You don’t want to check yourself constantly if it is good what I am doing. I think.”
MISTAKES ARE THE ROAD TO BUILDING A TRUST
“There are companies where the management attitude is like “ok, we look at you. If it’s fine – it is fine, but if you make a mistake then we will get rid of you. It feels like they want to catch you making a mistake. In this environment, your natural flow is affected because you can’t be just yourself if someone you feel is watching over your shoulder. This kind of approach makes you nervous and you tend to make more mistakes. Basically, the whole system is wrong then. In my opinion, this kind of level of management is about covering their backs only.
The management role is to teach, support, and then manage processes or direct people. However, sometimes I feel that kind of attitude in companies is wrong. For example, they send you to do a course on health and safety at work, but their whole approach to work is not changing and they still acting according to the old patterns of management authoritarian behavior. What is the point then to teach and support – if the core of organizational culture will never change?
This issue we have at community support as well. Despite of the stressfulness of this job, you need to be able the trust your team members. Team support is vital. However, I do not call being supportive, when some team members are pointing out your mistakes and then teaching about you to the management. In this context trust is important because you are working together, you are here to support each other. If you see something, which you cannot approve – you can approach me in the right way and just correct me, but not teach me how to do the job right. If you think that I am not doing the right job – it also could be that the company’s structure failed to train me in the right way or I am not good for the job.”
This is a very nice approach, which Lukasz has just revealed to us about trusting another person at work. It is about giving a person space to do his/her job, which means is to give space for a person even to make a mistake. In this way, you show that you trust your team member that he/she will evolve and by holding space for that person, you put your trust in him/her to fix the mistake by himself/herself. You don’t need to do the job for that person or explain how it should be done. You simply just need to put your trust in that person, that he/she will find his/her way out of a current situation. Of cause, if you see that you can be handy – do it together by his/her lead. The mistake is still his/her to tackle, not yours.
“Freedom of mistakes is actually the best and the quickest way to learn. When it comes to students, they are learning boundaries. They are learning what is allowed and what is not. This is where the “strict parent” metaphor comes into the picture. University is like parents, it allows you to explore, teaches, supports you and creates trust with you. The strictness part covers all the rules and regulations upon which the university is built upon” – finishes Lukasz.
LUKASZ’S MEANINGS OF CONCEPTS
- COMMON SENSE – means to be creative in accrued circumstances. You can brake some rules. Just focus on what you try to reach at the end.
- VISUALIZE – in order to do things, first you need to see them in your head.
THE GUEST OF THE PODCAST #BIZ_CULTURE
Lukasz is a very philosophical character and has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 10 years now. He loves to travel and have intellectual conversations, which helps him to explore different points of view just with his exploration and visualization of his mind. This ability developed by being a foreigner among foreigners in the UK. Probably that’s why he is one of the best customer service specialists and now working at the university community support team.
“There comes times when I observe myself and my sensations more. I am slowing down everything and allowing things to happen, emotions to follow, and acknowledge what I truly value at work and in life” – openly shares Lukasz with me.
So take a break, slow down and enjoy Lukasz’s perspective at our #Biz_Culture podcast with the host Brigita: